"There's only one deck that's noble… and that's White Weenie."
Randy Buehler and I were talking this weekend about which deck is the "noblest" in Extended. Extended is a format with a wide variety of decks, from turbo-charged versions of Standard decks, reinventions of old Block Constructed decks, all the way to absurdly powerful combination decks with wild mana bases and lighting fast kills
In this format, I gravitate towards the beatdown decks, and have been cheering mostly for Red Deck Wins. Even the Goblin decks feel too "extended" for me with their crazy Seething Songs, double mana lands, Ringleaders, and Matrons. An example of the kind of deck that I like watching and playing in Extended is Shuuhei Nakamura's:
Red Deck Wins
Nakamura's deck has a little bit of everything, quick beats, flexible removal, and a long game in Cursed Scroll. I love watching Red Deck Wins, well, win against decks with second-turn Legendary Angels, or burn out the opponent from an impossible deadlock on the board. To me, Red Deck Wins is the working man. It is the creature deck that plugs away in a format where it should be hopelessly outmatched.
But Randy pointed out something pretty poignant: Red Deck Wins is not the good guys. In 1998 we mostly hated Deadguy Sligh… besides Fireblast, modern Red Deck Wins plays many of the same cards that gave us fits! It is full of mistakes. Jackal Pup and Mogg Fanatic are vastly overpowered red one-drops, and Cursed Scroll was once banned for being too good.
Randy offered up a different candidate for most noble deck: The Rock.
The Rock is in much the same situation as Red Deck Wins. It is a creature deck in a format full of powerful combinations. Even more, it is a fatty deck in a format fighting Counterspell! The Rock has a bunch of clunky creatures… everything from Spiritmonger to Kokusho, the Evening Star has seen play this weekend, alongside Spike Feeder and the lowly Sakura-Tribe Elder. Sure, the Rock has a legitimate bomb in Pernicious Deed, but it is mostly a regular working Joe of a deck. The Rock doesn't do anything special… it forces one-for-one discard, and might play a lone Cranial Extraction. It plays out Walls to block, and tries to set up an actual midgame. It is a stack of guys and some light disruption, tied together by only Vampiric Tutor and the will of its controller.
Yet The Rock is the most represented deck in this year's Extended Pro Tour. The Rock is the kind of deck that puts its destiny in its controller's hands. It has the disruption to break up a combination deck, and the flexibility to work through many different situations. Unlike, say, a Reanimator deck, The Rock can dance around its opponent's most dedicated defensive cards, as well as remove almost any kind of permanent.
Perhaps the best thing about The Rock is that while it allows a careful master to play into difficult wins, it also punishes the careless. While a Red Deck can top that last burn spell after a catastrophic string of mistakes, and many other decks can luck into a win on the sheer strength of their combination pieces, The Rock has no such luxury.
It's funny how this deck, which had been long overlooked, grew into the most popular choice for this Pro Tour. Maybe The Rock's millions and millions of fans just wanted to be a part of the noblest deck in Extended.