Guide to the Extended Deck Types
Many of you at home follow match coverage religiously, and can rattle off lists of every popular deck type played in Extended. However, there are also a lot of players who aren't quite as proficient in scrutinizing every detail of tournament play. For players of all levels, here's a basic guide to all the different deck types that were played during the Gateway and Masters of Pro Tour Nice.
Deck Name: Sligh
Strategy: Sligh revolves around efficient creatures and direct damage spells in order to kill the opponent as quickly as possible. Virtually all resources are dedicated to mounting an offense.
Key Cards: Ball Lightning, Jackal Pup, Fireblast
Deck Name: Miracle Gro/Super Gro
Colors: Miracle Gro-Green/Blue. Super Gro-Green/Blue/White
Strategy: Miracle Gro and Super Gro both operate on the same principal. Each wants to get a Quirion Dryad into play as quickly as possible, and use cheap cantrips and countermagic in order to make it grow into a huge monster. Miracle Gro runs a very small number of lands (10 usually), which are supplemented by all the one and two casting cost search effects. Super Gro plays more land, and adds white to utilize the threshold enabled Mystic Enforcer, as well as the efficient removal spell Swords to Plowshares.
Key Cards (Miracle Gro): Quirion Dryad, Sleight of Hand, Werebear, Force of Will
Key Cards (Super Gro): Same as above, plus Mystic Enforcer, Meddling Mage and Swords to Plowshares
Deck Name: Oath of Druids
Strategy: Oath of Druids abuses the enchantment of the same name by getting its creatures into play for no mana. Once an opponent plays a creature, the Oath player searches for one of their own (traditionally Morphling, Spike Feeder or Spike Weaver). Then, if a Gaea's Blessing is revealed during the Oath process, the entire graveyard is reshuffled into the Oath player's deck, keeping them from running out of cards and allowing them to repeat the process.
Key Cards: Oath of Druids, Gaea's Blessing, Accumulated Knowledge
Deck Name: PT Junk
Strategy: A utility deck, PT Junk plays both offense and defense. Utilizing a very efficient creature base (usually including River Boa, Spectral Lynx, Spiritmonger and Mystic Enforcer), Junk packs a bit of discard combined with a bit of removal for creatures, enchantments and lands. Junk usually has an answer for everything, though each answer comes in small quantities.
Key Cards: Duress, Swords to Plowshares, Seal of Cleansing, River Boa
Deck Name: Trix
Strategy: Also known as Illusions/Donate, Trix relies exclusively on using Donate to give the opponent an Illusions of Grandeur. When the opponent no longer can pay the cumulative upkeep on the Illusions, they lose twenty life. This usually wins the game for the Trix player. The deck uses Sapphire Medallions to reduce the casting cost of its own spells, and devotes its entirety to pulling off the Illusions/Donate combination.
Key Cards: Illusions of Grandeur, Donate, Sapphire Medallion
Deck Name: Oath of Trix
Strategy: A deck invented by the Japanese players, Oath of Trix combines two previously mentioned decks: Oath of Druids and Trix. It uses cards contained in both these decks, giving it two ways to win. While it loses some focus by splitting its strategy of winning between the Illusions/Donate combo and Oath/Morphling, it does gain a lot more flexability than either of these decks alone.
Key Cards: Oath of Druids, Illusions of Grandeur, Donate
Deck Name: Hermit Druid Recursion
Strategy: A favorite of players from Your Move Games, the Hermit Druid deck uses its namesake creature to fill the graveyard with recursion creatures. After there are several copies of Ashen Ghoul, Squee, and Krovikan Horror milled to the graveyard, the Hermit Druid player enjoys a massive card advantage as practically all of his creatures return to hand or to play for free! On top of this, these same creatures usually end up back in the HDR player's hand after they are killed, making this deck nearly unstoppable given a long game.
Key Cards: Hermit Druid, Ashen Ghoul, Krovikan Horror
Deck Name: PT Jumble
Strategy: PT Jumble takes PT Junk and adds Blue for a smattering of countermagic and Shadowmage Infiltrators. The added power of these cards is a trade off for a more unstable mana base.
Key Cards: Force of Will, Shadowmage Infiltrator, Pernicious Deed, Tithe
Deck Name: BUG
Strategy: BUG (named after its colors) uses huge efficient spells for big effects, virtually ignoring finesse. While most of the cards BUG uses are the most efficient possible, they don't have particularly the greatest synergy. BUG wins by going for the big play, and hoping that playing with the best cards in the format will equal winning big, even if they don't work well together.
Key Cards: Call of the Herd, Pernicious Deed, Spiritmonger, Counterspell
Deck Name: Aluren Combo
Strategy: This decks revolves around the card Aluren. Once is in play, all the creatures in this deck can be played for free. Raven Familiars draws a card each time it enters play, and Cavern Harpy allows the Aluren player to replay the Familiar over and over again for the cost of only one life. Eventually the Aluren player draws their entire deck, plays a horde of creatures, and wins the following turn.
Key Cards: Aluren, Cavern Harpy, Raven Familiar
Deck Name: 3 Deuce
Strategy: 3 Deuce uses many of the same creatures found in PT Junk, but swaps the strategy of black discard and creatures for red removal and sideboard cards. With all the blue decks prevalent in this format, the added sideboard versatility of Pyroblast gives a slight boost to the power of this deck.
Key Cards: River Boa, Swords to Plowshares, Mogg Fanatic, Pyroblast
Deck Name: Legion Land Loss
Strategy: Legion Land Loss (LLL) wins by destroying as many of its opponents lands as it can, and then playing the very efficient Masticore to sweep up the table and come in for the win. LLL uses a ton of mana acceleration creatures to make sure it can start killing lands on turn two, and doesn't let up until the opponent is virtually out of lands and unable to cast a single spell.
Key Cards: Fyndhorn Elves, Thermokarst, Masticore, Winter's Grasp, Llanowar Elves
Deck Name: Turboland
Strategy: Turboland casts Exploration to play multiple lands a turn, and uses Horn of Greed to draw a card off of each land played. After the Turboland player gets a massive amount of lands in play and cards in hand, they start casting an infinite recursion of Time Warps combined with Gaea's Blessing. Turboland also borrows the Oath of Druids engine, but doesn't usually use it to win, instead to buy time and use Gaea's Blessing to recycle the cards in the graveyard.
Key Cards: Horn of Green, Timewarp, Exploration, Gush
Deck Name: Psychatog
Strategy: Psychatog won a number of regional tournaments last month. It uses its namesake creature to attack for a large amount of damage, using countermagic and bounce to keep the board clear. Psychatog is considered more of a deck for Type 2 than Extended, however, and doesn't gain a lot of tools in the transition from one format to the other.
Key Cards: Psychatog, Aether Burst, Fact or Fiction
Deck Name: Stasis
Strategy: Painstakingly slow, Stasis is perhaps the most frustrating deck to play against in Extended. It uses the enchantment Stasis to keep anything from untapping, and plays an overabundance of Island main deck to make sure the Stasis gets fuelled as long as possible. Then, the Stasis player drops Claws of Gix to kill their own Stasis at the end of their opponent's turn, allowing the Stasis player themselves to untap. Then, a second Stasis is usually played along with a Morphling, which can untap itself and attack for the win over a course of several turns.
Key Cards: Stasis, Morphling, Claws of Gix
Deck Name: Benzo
Strategy: This deck debuted at Pro Tour New Orleans 2001. It capitalized on the power of Entomb from Odyssey, which allowed it to selectively throw a huge creature into the graveyard on turn one, allowing for recursion with Exhume or Reanimate on turn two. Barring an opening hand Entomb, Benzo can play Zombine Infestation to pitch creatures to the same effect, netting a 2/2 zombie for its efforts.
Key Cards: Entomb, Zombie Infestation, Reanimate
Deck Name: Zila.dec
Strategy: A very old-school (circle 1996/1997) control deck played by Jason Zila who came out of retirement to play in last years Extended masters and finished second. Zila's deck can only win with a sole Morphling. Every other card in the deck revolves around countermagic, creature removal, and card searching.
Key Cards: Morphling, Counterspell, Force of Will, Powder Keg
Deck Name: Artifact Red
Strategy: Goblin Welders are the center of this deck, allowing their controller to swap cards in and out of their graveyard with ease. In this fashion, they can use Grim Monolith to accelerate the deck on one turn, then trade the tapped Monolith for a Tsabo's Web (drawing a card), and then back again for an untapped Monolith (netting three free mana) all in the tapping of the small goblin. This deck is extraordinarily difficult to play, relying on interactions between Smokestack, the graveyard and many close calls.
Key Cards: Goblin Welder, Smokestack, Grim Monolith
Deck Name: Black/White Control
Strategy: This deck was developed based around the high-placing mono-black decks from Pro Tour Osaka. It basically takes those decks, adds in some Extended legal removal, and changes the win condition from Nantuko Shade to Death Grasp.
Key Cards: Death Grasp, Cabal Coffers, Diabolic Edict, Chainer's Edict
Deck Name: Green/Blue Threshold
Strategy: Green/Blue Threshold replicates Miracle Gro, except without the Quirion Dryads. It didn't do so well.
Key Cards: Wild Mongrel, Werebear, Force of Will
Deck Name: Elves!
Strategy: Almost every non-land card in this deck is an elf, excepting the Elf enhancing Elvish Champion and the artifact Coat of Arms. These two cards enhance the super-mana accelerating Elf army, allowing for a single-minded strategy of overrun and destroy.
Key Cards: Gaea's Cradle, Priest of Titania, Elvish Champion, Coat of Arms
Deck Name: Secret Force
Strategy: Secret Force puts small green creatures into play, and then uses Natural Order to search for a large green fattie. A lot of the creatures in the deck have great versatility, allowing Secret Force to battle a good number of deck types.
Key Cards: Natural Order, Verdant Force, Wall of Roots, Spike Feeder
Deck Name: Finkula Go
Strategy: Originally there was a deck called Forbidian, which used the card-drawing Ophidian combined with the reusable counterspell Forbid to lock down the board. Finkula go uses the upgraded Ophidian (Shadowmage Infiltrator), which was designed by tournament champion Jon Finkel, hence the name of the deck.
Key Cards: Shadowmage Infiltrator, Forbid, Counterspell, Force of Will
Deck Name: White/Blue/Green Control
Strategy: Similar to the Zila creation, this deck uses slightly more creatures and removal in exchange for less countermagic. Otherwise, they are very similar.
Key Cards: Call of the Herd, Morphling, Disenchant, Counterspell
Deck Name: Mono-Blue Control
Strategy: Mono-Blue Control tries to counter every spell the opponent plays, and then win with Morphling. A very single minded gambit.
Key Cards: Morphling, Counterspell, Force of Will
Deck Name: Coalition Victory
Colors: All 5 colors!
Strategy: Coalition Victory wins the game on the spot by having all five basic land types in play and a creature with all five colors. Since dual lands count as two basic land types each, the deck, is helped greatly in Extended. Land search cards such as Tithe and Yavimaya Elder help smooth out the mana base.
Key Cards: Coalition Victory, Sliver Queen, Crystal Quarry