Introducing Extended+: Part 1
Written by Weedmonkey on June 23, 2010
What has begun as a rumour has taken root here on Magic-League as an enjoyable bridge between Extended and Legacy. With a steady increase in popularity and the recent culling of Extended’s size, this format both appeals to the old Extended crowd and will remain around for a while to come.
This article serves as an introductory guide to the format. While the author endeavours to provide a thorough and comprehensive article, popular opinion seems to indicate that the author is a few Bitterblossoms short of a faeries deck. As such, any views expressed therein should be considered as that of the author’s and not taken as gospel.
So, Where’s the Party?
The rationale behind the rumours of a new format stems from a desire to bridge the gap between Extended and Legacy. With each passing year the number of sets not in Extended compared to the number of sets in it grows. For an old-timer like me, there is an ever-increasing gap between Tempest (which was the oldest set in Extended when I first picked up the format) and the oldest set in Extended today (which will be Time Spiral as of 1st July).
Legacy is an extensive format. When nearly every card ever printed is available to a deckbuilder, only the most powerful, the most efficient, the most flexible of spells will be used in a mage’s arsenal. Considering that Magic has over 10000 individual cards and less than 10% of those cards are present on a semi-regular basis in Legacy, this leaves over 9000 cards that are left to the side. Compare this to Extended. The elder of the two Constructed formats in terms of set chronology, it has a mere seven blocks in addition to the core sets. With such a difference in format sizes and cards used, a format that can be used to bridge the two for players would be beneficial.
The format contains all expansion sets from Mercadian Masques and all core sets from 7th Edition onwards. For newer players the size of the format allows them to explore a larger card pool than Extended without the enormous scope that Legacy brings to the table. For the old fogies, there is the nostalgia of playing with old favourites that may have been gathering dust in a box for a year or ten.
Previously, on Days of Our Lives...
From initial testing here on Magic-League, this format seems to be fast. Very fast. There are multiple strategies that can hand a pilot a win as early as turn 2, and with relative consistency by the fourth turn. For most deck setups that want to survive in this format, this means one of two things:
· You must be able to win by the fourth turn with a degree of consistency.
· You must have a way to stop your opponent from winning by the fourth turn.
Is this a bad thing? Yes and no. A fast format can be a bad thing when you cut down on the number of viable archetypes. Additionally, it can discourage new players if they feel the format is unhealthy. However, for players looking to utilize the format as a bridge between Extended and Legacy the format can be a good middle ground to familiarize themselves with the flow of the premiere Eternal format without needing to jump in the deep end.
For a format that sits between Legacy and Extended, there are a number of cards that each format brings to the table that could be considered contributions to the shape of the format.
Legacy, she can be a jealous mistress. Some of the cards that will remain solely Legacy’s domain include:
Force of Will
I remember reading an article on this format on SCG a few weeks back. In it, the author argues that Force of Will is integral to maintaining the health of the format, and if the format is confirmed then a reprint is in order.
Based on my experience, this is 100% not the case. The format is perfectly fine without needing to resort to free hard counters. Although the format is fast, there are sufficient alternatives to keep everything in a state of relative equilibrium. The arguments for and against the reprinting of Force of Will can be hotly contested. I am more than happy that it isn’t. Without this Alliances uncommon, decks are able to employ strategies that may not previously have been viable to due risk.
The Dual Lands
The duals can potentially enable some rather extravagant mana bases. Lorwyn/Shards of Alara Standard may come to mind for some people, where a deck could run cards with mana costs of WUB, 1RR, 1UUU, 2GGGG and 3RBG without significant difficulty. Granted, that format was far slower, however the same idea still holds true here.
With a less forgiving mana base, some archetypes (such as Zoo) will need to be creative in their setups in order to minimalize the loss of power in comparison to the rest of the field.
Lion’s Eye Diamond
The N2O of combo decks, Lion’s Eye Diamond can be very, very powerful when used correctly. While I can’t see combo decks missing this too much, Legacy combo addicts may miss the extra bang.
Hymn to Tourach
Second only to Mind Twist in terms of raw discard power (and even that’s debatable), the Hymn has been a mainstay of black decks for many years where it’s legal. This will be one that Sui players will definitely feel, and could very well render the archetype unviable without a serious paradigm shift. Time will tell.
Beware the expensive mana base. A favourite of aggro decks since the dawn of time (and Dave Price’s mistress), this Tempest denizen punishes those who choose to get greedy.
Will the format hurt for missing this? Not really. There are alternatives to Wasteland. Although they aren’t as powerful (Dust Bowl, Tectonic Edge, Ghost Quarter etc.), it certainly won’t be a deal breaker for the format if players aren’t getting their turn 1 Breeding Pools blown up.
As for Extended? Her recent makeover has left a number of gifts behind:
If anything is going to apply the brakes to this format, it’s going to be this card. When people are trying to cast an absurd amount of spells in one turn, Trinisphere is one rather large thorn in the side. Want to cast free spells? Trinisphere will force you to fork out at least 3.
The question will be whether it can reliably be brought in early enough to dam the floodgates. While there are ample ways of introducing it, there are also ample ways of getting around it.
The Ravnica Dual Lands
One of the biggest effects on the new Extended format will be the departure of these staples. Since their release, they have been a staple of the Constructed formats where they have been legal. While not as flexible as the originals, the duals are still able to enable some adventurous mana bases (such as Domain Zoo’s).
Sensei’s Divining Top
Under the old Extended format, this was banned for logistics reasons. As the format is currently without bans, this Champions of Kamigawa artefact is free to be paired up with its old friends once more. The biggest gain from the Top’s return will be Counterbalance. It will be interesting to see if this two-card combo will have an impact on the shape of the format.
Life from the Loam
Life from the Loam has found a way of slotting into a range of decks over the years. From Dredge to CAL , it can satisfy a number of roles in different archetypes. It would be safe to assume this won’t change.
Umezawa’s Jitte (or alternatively, The Spiky Iron Truncheon of Doom) has been the cream of the Equipment crop since Betrayers of Kamigawa (and we don’t talk about Jitte’s ‘special’ Darksteel brother). Although Extended’s aggro decks will miss this, in its new home it should help to give aggro decks the grunt they need to be viable in the format.
And Then, There Were New Toys
When you create a new format, there are bound to be a number of cards that have been gathering dust in a box somewhere that can have the opportunity to shine. Some of these cards may have sparked interest in deckbuilders, but had to be relegated to the collection box because either the format and/or card pool wasn’t right for it to shine. These cards may now have their time to shine with a new card pool and a format that’s still being explored. Some of these cards include:
For this article guy, Scouting Trek has to be one of the biggest sleepers for the format. In particular, there are two best friends for this Invasion uncommon. Treasure Hunt allows you to draw every land card in your deck. The ability to thin your deck out as well as guarantee every one of your draws is a spell is outrageous if you can pull it off. However, it will depend on whether people can make it work.
The other best friend for Scouting Trek is Countryside Crusher. Once you have enough lands and a Crusher, you can stack your deck and make the Crusher absurdly large! Although it will take some time to figure out how to best implement this, there are bound to be some deckbuilders that will try to make this work.
Force of Will’s ‘special’ sibling, the Foil could potentially become the most-used card in the oft-denigrated Prophecy set. While it requires more resources to work around the mana cost, it still allows for a ‘free’ counter. While it won’t have the same impact as Force of Will, it should keep some players on their toes.
Although Dredge as an archetype remains king of abusing the graveyard, reanimating creatures has always been a fun option for black mages. There is nothing quite like the visceral pleasure of cheating a big and scary behemoth or dragon into play from as early as turn 1. Although slightly more expensive than the poster boy Reanimate, the Death half of Life/Death still allows for some early turn shenanigans. Although it wasn’t as prevalent in Standard and Extended when it was legal, with a larger card pool at its disposal it may be able to create some magic with more tools at its disposal.
It may be nothing more than a cute party trick, but for those that love their artifacts to ramp (think Wildfire), this may be able to provide a lot of bang for buck. With Brainstorm-type effects available, there’s nothing stopping someone from milling something like the Shadowmoor demigods or the Shards of Alara Ultimatums. Your new Eldrazi friends would be one such benefactor of the Pendant’s mana sourcing.
Back in the day, there were many a fun party trick to be had with this Onslaught rare as a way to cheat big creatures into play for casual and group games (Conspiracy into Devouring Strossus anyone?). With Rise of the Eldrazi’s release, its namesake family of lineages and spawn range from the cheap and small to the grossly large. While it may be nothing more than a ‘win more’ option, there is the possibility of cheating large creatures such as Emrakul into play.
And that’s it for part 1! In the next part in this introductory series we’ll be looking at what cards potentially need to be banned in this new frontier .
Until next time, may your cards receive a good dusting.
by NahHolmes on 2010-06-23 07:28 CET
Terrible format is terrible.
by Mykrob56 on 2010-06-23 08:15 CET
Stupid opinion is stupid.
by Eldariel on 2010-06-23 18:17 CET
That's not even the top of the iceberg with regards to Legacy-cards not legal in Ext +. Looking at some more:
by SteveMan on 2010-06-23 19:23 CET
by neckfire on 2010-06-23 20:58 CET
the appeal of extended plus is the non banning aspect.ban skullclamp and some of the other heavy hitters and see just how fun this format will be then.
by Azania on 2010-06-23 21:55 CET
Skullclamp in my eyes that could be banned. (personal opinion, not from the staff or anyone else for that matter).
by NahHolmes on 2010-06-24 03:50 CET
Yay, let's all play Legacy without all the fun cards and control sucks because all the good aggro cards have been printed after MM and dual lands shock you now, funnnnnnnnn.
by Ashmatan on 2010-06-26 17:37 CET
IDK I hate the format. The R/P/S scheme is all messed up. Control is too slow/has been nerfed, and combo beats aggro all day every day. So the choice is combo. What you have is (supposedly) a format of combo decks. yay. Who wants to play in a format like that?
by CMA-Flippi on 2010-06-26 22:00 CET
In todays trial, a rather controllish deck won, 2nd place aggro
by Cabal_chan on 2010-06-27 16:08 CET
What's the banned list?
by DTrooper on 2010-06-30 16:05 CET
Skullclamp should most definetely be banned.
by Egren on 2010-07-03 21:37 CET
...i think that's a given
by spacelion on 2010-07-09 00:59 CET
It's pretty clear Magic players would rather whine and assume instead of explore a format. I'm surprised people are actually playing the newExt on League instead of waiting for the Pro Tour to give them decks to play with. Go go new format! I'm very excited to see this format's potential.
by AppleofEris on 2010-08-13 15:01 CET
I think it's pretty clear that those of us who played Yu-Gi-Oh when it first came out because we didn't know any better (and because the tournaments were painfully easy to win, thus allowing us to fund our Magic addictions, can't tell you how many times I took my prize support in Magic boosters) are seeing a few parallels here. Like, for instance, the long ass list of banned cards. My question is, is the list static or dynamic? I'm not gonna play this format if cards will be added and subtracted from the list on a "let's see what decks ruins this format then ban all it's cards" basis. Mainly because I don't wanna have to always be looking at a banned/restricted list. It's very annoying.
by P_P4E on 2010-08-19 09:41 CET
by Yatalock on 2010-12-07 01:57 CET
You all have seem to forgotten about Dr. Teeth. He will be THE control deck once combo spreads like wildfire.
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