9th Edition and Extended
By Tom Fowler on July 7th, 2005 · Filed in Extended (Type 1.x) · Comments not available just now
By Tom Fowler
As it has in the past and will in the future, world without end, MTGSalvation has used mad ninja skills to obtain the full 9th Edition spoiler. Some cards we knew about already, while others were a complete surprise. As always with a Core Set, there are some powerful cards, but there are also the usual “basic set” cards – though we can finally bid adieu to Healing Salve. In this article, I’m going to look at how 9th Edition will affect post-rotation Extended.
I’ll be doing this in two ways. First, I’ll talk about the cards which are completely new to Extended – that is, they currently (pre-rotation) do not appear in any legal set. After that, I’ll talk about cards which would have rotated out and might have gotten a competitive reprieve by being reprinted. Extended is my favorite format because it supports a large number of competitive decks. We’ll work on a decklist or two along the way, since cards don’t exist in a vacuum. These won’t be final, tweaked lists, but rather jumping-off points, using existing archetypes with some of the new toys. All the lists presume the format to be as it will be at Pro Tour Los Angeles: 7th Edition and forward for basic sets, Invasion and forward for expansion sets, and no Ravnica yet. Remember, they’re being used to show off the new cards, so don’t presume you can take one and dominate your PTQ season with it. (If you do, of course, I get all the credit.)
Before we dive in, here is a list of all the cards which will be brand new to Extended when 9th Edition rotates in on August 20th, sorted in the order , with the lone land at the end:
Gift of Estates
Horror of Horrors
Goblin Balloon Brigade
Force of Nature
Blinking Spirit: This has potential. It’s nearly impossible for your opponent to kill (requiring a card like Pithing Needle or Damping Matrix to shut off its activated ability), and it has the stats to trade with format-defining creatures like Goblin Warchief, Goblin Piledriver, and Goblin Ringleader. The problem with this card is that it’s a 2/2 for 4 mana with no evasion, and with an ability that’s most useful in a defensive role. I don’t see White-based control making a comeback, and the best mechanic to utilize with this card (spiritcraft) won’t fare as well in a much faster environment like Extended.
Foot Soldiers: Utter Rubbish. Couldn’t they give White a Hill Giant?
How about Gift of Instant?Gift of Estates: It’s a shame this has to be a sorcery. If it were an instant, I could see White Weenie decks playing it, in the same capacity that they once used Tithe. Unfortunately, you have to play this on your own turn, and if you’re playing White Weenie, you’d rather play a guy or an Umezawa’s Jitte than spend a turn searching up lands. If Extended still featured dual lands, this would certainly see play. Alas.
Righteousness: You don’t block often enough in competitive Constructed for this to be worth it. If your opponent plays this, congratulations on the free win.
Veteran Cavalier: Out with the old (Steadfast Guard), in with the new. At least Steadfast Guard was a Rebel. White Weenie is crowded at the two-drop slot already, and a mediocre ability like Vigilance isn’t going to knock saucier men like Silver Knight or Hand of Honor from their perches.
Azure Drake: It’s like Fighting Drake, just more friendly to the splash. No one played Fighting Drake, did they?
Fishliver Oil: I know cards like this are in the set for new players, but I still wish they’d just stop putting them in. This, Fear, Vigilance . . . the conferring of a mediocre (at best) ability is not worth the investment of a card. Maybe cards like this make the basic sets to teach players that lesson. Whatever the reason, avoid this come Extended season.
Tidings: The Intuition-Accumulated Knowledge engine is gone. Brainstorm is gone. Gush is gone. There’s not much left for instant card drawing in Extended. Fact or Fiction, while not technically a draw spell, is still there, but the quality falls off appreciably after that. Despite being a sorcery, will Tidings help fill the card-drawing vortex? It costs more than Deep Analysis and draws twice as many cards. Deep Analysis, however, is good because it makes a control deck counter it twice. Tidings does not have this benefit. Since it will be worse in the control mirror than Deep Analysis, I don’t see it getting much play.
Withering Gaze: Baleful Stare is by far the more useful of these two hosers, and no one plays it. No one will play this, either.
Cruel Edict: Now we’re talking. Diabolic Edict is gone, Chainer’s Edict remains, and while Chainer's is the better Edict, Cruel Edict is very playable. Both Tog and Mono-Black Control could run this for extra removal (I expect both to already be running Chainer’s Edict). There’s one important thing about Cruel Edict, though: it says “target opponent.” While Extended is light on good Misdirection effects, the fact that your own spell can’t be turned around on you is a plus.
Let’s look at a sample Tog list with this card:
Here, Cruel Edict serves as Chainer’s Edicts 4-5 in the early game, saving late game removal for its flashbacking cousin.
Horror of Horrors: I really liked this card when Legends came out. Of course, I now know that it’s terrible, but way back in the day, it had a lot of cool points. This isn’t something you’ll want to waste your time on in any 60-card format.
Hypnotic Specter: Welcome back, old friend. You’ve been gone far too long, replaced by a succession of creatures not fit to carry your ethereal jockstrap. Times have changed, however, and the environment into which this classic returns is not as favorable as it used to be. Gone is Dark Ritual, which would power out the Specter on the first turn. Gone is Hymn to Tourach, which would enable you to tear three cards from your opponent’s hand on the second turn. Red burn pales in comparison to Lightning Bolt, but there’s a lot more of it, and it all does 2 damage.
That is not to say that Hypnotic Specter won’t have an impact on Extended. Against a deck which can’t remove him, he’ll destroy their entire hand with a few swings. While the “Hippy” used to be a major force in Black decks of the past, he’ll have to play a supporting role in Extended. Consider this sample Mono-Black aggro deck:
Here, the Specter is secondary to the synergy of the zombies in the deck (all of which power Graveborn Muse, an underrated creature and definitely the best creature in Legions). Still, supported by discard, spot removal, and the ground creatures, Hypnotic Specter can still play an important part in a successful mono-Black deck.
Yawgmoth Demon: While not a travesty on par with the Crusade vs. Glorious Anthem vote, the fact that this beat out Havoc Demon for inclusion in 9th Edition is ridiculous. I don’t want to get off on a rant about it, but come on. Havoc Demon is great in Limited, and has a very powerful ability that has yet to be harnessed in the 60-card world. Yawgmoth Demon, by contrast, is awful in Limited, and doesn’t have a home in Constructed. Are you going to play this in Affinity? I think not. Whoever voted for this large pile of ass is a moron. Thanks for subjecting us to nine years of suckitude in Extended, clownshoes.
Boiling Seas: Thank you, WOTC, for ruining a perfectly good hoser. Boil actually forced Blue players to play with some foresight and skill. Now, they can just counter it like they could anything else. Boil, of course, was much more prevalent in Standard than Extended. Its much suckier cousin will see no play as long as 7th or 8th Editions are in Extended.
Goblin Balloon Brigade: I like the nod to a classic from the old school, but let’s not delude ourselves into thinking this is anything good, or even useful. Extended Goblin decks have dozens of better options, none of which involve spending to make sure your 1/1 can get in there.
Goblin Mountaineer: Look, kids, it’s Dwarven Grunt. I mean, it’s Mountain Goat. Hell, whatever you call it, it sucks and no one will play it in Extended.
Goblin Piker: We’re losing Canyon Wildcat for this?
Karplusan Yeti: It’s a shame they won’t introduce legendary creatures to the basic set, because Tahngarth would have been a lot better in this slot. As a 3/3 for 5, with the rather unimpressive “Arena” ability, this isn’t going to see play.
Kird Ape: Now this could see some play. A R/G deck using fetchlands could have a 2/3 by the second turn pretty reliably. Throw in a Chrome Mox, and that 2/3 could come on the first turn. There are rumors of some kind of dual land reprints in Ravnica. If true, the new Taiga would obviously make this card quite spicy. I think it’ll do well enough for itself if R/G Beats emerges as a viable archetype. Consider:
Will it have game? It’s too early to tell, but don’t write off the archetype. Back in the day, R/G Beats was right there with U/G Madness, MBC, and Wake. In the new Extended, it could be right there again.
Thundermare: It’s a Fireball for 5 with feet. While I’ve never thought this card to be good, I’ve always found it interesting. Thundermare is something you need to win with when you play it, since all your other men will be tapped and unable to stop the counterstrike. If you could get this into play as an instant, of course, it would be a house. That’s a lot of AEther Vial counters, though. Don’t look for this to get any play.
Elvish Bard: Rubbish Bard is more like it.
"Ach, Hans, run! It's Swamp Thing!"Force of Nature: This is another card where I have to give WOTC props for bringing back an old-school favorite, while at the same time, saying this isn’t going to see play. An 8/8 trampler is certainly a force to be reckoned with (haha, get it?), but that upkeep cost of is steep. This is an environment without Gaea’s Cradle, which would make that upkeep cost easy to bear. A nice card for nostalgia, but leave it on the sidelines when you’re filling out your decklist.
King Cheetah: A 3/2 for 4 mana as an instant is not a good Extended card.
Ley Druid: As mentioned above, Gaea’s Cradle is gone from Extended, so the best land this fellow could untap is right out. Any land which can tap for multiple mana is an inviting target for the Druid’s ability, as is a land enchanted by Squirrel Nest if you’re running the Opposition plan. Those uses, however, are not enough for this to make an appearance in Extended.
River Bear: This is a functional reprint of Bull Hippo. Want to guess how many good Extended decks that guy’s shown up in? Hint: it rhymes with “fabshmolutely hero.”
Tree Monkey: Weren’t there any good cards from the Portal sets they could have reprinted? If you’re a fan of Spiders, this guy’s for you. If you’re a fan of good cards, keep looking.
Web: Yup, keep looking. Nothing to see here. My only hope is that this piece of cardboard trash doesn’t take up a rare slot. I get the feeling it will, though, since Green getting flying happens about as often as Haley’s Comet buzzing the night sky.
Zodiac Monkey: Rushwood Dryad has devolved. This is a serviceable card, though it’s definitely more suited for current Standard than any Extended format.
Artifacts and Lands:
Fellwar Stone: I’ve always like this card, and as a 5-Color player, I’m glad to see it reprinted so I can get a foil playset. My fondness for the card aside, I don’t see this getting played in Extended. Mana acceleration needs to be faster and more reliable than this. If the Stone gives you colors not in your deck, it accelerates you, but only with respect to colorless. You can’t take those kinds of chances in an environment like Extended. I’m not saying this will never find a home, since a deck like Domain could always make use of whatever colors it provides, but it will be very deck-dependent. Look for Chrome Mox to continue to be the brown mana accelerant of choice.
Jade Statue: Without acceleration, you have a 3/6 blocker or attacker on the fifth turn. That’s too slow against a deck like Goblins, which could easily pound you for 20 by the fourth turn. The decks that might want to play this would be decks like MBC, but really, why play this when Stalking Stones does similar work and is much cheaper overall?
Jester’s Cap: It’s the Cranial Extraction for those not playing Black. Extraction, of course, is faster than the Cap, but between the two, combo decks could have something to fear this winter. This could definitely get some sideboard slots against combo, even though one isn’t guaranteed to eliminate their vital card(s).
Quicksand: Here’s my prediction: this is best card for Extended that’s new to the format in 9th Edition. The -1/-2 will kill a lot of men, namely Goblin's Warchief, Piledriver, and Ringleader. Control decks will like this card because it kills important creatures, and even aggro decks can run it if it doesn’t tax their mana base too badly. Goblins, for example, could easily add this to its mix of Mountains and assorted fetchlands. Their land base could be as such:
That would give a Goblin deck Warchief or Piledriver advantage in the mirror match, which would be vital.
Also, consider an MBC deck using Quicksand:
Get your black-bordered playsets now.
For the second part of this article, I’m going to look at cards which were going to rotate out this fall, but may have gotten a competitive reprieve by being reprinted in 9th Edition. This means we’re only considering cards from 6th Edition, Tempest Block, Urza Block, and Masques Block. Obvious and narrow sideboard cards like the Circles of Protection (down to just Red and Black in 9th) will not be discussed here.
At first, I thought this would be a fairly robust list. As you’ll see, however, it’s pretty sparse. All of these are questionable to some degree, but I think the first two cards are solid, and then I’ll agree that the quality starts to fall off noticeably.
A new face for White Weenie?Paladin en-Vec: While this has not been in many WW decks over the years, perhaps a comeback is in order. With Goblins and Tog looking to be early favorites in the new Extended, a creature protected from both is not a bad deal at all. The 2/2 first striking body is not insignificant, either. Combined with Silver Knight, Paladin en-Vec could give a WW deck a good amount of game against Goblins. Consider:
A lot of the creatures there can stand up to any Goblin, even without a Sword of Fire and Ice. There are also eight creatures which get right past Psychatog. Pithing Needle solves problematic cards like Pernicious Deed.
Soul Warden: While this might still see some play, it has been eclipsed by a card on the previous list: Auriok Champion. While the Champion might be more expensive, the fact that it has protection from the two main colors of removal really pushes it over the top. Soul Warden isn’t a bad creature, but it is an outmoded one.
Flowstone Slide: Yeah, I know, it sucks, right? Take another look at it. It’s a little pricey, but this is a Red Wrath of God. Now, my inclusion of this card on the list presumes that some form of Big Red or Mono-Red Control will be viable in the new Extended. If it is, this will present a nice alternative to things like Pyroclasm and Flamebreak for killing creatures. Yeah, I know Starstorm is right there, and I'm probably reaching with this one, but a list with two or three cards on it would look bad. Cut a body some slack; it's not like I have a wealth of greatness to work with.
Shard Phoenix: Again, this requires some form of Big Red to be a competitive deck after the rotation. If it is, then a recurring flier which can Pyroclasm the board should be included. Red really doesn’t need help with win conditions, since it can just throw burn at your face until you die, but the Phoenix provides a control element and win condition all in one.
Of course, Big Red could prove to be awful after the rotation. We’ll see.
That’s it for the cards I felt were getting possible competitive reprieves by being reprinted.
Judging from the lists and comments above, you might be thinking I don’t expect 9th Edition to have a big impact on Extended. You would be correct. A lot of the cards in it are already legal in the format, so there’s not a lot of new stuff being added. Of that new stuff, the usual amount is basic set chaff that won’t even see play in bad Standard decks. For Extended, 9th Edition brings Quicksand, which I think we’ll see a lot of, and then a few cards which have serious potential. Past that, it’s a Wasteland.
Oh wait . . . that’s rotating out.
By Tom Fowler on July 7th, 2005 · Filed in Extended (Type 1.x) · Comments not available just now
About Tom Fowler
Tom is a Level 2 judge who frequently works in the MD, DC, and PA areas. He is also an active player, and has written articles from both perspectives. Tom has judged numerous Pro Tours, but would like to make it there as a player at least once.