Guildpact and Extended

by Tom Fowler

[i]Ravnica[/i] had a large impact on the Extended environment as soon as it was released. The four dual lands were obvious chase rares, but cards like Life From the Loam, Golgari Grave Troll, and Stinkweed Imp also made a large splash. Some decks changed completely to embrace both the [i]Ravnica[/i] goodness and cope with the loss of three blocks: Psychatog spawned the Dredge-a-Tog and Friggorid offshoots, while Red Deck Wins added White and sold its soul to the Boros Legion.

Will [i]Guildpact[/i] have an impact similar to [i]Ravnica[/i]'s, or will it barely be a blip on the Extended radar? Let’s find out. I’m going to change up the formatting this time, breaking the cards down into categories based on how good I think they’ll be. Every card listed is potentially good, even as a sideboard answer against a certain deck. I’m not going to bother listing rubbish, nor things which are good in Limited decks but will be awful in Constructed.

Section 1: Obv Obv Obv

The cards in this section are obvious inclusions into any deck which could run them.

Burning-Tree Shaman
Creature — Centaur Shaman (R)
Whenever a player plays an activated ability that isn’t a mana ability, Burning-Tree Shaman deals 1 damage to that player.

What’s not to like? A 3/4 for 3 mana is a good deal, and that ability is a saucy one. “Discard a card to my Tog . . . ow! Discard another . . . hey, stop that!” It hurts not only Tog, but also Isochron Scepter, the fetchlands, Sakura-Tribe Elder, etc. Not only do you get an efficient 3/4 beater, but you get a consistent noncombat source of damage against most decks. And playing Red, however will you deal with an opponent at a low life total?

Godless Shrine
Land — Plains Swamp (R)
(T: Add W or B to your mana pool.)
As Godless Shrine comes into play, you may pay 2 life. If you don’t, Godless Shrine comes into play tapped instead.

Steam Vents
Land — Island Mountain (R)
(T: Add U or R to your mana pool.)
As Steam Vents comes into play, you may pay 2 life. If you don’t, Steam Vents comes into play tapped instead.

Stomping Ground
Land — Mountain Forest (R)
T: Add R or G to your mana pool.)
As Stomping Ground comes into play, you may pay 2 life. If you don’t, Stomping Ground comes into play tapped instead.

I'm grouping the three new duals together. Will their impacts be equal? I'm not sure, but they'll all play big roles in any decks which use those colors. Scepter-Chant now gets a really good U/R land to add to the mix. R/G Beats and Zoo are more playable with Stomping Ground. And decks like the one Mike Flores played at PT: LA will be glad for the inclusion of Godless Shrine. Other archetypes will adapt, and new ones will emerge. This is a great time not to be a fan of monochromatic decks.

Instant (U)
Destroy target creature or enchantment.

Between this and the better Orzhov cards, W/B got some spicy playables for next Extended season. Add this to existing cards like Vindicate and Gerrard's Verdict, and we might be getting somewhere. MBC decks could also splash White, running Mortify and Vindicate for spot removal, and having access to Kataki out of the sideboard for Affinity.

Section 2: That Small 1/1 Flagbearer

Cards in this section are the standard bearers for decks. (You get the section title now, I'll wager.) They may be the “kill card” in a combo deck, or they may be a significant part of the engine. Either way, they're cards you build entire decks around.
Djinn Illuminatus
Creature — Djinn (R)
Each instant and sorcery spell you play has replicate. The replicate cost is equal to its mana cost. (When you play it, copy it for each time you paid its replicate cost. You may choose new targets for the copies.)

Yeah, it's expensive, but Blue and Red should be able to keep the game going long enough for this to show up. Once the Djinn hits play, I imagine it will be difficult to lose. A single Volcanic Hammer hits for 9 damage, maybe more. Fact or Fiction digs through the top 10 cards. Magma Jet deals 6 damage and lets you scry three times. Replicating all of your spells is insanely powerful. The only question is whether a deck built around this fellow will pass competitive muster. I think it's definitely worth exploring.

Ghost Council of Orzhova
Legendary Creature — Spirit Lord (R)
When Ghost Council of Orzhova comes into play, target opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.
1, Sacrifice a creature: Remove Ghost Council of Orzhova from the game. Return it to play under its owner’s control at end of turn.

A 4/4 for 4 mana that has a useful ability is very playable in Extended. Ravenous Baloth has certainly see its share of play, after all. While the Ghost Council doesn’t give the same returns as quickly as the Baloth or Loxodon Hierarch, in the right deck, it's a continuous source of advantage. All you need are some disposable creatures, and the Ghost Council can take over the game.

Here’s something I came up with off the top of my head.

DeckMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
4 Weathered Wayfarer
4 Silver Knight
3 Ghost Council of Orzhova

4 Sensei’s Divining Top
4 Duress
4 Vindicate
4 Mortify
4 Decree of Justice
4 Wrath of God

4 Cloudpost
2 Temple of the False God
4 Godless Shrine
4 Flooded Strand
6 Plains
5 Swamp

It's rough, and it very well might turn out to suck, but I think you see where it's going. Here, the Ghost Council is often played later in the game, and works well with Decree of Justice, which is itself fed by nonbasic lands which produce a lot of mana. Ignore this card at your peril.

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
Legendary Creature — Dragon Wizard (R)
Whenever you draw a card, Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
T: Draw a card.

I mention this here simply because of the obvious (and very deadly) combo with this and Curiosity. It's bounded only by the cards in your library, and unless your opponent has an absurd life total, it'll be the end of the game. This is definitely a card people will be building decks around. I'm disappointed this isn’t a 5/5, since it IS a Dragon, but the combolicious ability is too much to pass up. Keep an eye out next season to see if this deck is any good. Some folks here are already working on it in our Extended forums. I'm sure there are other ways to go with a card like this.

Section 3: Solid!

The cards in this section are just good cards, and will appear in the majority of decks which could run them. They might turn out to be great down the road, but they'll definitely see some play either way.

Angel of Despair
Creature — Angel (R)
When Angel of Despair comes into play, destroy target permanent.

Vindicate is certainly a good card. Vindicate with a 5/5 flying body stapled to it sounds good, too, right? The Angel IS expensive, and has two double-colors in her mana cost. However, in a deck like Slide, this becomes a Vindicate every turn. In a W/B Control deck, it makes a potent finisher. It could even be reanimated on the second turn to destroy the opponent's first-turn land. It'll be fighting Eternal Dragon and maybe Desolation Angel for slots, but I think this is a card that is going to see play in more than one deck.

Sorcery (C)
Target opponent reveals his or her hand. Choose a nonland card from it. Remove that card from the game.

No soup dredge for you! It costs more than Duress, but it has the ability to nab creatures from your opponent’s hand. Gerrard's Verdict has an identical mana cost, but your opponent is in control of the discard there. Castigate lets you choose the card, and barring one of the [I]Judgment[/I] Wishes, they won’t be getting that card back.

Conjurer’s Ban
Sorcery (U)
Name a card. Until your next turn, the named card can’t be played.
Draw a card.

Notice a key difference between this and Meddling Mage? OK, besides the mana cost and lack of a 2/2 body. You can name a land card with Conjurer’s Ban, meaning your opponent then couldn’t play that land during their turn. I’d suggest naming other cards, though, like important combo pieces, kill cards, creatures you can’t deal with at the moment, etc. Disruption like this will be important against combo decks. Making them discard the card may simply turn out to be better, but my first impression of this is favorable.
Dryad Sophisticate
Creature — Dryad (U)
Nonbasic landwalk

River Boa is still better, but this is right up there for the title of Best Landwalker. All Constructed formats are currently rife with nonbasic lands, meaning this is pretty much a guaranteed 2 damage every turn. Because it’s essentially unblockable, it carries an Umezawa's Jitte well, and looks ravishing in either an Armadillo Cloak or a Moldervine Cloak, or walking with an Elephant Guide. We’ll be seeing this card for a long time.

Instant (U)
Electrolyze deals 2 damage divided as you choose among any number of target creatures and/or players.
Draw a card.

For an additional U, you get to make Fire into a cantrip. So I can kill your Grim Lavamancer and your Savannah Lions, [i]and[/i] draw a card for it? Seems fair. Unfortunately, this can't go on an Isochron Scepter, but potential three-for-one card advantage is difficult to ignore.

Gruul Guildmage
Creature — Human Shaman (U)
3R, Sacrifice a land: Gruul Guildmage deals 2 damage to target player.
3G: Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

This should replace the Boros Guildmage in straight RDW. The Red ability provides a nice finisher. Even BDW might want to shift over to the Gruul Guildmage, just for the ability to convert extra lands into Shocks if the game goes long. Of course, if R/G Beats re-emerges on the scene, I would expect this fellow to be engaging in the gentlemanly art of fisticuffs right beside Wild Mongrel.

Invoke the Firemind
Sorcery (R)
Choose one — Draw X cards; or Invoke the Firemind deals X damage to target creature or player.

This is really a hard one to call. It could be much better or much worse than I’m giving it credit for here. As an X spell going to the dome, both Blaze and Fireball are superior. As a way to draw a lot of cards, though, there’s really no other option. If anything, I think I erred on the side of “too good” with this one (especially since you can't make your opponent draw), but we’ll see.

Izzet Guildmage
Creature — Human Wizard (U)
2U: Copy target instant spell you control with converted mana cost 2 or less. You may choose new targets for the copy.
2R: Copy target sorcery spell you control with converted mana cost 2 or less. You may choose new targets for the copy.

Both of these abilities are obviously useful. The Guildmage should go into a deck where he can use both of his abilities, though using one is still powerful. In a U/R deck, though, he could copy either half of Fire/Ice, and copy burn spells like Volcanic Hammer as well as cheap draw spells like Opt and Serum Visions. Adding White and being able to copy Lightning Helix sounds extremely good. I would say this card is a standard bearer that you build a deck around, but as a 2/2, he’s vulnerable to an [I]awful[/I] lot of removal. Against decks which can’t get rid of him, however, he’s quite able to take over the game.

Instant (R)
The next sorcery spell you play this turn can be played any time you could play an instant.
Draw a card.

This card is better in Standard, where it turns Tidings into Opportunity. In Extended, however, we have Opportunity – you do remember that dreadful 7th Edition artwork, right? Still, there are plenty of good sorceries you can make into instants. Wrath of God is an obvious choice, but what about Upheaval? It would cost 4UUU, but it would be the mother of all responses to an alpha strike. Mind’s Desire is a sorcery, too, though you’d have to reconfigure the deck to take advantage of what Quicken gives you. There are 471 sorceries in post-Guildpact Extended. Sure, most of them are awful, but I think you’ll find plenty of good ones on that list, too.

Rumbling Slum
Creature — Elemental (R)
At the beginning of your upkeep, Rumbling Slum deals 1 damage to each player.

It’s six damage on each of your turns, for only 4 mana. This, friends, is a serious clock. It would be better if it had trample, but it jumps the curve well enough to merit real consideration. Boros will need at least two cards to get rid of this, it’s out of Smother range, and a Psychatog would need to chew thru its resources to stand up to the Slum. Maybe the best use of this is as a constant enabler of Bloodthirst. Bloodthirst, like Convoke, isn’t really good by itself, and Rumbling Slum lets you avoid wasting a spell to make your Bloodthirst guys bigger. Keep it in mind for Zoo or R/G Beats.

Scab-Clan Mauler
Creature — Human Berserker (C)
Bloodthirst 2 (If an opponent was dealt damage this turn, this creature comes into play with two +1/+1 counters on it.)

This is a good man. If you’re just playing R/G in Extended, you can have 12 very good one-drops in the forms of Llanowar Elves, Kird Ape, and Grim Lavamancer. So, if you hit any of your dozen one-drops on the first turn, then get in there with it on the second turn, you get a 3/3 trampler for RG. Sounds like a bargain to me.

Tin Street Hooligan
Creature — Goblin Rogue (C)
When Tin Street Hooligan comes into play, if G was spent to play Tin Street Hooligan, destroy target artifact.

This may be the best common in the set. It’s better in Standard simply because winning the Jitte war is so important in that environment. Even in Extended, there are Jittes and other artifacts waiting for this Hooligan to smash them. Think about it: Uktabi Orangutan and Viridian Shaman have seen plenty of play over the years. This is basically the same creature for 1 less. And unlike Sex Monkey or the Shaman, if you have the only artifact in play, you can still play this safely – just don’t spend any G on it.

Section 4: Online Dating

It’s getting a little desperate now. These cards are serviceable, and might see play. However, they’re weaker than the cards in the previous section, and may well be passed over for better alternatives. They merit consideration, though, and that’s why we’re talking about them. Remember, Ichorid was probably classified like this at one point, so being in this section isn’t a death sentence.

Absolver Thrull
Creature — Thrull Cleric (C)
Haunt (When this card is put into a graveyard from play, remove it from the game haunting target creature.)
When Absolver Thrull comes into play or the creature it haunts is put into a graveyard, destroy target enchantment.

It’s not a great card, but it’s serviceable enough. It’s a nice answer to Heartbeat of Spring or any of the pesky CAL enchantments you might see. If it takes out a second enchantment, so much the better.
Blind Hunter
Creature — Bat (C)
Haunt (When this card is put into a graveyard from play, remove it from the game haunting target creature.)
When Blind Hunter comes into play or the creature it haunts is put into a graveyard, target player loses 2 life and you gain 2 life.

Another card that’s not sexy, but it works in the right deck. Blind Hunter perfectly illustrates the Orzhov’s “bleeding” path to victory. It’s not a very impressive creature, but an Orzhov-heavy W/B Control deck could put it to use.

Culling Sun
Sorcery (R)
Destroy each creature with converted mana cost 3 or less.

Sure, Wrath of God is better, but the original is better than any of the many imitators which have followed it (Rout or Akroma’s Vengeance would be the closest competitors, the latter mainly because it wrecked Affinity so completely). Against the right decks, this is a one-sided Wrath of God. You get to keep your Exalted Angel, while your opponent gets to put all of his Boros men into the graveyard. That’s worth the extra mana, I think. I wouldn't play four of these, but if you're in the colors, you should definitely think about it.

Giant Solifuge
Creature — Insect (R)
Trample, haste
Giant Solifuge can’t be the target of spells or abilities.

It’s a bad Ball Lightning, but the untargetability is what makes this playable. If you can keep the path clear – and that shouldn’t be a challenge if you’re in Red – this can end the game in five swings, all while dodging targeted bounce and removal. In the right deck, it’s potent, but overall, it’s only a little above average.

Hatching Plans
Enchantment (R)
When Hatching Plans is put into a graveyard from play, draw three cards.

I’ve heard people say this is broken, but I just don’t see it. There aren’t many ways to get rid of it cheaply. Even if you play something bad like Demystify on it, you’re adding W to the cost and losing a card over what you’d normally get. It does make a nice sacrifice to Read the Runes, but who plays that? If you can find a cheap way to make it into an artifact and sacrifice it to your Arcbound Ravager, then you’re onto something (or maybe just on something . . .). I’m putting it in this section because I think people will find a way to use it, if not abuse it.

Mizzium Transreliquat
Artifact (R)
3: Mizzium Transreliquat becomes a copy of target artifact until end of turn.
1UR: Mizzium Transreliquat becomes a copy of target artifact and gains this ability.

Worst Sculpting Steel ever? Maybe, but I think that's a facile generalization. Obviously, it copies Jitte, but there’s more depth to this card in Extended. It can act as a Disenchant for Mindslaver. It can copy a Sundering Titan or Darksteel Colossus, then copy something else that's useful. These are all admittedly narrow uses, but this card could turn up as a versatile role player against certain decks.

Order of the Stars
Creature — Human Cleric (U)
Defender (This creature can’t attack.)
As Order of the Stars comes into play, choose a color.
Order of the Stars has protection from the chosen color.

It’s a blocker that will be hard to remove. Call Red against Boros and they’ll need Jitte counters to remove this fellow. He’s obviously good at keeping counters off the Jitte – which is much more important in Standard than Extended – and provides a cheap way to completely nullify a single attacker.

Orzhov Pontiff
Creature — Human Cleric (R)
Haunt (When this card is put into a graveyard from play, remove it from the game haunting target creature.)
When Orzhov Pontiff comes into play or the creature it haunts is put into a graveyard, choose one — creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn; or creatures you don’t control get -1/-1 until end of turn.

I expect the second mode to be used far more often than the first. Giving all of your opponent’s creatures -1/-1 until end of turn is devastating to a deck like Boros, which would lose its Savannah Lions, Grim Lavamancers, and Katakis. Depending on which creature you haunt (or if you're a tricksy hobbit), you could get both -1/-1 effects to fire off in a single turn. The fact is that this is a 1/1 for 3 mana, but its ability could push it to see play.

Skeletal Vampire
Creature — Vampire Skeleton (R)
When Skeletal Vampire comes into play, put two 1/1 black Bat creature tokens with flying into play.
3BB, Sacrifice a Bat: Put two 1/1 black Bat creature tokens with flying into play.
Sacrifice a Bat: Regenerate Skeletal Vampire.

There is one use for this card: as a finisher in Mono-Black Control. The problem is, that’s already a crowded slot. Visara the Dreadful has staked a claim to the throne (and are [i]you[/i] going to tell Ms. The Dreadful that she's not good enough? I think not.). Kokusho, the Evening Star is frequently seen as a finisher, Helldozer brought home a blue envelope, and Nantuko Shade is always lurking about. With Cabal Coffers giving you a lot of mana, the Vampire can soon have many of his batty friends in play with him. I’m not saying you should throw Visara or Kokusho under the bus, but this card does merit consideration.

Stitch in Time
Sorcery (R)
Flip a coin. If you win the flip, take an extra turn after this one.

Yes, I know it’s a coin-flipping card. However, there are few cards in Extended which can give you an extra turn. Beacon of Tomorrows guarantees you one for 8 mana; this gives you a 50/50 chance for 3 mana. And it’s not like there are no ways to recur this and try again. Imagine replicating this a few times with Djinn Illuminatus in play? It could happen.

Section 5: Riding in the Sidecar

These are sideboard cards. They’re too narrow to be maindeck choices, but they’re good against certain decks or archetypes. You’ll need to be aware of them if you’re looking for hate, or if you’re trying to see what hate is out there for your deck of choice.

Instant (C)
Remove target card in a graveyard from the game.
Draw a card.

It’s already in Extended, as an [I]Invasion[/I] uncommon, but everyone will be aware of it now that it’s been reprinted.

Instant (C)
Replicate U (When you play this spell, copy it for each time you paid its replicate cost. You may choose new targets for the copies.)
Tap target permanent.

On the one hand, this will be fighting Mana Short for sideboard space. On the other hand, Mana Short is completely foiled by one counterspell (though it is sometimes used to start a counter war), while Gigadrowse’s replicate requires many counters to come to the rescue. This is a good sideboard card for control decks in the mirror, or for combo decks against other combo decks or control decks – I imagine Heartbeat could replicate this quite a few times. Expect Cunning Wish to fetch it.

Leyline of Singularity
Enchantment (R)
If Leyline of Singularity is in your opening hand, you may begin the game with it in play.
All nonland permanents are legendary.

It’s definitely better in Standard, where the Blue decks win with Legendary creatures like Keiga and Meloku, creating no real drawback for this card (yes, I know this gets rid of Meloku's tokens, but the point is that no other deck relies on legendary creatures to such a degree). I could see this as a sideboard card for Tog or U/x control against a deck like Boros. It would strand extra creatures in their hand and allow the control deck more time to gets its gameplan going. Because it’s clearly better in Standard, I don’t know how much play this will get, but you should be aware that it’s out there.
Leyline of the Void
Enchantment (R)
If Leyline of the Void is in your opening hand, you may begin the game with it in play.
If a card would be put into an opponent’s graveyard, remove it from the game instead.

To: Psychatog
From: Tog Haters International
Re: Screw you, hippie!

Msg: How do you like this card, you grinning idiot? Ooooh, I’m afraid of your discard ability now! If I start the game with this in play, you’re wrecked. Wrecked! What are you going to do, play a Black or Blue Disenchant? Good luck trying to dredge, too. Couldn’t happen to a nicer Atog.

To: Tog Haters International
From: Dr. Psychatog Q. Teeth, Esq.
Re: Counting chickens

Msg: Have you forgotten, my dear Timmy, that there are plenty of playable bounce cards in Extended? I could use Boomerang, Echoing Truth, Chain of Vapor . . . hell, even Recoil. Did I mention I can use Cunning Wish to find any of those?

PS: Billy Moreno can apparently play Black/Blue Disenchants. This is the kind of power I provide. Join me on the dark side.

Shattering Spree
Sorcery (U)
Replicate R (When you play this spell, copy it for each time you paid its replicate cost. You may choose new targets for the copies.)
Destroy target artifact.

Take that, Myr Enforcer! Up yours, Frogmite! Here’s some for you too, Cranial Plating! Um . . . yeah, I think this will be really potent against Affinity. You can even target an Arcbound Ravager with the original, making it the last to be destroyed (the copies are on top of the stack and will resolve first). And if your opponent sacrifices his artifacts to the Ravager, the result is the same. Beware Blinkmoth Nexus, but you’re safe other than that. Affinity will have serious problems next season unless they find an answer to this card.

Skarrgan Firebird
Creature — Phoenix (R)
Bloodthirst 3 (If an opponent was dealt damage this turn, this creature comes into play with three +1/+1 counters on it.)
RRR: Return Skarrgan Firebird from your graveyard to your hand. Play this ability only if an opponent was dealt damage this turn.

It’s worth mentioning as a replacement for Fledgling Dragon in Boros or R/G sideboards. It does cost more, but you’ll never have to hold it because you didn’t have threshold, and it’s a large 6/6 body. Even if your opponent manages to kill it, they’ll have to try their luck at that again in a couple turns. Fledgling Dragon might hang onto its spot, but don’t sleep on this Phoenix.

As you can see, there are quite a few list-worthy cards for Extended in [i]Guildpact.[/i] Some of them are obvious choices, some of them are the flagships of decks, and others are strictly relegated to the sideboard. [i]Guildpact[i] has an appropriate number of good cards and solid role players. When the next Extended season rolls around, make sure you're ready for the good cards from this set.

With any luck, I'll do this again for [i]Dissension.[/i]

-Tom Fowler

Banner: ILoveAtogs
Editing: Goblinboy)[/i]


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