xtended season is approaching very quickly and many players are starting to ask themselves what type of deck they want to play. I've always been a huge fan of Extended, and I feel like there's a lot to learn when a new format is created. Sure, the World Championships in Chiba will inundate players with new lists to wrap their heads around, but simply seeing a bunch of deck lists never allows you to truly understand a format.
Extended is, in my opinion, the best Constructed format of Magic. The available card pool is large enough to allow room for innovation and new decks. The same card pool remains small enough to prevent too much degeneracy and allow newer players with newer collections to compete.
The first thing I like to do at the beginning of an Extended season is examine all the newer cards that haven't been explored yet. Most cards become weaker when transplanted from Standard to Extended. The card pool in Extended is larger, so the average power-level of a card is generally higher. Some cards, however, gain value when they're exposed to a wider range of synergistic opportunities. Cards like Glimpse of Nature
are good historical examples of this. Glimpse of Nature
was never a very good card while it was legal in Standard, but its potential when combined with a large number of one-casting-cost creatures that could produce mana the turn they entered the battlefield made it into one of the most powerful cards in Extended.
I like using Gatherer and searching for rares. Usually you find at least a few cards that never seemed strong in Standard, but have a great deal of potential when exposed to more cards. The best current example I could find of this is Mimic Vat. Mimic Vat is a very powerful card in a vacuum, but the card pool in the current Standard prevents it from achieving its full potential. In Extended, however, you still have access to the evoke mechanic from Lorwyn block. Mimic Vat reaches a level of absurdity when you can easily play it alongside cards like Reveillark, Mulldrifter, Shriekmaw, Nevermaker and Fulminator Mage. I'll further explore this concept next week.
Another card that never reached its fullest potential during its time in Standard is Master Transmuter. Scars of Mirrodin gives us a lot of new toys that work beautifully with my favorite rare from Conflux. Precursor Golem seems pretty strong when you can transmute him for another pair of 3/3s. Prototype Portal becomes insane when you imprint Tidehollow Sculler. Grand Architect makes the deck faster and more resilient than it used to be.
I fiddled around with a number of different lists. Removing white from the deck let me make it fit a much more reasonable budget.
I'll start by explaining each card and the reason for its inclusion.
Master Transmuter is a rock star. Transmuting artifacts is exceptionally powerful and it seems reasonable to assume that I'll be playing four copies of this card. Its power level may not be obvious upon first glance, but its applications are boundless. I'm sure you'll be impressed with the many layers of awesome provided by this card if you read the game reports below. Returning the artifact back to your hand is part of the cost of the Master's ability, so you don't have to worry about a player responding with a removal spell.
Thousand-Year Elixir combos with the Master Transmuter. Having a Thousand-Year Elixir on the battlefield makes Master Transmuter into an unbeatable machine. It's also worth noting that Thousand-Year Elixir simply taps for a mana when being used with Grand Architect.
Sphinx Summoner also combos well with the Master Transmuter. An active Transmuter alongside a Sphinx Summoner in hand lets you do some wacky things. For example: Lets say it's turn five, I have a Thousand-Year Elixir, Master Transmuter, Everflowing Chalice, and five lands on the battlefield. For the sake of illustration, the only cards in my hand are a land and Sphinx Summoner. I can tap the Everflowing Chalice for two mana, then tap an Island and use the Transmuter's ability to transmute the Chalice into a Sphinx Summoner, I use the Sphinx Summoner to search up a copy of Platinum Angel, I then use one of the two mana left in my pool to untap the Master Transmuter with the Thousand-year Elixir. I then use another blue mana to transmute the Thousand-Year Elixir into a Platinum Angel. I then recast the Elixir, untap my Master, cast the Chalice for zero, and pass the turn with a blue mana open. If my opponent attempts to kill anything on the board I can simply transmute it off then back on the battlefield. If they simply tap out for a threat I can use their end step to transmute the Sphinx Summoner into another gigantic threat like Grim Poppet or Platinum Angel.
Everflowing Chalice is the perfect card for this type of deck. It can be tutored up by the Trinket Mage. It accelerates us into a turn three Master Transmuter. It can be cast for zero as a good target for Transmutation. I feel like this is an obvious four-of.
Silver Myr is essentially Everflowing Chalice numbers five through eight. We don't have Mind Stone anymore, but Silver Myr makes up for its squishiness by tapping for blue. This is surprisingly relevant when you're transmutation is only limited by the number of blue sources available.
Trinket Mage is an absolute house in this deck. We can find an Executioner's Capsule to deal with our opponent's most potent threat. We can even use it to find an Everflowing Chalice when we need to accelerate into a Grim Poppet or Platinum Angel and we can't find a way to cheat it onto the battlefield.
Grand Architect really pushes the limits of this type of strategy. It accelerates us into all the exciting things we want to be doing and pumps our Trinket Mages and other artifacts to make us more resilient against early pressure.
Grim Poppet is a really nice card to fetch up against aggressive decks. It can be bounced in and out of your hand quite easily to decimate an opponent's board in no time at all.
Platinum Angel is probably the most impressive lock available to this deck. It's very easy to have multiples of this card on the battlefield as early as turn four or five. Once you have two Platinum Angels on the battlefield alongside a Master Transmuter and a Thousand-Year Elixir it becomes impossible for an opponent to get all of them off the battlefield without a Wrath effect. If they try to target your Master Transmuter with a removal spell you can simply tap it, return it to your hand, and put it back onto the battlefield. It comes back with haste because of the Elixir and can protect the Platinum Angels immediately.
Executioner's Capsule, Voltaic Key, and Chimeric Mass are excellent targets for our Trinket Mage.
Precursor Golem gives the deck a powerful win condition. You can transmute the Precursor Golem repeatedly to put more and more 3/3s onto the battlefield.
Here's what the deck looks like when I hammer out the numbers.
I played a few games with the deck on Magic Online to make sure it worked as planned.
Game 1: Jund with Blue
I won the roll and kept Creeping Tar Pit, Island, Island, Grand Architect, Precursor Golem, Sphinx Summoner, Thousand-Year Elixir. I played my Creeping Tar Pit and passed the turn. My opponent played a Vivid land and passed the turn back. I drew a Silver Myr, cast it, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Reflecting Pool, cast a Putrid Leech, and passed the turn. I drew a Swamp, played an Island, and cast Grand Architect. I tapped it for mana, tapped the Myr for mana, and cast Thousand-Year Elixir. My opponent attacked for 4 and went to 18, cast a Maelstrom Pulse targeting the Grand Architect and passed the turn. I drew another Sphinx Summoner, played my land, cast Sphinx Summoner, found a Master Transmuter, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Lightning Bolt targeting the Sphinx Summoner and bashed me for another 4 before passing the turn. Note that my opponent missed the fourth land drop. I drew an Island, played it, cast Master Transmuter, and passed the turn.
My opponent played a Vivid land, cast Sprouting Thrinax, and attacked with Putrid Leech. I transmuted my Elixir into a Precursor Golem and blocked the Leech with the two tokens. Putrid Leech pumped and my opponent went to 14. I untapped, drew another Island, played it, recast the Elixir, and attacked with my remaining Golem token. The token got blocked by the Thrinax, and I passed the turn. My opponent cast a Bloodbraid Elf, cascading into another Maelstrom Pulse, and after a little thought, targeted the Master Transmuter. I tapped a blue mana and bounced the Transmuter off then back on to the battlefield. It was at this point that my opponent realized removal was essentially worthless unless multiple such spells were involved on the same turn.
On my opponents end step I transmuted the Golem into a Sphinx Summoner, which found a Platinum Angel. Then I used the Elixir to transmute the Sphinx Summoner into the Precursor Golem. I drew another copy of Thousand-Year Elixir, cast it, attacked with my two tokens, and passed the turn. My opponent played another land, cast another Bloodbraid Elf, and flipped into a Lightning Bolt, which got aimed at my face. I used the end step to transmute my Precursor Golem three times and make six additional 3/3 tokens. My opponent conceded.
Game 2: White Weenie
I won the roll and kept Island, Island, Darkslick Shores, Swamp, Everflowing Chalice, Master Transmuter, Platinum Angel. I played my Darkslick Shores and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Steppe Lynx and passed back. I drew another Island, cast Everflowing Chalice, and passed the turn back. My opponent played a fetch land, popped it, attacked me for 4, then cast a Kor Firewalker, and passed the turn back. I drew a Grim Poppet, cast Master Transmuter, and passed the turn. My opponent played a land, attacked me for another 4. He or she cast Student of Warfare and Figure of Destiny, and passed the turn back to me. I drew another Master Transmuter, played my land, cast the second Transmuter, and passed the turn.
My opponent attempted to turn Figure into a 2/2 on my end step. I activated my Master Transmuter, returned my Everflowing Chalice back to my hand, and put Grim Poppet onto the battlefield. I removed a counter from Grim Poppet to kill the Figure, removed another counter to kill the steppe Lynx, and removed the third counter to kill the Student of Warfare. My opponent drew, played a land, cast Ranger of Eos, finding a pair of Figure of Destiny, and passed the turn. I drew an Elixir of Immortality, cast it, played my land, used one Transmuter to spin my Grim Poppet off then back onto the battlefield, killed my opponents Ranger of Eos, and left a Counter on the Grim Poppet, I passed the turn. My opponent cast a Figure of Destiny and passed the turn.
I put a counter on the figure during my opponent's end step, used the Transmuter to turn the Grim Poppet into a Platinum Angel, and untapped for my turn. I drew an Island, attacked for 4, cast Everflowing Chalice for zero, I bounced the chalice into a Grim Poppet and used all three counters to kill the Kor Firewalker and the Figure. My opponent untapped and, seeing no foreseeable way to win the game, conceded.
Master Transmuter has one of the most powerful effects in Extended. I'm excited to see if this type of strategy can hold its own in the new Extended metagame. I'll continue working on the deck until the beginning of Extended season. I'm sure there's a list out there that's worth playing in your local Pro Tour Qualifiers in early 2011.
Next week is Imprint Week here on magicthegathering.com. I'll be writing about an Extended Elementals deck that utilizes Mimic Vat. If you have any suggestions I'd be glad to hear them in an email, or on the forums.