Crucible of Words: Extended in the New Year by Cyrus Bales

Crucible of Words: Extended in the New Year by Cyrus Bales

Welcome to my regular coloumn, Crucible of Words, here’ I’ll be talking about Constructed formats.

A lot of people have been asking me lately, what do I think is the best deck in extended. I don’t like to say that any deck is “the best” unless it clearly is, and I don’t think we have a clearly defined champion deck yet. However a deck that I do think is incredibly strong and a very good choice for extended PTQ’s, is Demigod Jund.

Jund; the bane of last season’s standard, fuelled by the infamous Bloodbraid Elf, it plays efficient creatures and spells such as Putrid Leech and Blightning. There were several successful versions as worlds, but by the far the best was a Demigod Jund build, which aligns it’s manabase so it can always produce red mana from each land, allowing it to cast the likes of Boggart Ram-Gang and of course, Demigod of Revenge.

Here’s Sureyya Dipsar’s list from worlds:

4 Blackcleave Cliffs
2 Copperline Gorge
4 Fire-Lit Thicket
1 Graven Cairns
2 Lavaclaw Reaches
2 Mountain
3 Raging Ravine
4 Reflecting Pool
4 Savage Lands

1 Anathemancer
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Boggart Ram-Gang
4 Demigod of Revenge
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Putrid Leech

4 Blightning
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Thoughtseize

2 Duress
4 Great Sable Stag
3 Obstinate Baloth
1 Thought Hemorrhage
1 Thoughtseize
4 Volcanic Fallout

So, why do I think this deck is so good?

First, let’s look at what appeared at Worlds, as everyone expected, Jund, Faeries and 4/5 Colour Control decks were the most popular, being the big shots of the standard of yesteryear. Aside from these decks, various Valakut, the molten pinnacle decks, some using Prismatic Omen and Wargate, others going for a build resembling the current standard versions, however they all of course run Scapeshift, finally, Elves makes a large showing in both numbers and success.

So we have a clearly defined “Big five” that will be probably be incredibly popular deck choices for the coming weeks of Extended. And Demigod Jund seems to have something for each of them.

Faeries, for the faerie player, it’s a very difficult match up game one. Bloodbraid Elf forcing two spells through at once is always an issue for decks controlling the board through counter magic. Blightning is also an incredibly painful effect if it’s allowed to resolve, making it a must counter for the faeries player. Lightning Bolt can threaten any of the faerie player’s manlands or Vendilion Clique, whilst Maelstrom Pulse gives them an option to take out just about anything, including hordes of faeries. The main clincher though, is Demigod of Revenge. Big enough to eat up any faerie, this card is a nightmare for control decks, faeries will struggle to deal with a resolved Demigod, and second copy will almost surely seal the game as it brings it’s friend back from the graveyard. If this wasn’t enough, a compliment of five manlands gives the Demigod Jund player uncounterable threats.

From the sideboard, the match twists from about 60-40 in favour of Jund, to a nearly unwinnable match up for the faeries player. Volcanic Fallout and Great Sable stag, either of them is enough to put a spanner in the works and massively change the board state. This is clearly a sideboard built with faeries in mind.

4/5 Colour Control. A popular deck from it’s time in standard, it appears to be proving just as popular in extended. Demigod Jund’s match up against this control deck though, isn’t quite as strong as it’s game against faeries, but it’s still pretty reasonable. The ability to clock fast with Boggart Ram-Gang, who also takes out those pesky Wall of Omens, along with the infamous Bloodbraid Elf give the deck a lot of ability to apply pressure. The single main deck Anathemancer is always going to give you immense value in this match up, and Demigod’s will almost certainly be jumping out the graveyard due to the long game plan of Vivid Creek control decks. Kitchen Finks can survive removal and come back to attack, whilst Putrid Leech is often a good enough clock to demand answers, giving Demigod Jund a decent game plan against them, as well as the five manlands again.

From the sideboard though, Demigod Jund grabs itself some more discard, but it’s Great Sable Stags aren’t as useful in this match, since these multicoloured control decks pack plenty of answers. The control player will then be bringing in their own tools, and their sideboard has a lot more relevant cards than the Demigod Jund player, which then loses you a small slice of the win percentage here.

Valakut. Now, Valakut decks fall into two main categories, Prismatic Omen builds, and “Standard” type builds. The “Standard” builds run very much like the deck of the same name in standard, ramp up to Primeval Titan, then blow them up, except here it has Scapeshift which ends games very quickly. The Prismatic Omen builds run more like the Valakut decks from the old extended, they play control spells, whilst slowly ramping into a Scapeshift for the win, very dependent on the Scapeshift and the Prismatic Omen, the deck has an obvious weakness. For Demigod Jund, being able to remove Prismatic Omen with Maelstrom Pulse is very helpful, as are the quick clocking creatures it deploys. When it comes to the “Standard” build, the Demigod Jund player has a lot less to utilize game one, running out creatures and clocking quickly, the match up often depends on whether an opportune Blightning or two can hit.

From the sideboard, the Demigod Jund player grabs a handful of discard to help things along, and Thought Hemorrhage as a singleton turn the tide if drawn. Whilst the deck doesn’t have much to bring in, neither does the Valakut player, so game two and three are not too much different from the first game, Demigod Jund getting slightly more out of it’s extra fifteen, but only just.

Jund. Yes, the Demigod Jund player is certain to run into more traditional Jund builds. Whilst there isn’t much to separate the two in this match up, Demigod Jund does has the edge, thanks to, you’ve guess it, Demigod of Revenge. The ability to pitch them to an opposing Blightning allows the Demigod Jund player to almost win instantly if they draw a second copy, the Demigod’s Evasion is also a great tool against the traditional builds which have no presence in the air. The slight difference gives you an edge, but not a massive overwhelming advantage, but enough for it to be the better deck in this match up. From the sideboard, it’s the same deal as you both board in the same way.

Lastly, we have the little green men; Elves. Elves is an interesting match up, since there are several different builds, some more combo orientated, a few going down an aggro route. Mostly though, it’s combo Elves. Demigod Jund does sport removal to take out lords and combo pieces, but Maelstrom Pulse i svery slow in terms of the Elf player’s board position. From the sideboard, Volcanic Fallout is a bit of an all-star, sweeping their board away, which then lets the Demigod Jund’s bigger creatures get in for plenty of damage. It’s not a brilliant match up, but it’s not completely unwinnable either, this is one of the match ups that the sideboard could improve upon.

So looking at the top five decks, Demigod Jund boasts an incredible match up against Faeries, it has the edge in the Jund mirror, a reasonable game against Vivid Creek control decks, and varying games against Valakut decks and the ability to handle most random decks with a solid game plan. This isn’t bad, and is certainly a fine choice for extended PTQ’s, however it can be improved.

The Vivid Creek control match up is alright, but needs a little more oomph, which is pretty easily given. Anathemancer. This card is probably going to be one of the best cards in extended given the meta, most decks seem to be running very few basics, which gives this guy the ability to close games like no other. Just by swapping two of the main deck Kitchen Finks out for Anathemancer, the deck suddenly improves it’s control match up, as well as just having a generally strong card against the field. Whilst other Jund decks might not be able to run Anathemancer’s as happily, the high threat count of Demigod Jund allows it drop the extra point of power of Finks to generate these backbreaking Anathamancer Blowouts.

The other points of concern for this deck, the manabase. It is, as all Jund decks are, a little stretched, but what I found a little problematic with the deck, was that your fifth land will often come into play tapped, delaying your Demigod’s by a turn. Secondly, the deck doesn’t generate board position that fast, Putrid Leech being it’s only two drop, yes it does make up for it along the curve, but it does feel that some games can be won or lost depending on whether you drop a Leech. Perhaps adding in another two drop, so you have 5, maybe 6 creature cards you can draw by turn 2 to generate board position could help this.

Whilst I think this deck is already great, fixing the manabase, playing more Anathamancer and possibly complimenting Putrid Leech a little more could go a long way to making it the best deck in the field, as could a more finely tuned sideboard, since having four Great Sable stag and four Volcanic Fallout does feel like overkill.

As for me personally, I’m still testing out some other ideas and I hope to bring you a competitive home brew in coming weeks.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing.

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