Saturday, January 30, 2010

Breaking into Extended... kind of...

I've been playtesting Extended just a tiny bit. I'm not going to lie, it's really, intimidatingly, fucking complicated.

Look at the card Gifts Ungiven. If you're new to the format, every time an opponent plays a Gifts Ungiven, it's like you have to solve a riddle on your feet. It doesn't matter if they play the same deck each time, they're going to get different cards in each situation; they're going to NEED different cards in each situation. And each time you have to figure out what it is they want you to choose and what it is they don't want you to choose. Sometimes it won't matter what you choose, but when it DOES matter, oh Lord.

The presence of that card by itself makes the format complicated. But I think it's still complicated without that card. The variety of decks is very large; thankfully there's still only about 4 main ones to worry about. So if you're going to worry about anything, narrow it down to Zoo, Dark Depths, Faeries, and Scapeshift. And maybe Thopter Foundry.

If you can really lump all the varieties of Zoo into one word... there's Saito Zoo, Rubin Zoo, landfall/Scapeshift Zoo, Bant Charm Zoo, Ranger of Eos Zoo, whatever you can conceivably think of being in an aggro deck. I've heard of Cryptic Command Zoo, even. Whatever the hell you want, basically.

This is currently what I'm playtesting with. I'm trying all different versions since I haven't settled. But it's the "dumbest" deck out of the top 4 or 5. And it requires the least amount of format knowledge off-hand. "Turn creatures sideways." It still isn't nearly as easy as playing, say, well, any Standard aggro deck. In these past six months, I had forgotten what playing around counterspells was like. I enjoy playing around counterspells a lot. Probably too much. So I'm probably also doing it wrong. On the other hand "playing around" Kitchen Finks sucks. And by playing around I mean running head first into, and then getting owned. I love Finks (it's probably my favorite creature that I've played with), but seeing it on the other side is just a bummer.

So why am I playtesting Extended at all? I guess GP Oakland and a lot of nagging. I also wasn't ready to buy any Extended cards, but apparently I can borrow cards from someone, so that's a major push to at least try. I still need to borrow Goyfs probably, but whatevs. If it happens it happens; if it doesn't, maybe there is another option.

I think when Mirrodin and Kamigawa rotate out, that's when I want to jump into Extended for sure. Since I'll probably have more relevant cards than I do right now. Also I hear Ravnica block is the shit. They should just do a "fixed" Ravnica, where they bring back most of the cards without some of the more broken ones. They could tweak some cards to make them more newbie friendly. Honestly I don't think anyone would complain if they didn't release a brand new set. A lot of people want Ravnica limited again. They could cycle Ravnica every like, 5 years (7 years?) and no one would complain! Nobody! Ok, maybe Eternal players would...

It's still very exciting to discover Extended right now. It's more wet than Standard, which is pretty dry. I recommend it.

If you're as lost as I am, though, you probably need some information. There are tons of pages of articles being written on Extended right now, actually. I recommend just searching CFB for some articles on it. I don't think the articles really -help- actually, at least they don't tell you how to play matchups. (I think. I haven't looked that thoroughly.) But they tell you what the decks are and what the sideboarding is.

If you're going to read anything.
This article changed the face of Extended a couple weeks ago. That is quote-unquote the best deck in Extended.
The followup article. 
I can only vaguely guess at why it's the best. My assumption is that Marit Lage by itself won't win you all your games. Since Zoo can still get around it with Path. Or, I dunno, just kill you. On the other hand many other decks have a lot of trouble dealing with it. Thopter Foundry, on the other hand, is nigh unstoppable against aggro if you manage to get it off in time. Lifegain and a neat row of little Thopter blockers. Scapeshift doesn't... look like it has much game against this deck considering how much disruption it has. But you know all of this^^^ I don't really know anything. I am talking out my butt. But people say it's the best. So believe them!

Personally I think watching LSV's videos on Youtube is one very worthwhile thing to do to learn a little about Extended. The next step is then to go on MTGO and watch replays from Extended events. That's one thing you can appreciate about MTGO. Each game action is explicitly displayed on the stack. Or at least logged in the chat bar. So it's not like real life, where your opponent has Sword of the Meek in the graveyard with Thopter Foundry out, sacs something and says, "I gain X life and get X tokens." After tapping a bunch of mana. And you're like, "Huh? What? How did you do that?" On MTGO the Thopter Foundry player has to do a bunch of clicking (hah). It's actually probably really annoying after a while.

But GREAT for learning! So use that as a resource. It's a lot of free information.

The other great resouce to have is a friend who's willing to teach you things. And answer questions. Also playtest! That's the best thing. A friend with a MWS account.

I can ask annoying amounts of questions... sometimes. And it's not easy to find people willing to answer them all the time. Or maybe I ask questions that are too hard. Or maybe I just don't feel comfortable asking. So it's convenient to have MTGO, articles, and other resources I can use by myself. These are probably more reliable anyway. Pros write articles. And you can watch replays of winning decks and players. Or specific matchups you want to know more about.

Maybe I'm pretty lame, but I like watching replays. It's not as exciting as watching Starcraft replays. But it's something to do while eating or something... I haven't watched any Extended replays yet, but I will probably. I have a long way to go... -_-

I really do wish the replays would reveal the hands of both players though. I don't think it does that. There are a lot more functionalities I wished the replays had. But MTGO is a terrible program in many ways. :/ So what can you expect... it didn't even have replays for a huge gap of time. But it's really better to have them than not at all. There's nowhere else to get all that information.

I should get some ZZZ's before the Prerelease though. Yawn...