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Extended Thoughts

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The letter F!ollowing the broken environment that occurred at Pro Tour New Orleans, the DCI banned a massive amount of cards in an effort to slow down the Extended metagame. Did it work? This is the first major event to use new Extended environment, so asking the players themselves who have been in the trenches all day may be the best way to gauge the state of the format. Almost everyone agreed that the format is still fast and combo oriented, but opinions regarding whether or not this is a good thing were mixed.

Translation by Ron Foster

Itaru Ishida - "It's always a game of catch-up. This environment is better than it was in December, but what's going to happen is that a new crop of very strong decks will come out, and will dominate the environment. Certain cards from those decks will get banned, the environment will change again, and that means another new crop of strong decks that will require additional bannings. It's always this catch-up process, you can never get a perfectly balanced environment. Extended probably won't settle down until Sixth Edition, Tempest and Urza's Blocks leave because the tempo of the environment is too fast. Everyone is playing speed decks that win on the first, second or third turn, so until you get away from an environment that has those kinds of cards, and so many sets in the format have them, you're not going to have a really good environment."

Masashi Oiso - "I think it's good, because there are a whole bunch of decks you can play. There's no one deck that is clearly better than the others, so everyone has a chance. As for the speed, it's Extended. Extended is always going to be fast, certainly faster than Standard. Is there anything wrong with that? It's a different format, so just enjoy it for what it is."

Kazaya Hirabayashi - "It's just a fast environment, and the bannings will never be able to create a balanced format until the card pool gets thinned out and there are no more fast combo decks. No fast mana, no fast combos. Online Extended is probably a really good format."

Osamu Fujita - "There's a variety of decks in the next Extended, so it's a fun environment. There's a lot of choices, but it still seems a little too fast. There are too many combo decks. Bannings aren't necessarily the answer. As long as there's some sort of antithesis for the combo decks, a card that can shut them down, it's not necessarily an unhealthy environment. You shouldn't ban every card used in combo decks, because then you end up hurting the variety of decks. Also, if you ban too many cards, you might negatively impact the popularity of the format. It might turn people off because their favorite deck is no longer usable, so they just drop out."

Masashiro Kuroda - "It's better than it was. It's still not perfect, it's still not healthy. Combo decks that can win on the second, third, sometimes even the first turn are still out there. It's still very fast. We've kind of gone full circle where it's like things were a year ago. It's certainly faster than Standard, but at least the games are over quicker. You get a chance to get something to eat between rounds, so maybe it's not so bad."

Tsuyoshi Fujita - "I think it's a great format. Right now, it's perfect. If you took out all the combo decks, it would be boring. It wouldn't be fun anymore. I think it's a more interesting format than Standard. The only card that might be a problem right now, if you had to pick a card that's troublesome, it's Intuition."

Katsuhiro Mori - "The environment is still too fast. There's Reanimator decks, all these combo decks that win within a few turns. If you keep on banning cards, nothing is really going to get fixed until the sets with all these combo pieces like Tempest drop out. You can keep banning until you ban all the cards, but that's the same thing as the sets rotating out. Extended is probably always going to be a little faster than Standard, but the problem is there's no chance for you to play. If your opponent reanimates some giant creature that swings for twenty on the first turn, it's not even a game, and that's no fun. Things should slow down to the point that people can at least develop their decks a bit and the games last longer than five turns."

Jin Okamoto - "We've gone back in time to about a year ago. It's like Grand Prix Hiroshima- there's Reanimator decks, there's Enchantress decks and all these combo decks running around. It's still just a really fast format. I'm starting to think that something needs to be done to fix Extended, some sort of major restructuring. Otherwise, it's going to die. No one is going to want to play it anymore because they're not playing- the game is over in two turns. The easiest way to fix Extended is to kill the sets that have the problem cards, the ones that produced the banned cards, and make it like online Extended where you can still play a combo deck but it's not going to win in the first few turns."

Satoshi Nakamura - "It's actually a very good environment right now, because there's such a large variety of decks. You can play just about any deck you want, you can put lots of combinations together and there's lots of room to play around with. I think that's the ideal of Magic: you can express your creativity as you want. You can go "I want to play this deck!" and you can. Extended right now is fun. It's not Standard, and it shouldn't be Standard. So, trying to compare them and saying "Extended is too fast." So what? You can have a fun format, and have fast combo cards in it.

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