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Live Coverage of 2005 Pro Tour Columbus

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The letter T!he term "rogue" is bandied about in every Constructed format, but being rogue in Extended probably gives you a greater advantage than in any other Pro Tour format. Playing a deck that your opponents not only haven't prepared for, but also don't immediately understand, can give you an enormous edge in a match, particularly when the format is a fast one. It clearly pays to do the extra work and find a good deck that players haven't prepared for, but the question this weekend is: Is it better to play a rogue deck that might not be as good as the rest of the decks in the field just to get an element of surprise?

We talked to some of the more adventuresome players this weekend, and see how they came up with their new creations, what the decks are good against, and to ask them why they bucked the conventional wisdom to play a deck that is decidedly rogue.

Kitty by Manuel Bevand

Q: How did you come up with this deck?
A: I was reading Kai's set review on Brainburst where he said that Desperate Ritual is completely unplayable in Constructed. That seemed like a challenge to me, so I decided to build a deck based around Desperate Rituals. Early on in deckbuilding, I figured out that it should probably be a Sneak Attack deck, and while I was researching that, I discovered Through the Breach, which made the deck even better. Eventually what I ended up with was a deck that was really good, except for the Desperate Rituals, so I cut those, tested some more, and played it today. In the end, Kai was right.

Desperate Ritual

Q: What Does the Deck Do?
A: It's designed to get a fat creature into play as early as possible with Sneak Attack or Through the Breach and kill your opponent. Serra Avatar is the key creature that lets you kill your opponent on turn 2 or 3, while Symbiotic Wurm is just an excellent card to use with either of your engine cards.

Q: Why did you choose this deck?
A: I really like to play my own decks. I know that this was a risky choice to play, but it has a high reward factor as well. My goal is simply to make the top 128 here so that I can play at the next Pro Tour.

Q: What are the deck's strengths and weaknesses?
A: Well, the deck is very fast. I've already pulled off three or four turn-two combos this weekend in the first few rounds, and most decks aren't prepared for it. On the other hand, matchups are very draw-dependent, and the deck is a little inconsistent. If my opponent's know what the deck does, then matchups are much worse, but if they are unprepared, there are a lot of tricks I can pull that will beat them.

In order to pull the combo off, you need three mana on turn 2, (either from a Mountain and a two-mana land, or two lands and a Mox), and you also need Through the Breach and a Serra Avatar. The Symbiotic Wurms and Sundering Titans are for control decks.

White Weenie by Gabe Walls and Jelger Wiegersma

Q: How did you come up with this deck?
A: It's White Weenie. We didn't build it so much as discover it was pretty good.

Whipcorder

Q: Why did you choose this deck?
A: It beats everything but Pernicious Deed and Psychatog with Vampiric Tutors. It's just a surprisingly good deck, and it's really consistent. Plus, we get to play with Crusade, and uh... Parallax Waves is kinda sexy too.

Q: You're lying to me, aren't you?
A: Obviously.

Q: What are the deck's strengths and weaknesses?
A: Whipcorder and Mother of Runes just smash Reanimator decks, and Goblins is practically a bye. All of your guys cost one and two mana except for Exalted Angel, and the sideboard is really versatile. We even have a solid matchup against combo decks because we get enchantment removal and Rule of Law.

Cephalid Breakfast with Adrian Olivera

Q: How did you come up with this deck?
A: There are six people playing the deck this weekend. Three players originally constructed the thing, and four tested it for the Pro Tour (two other people wanted to play the deck and we just have it to them). Two of my teammates played it in the Spanish Extended PTQs after the bannings last year, and then they brought it back this summer when they qualified for this Pro Tour.

Cephalid Illusionist

Q: What does the deck do?
A: It's essentially an updated version of the Angry Hermit decks from Extended seasons past, except without the Hermit Druids. You use Nomads en-Kor and Cephalid Illusionist to mill away your entire deck into your graveyard, and then reanimate a hasted Sutured Ghoul to bash your opponent.

Q: Why did you choose this deck?
A: Originally the deck was a little inconsistent, but we made it better with Worldly Tutors as well, so it has a lot of searching power. All told, we tested for about a month before the Pro Tour, so we did considerable work before the PT to make the deck as good as possible. It has a very consistent turn 3/turn 4 combo kill that occasionally happens on turn 2. That, plus the fact that nobody understands how the deck works, is why we chose it.

Q: What are the deck's strengths and weaknesses?
A: We think that almost every matchup is good except Red Deck Wins and Psychatog. No one expects this deck -- heck, most people don't even know what Cephalid Illusionist does, so they don't know how to play it.

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