n the beginning, when Magic was full of simmering, bubbling lava and theme decks the world over, the player had only one resource from which to derive his inspiration: the mind.
Through the years, the game has evolved, from casual to competitive, simple to complicated. With it, a community has sprung up, starting as a single cell organism that's evolved into the Interne monster. With the creation of Magic's first at large website, the Magic Dojo, came the 'Net deck. For the first time ever, one did not need to build their own decks, instead having the option to rely upon the efforts of others, reaping the rewards when such creations had stood the test of tournament play well enough that their owners would want to boast about their creations with pride.
Since that time, the debate has raged as to whether the 'Net deck is within the spirit of the game. Ask a casual gamer and they'll likely tell you that the 'Net deck is completely against the whole point of the game. "Magic is supposed to be fun AND creative," they would say. The deck as a concept was meant to be a reflection of the wizard-player. Aggressive and angry? Play red. Calm and manipulative? You're a control player. To merely strip a deck from someone else's mind, at least from that perspective, would be a soulless act. You have to go with what you know.
While these beliefs are often set aside in the face of competition, this weekend has shown us that even those decks that lie far from the beaten path can survive in today's extended environment. Sure, most of Day 2's decks fall into those all-too-familiar headings, like Reanimator, Red Deck Wins, Rock, Tog, etc., but the lesser represented are still around, fighting the good fight, to the chagrin of tournament players ho think they should have all the answers and the delight of casual players everywhere.
Pattern-Ghoul: Being piloted by Claudio Salemi of Italy, this original list performed solidly, managing a 10-6 record. The deck thinks along the same lines as the old Angry Druid decks, seeking out the huge Ghoul once the graveyard is full.
Squirrel-Opposition: One of yesteryear's great deck builders, Satoshi Nakamura has always been a strong believer in the blue-green combination, and he showed up here with the unexpected Squirrel-Opposition. Even more unexpected were his four main deck Swords of Fire/Ice, which he explained as being a result of his deck's weakness against Goblin Sharpshooter. Nakamura is also 10-6.
Life: Ryuichi Arita finished 12-4 with this self-explanatory Japanese deck. Excellent tiebreakers helped to ensure his place in Sunday's top 8. He finished 7th.
Four-color control: At 11-4-1, Dutchman Ruud Warmenhoven shut up a lot of his friends. Playing an unorthodox deck including Orim's Chant and Isochron's Scepter, he seemed to lock more opponents than not.
Elf and Nail - At 9-7, Ronnie Jones is just made the money with his 64th place finish, but just making day two proved a lot of people wrong. Most thought Tooth and Nail was strictly of Standard caliber, but Extended's superior mana acceleration has kept him going.
UW Scepter Control - Undoubtedly the most successful of the one-ofs, England's Nicholas West, 23, has been Chant-locking opponents almost all tournament. He finished 13-3, good enough for second in the swiss.
THE Deck, or Rector? But I hardly even know her! - Much to the chagrin of the entire Sideboard staff, who spent most of Friday trying to figure out just what this deck did, round fourteen was the last for Brazil's Hugo Terra, who finished the tournament at 6-8. Terra came back from a 1-2 start to make day two, but today he was just one and five, with the one being a round 13 bye. A close eye will be kept on future premiere-level Extended events to see if this archetype will rear its…er…ugly head again.