The FnF Sword Effect

Feature Article from Adam Yurchick
Adam Yurchick
2/28/2011 8:53:00 AM
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Mirrodin Besieged is making its presence felt across every Magic format. It has made a huge impact in Standard, of course, and Extended has been forever changed as well. Many Extended decks are playing Mirrodin Besieged cards and have completely changed the metagame. In this article I will delve into new decks that have arisen and their effect on the metagame.

The Mirrodin Besieged card that has made the most impact is Sword of Feast and Famine.

Last week I talked about Sword of Feast and Famine becoming a new mainstay in Faeries. The card is becoming adopted in Faeries, but it is not the only deck to utilize it. The Sword of Feast and Famine-Stoneforge Mystic package that revolutionized Standard is popping up in a wide variety of Extended decks. These decks are now dominating the Extended metagame on MTGO and are sure to be major players in the final Extended tournaments of the season, including the remaining MTGO and paper PTQs.

MTGO players were given a harsh introduction to the new Extended last weekend when friends _ShipitHolla and _SipItHolla placed 4th and 1st in the MTGO PTQ, respectively, running almost identical UW decks. Both decks featured the Stoneforge Mystic- Sword of Feast and Famine combination and are eerily similar to the Standard Caw-Go deck.

UW Control by _ShipItHolla
Finished 3rd-4th Place at MTGO Extended PTQ 2/20/11
Main Deck
Sideboard
3 Kitchen Finks
1 Mulldrifter
4 Stoneforge Mystic
3 Vendilion Clique
Creatures [11]
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Planeswalkers [3]
4 Cryptic Command
4 Mana Leak
3 Path to Exile
4 Preordain
3 Spell Pierce
1 Sword of Body and Mind
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
Spells [20]
1 Arid Mesa
4 Celestial Colonnade
5 Island (148)
4 Mutavault
4 Mystic Gate
3 Plains (146)
1 Scalding Tarn
4 Seachrome Coast
Lands [26]
Deck Total [60]


1 Baneslayer Angel
2 Burrenton Forge-Tender
4 Day of Judgment
2 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Kitchen Finks
2 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
1 Path to Exile
2 War Priest of Thune
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!

and

UW Control by __SipItHolla
Finished 1st Place Place at MTGO Extended PTQ 2/20/11
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Kitchen Finks
1 Mulldrifter
4 Stoneforge Mystic
3 Vendilion Clique
Creatures [12]
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Planeswalkers [2]
4 Cryptic Command
2 Day of Judgment
4 Mana Leak
3 Path to Exile
4 Preordain
2 Spell Pierce
1 Sword of Body and Mind
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
Spells [21]
1 Arid Mesa
4 Celestial Colonnade
2 Glacial Fortress
4 Island (148)
1 Misty Rainforest
4 Mutavault
2 Mystic Gate
3 Plains (146)
4 Seachrome Coast
Lands [25]
Deck Total [60]


2 Baneslayer Angel
2 Burrenton Forge-Tender
2 Day of Judgment
1 Journey to Nowhere
1 Kor Sanctifiers
2 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
2 Sower of Temptation
1 Spell Pierce
2 War Priest of Thune
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Since this PTQ, other players have caught on and have been playing very similar lists to great success in Daily Events.

This deck plays some of the best creatures in Extended along with the best Counterspells to create a very effective aggro-control Fish deck. It is able to create a nice clock and back it up with Counterspells and efficient removal. This deck preys on control decks like normal UW and 5cc. Its clock and disruption provide major headaches for Scapeshift decks. Faeries, a tough matchup for traditional UW, is very susceptible to Sword of Feast and Famine.

The centerpiece of this deck is Stoneforge Mystic. It is essentially this deck's Bitterblossom and it really does feel as powerful. It can fetch up either Sword of Feast and Famine or Sword of Body and Mind, both of which are extremely powerful. Sword of Feast and Famine creates a huge tempo swing, one which this deck can leverage very well, and card advantage/disruption. Sword of Body and Mind produces 2/2 tokens, which are great on offense and defense. They also provide extra creatures to equip. These equipment also turn any creature into a sizable threat towards the opponents life total and in combat. The protection abilities protect against removal and creatures. The deck has access to protection from every color but red and white, which is pretty impressive given that the deck runs just two equipment.

Stoneforge Mystic is really excellent in conjunction with the many instants this deck plays. The deck does not have to tap out to play an equipment because it can play them for 1W at the end of turn, which allows the deck to keep up mana for its many instants. This makes the deck extremely flexible and difficult to play against because it has so many options and instant speed weapons at its disposal.

Kitchen Finks is extremely potent in Extended right now, but it really shines here. One of the biggest problems with equipment is that it sets you up for card disadvantage and lost tempo in the face of disruption. Kitchen Finks solves this problem by being two creatures for the price of one. An opponent may be able to destroy Kitchen Finks the first time, but they will have to put up the same fight again when you equip to the Persisted creatures. Kitchen Finks is excellent against aggressive decks but often feels too vanilla against something like Valakut or 5cc. The equipment in this deck turn Kitchen Finks into an all-star against everything. Standard decks play Squadron Hawk for this sort of effect, but in Extended Kitchen Finks does the same job and more.

Vendilion Clique is amazing in this deck for many reasons. Yes, it is the usual 3/1 flier at instant speed that also serves to disrupt the opponent or cycle a card in your hand that its always been, but it really shines in this deck because of the equipment. A Vendilion Clique wearing a Sword is a 5/3 beatstick that fights through almost every creature in the format and will end the game in a hurry.

The other big piece of the deck is the countermagic suite. This is composed of the cheap and tempo swinging Spell Piece, the flexible Mana Leak, and the gamebreaking Cryptic Command. These allow the deck to control the game and buy time for its planeswalkers, creatures, and equipment to make the game irreparable for the opponent. Cryptic Command is especially devastating in this deck because its tap ability is perfect for clearing the way for equipped creatures.

The deck also plays one of the best removal spells in the format, Path to Exile. It's extremely efficient, flexible, and its instant speed makes it a perfect fit here. The card disadvantage is easily negated when you consider the fact that it often makes room for an equipped creature to hit the opponent. It serves double duty be being a possible land acceleration when cast on something like a redundant Stoneforge Mystic.

Some lists play Day of Judgment maindeck, and almost all sideboard up to four copies. It is a powerful catch-all that can create a huge amount of tempo and card advantage in some situations.

The final card is Jace, the Mind Sculptor, a natural fit here. The many Counterspells and creatures in this deck all serve to protect the planeswalker, and the card advantage and tempo elements inherent to Jace make it a potent threat. An unchecked Jace creates too much card advantage to overcome and will win the game on its own in most situations.

What makes this deck really stand out is its 8 manlands. 4 Celestial Colonnade is to be expected, but the 4 Mutavault make this deck truly special. This deck is much more aggressive than the usual Extended UW deck and Mutavault plays a big role. It is always a threat and will often slip in for extra damage throughout a game. Mutavault also makes the equipment absolutely devastating because it is a cheap, hard to kill body that has particularly good synergy with Sword of Feast and Famine. Often the very potential for this combination will Threaten the opponent and make them play very differently, often because they will have to keep up mana for removal. This is extremely powerful and will create some hopeless situations for the opponent.

Sideboard options for this deck are plentiful, but a few have risen to the top.

Linvala, Keeper of Silence is amazing against other creature strategies, namely Elves, Naya, and Bant. It shuts down mana creatures and utility creatures like Fauna Shaman and Knight of the Reliquary. Sometimes it will win the game by itself if the opponent is too reliant on his creatures; sometimes it will just create some card advantage and tempo. It also is a great blocker and an awesome creature for carrying equipment.

War Priest of Thune destroys two of the most powerful cards in the format, Bitterblossom and Prismatic Omen. This deck wins with creatures, so killing Bitterblossom is pretty important against Faeries. The stream of Faeries Bitterblososm creates can be tough to race and fight through. All of the Scapeshift decks, whether UG, UGw, or RG run Prismatic Omen. Keeping it off of the table make it much more difficult for them to win. War Priest of Thune provides a great answer to these cards and more while providing a cheap, aggressive creature.

Burrenton Forge-Tender is excellent against monored and any other deck with burn or aggressive red creatures. It buys a lot of time but it serves another role in this deck; it is a great way to protect creatures from burn when you are equipping them. This is why it gets the nod over the more hateful Kor Firewalker.

Day of Judgment is commonplace and gives the deck great game against other creature decks like Elves and Bant. Sower of Temptation fills a similar role. Additional removal like Path to Exile or Journey to Nowhere are other options.

Baneslayer Angel is strong against a variety of aggro decks, namely Jund and monored, and is a powerful sideboard option.

Kor Sanctifiers fills a similar role to War Priest of Thune but also can destroy equipment, an effect that is becoming more and more useful in Extended.

Glen-Elendra Archmage, devastating against Scapeshift decks and 5cc, can be seen in
some sideboards. Spell Pierce is another option and good against the aforementioned decks.

One card that is not in the lists from the PTQ, but can be seen in some other lists, is Sun Titan. This is strong in the mirror match and against decks that may have hate against equipment. Another card I've seen in some sideboards is Squadron Hawk. This seems pretty strong against Jund, monored, and may even give a strong edge in the mirror match, but I've yet to play with it in Extended.

This UW Mystic deck is dominating Standard, and it may be just as powerful in Extended. This deck popularized the strategy, and i the week since the PTQ the MTGO metagame has been completely changed. There are new decks that try to fight this combination, and there are new decks that utilize it. One of these new decks strives to do both by utilizing Stoneforge Mystic itself while being full of good answers for the combination.

Reiderrabitt T8ed the PTQ where UW Mystic made its debut, playing UGW Bant. He did not make it past the semifinals but apparently he learned a lot from his experience. He went 4-0 in a Daily Event this past Friday with an updated list, and in an impressive feat, won the PTQ on Saturday playing this updated Bant deck. His decklist is not yet available but it appears to be very similar to the deck he took to a 4-0 finish on Friday.

Bant by reiderrabbit
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Mirran Crusader
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Qasali Pridemage
4 Stoneforge Mystic
Creatures [24]
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Planeswalkers [2]
4 Bant Charm
4 Path to Exile
2 Sword of Feast and Famine
Spells [10]
2 Celestial Colonnade
4 Forest (154)
1 Island (148)
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Murmuring Bosk
1 Mystic Gate
1 Plains (146)
4 Razorverge Thicket
2 Seachrome Coast
1 Stirring Wildwood
1 Tectonic Edge
2 Verdant Catacombs
Lands [24]
Deck Total [60]


4 Burrenton Forge-Tender
4 Great Sable Stag
3 Oust
4 Unified Will
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


This deck is extremely explosive, aggressive, and disruptive. It also has great card quality and is full of high impact cards. Reiderrabbit, known as Reid Duke in real life, has had an incredible amount of success with his Extended Bant deck on MTGO, culminating in his PTQ win a few days ago. Let's analyze his choices:

Stoneforge Mystic. Reid did not play Stoneforge Mystic last week, but apparently he saw the power of the card and added 4 copies along with 2 Sword of Feast and Famine, a decision that worked out well for him. Sword of Feast and Famine is tailor made for Bant, and Stoneforge Mystic really puts it over the top. Between 4 Stoneforge Mystic and 2 Sword of Feast and Famine the deck will very consistently have access to its equipment. Stoneforge also reduces the cost of SoFF and provides a body to equip, but this is not as relevant as it is in the UW version because the deck isn't chock full of instants.

Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch have been Bant mainstays for years and this deck really takes advantage of them. They serve as acceleration AND mana fixing. They give this deck explosive starts and allow the deck to get its game plan going before the opponent starts to really play. Noble Hierarch has Exalted and gives this deck a big edge in combat. One of the biggest problems with running so many acceleration creatures is risk of drawing too many, especially in the late game. This deck gets around that problem by playing Sword of Feast and Famine. This turns these often dead creatures into huge threats. Noble Hierarch at least has Exalted, but Birds of Paradise would often be nothing more than a flying chump blocker. Sword turns BOP into an evasive monster.

The deck plays eight powerful 3 casting cost creatures to accelerate into.

Knight of the Reliquary has been in almost every aggressive GW deck since its been printed and there is no exception here. Knight is one of the most powerful creatures this deck can play, and it is a perfect fit. The deck plays 6 fetch lands so it will often be much bigger than 2/2 the turn it is cast. Of course, if it is not big enough, a few turns of activations will make it into a huge creature big enough of blocking almost anything or attacking through just as much. Knight of the Reliquary is also mana acceleration in itself because it can provide an extra mana every turn. It also provides some utility because this deck plays 2 Celestial Colonnade, 1 Stirring Wildwood, and 1 Tectonic Edge to search for.

The second three drop, and a much more novel one, is Mirran Crusader. This card has made a small splash in Standard, but Reid shows us that maybe Extended is where it can truly shine. On its own, its a creature that does 4 damage a turn and can fight through or trade with almost every popular creature in Extended. It also has protection from black so it is immune to much of the removal. Protection from green makes it pretty impressive against other green decks. This is all good, but it is nothing too impressive. Mirran Crusader shines because of its synergy with exalted, equipment, and Elspeth. Double Strike means that every exalted trigger turns into two points of damage. Turn 1 Noble Hierarch followed by a Mirran Crusader is a 6 point clock, and any additional exalted triggers make Mirran Crusader absolutely huge. This makes Mirran Crusader a particularly threatening topdeck later in the game when you have a few exalted creatures sitting in play. Mirran Crusader is also insane with Sword of Feast and Famine. This makes it not only a 4/4 double strike, but it will trigger SoFF TWICE. Making the opponent discard two cards is huge, and you get an free Early Harvest that can be used to cast instants like Bant Charm. Finally, Mirran Crusader is excellent in conjunction with Elspeth, Knight Errant. Using Elspeth on Mirran Crusader makes a 5/5 flying double strike, which equates to half of the opponent life total. This deck can make this play on turn 3, meaning it has a potential turn 4 goldfish win. It also makes any Mirran Crusader extremely threatening in later turns because Elspeth could come down and end the game.

The last creature in this deck is Qasali Pridemage. This is an aggressive two drop that serves as an alternative play to Stoneforge Mystic. The 2/2 body and exalted triggers are excellent, but Pridemage is really played because of the utility it provides. Powerful enchantments like Bitterblossom and Prismatic Omen are heavily played in Extended. Nowadays decks that do not play those most likely play Stoneforge Mystic and equipment like Sword of Feast and Famine. These equipment NEED to be destroyed and Qasali Pridemage is the perfect solution. Qasali Pridemage turns into a 3 mana Naturalize for equipment already in play. A Qasali Pridemage in play all but blanks equipment in hand because of the huge tempo advantage that sacrificing for 1 mana creates; there is a huge mana investment, 4-5 mana, inherent to playing and equipping equipment.

The final cards in the deck provide additional power and utility. This is starting to sound like a pickup truck commercial.

This deck eschews Sword of Body and Mind and simply plays two Sword of Feast and Famine. The deck is aggressive enough and filled with enough creatures that it will not often win by decking nor run out of creatures to equip, so Sword of Body and Mind is not that important. Sword of Feast and Famine is abusable because the deck can really take advantage of the tempo by emptying its hand. There is much more removal for equipment now, so playing two means that the deck will not run out of them. The deck is also fully capable of utilizing having two in play.

Elspeth, Knight Errant serves two roles. One, it gives creatures evasion and a power boost, a boon to an aggressive deck like this. This is particularly useful because it provides evasion to equipped creatures. Elspeth is also extremely synergistic with equipment because it produces an endless stream of 1/1 tokens. These tokens are perfect bodies for Sword of Feast and Famine and are sure to exhaust the opponents supply of removal or blockers.

Path to Exile is an efficient removal spell that clears out threatening creatures and clears the way for an equipped creature to connect with the opponent. Also, as discussed earlier, it can be used as mana acceleration.

The real gem in this decklist, which i saved for last, is Bant Charm. This cards popularity has waxed and wane throughout its existence and now the metagame is yet again ripe for it. All of its abilities are very relevant so it provides an amazing amount of utility at 3 mana and at instant speed. First, it can destroy artifacts. In this world of powerful equipment, this is the card that gives this build a real, demonstrable edge over other Stoneforge Mystic decks. Bant Charm is also creature removal. This is not the Extended of the past, and basically every deck plays creatures. Mistbind Clique is no problem for this deck, and Primeval Titan, while scary, is hardly unbeatable. Bant Charm is of course simply amazing against other creature heavy decks like Mythic, Naya, Boros, and Jund. Bant Charm's final use is that it can counter instants. This deck does not play any hard counterspells, but Bant Charm serves in this role admirably. It can protect equipped creatures from removal, so it will often win the game on the spot. It also counters the always important Cryptic Command and countless other instants. All of these uses make Bant Charm a perfect fit here.

Reiderrabbit's sideboard is also excellent.

Burrenton Forge-Tender is an obvious choice against monored for reasons discussed earlier in UW. It is better in this deck because there are even more creatures to protect.

Great Sable Stag is simply the most brutal and effective card against Faeries. Faeries is a huge part of the metagame, so Great Sable Stag is a great sideboard option; it is simply game-winning when paired up with Sword of Feast and Famine.

Oust is very interesting and not a card often seen in Extended. Oust is excellent against other creature decks and serves as a Path to Exile that does not give up card advantage. It also can be used to bury an opponent who has a clunky or stunted draw.

Unified Will is a nice surprise out of the sideboard, which for this deck is a better place to put Counterspells than the maindeck. This deck really only wants Counterspells against decks where it will tend to have more creatures in play than the opponent anyways. This allows Duke to play the more powerful Unified Will over something like Mana Leak or Negate, which are more consistent in some ways but much less reliable as hard counters. Also, if this deck does not have creatures in play, making Unified Will blank, the game is often already a lost cause, so the downside is not as bad as it may seem.

All in all, I think this Bant deck is extremely powerful and is here to stay.

I'd also like to show a list played by Magic superstar Guillaume Wafo-Tapa. He plays on MTGO under the name WaToO, and he's been playing Faeries with Sword of Feast and Famine, so I took notice of his list. Here is a list he played to 3-1 in a Daily Event on Saturday.

Faeries by WaToO
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Mistbind Clique
3 Spellstutter Sprite
1 Vampire Nighthawk
4 Vendilion Clique
Creatures [12]
4 Bitterblossom
4 Cryptic Command
2 Disfigure
3 Go for the Throat
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Mana Leak
2 Sword of Feast and Famine
3 Thoughtseize
Spells [22]
3 Creeping Tar Pit
4 Darkslick Shores
4 Island (148)
4 Mutavault
4 Secluded Glen
3 Sunken Ruins
3 Swamp (150)
1 Tectonic Edge
Lands [26]
Deck Total [60]


2 Consume the Meek
2 Flashfreeze
2 Infest
2 Sower of Temptation
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Thoughtseize
1 Vampire Nighthawk
2 Wall of Tanglecord
2 Wurmcoil Engine
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Between UW Mystic winning the MTGO PTQ two weekends ago, and UGW Stoneforge winning the PTQ this past weekend, it is safe to say the Extended metagame has truly shifted. Stoneforge Mystic has made its presence felt, and many Faerie decks are also playing Sword of Feast and Famine. Decks now need to utilize these cards or adapt to beat them or work around them, or they will be left in the dust. The presence of Scapeshift decks is diminishing because they are weak to this new breed of decks. There is also an increased amount of incidental hate for Prismatic Omen in the format. Faeries is no longer so dominant because it is weak against Sword of Feast and Famine. Monored, which preyed on Faeries, is also falling in popularity

One of the biggest winners in this new metagame has been Elves. This deck is naturally strong against these Stoneforge Mystic decks. UW is no longer so controlling and not as well equipped to beat a swarm of creatures. Bant has a similar weakness.
The most successful Elf lists are very aggressive and capable of winning the game quickly.

Here is a good list, piloted to 4-0 in a DE by a Japanese Pro:

Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Arbor Elf
3 Bramblewood Paragon
4 Elvish Archdruid
3 Ezuri, Renegade Leader
4 Heritage Druid
4 Imperious Perfect
4 Joraga Warcaller
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Nettle Sentinel
3 Wren's Run Vanquisher
Creatures [37]
2 Genesis Wave
2 Primal Command
Spells [4]
17 Forest (154)
2 Tectonic Edge
Lands [19]
Deck Total [60]


3 Cloudthresher
4 Leyline of Vitality
4 Naturalize
4 Obstinate Baloth
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!

Some players are replacing cards like Genesis Wave and Primal Command with Mirrodin Besieged sleeper Lead the Stampede, as shown in this list by kronin:

Elves by konin
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Arbor Elf
4 Bramblewood Paragon
4 Elvish Archdruid
3 Ezuri, Renegade Leader
4 Heritage Druid
4 Imperious Perfect
4 Joraga Warcaller
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Nettle Sentinel
4 Wren's Run Vanquisher
Creatures [39]
3 Lead the Stampede
Spells [3]
18 Forest (154)
Lands [18]
Deck Total [60]


3 Deglamer
4 Great Sable Stag
1 Lead the Stampede
4 Leyline of Vitality
3 Plummet
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


There has been a metagame shakeup, and the Extended format is in a very interesting place. There are still many more relevant tournaments and players are sure to bring out their best ideas. I am excited to see how the metagame continues to develop and if any exciting new decks rise to the top.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

Adam




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