Aggro Loam still abuses the amazing synergy between Life from the Loam and cycling lands. The deck runs Life from the Loam and Burning Wish to get access to the deck-defining sorcery. Aggro Loam also has an aggro element with Terravore and friends. The fast creatures can deal a lot of damage quickly, at which point the Seismic Assault can finish it. This deck can be built in a billion different variations, for instance with or without black or white or more controllish or more aggro or more combo ... and with or without Tarmogoyf, but the above versions are fairly representative. The best matchups are Rock variants and Boros Deck Wins and the worst matchup is Scepter/Chant, as the deck has no out to Orim’s Chant imprinted on Isochron Scepter before board.
This deck plays typical Rock cards, such as Birds of Paradise, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Eternal Witness, Cabal Therapy, and of course Pernicious Deed. Green-Black Rock control decks are as old as the format itself, and this deck builds on that archetype. But Gifts Rock adds something extra. As the name might suggest, it runs blue for Gifts Ungiven. A typical Gifts setups is Genesis, Eternal Witness, Cabal Therapy, and another card, for example Pernicious Deed. The best thing your opponent can do is usually to put Genesis and Cabal Therapy in your hand. After all, if he chooses to put Genesis in the graveyard, he has put it right where you want it to be. Nevertheless, you can still get Genesis in the graveyard by sacrificing him to flashback Cabal Therapy. Then, you can return Eternal Witness, which in turn gets Pernicious Deed back. You blow up the board, including Eternal Witness, which is then in the graveyard once again, ready to be recurred by Genesis once more. This is only one of the many Gifts setups you can do with this deck. You can also select 4 lands if you’re mana light. I can’t cover all the options, since there are so many.
The sideboard of a rock deck traditionally changes a lot acording to the metagame and right now trunks123's board holds crazy stuff such as Engineered Plague (against Goblins) or Harmonic Sliver (against Sulfuric Vortex or artifacts). This above list is based on fob's list (luis scot vargas), so a lot of credit goes to him. But I’ll let him do the talking. He has written a good article about the deck, which I have copy/pasted here. Niv is a member of clan UMK. His article is in these spoiler tags:
Lately I've been playing a lot of extended on Magic Online as a lot of people may have noticed. I've tested a couple of decks but mainly 2 decks: Gifts Rock and Aggro Loam. First I started playing Aggro Loam, but I wasn't really happy about the deck even though I do think it's very strong. So then I started playing Gifts Rock and at first I didn't do really well, but I knew some of it had to be attributed to bad play cause I was only getting familiar with the deck.
This is the list I started off with:
Gifts Rock Suggested by Luis Scott-Vargas as a potential deck for Extended
Maindeck: 1 Sensei's Divining Top 4 Birds Of Paradise 3 Eternal Witness 1 Genesis 3 Loxodon Hierarch 1 Ravenous Baloth 4 Sakura-tribe Elder 4 Leyline Of The Void 2 Pernicious Deed 4 Gifts Ungiven 1 Putrefy 4 Cabal Therapy 1 Deep Analysis 3 Living Wish 1 Plow Under 1 Vindicate 3 Forest 1 Island 1 Plains 1 Swamp 1 Breeding Pool 1 Godless Shrine 2 Golgari Rot Farm 4 Overgrown Tomb 2 Polluted Delta 1 Temple Garden 1 Watery Grave 4 Windswept Heath
As you may see, it's Luis-Scott Vargas's list (lsv\fob\domino23 on Magic Online), as I got it from him and I owe him a big thanks. The deck looked very good on paper so I went off and started testing it. I'll talk in my article here about specific matchups, and the most important thing in this deck - the "gifts piles" you should get in each matchup. I'll also talk about Cabal Therapy and what you should name in each match up. But what I'm about to say here obviously isn't always correct because it depends a lot on the board and game position.
After a lot of testing I changed my list a number of times and this is the most updated list, the list I play today:
This list is designed for the Online metagame so if you play this at your local PTQ, you might want to change it a bit (for example, take out the crypts in the sideboard if you don't expect graveyard decks).
Ok so let's get down to the match ups:
Every game you'll play against Boros looks pretty much the same. You need to keep playing your Hierarchs and wipe the board with Deed. In this matchup, the most important card is Sakura-tribe Elder. This guy accelerates you into a fast Hierarch before they even get a chance to play Molten Rain and it also prevents 2 damage in their attack phase. Birds of Paradise are fine here but usually die. This matchup is in your favor since their only way to stop your Hierarchs game one is the land destruction. A good card that I see most people don't value in this matchup is Plow Under. Even though this card is quit expensive as it costs 5 mana, most of the games vs Boros go down to topdecking the last burn they need to finish you off, so Plow Under totally stops them and gives you enough time to stabilize with your life gain cards.
The Krosan Grip is against their Sulfuric Vortex and sometimes against Pithing Needle which some people will side in against you, or even against the new Dutch list that plays Armadillo Cloak.
The usual gifts pile in this match up is- Hierarch, Baloth, Living Wish, Witness. Sometimes u can replace the wish with deed if u need to sweep the board fast Turn 1 Therapy should almost always say Goblin Legionnaire. If u have Golgari Rot Farm then I would probably name Molten Rain. In the late game you should name Lightning Helix, Sudden Shock or Char, even though not all lists play Char these days.
This match up is quite easy as you have cards that totally destroy them - Pernicious Deed and the 1 Kataki in your sideboard. You also have cards like Hierarch, Putrefy and Vindicate that are also great against Affinity. Acceleration is very important in this matchup.
The gifts pile here is Pernicious Deed, Living Wish, Eternal Witness and a removal spell like Putrefy or Vindicate. Don't forget though that if they gather a lot of counters on Blinkmoth Nexus then Plow under can remove that and deal with it very nicely.
There are 2 threats that you should name with therapy and they are Cranial Plating and Arcbound Ravager. Sometimes I see them lacking a color so if they are missing blue name Thoughtcast and if they are missing red then name Shrapnel Blast. If you have Deed then you can name Mystic Enforcer or Somber Hoverguard even though most lists play enforcer.
I find this match up to be the worst matchup for this deck although you do have the tools to beat it. The most important card in this match up is global ruin. The other cards that you need are: Cabal Therapy, Plow Under and Vindicate. Pernicious deed can be useful against their Decree of Justice.
The gifts pile here is - global ruin, plow under, cabal therapy and eternal witness. Sometimes u can replace therapy for Vindicate if you need to destroy their tron fast.
The reason I take the Bird out is because the game usually tends to be a long game so acceleration isn't needed as much.
Cabal Therapy- turn 1 I'd name 1 of their counters which are Remand, Memory Lapse, Condescend. On turns 2-5 name Fact or Fiction\Thirst For knowledge, later in the game you need to start ripping their win conditions which are Decree of Justice, Exalted Angel, Eternal Dragon, and the one that hurts you the most is Mindslaver so I would usually name Mindslaver.
Tooth and Nail
This match up is almost the same as the tron control match up only the difference is that tooth and nail doesn't play counters so on one side this is good for you but on the other side tooth and nail can be very fast. I like this match a lot more then the ur\uw tron match up for the reason I mentioned that they don't play counters, so if you manage to play global ruin, you can easily win from there.
Cabal therapy- ALWAYS if you're on the play on turn 1 name sensei's diving top as that's their best card against you because it means your discard spells don't do much. If you are on the draw then name sylvan scrying, then reap and sow on turn 3 or if they don't have 4 lands. After that always name tooth and nail.
The gifts pile here is exactly the same as the gifts pile against tron decks only u can replace therapy with vindicate if u discarded their hand already.
This match up is hard pre sideboard but post sideboard it's a lot better. Game 1 try to get an early wish for wretch then basically they can only win with Psychatog and Zombie Infestation which u have answers for in smother+putrefy+deed+vindicate for the tog and vindicate+deed or wish for harmonic sliver for the infestation.
Therapy should name turn 1 Zombie Infestation, and from there it's usually useless. With the engineered plague you name horror against their ichorids. Cranial extraction should usually name Ichorid even though naming Psychatog is also ok if you fear it more.
The usual gifts pile here is Living wish (gets you withered wretch) Eternal Witness, Deed, Hierarch. Post sideboard, if they don't have infestation onilne, then instead of bringing Deed and Hierarch with Gifts, bring tormod's crypt+ cranial extraction. If they do have infestation online then keep the deed but still replace the hierarch with crypt\cranial, depends on the position.
I place these decks together for the reason that they are very similar. I think both of these matchups are hard because you're only out for Life From the Loam is Living Wish for Withered Wretch. Post sideboard it gets better though.
Sideboard against Aggro Loam: -1 Global Ruin -1 Plow Under -1 Duress -1 Cabal Therapy +2 Tormod's Crypt +1 Krosan Grip +1 Cranial Extraction
The Aggro loam version has 2 threats which are Burning wish and Devastating Dreams. So you should usually aim your therapies at those 2 even though you can name Seismic Assault if you don't have an answer for it. The gifts pile here gets a bit tricky because there are two possible piles - if they are on the aggro plan with werebears, wild mongrels and terravores then get Deed, Witness, Baloth, Hierarch but if they are on the "combo" plan of life from the loam and seismic assault then get Witness, Living wish, Deed and a vindicate. Post sideboard replace the vindicate and the deed (in the gifts pile) with Tormod's Cyrpt and Cranial extraction unless they already have a assault on board.
Sideboard against C.A.L: -1 Global Ruin -1 Plow Under -1 Engineered Explosives -1 Smother -2 Putrefy +2 Tormod's Crypt +1 Cranial Extraction +2 Duress +1 Krosan Grip
Cabal Therapy - if it's your first turn and you're on the play then name sensei's diving top but from that point forward, the 2 main threats are Burning Wish+ Seismic Assault. The usual gifts pile here is exactly like aggro cal only you don't need the aggro pile because they don't have an aggro plan at all.
The mirror comes down to 1 plan - start recurring creatures of yours with genesis and destroying their genesis chain.
The reason I added only 1 crypt is that you don't need it so fast because the game goes so long that you will have enough chances to gifts for it or just draw it. I removed the bird for the same reason as only 1 crypt added that the game goes very long so your not in a hurry so don't need that much acceleration, and taking the bird out also makes your deck more resilient to deed. There is no standard gifts pile in this match up because the game goes so long that you'll be able to cast gifts multiple times. But for the first gifts I think Wish, Witness, Plow under and Genesis can be good. Cabal Therapy - if they have 4 mana open name Gifts but naming Witness or Wish is good also and are the common things you should name.
This match up is good for you. The most important card here is cabal therapy. Don't forget that putrefy+ deed destroy their Lotus Bloom on upkeep after it comes into play. Global Ruin also shines if u get that late in the game because most lists have 0 basic lands.
Sideboard: -1 Smother -1 Explosives -1 Deed -2 Putrefy -1 Loxodon Hierarch +2 Tormod's Crypt +2 Duress +1 Plow under +1 Cranial extraction Cabal Therapy - if you're on the play then name lotus bloom other then that the usual call is Burning Wish.
Gifts pile -Therapy, Duress, Witness, global ruin\plow under. After sideboard take out the global ruin\plow under and add cranial extraction.
Goblins (Dirty Kitty + Mono Red)
This is probably your best match up as the combination of deed+ hierarchs totally wreck them. Unlike boros which has LD to stop you, goblins can only get explosive hands to stop you, but you have therapy to stop that.
Sideboard: +1 engineered Plague -1Global ruin
If it's the version with fecundity (dirty kitty) then also take out Duress for Krosan grip. Cabal Therapy - against mono red usually name Goblin warchief but if it's the green version then you can name Empty the Warrens Gifts pile - Explosives, Deed, Witness, Hierarch after sideboard if your not on low life you can replace hierarch with plague.
The new chant list makes this match up worse because of teferi+ scepter chant lock, but I still think this match up is in your favor. You really want a fast deed on the board because then it makes them first cunning wish for disenchant\stifle and only then can they wish for chant and put it on the stick.
Sideboard: +2 duress +1 cranial +1 krosan grip -1 Birds of Paradise -1 explosives -1 smother -1 global ruin
Again I took out 1 bird here because like the mirror, this game also lasts long. Their plan is to get their combo online fast because if you get to the late game where u start recurring witness using genesis they usually lose. Gifts Pile - Therapy Duress Witness Deed.
This match can get a bit tricky because they have good tools against you like Pithing Needle and Stifle. I still think this match is good for you because their counterbalance doesn't hurt you at all because most of your spells cost 4+ and they don't have spells in those costs (sometimes I see lightning angel but that's very rare and is played in 1-2 copies). The meddling mages aren't that good against you because unlike normal rock, your removal is different and more verstalie, be it putrefy, smother or vindicate.
Sideboard: +1 krosan grip +1 duress -1 plow under -1 global ruin
Cabal therapy - usually name meddling mage or trinket mage on the first couple of turns. Gifts Pile - Deed Explosives Hierarch Putrefy\Vindicate\Smother (depends on the meddling mage).
A few more things you should keep in mind when playing this deck are:
1) The color Combination you need is GGBWU but sometimes you'll want double black. Getting dual or basic depends on the match up - against aggro you should get basic to keep your life total high and against control where the life total isn't important then you should get a dual usually.
2) You can play Gifts Ungiven for less then 4 cards, like getting only 2 cards, for example Therapy and Genesis, in case you need to flashback therapy and have only 4 mana or get genesis fast into your graveyard.
3) You can target yourself with therapy discarding your genesis instead of playing the slow dude for 5mana. Also flashbacking therapy sacrificing Genesis is "the standard play" of almost every rock.
I really think that if you practice a lot with this deck then you'll see better performance at the end because this deck has the tools to beat every deck in the format and is very strong. I think u have the edge in every match up if you play well except maybe the uw\ur trons and the life from the loam decks, those 2 matchups are difficult.
If anyone has any questions or comments about the article I'll be happy to answer, just contact me online.
Niv Shmuely Trunks123 on MTGO
And lastly, a relatively new (August 2007) decklist: Spoiler:Show
This deck runs the best cheap white/red/green creatures in the format, like Kird Ape and Watchwolf. They're highly aggressive and very mana effecient. But an important aspect of this deck are the domain cards; Gaea's Might and Tribal Flames. Thanks to the interaction between the saclands (Windswept Heath, etc.) and dual lands (Stomping Ground, etc.) it's very easy to get one of each basic land type in play, at which point the domain cards are awesome. Gaea's Might on Boros Swiftblade is back-breaking and 5 damage for 2 mana is nothing to sneeze at either.
This deck combines two strategies. One the one hand you have the Invasion saclands plus Balancing Act or Obliterate, which resets the board completely. Obliterate is easy to cast off of 4 saclands, and those saclands also conveniently make sure you have no permanents left in play for Balancing Act. You can then kill with Terravore, or Anurid Brushhopper (which you can conveniently phase out when you blow up the world).
The second strategy that is also interweaved in the deck is based on Enduring Ideal. It's easily castable off of the saclands and/or Lotus Bloom. The plan is first to go for Dovescape, effectively shutting down a lot of the popular strategies plus potential answers to your enchantments, then the turn after Solitary Confinement to protect you even more, and afterwards 2 Form of the Dragon, which should kill the opponent before you are unable to pay Confinement's upkeep. Orim's Chant protects your game-defining sorceries from countermagic. Burning Wish searches for them.
I don’t think this deck needs an introduction, since the synergy between Arcbound Ravager, Frogmite, and artifact lands has been around since Mirrodin Block. I like to play at least 48 artifacts in an Affinity deck, in order to maximize my Arcbound Ravagers and Cranial Platings. However, the above version (I mean decklist 1; the other one is a recent one from modo) made it to the Top 8 of GP Dallas and Pelcak is no slouch. The sideboard can change a lot and should be viewed as flexbile. For example, if you expect no TEPS Desire and a lot of Goblins, you should include Engineered Plague over Stifle.
The arch nemesis of this deck is Kataki, War’s Wage, although Affinity has Darkblast out of the sideboard to kill it. Affinity is consistent and powerful as ever.
This deck aims to play turn 2 Troll Ascetic with the help of Llanowar Elves, or to beat a Life from the Loam deck with Withered Wretch. It disrupts the opponent with Cabal Therapy, and beefs up its critters with huge equipment, thereby making an aggressive stance.
Daniel Weingarten (dvine), the creator of the original version of the deck, told me the following (paraphrased): “I had used Destructive Flow 2 years ago as a sideboard card for my Rock deck. That was when everybody was playing Tooth and Nail or Affinity. The Tooth matchup was bad, so I sideboarded Flows. Since then the format changed, and Destructive Flow became an incredibly good maindeck card. There are just so many matchups where an early Flow is an autowin. The resurgence of Urzatron decks lately makes the card even better. I break the symmetry of Destructive Flow by keeping only basic lands in play. I use saclands to fix my mana, while not giving up my ability to have only basics in play. The saclands also have good synergy with Sensei’s Divining Top. The singleton Genesis and Haunting Echos are in there because I only need both of them in matchups that take very long anyway, such as Gifts Rock, Psychatog, etc, so one is enough. The deck is very very good at "not losing", but not so good at actually winning games. I don’t have many win conditions, only 3 Ravenous Baloth as big creatures, so games are bound to take long. It's not that much of a problem; Destructive Flow keeps my opponent from playing anything."
This deck is straightforward, there's not much more too it than play little green or red creatures and SMASH! Voilent Eruption or Firebolt can deal the last couple points of damage to your opponent. It's pretty much the same strategy as a Boros deck, with the added bonus that this RG deck has a solid matchup against Boros. Thanks to Call of the Herd and friends, your creatures are simply bigger and that's a huge advantage.
This combo deck attempts to get a lot of lands in play quickly with Sakura-Tribe Elder and Search for Tomorrow. It then stalls the opponent for a turn with Moment's Peace until it is time to go off. You start with Heartbeat of Spring, then use Early Harvest to untap your lands, giving you a lot of mana at your disposal. You then work through your deck with Gifts Ungiven and Fact or Fiction, untap your lands once again with Early Harvest (also fetchable via Cunning Wish, or recurrable via Nostalgic Dreams), and repeat. You eventually work towards a big Mind's Desire, and finish the game with a Brain Freeze for your opponent's deck.