Gargadon Rock?

This has been a week for pleasingly quirky Extended decks.
First, I direct you to this week’s Top Decks article from Michael J, where he highlights Scott Honigmann’s PTQ-winning mono-white control deck as well as Bradley Carpenter’s quite surprising Lightning Zoo. Really, go look, especially for Lightning Zoo.
Second, it’s usually worth taking a look through each week’s Decks of the Week for interesting standouts. Amidst a bunch of the expected decks, I spied this build from an online PE on the ninth (click through to the extended for the deck list):

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On being boring, and on early season reports

One of the downsides of any PTQ season is the mixed bag of my strong interest in a specific format at that time, and my unwillingness to write about what I’m actually thinking about for the format, as I’d like to retain whatever edge my customization brings until I go to an actual event. There’s no small amount of misplaced ego there, since I clearly can make some very bad deck design decisions, but nonetheless, as long as I’m actually thinking of playing a given build, I’m not all that excited about talking about it.
Also, I’m in a bit of design limbo now anyway, as the first PTQ in my area comes after Conflux releases, so that may completely alter my deck choice via expanded design options.
Switching gears, then, we can take a look at what’s been doing well so far. Obviously, my GP Trial experience was a fascinating mix of moderately expected decks, going Affinity, Dredge, Hulk, Burn, Tron. No Zoo or Faeries there.
Deckcheck has started posting top eights from various PTQs. First, we have the top eight from this last weekend’s PTQ in Louisville, which saw a mono-white deck take the win. If you’ve been reading Flores’ new blog, you’ve seen a similar deck. Likewise if you’ve been reading the Lumbering Justice thread on the Wizards forums. The variant played by Scott Honigmann features a single Mistveil Plains so that you can’t be decked to death after your life total is insurmountable, as well as two Sacred Foundries to support sideboard Boils for the mono-blue matchup. Elsewhere in the top eight, Dennis Taylor brought a burn deck with three maindecked Sulfuric Vortexes (Vortices?), which is similar to the burn deck I ran up against at the GP Trial that had all four in the main. Michael Belfatto’s Affinity ran triple Shrapnel Blast and a pair of Tarmogoyfs, which is kind of interesting.
Over in Kruft, the top eight saw four Faeries decks, with Raul Porojan (a name you’ll recognize if you listen to Rich Hagon’s podcasts) taking the top spot. Although they weren’t all exact copies, nothing stood out to me in the various Faeries builds as particularly exciting (although it’s worth noting that Raul was packing triple Relic of Progenitus in the sideboard as graveyard hate). Notable among the other decks were Sebastian Knorr’s Dredge and Xavier Paulis’s Bant Aggro. The Dredge deck is packing an exciting new enabler (and not coincidentally, random kill condition against Elves and Storm) in Brain Freeze. Consider the fun play of land, Chrome Mox, Brain Freeze yourself to ditch six cards on turn one. Not bad. The added ability to just hold the Freeze in hand and randomly kill an Elves player is gravy. The Paulis Bant Aggro deck is a pretty straightforward aggro-tempo build with undercosted creatures equipped with Jittes and backed by cheap countermagic. Seems good.
Looking through these early lists, I’m most excited by the Brain Freeze in the Dredge deck; I love that dual purposing of the card as both strategy enabler and random kill.

Northern California PTQ Honolulu 2009 dates

The Northern California PTQ dates for the current season were announced today at the GP Trial. They are:
February 28th, at Superstars in San Jose
March 21st, at Great Escape Games in Sacramento
April 4th, at Superstars in San Jose
April 11th, at Great Escape Games in Sacramento
That’s a solid four PTQs in our area, which is quite nice. I look forward to going to as many of them as possible (right now, I think that’ll be all of them).

If you happen to be in Kyoto this February…

…and tire of temples, you can always head over to Pulse Plaza and check out Pro Tour Kyoto 2009.
Here’s the full information page
The PT itself runs from February 27th through March 1st, and if you’re feeling really motivated you can come on the 26th for the last-chance qualifier, which is sealed this time around (and, per usual, will likely run well into the AM on the opening day of the PT).
Barring some wacky, last-minute business trip, I won’t be anywhere near this PT, so I’ll just watch the top eight (which conveniently will start at 5:45pm on a Saturday evening, my time, which totally beats out when European events start…). However, if it’s reasonable for you to make it out there, I recommend it — the public events are a lot of fun, and it’s great to be able to walk right up to the feature match area and check out the pro play.
The artist guests are Jeremy Jarvis and Todd Lockwood. I’m a big fan of Lockwood’s work.
There are lots of public events listed in the Gazeteer for this event (click here for the PDF), including quite a few that funnel winners into a Sunday morning Beta draft. Sounds like fun.

PTQ announcements for the Honolulu 2009 season

Wizards has finally posted the PTQ announcement page for the current season. Click here to see it.
The announcements went up surprisingly late this time, with at least two PTQs having happened already in North America (in Ontario and Oregon). This coming weekend’s crop includes Atlanta, Louisville, and Seattle — and, of course, Grand Prix Los Angeles comes the following weekend, paralleling PTQs in Mobile and Omaha (and, of course, the Sunday PTQ at the GP itself).
Sadly, the dates for Northern California PTQs are not yet fixed, but we at least know that we will have two in the SF Bay Area (i.e. San Jose) and two in Sacramento. Dates we do know from our friendly neighborhood TO are the last two GP Trials in our area, on the 10th and the 11th (click here for the Matchplay site to see upcoming TO-led events, and click here for Superstars, where other Extended events are also being run).
I’m looking forward to this season, as I’m a big fan of the Extended format these days.

Conflux notables

Following the spoiling of the full set list a little while ago, information has been trickling in about cards from Conflux. Some of those are unsourced spoilers, others are early previews from magazines. The official site previews start two weeks from now.
As always, the MTGSalvation spoiler is the canonical place to look for these things.
I’ll take a look at some of the current standouts in the extended entry.

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