One more time — Extraction Rock

Lisa: Look, there’s only one way to settle this. Rock-paper-scissors.
Lisa’s brain: Poor predictable Bart. Always takes ‘rock’.
Bart’s brain: Good ol’ ‘rock’. Nuthin’ beats that!
Bart: Rock!
Lisa: Paper.
Bart: D’oh!
(Thanks to The Simpsons Archive for this text.)
Gerard Fabiano recently took the top prize at GP Philadelphia 2008 with his modification of Barra Rock (named after Giulio Barra who top foured PT Valencia 2007 with a very solid, very midrange WBG Rock build). In a recent conversation with Brian David-Marshall on the podcast, Gerard said that he picked Rock because it was just how he likes to play — and recommended just going with the style of play you enjoy.
I’ve found that, by and large, I really enjoy the “Rock” style of play — midrange, with on-board control and disruption. I’m not as fond of draw-go play, trying to figure out which things to counter and which not to. Similarly, although it can be fun to just lay down the beats, I do prefer a more controlling approach. Really, what I like is the ability to disrupt and knock holes in the opponent’s game plan. It’s a very interactive style of play. This can leave more room for mistakes, but it also just makes the game more fun.
With that in mind, and during a few of the more boring gaps in the conference I attended last week, I was considering what kind of build I might use for another PTQ this season, or if I were going to try the Last-Chance Qualifier at Pro Tour Hollywood 2008. It’s no more pure Kokusho for me — the lack of good, fast disruption means that combo and draw-go control tend to walk all over you. With that in mind, check out the extended for my most recent take on the venerable Rock archetype.

16 Creatures:
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Darkheart Sliver
Eternal Witness
Kodama of the North Tree
Kokusho, the Evening Star
21 Spells:
Cranial Extraction
Profane Command
Primal Command
23 Land:
Overgrown Tomb
Treetop Village
Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
Okina, Temple to the Godfathers
15 Sideboard:
Ghost Quarter
Krosan Grip
Cranial Extraction

This time around, I’ve drifted away from the pure Kokusho build toward a more conventional mix of disruption and anti-aggro tools. Of course, it’s still all sorts of weird, ’cause that’s how I roll (ahem).
One of the most satisfying games at PTQ Sacramento earlier this month involved repeatedly Extracting threats out of a Tooth and Nail player’s deck. Extraction is my favorite disruptive card of all time. With that in mind, I decided to go to three maindeck Extractions. This comes on top of the addition of six early-game disruption cards, in the form of four Thoughtseizes and two Duress. Hopefully, I ought to be able to disrupt draw-go control and TEPS-style combo decks early on, then rip their threats out with Extractions starting on turn three or four.
Venturing away from the pure Kokusho build also lets me drop out a lot of the mana acceleration and go for a more varied mana base (especially with a set of Overgrown Tombs that should be coming my way presently). In place of the Wall of Roots, I have Darkheart Slivers playing the role of teeny-tiny Ravenous Baloths. They chump, they gain me thee life, they remove Bridges from the opponent’s graveyard, and they can be recurred with a four-mana Profane Command. Also, they come out on turn two, meaning they can stand in the way of early violence from the mono-red decks. For other critters, I stuck with three Kokushos as finishers, and a random, one-of North Side, just in case I wanted a Shrouded, Trampling beater.
I’ve added in a pair of Profane Commands for longer games, and I’ve kept the Primals, as they let me tutor up my critter of choice and they’re a giant beating against aggro builds. I’ve gone down to three Putrefy in the maindeck, having moved one to the side.
With Extractions in the main, the sideboard has opened up a bit. Now I have room for some Krosan Grips in there to deal with Tops, Counterbalances, and other annoying features of blue-based control.
That, at least, is my build of the moment.