The Astral Slide Extended deck uses Astral Slide with additional cycling cards. Targets for Slide's triggered ability are frequently opposing creatures (to remove them from combat) or friendly creatures with comes-into-play abilities such as Eternal Witness. Eternal Dragon is often used early to trigger Astral Slide and fetch lands, and used late-game as a finisher.
User:Warden's Astral Slide deck article
On October 7, 2002, Wizards of the Coast released Onslaught, giving birth to the deck Astral Slide. Astral Slide utilizes the mechanic cycling, a mechanic initially created during the Urza Block, to create cantrips (cycling to draw a new card) while gaining beneficial abilities capable of "going through the stack", ultimately establishing spells and abilities that cannot be countered. Actual cycling cards have little to no value unless they are used in conjunction with Astral Slide or Lightning Rift.
Focus on Standard
The original popular build of Astral Slide was a Red-White deck that ran off simple Astral Slide tricks and the abuse of Lightning Rift. A Slide player would typically use the cycling mechanic + Rift to shock their opponents for 2 damage per card cycled; even more damage could be dealt if multiple Rifts were in play, since the triggering of Rifts can combine and stack on top of each other. If the Slide player didn't run into Lightning Rift, they could win with Exalted Angel, the deck's original "finisher" card. If the casting cost for Exalted Angel was too much to simply hardcast Angel, she could be played as a "Morph" (a generic 2/2 creature for 3 mana) and then converted into her powerhouse form the turn after. However, if an Astral Slide was on the table, the Angel could be morphed "for free" if something were to be cycled—since Astral Slide could remove the Angel from play and allow it to re-enter the game "flipped". Astral Slide also provided a solid defense to reach this situation, normally running Wrath of God, Starstorm, Slice and Dice, and/or Akroma's Vengeance to wipe out any opposition. Burning Wish was also used in the early builds to create a "toolbox" of finisher or situational cards. Board-sweeping spells could also be used after the Slide player "cycled out" an Exalted Angel -- clearing the table of opposition and allowing Angel to deal uncontested shots at the opponent.
Legions and Scourge
The rest of the Onslaught Block (February and May 2003) only added to Astral Slide, really pushing it to the top of meta-games. Slide gained card advantage through Eternal Dragon as well "better" cycling cards - such as Decree of Justice. However, while Slide became more and more successful, the card Stabilizer became increasingly present in opposing Sideboards. Temple of the False God gave Slide players considerable mana to play with—and the normal drawback of the card wasn't a common factor since Slide is built with a heavy amount of land cards. Spark Spray was a pleasant addition as well, since it was able to knock out early pests such as Birds of Paradise and be a cheap cycler. Gilded Light is also another highly praised card that comes from this period.
Focus on Extended
Mirrodin and Kamigawa
- It is at this point that specific decklists do not matter. From Mirrodin Block and onward, the ideologies of utilizing and incorporating certain cards over others is more important than actual lists.
Astral Slide was commonly a Red-White deck up until the release of Fifth Dawn. The card that completely changed Slide's playstyle and feel was Eternal Witness, released in Fifth Dawn in June 2004. Witness allowed the Slide player to abuse a combination of Astral Slide + Witness + cycling card, since Eternal Witness's come-into-play triggered ability let the Slide player reacquire any card within the grave, commonly the card just cycled. If the Slide player setup the aforementioned combination of cards, they would effectively never run out of cycling cards—since they would at least grab the card that was initially used to cycle—all while gaining new cards from the cycling mechanic itself. Slide further took advantage of Eternal Witness by pairing the mentioned combo with Solitary Confinement, creating a near hard-lock. Confinement's requirement to discard could easily be abused with the sheer card advantage and card drawing witness allowed. The "lock" created with Confinement was originally attempted back in 2003 when Scourge was released, originally using the recurring ability of Eternal Dragon to refuel the hand and comply with Confinement's "discard a card" requirement. Witness proved incredibly more effective than Dragon in creating a Confinement-lock, since the mana and resource requirements were significantly lower. The potential to never stall/be missing cycling cards gave Slide a new edge and a new outlook. The common variant of Astral Slide thus shifted from Red-White to Green-White (and less commonly Green-White with a small Red splash). Green also allowed Slide to play Nantuko Monastery, a man-land from Judgment that proved its worth again and again by stopping blockers and hurting opponents after a board-clearing Wrath of God. Wing Shards was used on occasion to give Slide additional creature removal (since Red had previously commonly provided this).
- Later that year, on October 1, Champions of Kamigawa was released, providing even more Green options to Slide. Sakura-Tribe Elder was the most common addition to the lineup. Plow Under, Rude Awakening, Viridian Shaman, Oxidize, and Naturalize were commonly used in the Sideboards of Astral Slide—however, due to the rise of Affinity, anti-artifact cards were commonly utilized in the Maindeck as well. Krosan Tusker has seen play in Green-White builds.
Ravnica - Present
If Mirrordin and Kamigawa opened creativity and a branching out of Slide decklists, Ravnica opened the floodgates. The key cards that stem from Ravnica are Temple Garden, Sacred Foundry, Loxodon Hierarch, and Life From the Loam. Both "smooth out" any consistency-based problems Slide may have had in the past. Temple Garden/Sacred Foundry are used to "color fix" the manabase of Slide, giving players the option of having multiple colored mana being produced from a lone land. This is a noticeable upgrade from City of Brass or other options Slide was confined to; however, City of Brass occasionally makes an appearance in 3-color variants.Loxodon Hierarch is used as an effective 4/4 for 4 mana that can also grab 4 life. Loxodon makes plenty of appearances on lists since Ravnica debuted in October 2005. Loam allows Slide to abuse cycle lands by grabbing a handful of them back from the grave. Loam can effectively "refuel" the cycling ammo needed during gameplay.
- Notable cards include Street Wraith, Edge of Autumn, Harmonic Sliver, the reprinted Wall of Roots, Reveillark, Kitchen Finks, and Angelsong to name a few. As mentioned, since Ravnica, there is no standard build of Astral Slide. The more recent printings of Future Sight and Shards of Alara sets only add to players debating what is the best build and best cards to use.
Generally speaking, nearly all of the Standard-based impacts and lists were transposed into Extended. However, cards from Invasion Block were utilized to create a solid build of Astral Slide—particularly the Green-White Builds.
- Since Fifth Dawn, the dominant Astral Slide in Extended has been Green-White, which used the Standard builds (mentioned above) with Orim's Chant, Sterling Grove, and Worship.
- Red-White variants have had fewer options and generally went with the Standard builds ported to Extended in a more direct fashion when compared to Green-White. However, Red-Slide has commonly used Gempalm Incinerator maindeck to stop goblins and on occasion, a few Pyrostatic Pillar + Rule of Laws to hold off Storm/Desire decks in the past.
- Today, Astral Slide is a state of fluctuation since the rotation of Invasion and Odyssey from Extended. There are ongoing debates over what cards to implement. Regardless of what is being used, Slide essentially lost all of the great Extended pieces mentioned above. It can no longer pull off Confinement-locks and has to deal with faster threats such as Tarmogoyf and Elfball decks.
Astral Slide has effectively bounced around as a Type 2 and Extended "top contender" and "darkhorse" throughout its lifetime --- holding true to today's Extended.
The height of Astral Slide's success can be seen as the 2003-2004 time period, due to the largest amount of Top-8's as well as unrecorded dominance in the metagame (players expecting and preparing to fight off Astral Slide at tournaments). Although there is no "official best build" of Astral Slide, it's arguable that the Legions Red-White and Fifth Dawn/Kamigawa Green-White builds are the best versions the deck has ever seen (also attributing to the evaluation that the 2003-2004 period was Slide's "Golden Age"). Both lists play with the same core cards, but utilize different strategies, resulting in both decks running/feeling significantly different.
- The Extended Green-White running the Eternal Witness-Confinement Lock + Orim's Chant as "backup" should be seen as the peak the deck can perform. It also had access to incorporating Living Wish, Nantuko Monastery, Sterling Grove and Moment's Peace -- cards that aided to the deck's consistency.
- Exalted Angel was the original "girl" of Slide. She was the perfect blend of Aggressiveness and Finisher-caliber material for Standard and earlier Extended years. However, Exalted's inclusion in the decklist has dropped considerably, since most people opt for a higher spell and cycler count + rely on Eternal Witness more than they do for Angel. However, there is no argument against the usefulness and power of an flipped and attacking Exalted Angel (Slide's original gameplan); most people fear she gets outpaced in today's "faster" Extended format.
- Some players may have noticed even Wizards of the Coast enjoys Astral Slide. Exalted Angel, Eternal Dragon, Eternal Witness, Astral Slide, Lightning Rift, Slice and Dice, Decree of Justice, Wing Shards, Wall of Roots, Sakura-Tribe Elder, and other cards used in Slide over the years have been reprinted as Promotional/Prize cards within the past couple of years. This can be seen as beyond coincidental.
- Although some have tried to make it branch into other colors, Slide is primarily a White+Green or White+Red or White/Green/Red deck. There are some variants such as Blue+White and White+Green+Black and even Red+Black decklists out there. However, very few if any have even placed at largescale events. Some players look to Complicate and Gifts Ungiven to tie in blue and Decree of Pain and Thoughtseize amongst other things to fuel black variants. A few decks drop white in favor of providing massive amounts of removal such as Smother + 1 mana cyclers to fuel an abuse of Lightning Rift.
The Achilles Heel of Astral Slide is undeniably the speed of the deck. Astral Slide can be seen as arguably one of the best combo/control decks in the history of competitive MTG, however it requires a somewhat lengthy setup to do "get going." Astral Slide itself is naturally played on turn 3 -- unless Slide warps its decklist to include Chrome Mox or Birds of Paradise. This potentially allows faster decks to overrun Slide—and is a common cause of Slide losing. Slide tries to compensate by using board-sweepers like Wrath of God, but there is no guarantee Wrath will do the job.
It can be seen that Slide has considerable trouble dealing with straight-combo decks. Although there may be specific cards to fend off specific combo decks, a Slide player must make specific SB preparations to tune up against that particular deck—if they don't, the matchup usually isn't "favorable." For example, a Storm-based deck will have little to no problem "going off" against Astral Slide. The best thing Slide can do is play Solitary Confinement or Rule of Law or Ethersworn Canonist or before the combo—or respond with cards such as Gilded light or Orim's Chant. If the Slide player didn't prepare to face such a deck, unlike aggro decks, the Slide player usually has little to no options available.
Current Extended Slide still has access to solid options but lost the Confinement-lock pieces, commonly found in the Top-8 lists of 2003–2004. Slide is also showing signs of age because it is having to deal with Tarmogoyf instead of Psychatog and 6/6 Worm Tokens from Madness—two threats that Slide was able to nullify; today's matchups are slightly harder and the explosiveness of decks only works against the slower nature of Slide
Worthy of Recognition
Astral Slide has been around for quite some time. It's a very unique deck that incorporates a unique fusion of Aggro, Control, and Combo. While it shows signs of aging, Slide shouldn't be considered a "dead deck." Slide is still capable of fending off a few attackers and nuking the board to regain stability; a strategy that hasn't grown old. Today's Astral Slide can be seen as a "darkhorse" in any given metagame. Against certain fields, Slide can still make Top-8 appearances—especially since most players do not prepare their Sideboards to face it.
User:Vanno's version of Extended Astral Slide deck article
Its been a while since i took a look at this, but with the "rule of seven" being instated Oct 2008 its might be worth looking at again. I don't remember this deck exactly and don't have my deck notebooks on hand as im at wark killing time. But here is an attempt to remember it, or may spark someone else's memory into helping to take another look at it. I added a few newer cards that i'd play to see if they work out.