Deconstructing Constructed – The World of Tomorrow… Today!

Read Josh Silvestri every Tuesday... at StarCityGames.com!
Today will be a grab bag of sorts as lately I’ve gotten a lot of playing time in on Magic Online while waiting for real results to come in. Of course, now that actual Qualifiers have taken place, I’m sure you actually want to see the Top 8s, which I have for almost every qualifier that took place this weekend. So come in; kick your feet up and have a look at the world of tomorrow!

“Yes? I see… [hangs up phone] Good news, everyone! Those asinine morons who canceled us were themselves fired for incompetence.”
Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth

Today will be a grab bag of sorts as lately I’ve gotten a lot of playing time in on Magic Online while waiting for real results to come in. Of course, now that actual Qualifiers have taken place, I’m sure you actually want to see the Top 8s, which I have for almost every qualifier that took place this weekend. So come in; kick your feet up and have a look at the world of tomorrow!

Online Metagame Decks
There are decks I see on MTGO that do well because they basically exist to prey on the online metagame of Red decks, Affinity, Doran, and Dredge. Oh and the awful Tron decks which never get past round three.

W/G/x Aggro
I actually play a wacky W/G/b/r aggro deck online that depends on running a lot of men who beat down, along with creatures that happen to hose entire archetypes. The maindeck is in flux, but the common inclusions are Birds of Paradise, Llanowar Elves, Tarmogoyf, Kataki War’s Wage, Gaddock Teeg, Silver Knight and Troll Ascetic. After that it gets murky because I’ve run Calciderm, Loxodon Hierarch, Mystic Enforcer and other odd large creatures. In the spell slots, Cabal Therapy, Umezawa’s Jitte and Armadillo Cloak take center stage.

The sideboard has Yixlid Jailer, Ancient Grudge, Leyline of the Void, Hierarch, and really just whatever I feel is best for the metagame.

You might wonder why I’d play this kind of a deck over Doran… part of it is because the Magic Online metagame is better defined than the average PTQ, which means you can get expected matches far more often. The other part is that cards like Troll Ascetic and Kataki are pretty good against Shackles decks as well, simply because they constrain what the decks can do. Although Ascetic with Cloak and Jitte can smash the heck out of nearly any aggro or control deck, Calciderm also goes a long way against Shackles decks due to the lack of sweepers in the format, and often a 5/5 is often good enough to beat a Tarmogoyf in combat.

Essentially, if you draw the right card at the right time, you auto-win in a number of matches and the rest of the time you have an aggro deck full of efficient creatures along with the best creature enchanters. Not the greatest strategy of all-time, but it gets there a lot more often than you’d think in such an open field. Guess it really does help when all of your ‘hate’ beats for two along with everything else.

R/G Goyfsligh
The other deck I want to highlight is the R/G Goyf Molten Rain making waves online. Really ,this is the new iteration of RDW, but it runs Green for Kird Ape, Tarmogoyf, and Ancient Grudge. Not a lot has changed since we last saw it right before (and at) Valencia, but the differing characteristics between this and Zoo is typically Molten Rain, Blistering Firecat, Char, and maindeck or sideboard Magus of the Moon. The deck itself has seemingly grown in popularity based the idea that Molten Rain can just win games all by itself, and taking 5-8 from your lands just isn’t a great play when you might need it to survive a race against 5/5 creatures.

In essence, by combining a heavier burn suite along with a mana denial component, it’s well placed against a number of other midrange and aggressive decks in the current metagame. Obviously it has more problems with Hierarch than Zoo would, but it also is much more likely to beat Shackles or ground stall game 1 just by going to the dome where the other deck can’t. Of course you lose out on Vindicate, so that creates a host of situations where you may have a major issues actually winning the game.

An Experiment Gone Awry

In one of those ‘see how many cool cards I can fit it into a deck’ ideas, I ended up with a nice base of a deck, but it just didn’t do enough. So you can hopefully learn from some of errors I made along the way.

My deck effectively wanted to be a pumped up version of Aggro-Flow. However, if it couldn’t get Flow or a Wished-for Magus of the Moon down, it could fall back on the large Beasts plus Contested Cliffs plan. Instead of absolutely freaking out about the Red decks, I wanted the deck to focus on having a solid plan against other Rock and Doran decks by focusing the creature base around eliminating many of the common threats seen.

Shriekmaw takes care of Tarmogoyf and Hierarch, along with any other non-Black fattie they decide to play. Spiritmonger outclasses Doran himself and can be used in conjunction with Contested Cliffs to kill practically any creature in the format, as well as being very difficult to kill. Stomphowler was my concession against Shackles decks which aren’t nearly as affected by Flow as other strategies. I also retain the full Living Wish target suite against Affinity, Dredge and Ideal; as well as Magus of the Moon in case I don’t see Flow early on. The fourth Spiritmonger or Kokusho, the Evening Star are good examples of huge beatdown creatures that aren’t easily handled.

Overall I just wasn’t getting enough oomph from the deck, but that could simply be because of the configuration I chose for it. Having such a wide-open metagame had me running through quite a few iterations of decks I hadn’t played in months.

Extended Notes
I absolutely hate playing two-drops on turn 2 against Blue decks. A ridiculous amount of time they get Spell Snared or knocked out via Force Spike. The worst part is after you see these; the thought of them hitting your Jitte or Goyf down the road gnaws at the back of your head. The one plus side is very few of these decks run real removal or sweeper cards, meaning laying three one-drops is basically GG against most of them.

Living Wish is a pain in the butt for a lot of decks because it’s usually not the first Hierarch or Eternal Witness or Shriekmaw that totally ruins you, but rather the second one that drains too many of your resources. The more I see the card in Rock and Nail, Gifts Rock, and Remi.dec, the more I stare at any Red deck in disgust.

A lot of Blue decks cheat on defense and try to leverage Goyf or Shackles against aggro players. This is why they lose horribly when Ancient Grudge enters the picture, and why Psychatog is worth a consideration in decks. Tog gets bigger faster than Goyf, and is more likely to survive combat with a large critter from a burn packing deck than Goyf will. The ability to actually kill Goyf instead of bouncing off one another is also becoming more important.

Fact or Fiction and other cards that gain a lot of card advantage very quickly are surprisingly under-utilized in Extended right now. Even after killing Dark Confidant the opponent still might draw better cards than you, but only one at a time, which allows swarming or an attrition war to occur more often than not. Even a card like Damnation, which I can’t do anything about, sees almost no real play at the moment… meaning over-committing to the board is more of a rarity since the mana choke-point of Deed is easily noticed.

If you aren’t prepared to dedicate significant sideboard slots to beat Affinity or Dredge in your sideboard, you have to just accept that you’ll get rolled by their good draws. Unless you have some sort of impressive out game 1, the best you can do is just hope they don’t have a strong draw and try to get your slower outs online. Although if your deck happens to be Red, I have no idea what those actually are game 1.

Goblins are really weak overall right now. They have some good matches with certain choices like Sparksmith and Siege-Gang Commander, but the bad matches are just horrific in scale.

I’m reasonably sure I will just smash the computer the next time a Doran player goes triple discard effect by turn 4 and rolls out the double Profane Command to make sure the creatures I played don’t even matter.

Interesting Morningtide Spoilers
There are two cards that stick out to me so far.

One is so blatantly obvious I expect nobody to miss it, so I might as well point out the absurdity now. Taken from MTGsalvation.com…

Frogtosser Banneret
Creature – Goblin Rogue (Common)
Goblin spells and Rogue Spells you play cost 1 less to play.
The Frogtossers thread feathers, bones, and trophies from past raids into their standards, believing they fuel the warren with the anger of its victims.

It wouldn’t shock me if there aren’t any major metagame shifts from what Extended is looking to be right now to the first week of PTQ’s after Morningtide is legal… then we’ll see Goblins pop up in force. To me this is Goblin Warchief 2.0, but the more accurate analogy would probably be to the ‘Familiar’ set of creatures we had in Planeshift. Although I don’t love Goblins right now, I think the deck has some merits and I know it can smash Counter-Top Goyf on a consistent basis, along with going toe to toe with Rock/Doran builds (losing in large part only to Deed).

This card looks to accomplish a lot for speeding up Goblins average kill turn, much like Springleaf Drum did for Affinity. Consider that most Goblins decks already run at least four ways to accelerate this guy out on turn 1 and can easily go up to eight, assuming they weren’t running Simian Spirit Guide already.

Consider this set of plays:

Turn 1: Auntie’s Hovel + Chrome MoxFrogtosser Banneret, attack for one.
3 cards in hand.
Turn 2: Goblin Piledriver, Goblin War-Marshall
2 card in hand
Turn 3: Pay Echo or don’t and play Incinerator on whatever blocker the opponent has, swing for 7-10 points of damage.
Still three cards in hand, or you can go ahead and play more mana or dorks.

Or simply go ahead and play turn 2 Ringleader. Even something like Banneret and turn 2 Warchief is pretty impressive, considering how quickly that turns Matron into a kill card. It effectively gives Goblins another good acceleration boost that goes well with its normal game plan of playing Goblins.

Yes, I will be looking at Goblins a lot closer considering I used to play them in every format they were legal in.

The other card I found pretty interesting was this:

Countryside Crusher
Creature – Giant Warrior (Rare)
At the beginning of your upkeep, reveal the top card of your library.
If it’s a land card, put it into your graveyard and repeat this process.
Whenever a land card is put into your graveyard from anywhere, put a +1/+1 counter on Countryside Crusher.

Although it may not start off as big as Terravore, it’ll always be a 3/3 when it hits play and any +1/+1 counters it gains will be unaffected from graveyard hate. It still gains boosts from sacrificing Fetchlands, hitting land off dredge, cycling, and discarding them from Devastating Dreams. This could give Aggro-Loam a push since now its main win conditions won’t be 100% neutralized if the graveyard happens to take a beating. Plus Crusher is on-color with Devastating Dreams, making it easier to live the dream and play Dreams + Crusher in tandem.

Alternatively this could be pretty cool in a Balancing Tings deck since realistically even if you leave a Doran on the table or something Crusher is going to be much larger. In addition, if they can’t kill it immediately then it’ll just keep growing bigger and be able to kill in a few shots. Heck, this could even go into RDW variants since it turns all your non-spell topdecks into something useful by thinning and pumping a creature!

PTQ Results

For Detroit
[svjchtr] Flow (Cedric Phillips)
[svjchtr] Ideal (Yurchick)
[svjchtr] U/G Tron (Yurchick’s friend, can’t remember name)
[svjchtr] R/G w/o Lavamancer (?)
[svjchtr] Next Level Blue (Chapin, scooped in finals.)
[svjchtr] Zoo (Kyle Boggemes, WINNER)
[svjchtr] U/B Countertop (?)
[svjchtr] Not so Next Level Blue (Owen)

The NY PTQ was 180 people and the Top 8 was… From Sadin’s article – 32 Tarmogoyfs, 24 Dorans, 32 Dark Confidants, and 20 Vindicates. In all seriousness, it was 6 Doran decks and 2 Domain Zoo, with two Doran decks playing in the finals.

The Boston PTQ was 2 RDW, 1 WIZARDS!, 2 Doran, 1 UW Tron, 1 Dredge, 1 Ideal. Thanks goes out to ChrisTJs27 in the forums for pointing it out.

Florida had a Dredge winning it, but I don’t really know what the Top 8 was past two Zoo and two Dredge.

The St. Louis PTQ was won by Dredge.

So… things we can learn from these early results are as follows:

Dredge is the real deal and took multiple PTQ’ the first week of the season.
Red decks appear to have a healthy chunk of the PTQ population
Next Level Blue is one of the most notable Blue decks to succeed in these early weeks before the metagame is defined.
Affinity was a presence at many PTQs, and although it seemingly failed to win this week, it was near the top tables at most of these locations.
Patron Wizard is apparently still the nut high.

That’s all for now… join me next week when we hopefully have the deck lists to comb over.

Josh Silvestri
Team Reflection
Email me at: joshDOTsilvestriATgmailDOTcom