Feature Article – More Input: 2 Days, 318 Deck Lists, 1 Answer

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Wednesday, May 13th – If there is one lesson that this past weekend’s dual PTQ in Richmond has for those of us attending the upcoming Regionals, it is that you have two choices: Beat Black/White Tokens, or Play Black/White Tokens. Today, I take a look at the statistics that resulted from the entire weekend, and come up with a comprehensive metagame plan for the coming Regionals tournaments… Enjoy!

If there is one lesson that this past weekend’s dual PTQ in Richmond has for those of us attending the upcoming Regionals, it is that you have two choices: Beat Black/White Tokens, or Play Black/White Tokens.

Alright, let’s get right down to it.

Day 1 Top 8 Top 16 Top 32 Top 64 Field
B/W Tokens 2 5 11 17 33
Kithkin (W/b) 2 2 2 4 4
5cc 1 4 5 7 18
G/W Tokens 1 3 5 6 12
Bant 1 1 1 2 9
Revellark 1 1 2 5 20
Cascade 2 4 18
B/G Rock 1 4 14
Mono W Kithkin 1 1 5
B/R Beats 1 3 13
Planeswalkers 3 3
W/R Kithkin 1 5
Sanity Grinding 1 5
Doran 1 5
Swans 1 1
U/W Merfolk 1 1
Mana Ramp 9
Faeries 5
Other 7

Day 2 Top 8 Top 16 Top 32 Top 64 Field
B/W Tokens 3 5 8 13 23
G/W Tokens 2 3 5 7 9
Revellark 1 2 3 6 16
Kithkin (W/b) 1 2 4 5 7
Sanity Grinding 1 1 1 2 5
5cc 1 3 9 15
B/G Rock 1 2 4 8
Mana Ramp 1 2 4 10
Doran 1 5 8
Faeries 1 3 5
Bant 1 2 3
Cascade 1 1 8
Mono Red 1 2
W/R Kithkin 2
Other 9

The Contenders:

B/W Tokens (33 Day 1, 23 Day 2)

This was both the most numerous and successful deck in the field, placing multiple players in Top 8 both days with a mirror match in the finals on Day 2. You clearly need to be ready for this matchup, and it is probably worth devoting main deck slots to answers. Let’s take a look at AJ Fields’s winning deck from Day 2:

One of the deciding cards in the finals matchup was Puppeteer Clique. It allowed AJ to take advantage of the many comes-into-play abilities of his opponent’s creatures. As devastating as playing a Cloudgoat Ranger can be, bringing back your opponent’s with Clique can be a decider in the mirror. Zealous Persecution can warp a game that is so dominated by 1/1s, especially if you can respond to an Ajani activation.

The metagame from this weekend doesn’t support the inclusion of so many Forge-Tenders in the board, as there just is not enough Red running around the top tables to justify the slots. Squeezing in another Puppeteer Clique and filling out to the full 4 Zealous Persecutions would be my call for this weekend.

Reveillark/Boat Brew (20 Day 1, 16 Day 2)

I combine Esperlark and Boat Brew into the Reveillark category for the second most numerous deck in the field, but not the second most successful. This deck is clearly powerful and that leads to a lot of players piloting it, even though it is a skill-intensive deck to come to cold. Slogging through a Regionals field of hundreds is hard enough when you aren’t making mistakes. The Reveillark decks require the most out of the person piloting it, but it can bring great success if handled properly, as evidenced by its place in both days’ Top 8s. Let’s check out Matthew Franklin’s Esperlark from Day 1:

Other than the addition of Identity Crisis in the board, this build ignores the release of Alara Reborn all together. Although there aren’t too many goodies for Esperlark players, Fieldmist Borderpost offers a way to ramp mana while cutting down the land count. Again, Zealous Persecution is an option, although it becomes more of an instant speed Nausea with the lower creature count.

Five-Color Control (18 Day 1, 15 Day 2)

Good Day 1, bad Day 2, but it had numbers both days. This deck, like Reveillark, left most of its players sitting at the lower tables with only 7 of 33 players finishing in the Top 32. The current metagame doesn’t seem to be kind to a deck based around a seven-mana sorcery and other splashy spells. The deck has to have a good early draw just to stay in the game against the speed and resiliency of the token decks. Naturally, let’s look at the only Five-Color list to make Top 8:

Although the traditional Cruel Control list certainly can’t be dismissed, the version to play is probably something closer to Patrick Chapin Quick n’ Toast with less of a focus on the high cost bombs. I feel that Anathamancer deserves a spot in the main deck as it hits all of the relevant decks for serious damage, especially if the game ever drags out to the point where you can unearth.

G/W Tokens – AKA Kiddie Green (12 Day 1, 9 Day 2)

Question: What do you get when you take the best deck in the format and change the secondary color? Answer: Still a pretty good deck. And fun, did I mention fun? If you are looking for a deck to pick up and play, or your goal is primarily an enjoyable day, this is a great choice. Your wins are often memorable, and the Timmy plays you make routinely will wipe away the memories of the losses. There’s really nothing like casting Overrun at instant speed off a Windbrisk Heights for the win. David Irvine two Top 4’s give us the natural place to look for our G/W list:

With no changes between Day 1 and two, David is confident in his build. The only metagame call I would make is to eliminate the Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tenders to free up some extra slots in the board. The major downfall of G/W Tokens is that it doesn’t seem to hold up against the B/W Tokens build. The deck needs something to put it over the top, and I have to admit, I have no idea what that would be.

The Pretenders:

B/G Rock (14 Day 1, 8 Day 2 — 1 Top 16)

Always a solid archetype, this is one to keep an eye on. Players do not seem to have a consensus on the best build yet, as these decks try to take advantage of the huge two-drops, but struggle to find the appropriate use for such obviously strong cards as Maelstom Pulse and Lord of Extinction. The top performing B/G deck of the weekend was Will Fisk’s 10th place Putrid Elves list, which put the pedal to the floor and turned guys sideways.

4 Llanowar Elves
4 Wrens Run Vanquisher
4 Imperious Perfect
4 Chameleon Colossus
4 Putrid Leech
4 Thoughtseize
3 Profane Command
3 Garruk Wildspeaker
3 Nameless Inversion
4 Maelstrom Pulse
3 Reflecting Pool
3 Llanowar Wastes
3 Treetop Village
3 Twilight Mire
4 Gilt Leaf Palace
4 Swamp
3 Forest

3 Guttural Response
2 Cloudthresher
4 Infest
3 Stillmoon Cavalier
3 Terror

Will’s list is straightforward, taking advantage of his guys’ toughness to use Infest as a one-sided Wrath against token decks, and finish with the power cards. Out of the sideboard, Cloudthresher is still a beating against the Bitterblossom and Spectral Procession tokens of B/W. Rock has traditionally been more of a control deck, using efficient creatures to stall and force a late game where its power cards can shine, but Will may have the right idea by coming out of the gates and using B/G’s bombs to finish off opponents.

Sanity Grinding (5 Day 1, 5 Day 2 — 1 Top 8)

This deck was the definition of an anomaly. Without Ali Aintrazi piloting his Sanity Grinding deck to the Top 8 of Day 2, this deck would fall into “The Rest” category. But with the Top 8 showing and the press that this deck has been getting, you had better have a plan to deal with all of the Johnnies who are champing at the bit for an alternate win condition deck in Standard. Expect bounce and Plumeveils to get in your way, but Ali’s list had another surprise:

The Overbeings of Myth not only power up the Sanity Grindings for a whopping five cards, they also provide this deck with an alternate win condition and much needed refueling in the late game. (The Overbeing in the sideboard was supposed to be a Memory Plunder, but the submitted decklist had the fourth Overbeing so Ali was held to that configuration.) Conspicuously absent from the list is Howling Mine, as Ali opts to power up the Grindings as much as possible and avoid giving his opponents any more ammunition to make it a quick game.

W/b Kithkin (4 players Day 1, 7 players Day 2)

The New York crew came to town with their back to the future twist on the Black White deck, overlaying it onto a classic Kithkin Build and walking away with three Top 8 spots on the weekend.

The deck plays the fast, efficient Kithkin and backs it up with a full main deck complement of the ruthlessly efficient Zealous Persecution. In the Top 8, no one made it out alive with all three Top 8 showings losing in the quarterfinals, two to the standard build of B/W Tokens and one to G/W Tokens, so it may be worth replacing the Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tenders with other cards to better tune the deck against the metagame.

Bant (9 Day 1, 3 Day 2)

So, what was special about Tommy Ashton’s build that let him roll through Day 1 without a loss? Honestly, I have no clue. Maybe the question is: What was so special about Tommy Ashton that let him roll through the field like a Tarmogoyf through wolf bacon? No one else running Bant even came close to his success. (Next highest finish: 29th on Day 2)

The card that jumped off the table at everyone was Finest Hour. Apparently getting double use out of all of your exalted guys to create a huge trampling beast that gets to attack twice is good. Who knew?

The Rest

Mana Ramp — Jund or Naya (9 Day 1, 10 Day 2 — 1 Top 16)

More mana is good, right? Well, the results would say otherwise, as these greedy decks got completely shut out of the Top 64 on Day 1 and managed only a slightly better showing on Day 2.

Cascade (18 Day 1, 8 Day 2 — 3 Top 32)

It seems like Alara Reborn’s most interesting and powerful mechanic may not be as broken as we think, but let’s give it some time.

B/R Beats / Blightning (13 Day 1, irrelevant Day 2 — 1 Top 32)

It seems like the showing on Day 1 so demoralized this deck that it slept in on Sunday. My notes have two “Field” showings on Day 2 that I dropped in with “Other.”

Doran (5 Day 1, 8 Day 2 — 1 Top 32)

With all of the great Black/White decks, Doran somehow missed the bus. There should be a build here, since he combines the three most popular colors in Standard right now, but it certainly didn’t come out to play this past weekend.

R/W (5 Day 1, 2 Day 2 — 1 Top 64)

Remember when Vengeant Weenie was good? Good times, good times. This is why Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tenders can take a back seat in the #1 sideboard card discussion.

Faeries (5 Day 1, 5 Day 2 — 1 Top 32)

Their best card has been co-opted by other decks and the Fae have fallen from favor. They can still put up a fight, but B/W tokens has answers to all but the perfect hand.

So there you have it, the complete metagame from this past weekend to help you prepare for Regionals. In my opinion your gauntlet should focus on B/W Tokens, G/W Tokens, Five-Color Control, and Reveillark. Other decks to have a plan against include Sanity Grinding, B/G Rock and Bant while Mana Ramp, Cascade, and Blightning builds are worth being aware of your matchup, but not worth much time unless you plan on playing after a second loss.

Until next time, this is R. Jared Sylva telling you: Input good!