Magic Online Musings: This Week on MTGO #12

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It’s Wednesday, it’s MTGO, it’s blisterguy! Fresh with a fun-filled article checking out the ups and downs of the MTGO metagame, plus handy hints on the price fluctuations in the online marketplace.

Welcome one and welcome all, and a special hello to the children. Do your parents know you’re on the Internet? If not, great sneakery there, very commendable. To the rest of you, I hope you know how to get to one of these things yourselves by now, so if you required help, let us just keep this one to ourselves, k? Now that we’re all here and comfortable… you are comfortable, right? Okay, sigh, we’ll wait.


Okay, that one at the back there is taking his time getting to his seat. Err, so uh, how about a joke?


There are two chickens, right, one on either side of the road. The first chicken yells out to the other one, “hey buddy, how do I get to the other side?” And the other one… oh look, he’s sitting down now, we can begin.

Sorry, what? The chickens? Oh if I must… the other one yells back, “you idiot, you are on the other side.”

(I’m sure the management of StarCityGames.com would like to apologize for the above joke, so I’ll just get in now and preempt them. Sorry about that.)

Anyway, back to the format called Standard. I though it would be a slow weekend, what with the Prerelease on and everything. (By the way, going spoiler free was just as much fun as I anticipated, but that’s another story for another time.) But I was mistaken; there were a good eight events held, and only two of them were below 45 people strong. I guess Magic Online attracts some of those people for whom getting out to a Real Life event is a little more difficult, and of course those of us who end up sleeping something like four hours a night.



It will come as no surprise to most of you that once again the aggressive Orzhov decks have topped the charts with their hit single “cough I believe you owe me monies,” for something like the millionth week in a row. Surprisingly enough, they have the exact same percentage of the deck pool as last week, and I was somewhat impressed with the results last week, if I remember correctly. Let’s have a look see.

20 (15) Hand in Hand (Orzhov Aggro… more below.) 31.25% (31.25%)
9 (5) Izzetron (Blue/Red Urzatron. Also known as “Mana are us”) 14.06% (10.41%)
9 (4) Heartbeat Combo (The Heartbeat of Spring and Early Harvest Combo deck.) 14.06% (8.33%)
4 (1) Gruul Beats (Red/Green Aggro, monsters attack!) 6.25% (2.08%)
3 (4) Magnivore (Blue/Red Magnivore and Wildfire, can you stop the hasty X/X?) 4.68% (8.33%)
3 (2) Orzhov Husk (Black/White Aggro with Nantuko Husk and Promise of Bunrei.) 4.68% (4.16%)
3 (2) Zoo (Green/White/Red Aggro. The original aggressive deck from way back.) 4.68% (4.16%)
3 (2) Boros Deck Wins (White/Red Aggro. Also quite old-school, believe it or not.) 4.68% (4.16%)
1 (1) GhaziGood (Small and large Selesnya men and Greater Good.) 1.56% (2.08%)
1 (1) GhaziGlare (More Selesnya people with Glare of Subdual) 1.56% (2.08%)
1 (1) Hierarch Control (Green/White/Black Control, centered around Loxodon Hierarch.) 1.56% (2.08%)
1 (1) Ghost Dad (Black/White Aggro, fueled by Tallowisp goodness.) 1.56% (2.08%)
1 (1) Izzet Control (Blue Red Control.) 1.56% (2.08%)
1 (0) GhaziChord (The good ol’ Selesnya family with Chord of Calling skillz.) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Blue/Black/White Control o.O (Kokusho, Wraths, Compulsives, Remand, Signets, and Shrug)
1 (0) Green/Black Control (Persecute, Kokusho, Last Gasp, and more Shrug) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Eminent Domain (Blue/Red that steals their lands, and blows the others up with Wildfire. Some Dragons might persist in the evening.) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Boros Burn (Like a Boros Deck wins deck, but with far less in the creature department, and far more in the crispy face department.) 1.56% (0.00%)
0 (3) Owling Mine (Blue/Red with Howling Mine and Ebony Owl Netsuke) 0.00% (6.25%)
0 (2) Greater Gifts (Greater Good Control Combo with Gifts Ungiven) 0.00% (4.16%)
0 (1) Orzhov Control (Black/White Control, as pioneered by the Beach House crew.) 0.00% (2.08%)
0 (2) Sea Stompy (Funky Green/Red/Blue Aggro Control) 0.00% (4.16%)

These results can be further condensed by guilds, and I rather think that Boros and Gruul are much the same, you know, with the Burn and the Creatures.

24 Orzhov
14 Izzet
11 Gruul/Boros
3 Selesnya
12 Other

Which minimizes the apparent skew a little. Izzet decks can come in many flavors, and aggressive burn-based decks can farm out to a couple of takers for their beatdown component, but the Orzhov are increasingly favoring the Hand in Hand approach for their battles. Hand in Hand was popularized by Olivier Ruel at Pro Tour Honolulu with his fourth place finish, and looked much like this.

The deck has changed along the way at the hands of many different people on Magic Online, mostly to adjust to the metagame as it revealed itself. This doesn’t mean that Ruel screwed up his list and the multitudes are now “fixing his mistakes.” Far from it. I mean, the fact that he played an Orzhov deck showed that he was way ahead of whatever ball we thought we were chasing. It’s just that now everyone knows to expect the Orzhova, certain changes can and have been made.

Item the first. Paladin en-Vec is the Big Man of Standard. Sure, he’s not big to look at. In fact, many people will tell you that a 2/2 for three mana is far from big, let alone middle-sized. But the fact remains that he survives the following common potential traumas in Standard:

Volcanic Hammer
Last Gasp
Lightning Helix (OMG!)
Pillory of the Sleepless

And it dies to:


Okay, so it dies to Wrath of God and can be neutralized by Faith’s Fetters, but fewer and fewer people are playing those these days, so the Paladin is taking to the field with much deserved confidence. It doesn’t hurt that he wields a Jitte better than almost anyone else. Well, it does hurt if it’s not your Jitte and not your Paladin, but you get the point.

Item the second. With the influx of Orzhov decks, it seems that Hand of Honor has also replaced Hand of Cruelty as the Bear of Choice. Going into Pro Tour Honolulu, you would naturally expect the majority of the Aggro decks to be Boros flavored, but now that they mostly pack removal that required Black mana, the Hand of Honor is clearly a better choice.

Another Item, yes I have lost count, please don’t point and laugh at me. The other Bear that has been starting to show up is good ol’ Eight-and-a-Half-Tails. The Block Fox has been helping some people grind past the mirrors, and stealth past any would-be defenders to ensure certain victory for those not screwed by Mana (for instance). Teysa, Orzhov Scion however, has increasingly been sitting it out. Let’s all shed a tear for Teysa.


And on that unhappy note, time to finish up with the price fluctuations in the Space-Time Continuum, or Magic Online if you must.

Howling Mine 2-4 (3-4)
Pithing Needle 18-19 (17-19)
Umezawa’s Jitte 9-10 (9-10)

Jitte hasn’t bounced back up to selling for 11 tickets. This is both surprising and alarming. Hold me.

Cranial Extraction 6-7 (6-8)
Dark Confidant 3-4 (3-4)
Kokusho, the Evening Star 6-7 (6-7)
Vampiric Tutor 16-20 (14-17)

The Vamp Tutor is obviously still trying to find its level, and will no doubt continue to bounce around a bit for at least the next two weeks, in my opinion.

Gifts Ungiven 4-5 (4-6)
Kami of the Crescent Moon 3-5 (3-5)
Keiga, the Tide Star 3-5 (3-5)
Meloku the Clouded Mirror 4-5 (4-6)

Loxodon Hierarch 4-5 (4-5)
Ghost Council of Orzhova 6-7 (6-8)
Rumbling Slum 3-4 (3-4)
Giant Solifuge 5-6 (5-7)
Burning-Tree Shaman 5-6 (5-7)

Birds of Paradise 4-6 (4-5)
Greater Good 2-3 (2-3)
Heartbeat of Spring 4-6 (4-6)
Early Harvest 4-6 (4-6)

I have now booted Arashi, Sky Asunder (3-5) from our Price Check Roster. Now that he’s dropped into a believable price range, he can make way for the New Arrivals expected with the impending release of Dissension. Other cards may find themselves cut in the next week or two, so they had better be on their best behavior!

Char 3-5 (3-5)
Magnivore 2-4 (2-4)
Wildfire 3-4 (2-4)

Isamaru, Hound of Konda 3-4 (3-4)
Wrath of God 9-11 (9-11)
Yosei, the Morning Star 3-5 (3-5)
Paladin en-Vec 6-8 (6-7)

There was one guy advertising to sell Paladin en-Vec for {5}, but there’s no way that was correct. There was a least one other person on last time I checked, who seemed to be Selling at less than Buying prices. No doubt they are ignoring a steady stream of private messages about the prices of their cards.

Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] 6-7 (6-7)
Brushland 5-7 (5-7)
Llanowar Wastes 6-7 (6-7)
Shivan Reef 9-11 (10-12)
Underground River 5-6 (4-7)
Yavimaya Coast 7-9 (7-9)
Karplusan Forest 6-7 (6-7)
Caves of Koilos 9-11 (9-10)
Adarkar Wastes 6-8 (6-8)
Sulfurous Springs 5-7 (5-7)

Overgrown Tomb 6-8 (6-7)
Sacred Foundry 6-7 (6-7)
Temple Garden 6-7 (6-7)
Watery Grave 6-7 (6-7)
Stomping Ground 10-12 (10-12)
Steam Vents 11-13 (12-13)
Godless Shrine 12-13 (13-14)

I have trouble believing that Godless Shrine should be dropping in price, but I guess many people have them already, and the people who are drafting are still continuing to feed the Constructed people the Phat Loots they require.

Anyway, that’s enough babbling for this week. I need to get this wrapped up and off to the esteemed Craig for editing. If fact, you should thank him for that, I can’t imagine what horrors he has saved you from this week. Next week, I’ll see if I can’t make some early guesses at what cards will be worth looking out for, or possibly even investing in once the Dissension boat comes into port to unload its goods.

Until next time, mulligan those one-land hands!