Magic Online Musings: This Week on MTGO #15

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Regionals is just around the corner… While the MTGO Metagame is entrenched in Guildpact, are there nuggets of tech to be discovered? With his usual brand of statistics and humor, blisterguy aims to find out…

The Standard season as we know it is coming to a close, and everyone is feverishly preparing for their Regional Championships… and who can blame them?! Dissension may be less than a week away in real life, but it’s still happily beavering away in the beta-testing phase right now on Magic Online, leaving the next few weeks as the final verse of the Guildpact Standard song. If this were some kind of emotional Livejournal or Myspace post, I would end it with this:

Now playing: The Guildpact Song by Magic the Gathering.
Current mood: Quietly raging against the oppressive hierarchy of modern society, and the fact that my parents won’t let me go to the My Chemical Romance concert this weekend *cry cry*.

Anyway, an interesting thing happened in the last week. The current Standard format debuted at Pro Tour Honolulu earlier this year, and I was lucky enough to be there as part of the coverage team. The day before the Pro Tour, just after I returned from visiting Pearl Harbor with, err… a bunch of guys* I was hanging out with, we came across the French players checking in to their hotel room. One of the, err… guys asked Olivier Ruel what he was playing, and he passed us a Black and White, Aggro-ish looking deck with Shrieking Grotesque and Paladin en-Vec in it. Ruel explained that he wanted to switch to the Owling Mine deck at the last minute, but he didn’t trust the fact that he’d only had a few days to potentially test it. He decided in the end to stick with his playtesting and play what most people at the time would consider a non-deck from the third-place Guild out of the three Guilds in Guildpact. Three days later, most people were surprised to learn that an aggressive Black and White deck was in fact an actual deck, and that apparently those good-for-nothing Pros are good for something after all.

Since that weekend, Black and White aggressive decks, in many different forms, have crashed into the Magic Online metagame and sent the rest of the field scattering like skittles. The majority of the Orzhov decks came in the form of the Hand in Hand deck that Ruel popularized with his Top 4 finish, making the results look very skewed in Hand in Hand’s direction. All the while, the Guild known as Izzet were getting similar results, but evenly spread across their two builds, Magnivore and Izzetron, which made them appear to be much less popular.

Until this week.

Out of the 64 decks across this week’s Top 8 playoffs, just over twenty percent of them were Izzetron. If you add the seven Hand in Hand decks to the seven Husk decks, you just manage to surpass Izzetron‘s total of thirteen by one, but if you include Magnivore and the newer Izzet Control decks, the Blue and Red Guild leaps up to nineteen decks alone. To put the boot in somewhat, there were a total of zero Gruul Beats decks this week. But enough prattling on about it, here are the results!

Disclaimer: An article such as this one will be filled to the brim with statistics, many of which may be baffling, but hang in there, and all will be explained.

What you’ll see is this:

11 (20) Hand in Hand (Orzhov Aggro with a little disruption thrown in.) 17.18% (31.25%)

Which reads as follows:
11 – The number of times the deck appeared in top eight’s this week.
(20) – (The number of times the deck appeared in top eight’s last week).
Hand in Hand – The name of the deck.
(Orzhov Aggro with a little disruption thrown in.) – (A brief description of the deck).
17.18% – The percentage of the top eight field this week.
(31.25%) – (The percentage of the top eight field last week).

The numbers come from me watching the Top 8 playoff replays in the Premier Events room on Magic Online. There are eight decks per Top 8, and usually 6-8 Top 8s per week. That means that a deck that appears once could take up something like 1.56% (1 divided by 64) to 2.08% (1 divided by 48) of the top eight field, give or take an event or two.

13 (10) Izzetron (Blue/Red Urzatron.) 20.31% (15.62%)
7 (11) Hand in Hand (The ball started rolling by Olivier Ruel.) 10.93% (17.18%)
7 (8) Orzhov Pontiff (Also known as “Husk”.) 10.93% (12.50%)
4 (4) Magnivore (Izzet Magnivore, Sorceries and Wildfire.) 6.25% (6.25%)
4 (3) Zoo (Aggressive Green/White/Red.) 6.25% (4.68%)
3 (4) Heartbeat Combo (The Heartbeat of Spring and Early Harvest Combo deck.) 4.68% (6.25%)
3 (4) Hierarch Control (Green/White/Black Control, based around Loxodon Hierarch.) 4.68% (6.25%)
2 (3) Boros Deck Wins (White/Red Aggro.) 3.12% (4.68%)
2 (0) Dimirtron (The rarer Tron. Based Blue of course, but with Black instead of Red.)3.12% (0.00%)
2 (0) Izzet Control (Blue/Red Control.) 3.12% (0.00%)
1 (3) GhaziGlare (Selesnya Aggro Control with Glare of Subdual) 1.56% (4.68%)
1 (4) GhaziGood (Selesnya Aggro Control with Greater Good.) 1.56% (6.25%)
1 (2) Selesnya Aggro (Kind of like the non-Boros half of a Zoo deck.) 1.56% (3.12%)
1 (1) Reanimator (That Blue/Black/White Reanimator that pops up from time to time.) 1.56% (1.56%)
1 (0) Ghost Dad (Black/White Aggro, with Tallowisp.) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) GhaziChord (Selesnya Aggro Control, with Chord of Calling.) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Orzhov Control (Black/White Control.) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Blue/White/Red Control (Not the Zur’s Weirding deck from a month ago, just a Control deck.) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Green/White/Blue Control (Base Selesnya Control, with some Counters and Card Drawing.) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Green/White/Black Old-School Greater Good (Like when it first came out at the State Champs back at the end of 2005.) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Hierarch Control (Green/White/Black Control.) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Green/Red/White/Black Sunforger Control (I still refuse to call it Fungus Fire, even if it’s splashing Black for Mortify now.) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Green/Red/Black Magnivore/Wildfire (That pretty much describes it.) 1.56% (0.00%)
0 (1) Gruul Beats (Red/Green Aggro, like the one that won Pro Tour Honolulu.) 0.00% (1.56%)
0 (1) Sea Stompy (Green/Red/Blue Aggro-Control, with Ninjas!) 0.00% (1.56%)
0 (1) Regular Stompy (Actual Mono Green Monsters and Pump spells.) 0.00% (1.56%)
0 (1) Izzetron with White (Izzetron splashing both Faith’s Fetters and Wrath of God.) 0.00% (1.56%)
0 (1) Dimir Control (Blue/Black Control, like pre-Dissension Jushi Control.) 0.00% (1.56%)
0 (2) Green/White/Red control (Yup. Um…) 0.00% (3.12%)
4 (0) Unknown (I’ll explain in a minute…) 6.25% (0.00%)

This week saw a great wealth of rogue deck design coming to the fore, and a bunch of once staples – decks that could be depended on to turn up two, three, or four times in a week – landing themselves a sweet bunch of zeros to go with their names.

The Unknown decks, now those are a different story. Sometimes, very occasionally, someone will lose their connection before a Top 8, and their opponent will win due to inactivity on the disconnectee’s part. I haven’t seen it happen in quite some time, but this week, it happened three times! Even stranger is that two of them happened in one Top 8, and happened to be playing (or not playing as the case may be) each other in the quarterfinals. One player timed out, and then the other player proceeded to time out to their semifinals opponent. Let’s just call it a fluke and move on to the Extended events!

Last week, I complained that the three Extended Top 8s showed little variation in the archetypes, which is probably to be expected in a format where the addition of a new set has much less impact than it would in, say, Standard or Booster Draft. However, this week’s three tournaments somehow drastically increased the number of archetypes played from nine to fifteen, not to mention that neither Friggorid nor Heartbeat made any Top 8s, which means eight decks that didn’t show up last week. Have a look for yourself.

5 (4) No-Stick (Blue/White/Red Isochron Scepter Control.) 20.83% (16.66%)
4 (3) Affinity (Um, 56 Artifacts and 4 Thoughcasts?) 16.66% (12.5%)
2 (3) Boros Deck Wins (Very low curve Boros Aggro.) 8.33% (12.5%)
2 (0) Ruel Psychatog (Like the deck that Antoine used to win the last Extended Pro Tour.) 8.33% (0.00%)
1 (2) Tooth and Nail (The original competitive Tron deck.) 4.16% (8.33%)
1 (1) Four-color Gifts Control (A bunch of good cards, probably best described as a Greedy Approach to deck building..) 4.16% (4.16%)
1 (1) CAL (The Solitary Confinement, Life from the Loam and Seismic Assault deck popularized by Olivier Ruel.) 4.16% (4.16%)
1 (0) Red/White/Blue Aggro (Boros deck wins with Mana Leaks. Thanks, Steam Vents!)
1 (0) Goblin Bidding (Goblins and Patriarch’s Bidding.) 4.16% (0.00%)
1 (0) Mono Black Rat Aggro (I vaguely remember this deck having a name, but for the life of me, I don’t recall what it was.) 4.16% (0.00%)
1 (0) Psychatog with Red (I didn’t see any Burning Wishes, before you ask.) 4.16% (0.00%)
1 (0) Aggro Rock (Green/Black Aggro backed up by the best disruption Extended can offer.) 4.16% (0.00%)
1 (0) Rock (Green/Black Control based on the best disruption Extended can offer.) 4.16% (0.00%)
1 (0) Niv-Mizzet Reanimator (A Reanimator deck that aims to get a Curiosity on a Niv-Mizzet as soon as possible.) 4.16% (0.00%)
1 (0) Green/Red/Blue Madness (You used to have to choose between the Blue Madness spells and the Red ones. Not any more… thanks again, Steam Vents!) 4.16% (0.00%)
0 (4) Friggorid (The Blue/Black Dredge Ichorid deck.) 0.00% (16.66%)
0 (3) Five-Color Green Aggro-Control (Green cards, and pretty much anything else you want to run.) 0.00% (12.5%)
0 (3) Heartbeat Combo (Much faster and more consistent than the Standard version.) 0.00% (12.5%)

Sure, there’s still a heap of No Stick and Affinity, but isn’t it nice to know that there’s room for experimentation if you can pull it off? Next week, I’ll try to start including the Block Constructed Premier Events as well. Someone told me that the Team Pro Tour coming up will be Team Constructed using all of Ravnica block. Getting on top of those Block PE’s now would make a smart move on my part, so the odds are quite high that somebody else told me to do it and I’d simply forgotten all about it. Anyhow, moving on to the card prices.

The numbers shown, for instance, as 2-4 are the price people are buying the card for, followed by the price people are selling the card for. The prices shown in parenthesis, like this (2-4), are the prices from last week. If a card and its prices have been bolded, it’s because there has been a change in price from the week before to help you differentiate those cards from the others that are a little more… static in their movements. Card prices are in Tickets, because that’s what most people buy and sell with on Magic Online. Also note that prices can fluctuate based on the time of day, depending on just how many people are online selling at the time. Due to my uniquely antipodean location down here in the Pacific, and my tendency to hold down a regular nine to five job, the prices below end up being a bit of a general indication of what’s going on.

Pithing Needle 18-21 (18-20)
Umezawa’s Jitte 8-10 (8-10)
Howling Mine 2-3 (2-4)

The was one guy selling a Jitte for 9, but that’s all he was selling, so we can peg that up to someone trying to liquidate one rather than the new price. Such signs shouldn’t be ignored however, so as I said last week, the price is showing signs of dropping a little.

Vampiric Tutor 21-25 (20-24)
Kokusho, the Evening Star 6-7 (6-8)
Cranial Extraction 6-7 (6-7)
Dark Confidant 3-4 (3-4)

I’m actually curious to see how high Vampiric Tutor will get before it maxes out. Before you rubbish the idea of a card costing a ton, let me remind you that the out-of-print hits Meddling Mage and Pernicious Deed sell for 70+ and 100+ respectively.

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

As of next week, both Kami of the Crescent Moon and Howling Mine can bow out of this list gracefully, I think. I don’t see Owling Mine making a comeback any time soon.

Ghost Council of Orzhova 4-6 (5-6)
Giant Solifuge 4-6 (4-6)
Burning-Tree Shaman 4-5 (4-6)
Loxodon Hierarch 4-5 (4-5)
Rumbling Slum 2-4 (2-4)

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

Green cards don’t change in price, true story.

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

Neither do Red cards. Also a true story.

Wrath of God 9-10 (9-10)
Paladin en-Vec 6-8 (6-8)
Yosei, the Morning Star 4-5 (3-5)
Isamaru, Hound of Konda 3-4 (3-4)

Oh my god, a White card changed in price. Stop the press! Wait, we don’t use presses any more for this kind of medium. Damn it!

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

Steam Vents 10-11 (10-12)
Godless Shrine 9-11 (11-13)
Stomping Ground 8-10 (9-10)
Temple Garden 6-7 (6-8)
Overgrown Tomb 6-7 (6-7)
Sacred Foundry 6-7 (6-7)
Watery Grave 6-7 (6-7)

It seems like the Guildpact Dual Lands are finally starting to normalize in regards to their price, and with Dissension’s final three Dual Lands on the horizon, at what can only be described as at the very last minute! The time is nearing to see what the new cards are going to do to the price of the “old” ones. As I mentioned with Howling Mine and Kami of the Crescent Moon, it’s time to start culling out some of the less interesting cards in favor of the newer and more interesting ones coming through soon. Expect to see other cards dropping off the list in the next week or so.

Random Bonus Segment.

A friend of mine spotted this in a Top 8 replay. We can only assume it’s someone messing around, but will we ever know for sure?

2:23 Antonio_Ramirez: Loading…
2:23 Antonio_Ramirez: Error
2:23 Antonio_Ramirez: Loading…
2:23 Antonio_Ramirez: Error
2:23 Antonio_Ramirez: Loading…
2:23 Antonio_Ramirez: Hi, this is Automated Playing Bot ver. 1.0c. Good Luck as you will need it vs. me. Note that to be in Hall of Champions you must beat many good players including playing bots. End of Message.

If you can have Trade Bots, then I guess the next step is Playing Bots. I just don’t think it’s at all likely that someone would have put the time and effort into making one of those, let alone selling it on to players so they can cram themselves into the Hall of Champions.

Once again, it’s time for my bed. This weekend coming is the first weekend where Dissension is legal for Standard play in real life, and for some reason, I’m being dragged all the way up the country to play in a Team Constructed PTQ. Here’s hoping I remember to take my laptop with me for the uber tournament report goodness!

Until then, behave or I’ll tell your mothers.



*Teddy Knutson, Randy Buehler, Matty Place, Scotty Johns, and Aarony Forsythe. You know, just some guys.