Magic Online Musings: This Week on MTGO #17

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With the third set of Ravnica Block now gracing the electronic pages of MTGO, blisterguy looks back at the pre-Dissension metagame, wading through weeks of Premier Event statistics and examining the results. This, plus the usual fare of weekly metagame quirks and price fluctuations.

With the Dissension release events starting in, erm… *looks at watch* … very soon, there has never been a better time to take an overall, somewhat global-esque look at Standard over the last ten weeks or so following the Pro Tour on some island somewhere.

It started out as any format would, with the introduction of a new set. In this case, Guildpact. Even without visiting spoiler sites, which were somewhat embroiled in their own controversies at the time, people were generally aware of the fact that Guildpact would feature the Guilds Izzet, Gruul, and Orzhov. Initial predictions had the Izzet way out in front, thanks to the then-recent success of Werner Cloete’s Izzetron deck, which had managed to run up some good numbers without the help of the Izzet Dual Land, now known as Steam Vents. In the supposed second place was the feisty Gruul, who were expected to team up with the Selesnya and the Boros to support the revival of the old Zoo archetype on the back of the reprinted Kird Ape. Most agreed Orzhov was a non-issue.


Along came the Pro Tour, and it seemed that Orzhov wasn’t quite the non-issue after all. If I remember correctly, more people played Orzhov themed decks on Day 2 than any other Guild. However, the Top 8 certainly wasn’t overly disproportionate in its share of the decks, with Izzet appearing in three decks, Orzhov in two and Gruul also in two, including the eventual winner. This brings us up to our first week of Standard premier events results on Magic Online, which followed quite quickly after the Pro Tour. With a little formatting to fit my current whims and fancies, looked a little like this.

(Note: I’ll be leaving out a bunch of the extra percentage-like stat stuff in the recap. We’ll leave that for this week’s results, much further below. Basically, the number next to the deck is the number of times it appeared in a Top 8 that week.)

8 Zoo
7 Hand in Hand
5 Ghost Dad
5 Hierarch Control
4 Gruul Beats
3 Heartbeat Combo
2 Greater Gifts
2 Orzhov Control
1 Angel/Weirding
1 GhaziGlare
1 Izzet Control
1 Dimir Reanimator

This was a far cry from the Izzet dominated field everyone was expecting, with only one Izzet deck finding its way into the ranks at all. Decks featuring the Gruul did well enough, earning twelve spots, but still managed to be outnumbered by the sneaky weasel Orzhova family, who came in at a whopping nineteen finishes (if you include the Hierarch Control decks). This set the scene for the weeks to come, as the Orzhov continued to dominate the results tables. Although their representatives would have you believe it was a minor anomaly in the reporting software (i.e. me) and that it was nothing to worry about and by the way, you still owe them five bucks from last weekend, although you can pay them seven tomorrow if you like.

Over the next five weeks, the top decks looked like this.

(Any deck with less than nine finishes not included.)

73 Hand in Hand
32 Magnivore
27 Heartbeat Combo
21 Ghazi Aggro Control
17 Gruul Beats
15 Ghost Dad
15 Zoo
15 Izzetron
10 Owling Mine
9 Orzhov Husk
9 Boros Deck Wins

This shows that the Orzhov solidified their stranglehold on the format early and often. Not only did the Ruel build (Hand in Hand) have more than twice as many finishes as its nearest competitor, it also had its Ghost Dad and Orzhov Husk brethren hiding in the ranks. Izzet held at second place, with Magnivore and Izzetron waving the flag, while the Gruul just tended to wander about their Forest/Mountains in search of Bananas. Orzhov representatives had nothing official to say, other than that they would be speaking to you back there on the left – yes, you – in the alley out back after this.

The last five weeks looked something like this.

60 Hand in Hand
39 Izzetron
22 Ghazi Aggro Control
22 Orzhov Husk
18 Heartbeat Combo
17 Magnivore
14 Zoo
11 Hierarch Control
10 Izzet Control
9 Boros Deck Wins

Decks like Owling Mine and Gruul Beats seemed to have dropped off the charts completely, while Izzetron and Orzhov Husk have leapt up in both numbers and presence, even if they are basically the same thing. Err, in numbers and presence that is, not the decks Izzetron and Orzhov Husk. Those two decks are about as different as you can get. I’d be surprised if they share any cards in common outside of the occasional Pithing Needle or two.

So to recap on the recap, the top five decks over the last ten weeks (or so) since the Pro Tour were…

(drum roll please)


(man, drum rolls don’t translate well here, I should stop)


133 Hand in Hand
54 Izzetron
49 Magnivore
45 Heartbeat Combo
43 Ghazi Aggro Control
31 Orzhov Husk


(Yes, I’m aware that’s six.)

With a quick Guild Breakdown to finish.

164 Orzhov
103 Izzet
43 Selesnya
Some Gruul
The rest, pretty much.

So was the Orzhov, and to some extent the Izzet, more overpowered compared to the rest of the field? Or did fashion dictate the metagame? Those Ruel brothers sure are a dashing pair, and can be found to have many fans in many places, but did Olivier’s Top 4 finish with his Hand in Hand deck skew the metagame in one direction? Or was his deck just plain better than most people anticipated? We might never know, because it’s not like we have a parallel metagame from which we can source results. The closest thing we could have is the Future Future League, run by those who actually take pen to paper and design this game. But even that is a far cry from what we end up playing with, because the rest of us are incapable of just picking up a marker pen and adjusting our cards mid-game where needed.

(Imagine that mechanic in the next Unglued/Unhinged set?)

(How will Mark Rosewater manage to pull that one off?)

(Will he even try?)

(Is he actually as short as he appears?*)

Let’s have a look at the last pile of results for this season. Sure, there will be more Top 8s over the next week, but most people will be playing Dissension sealed deck and so on for anyone to really care. Of course, I’ll also be travelling over to Kuala Lumpur to cover the Grand Prix this coming weekend, and I think we all know I’ll be too excited to write about anything other than that next week.

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.

Added disclaimer: These figures have not been factored into the above recap, because they took the system down when I wanted to grab the data, so this part has been done at the last minute.

(Craig will no doubt say something here like “What’s new?”) [What’s new? – Craig, happy to oblige.]

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 8s this week
(20) – (The number of times the deck appeared in Top 8s 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 8 field this week
(31.25%) – (The percentage of the Top 8 field last week)

The numbers come from me watching the Top 8 play-off 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 8 field, give or take an event or two.

12 (15) Izzetron (Blue/Red Urzatron.) 18.75% (23.43%)
7 (3) Zoo (Aggressive Green/White/Red.) 10.93% (4.68%)
6 (3) Hierarch Control (Green/White/Black Control.) 9.73% (4.68%)
4 (5) Magnivore (Izzet Magnivore and Wildfire.) 6.25% (7.81%)
4 (4) Hand in Hand (The deck popularized by Olivier Ruel.) 6.25% (6.25%)
4 (2) Heartbeat Combo (The Heartbeat and Harvest Combo deck.) 6.25% (3.12%)
3 (1) Dimir Control (Blue/Black Control, like pre-Dissension Jushi Control.) 4.68% (1.56%)
2 (6) Izzet Control (Blue/Red Control.) 3.12% (9.73%)
2 (4) Orzhov Husk (Also known as “Husk” or “Ghost Husk”.) 3.12% (6.25%)
2 (1) Boros Deck Wins (White/Red Aggro.) 1.56% (1.56%)
2 (1) Gruul Beats (Red/Green Aggro, like the one that won PT Honolulu.) 1.56% (1.56%)
2 (0) Ghost Dad (Black/White Aggro, with Tallowisp.) 3.12% (0.00%)
2 (0) Blue/White/Red Control (Counters and OMG Lightning helix.) 3.12% (0.00%)
2 (0) Gifts Control (Gifts Ungiven and the mana to abuse it) 3.12% (0.00%)
1 (2) Sea Stompy (Green/Red/Blue Aggro-Control, with Ninjas!) 1.56% (3.12%)
1 (0) Unknown (Bah, someone else disconnected!) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Green/White/Blue Control (Selesnya Control, with some Counters.) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Red/Black Aggro! (Maybe this guy thought he could play with Rakdos cards already.) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) White Weenie (No splash, as strange as that seems) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Greater Gifts (Greater Good, but fueled by Gifts Ungiven) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Dimir/Golgari Tron (Dimirtron, but splashing Green) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Critical Mass (Blue/Green Aggro Control) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Owling Mine (Some things just never die…) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Hierarch Control splashing Keiga (Yup.) 1.56% (0.00%)
0 (6) Selesnya Aggro Control (Selesnya guys etc.) 0.00% (9.73%)
0 (2) Reanimator (That Blue/Black/White Reanimator.) 0.00% (3.12%)
0 (2) GhaziChord (Selesnya Aggro Control, with Chord of Calling.) 0.00% (3.12%)
0 (2) Green/Red/Black Magnivore/Wildfire (That pretty much describes it…) 0.00% (3.12%)
0 (2) Dimirtron (Tron, but with Black instead of Red.) 0.00% (3.12%)
0 (1) Regular Stompy (Mono Green Monsters and Pump spells.) 0.00% (1.56%)
0 (1) Owling Mine splashing White (For OMG it’s Lightning Helix! OMG!) 0.00% (1.56%)
0 (1) White Weenie splashing Ninjas and Counters (Um, yep.) 0.00% (1.56%)

Which is quite different to the recap results, I trust you’ll agree! Only fourteen Orzhov decks, and that’s if you include the six Hierarch Control decks, which play remarkably different to the rest. Izzet again coming in on top with nineteen decks, most of which play in a similar manner at least, despite the divergences in their manabases. Compare these results to the first snapshot from the start of this incoherent ramble, and it’s good to see an actual variety of decks have come out of the woodwork over the last couple of months.

I skipped Extended this week, yes I did. Now for the prices!

The numbers shown, for instance, as 2-4, are the price at which people are buying, followed by the price at which people are selling. 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. 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 more of a general indication of what’s going on than an exact science.

Pithing Needle 18-20 (18-20)
Umezawa’s Jitte 8-9 (8-10)

Zomg Jitte dropped again!

Vampiric Tutor 23-28 (22-26)
Kokusho, the Evening Star 6-7 (6-8)
Cranial Extraction 6-7 (6-8)
Dark Confidant 3-4 (3-4)

Zomg Vampiric Tutor went up again! Actually, that one’s not so much of a surprise.

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

Gifts changed in price? How odd.

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

Heartbeat of Spring 4-5 (4-5)
Early Harvest 4-5 (4-5)
Birds of Paradise 4-5 (4-5)

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


Wrath of God 9-10 (8-10)
Paladin en-Vec 6-8 (6-7)
Yosei, the Morning Star 4-5 (3-5)
Isamaru, Hound of Konda 3-5 (3-5)

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

Steam Vents 10-11 (10-11)
Godless Shrine 10-11 (10-11)
Stomping Ground 8-10 (9-10)
Temple Garden 6-7 (6-7)
Overgrown Tomb 6-7 (6-7)
Sacred Foundry 6-7 (6-7)
Watery Grave 5-7 (6-7)

Some prices are probably down slightly because people are trying to free up tickets for the new Dissension cards that are beginning to trickle in from busted packs. The prices are mostly high and wild at this point, so I’ll try to post something next week once they’re a little more stable. But for now, it’s time to pack for Kuala Lumpur!**



* The answer is both yes and no. He is short, but it’s fact that the rest of RnD happens to be something like ten foot tall that really makes it appear that way.

** Does anyone know what the weather is like there at this time of year? Haha!