Magic Online Musings: This Week on MTGO #40

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Blisterguy reaches his fortieth column concerning all things Magic Online! Today he sets the scene for the coming World Championship in Paris, mining the Premier Event data in order to extract some nuggets of metagame-shaping goodness. Will his predictions come true? Read on to find out!

(This week was brought to you by “Clerks”, “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”, “Office Space” and the disjointed sounds of Meshuggah.)

The week before last: “… And”

Last week: “… Aaaaaaand!”

This week: Aaaaaaannnnnd we’re back!

(Picture me running in to the room all flushed and excited with a pen in one hand and a wee pad of paper in the other. Just like a real reporterer.)

The Constructed Premier Events have finally started firing up again, and not a moment too soon, as I am ravenous for tech! I mean, why playtest when I can get everyone on Magic Online to do it for me? Actually, that’s a little misleading. I have been shuffling decks up in real life and having a wee bit of a go at it – don’t think of me as too much of a slacker. However, I’d be fooling myself if I didn’t think that Magic Online was going to have a big impact on Worlds this year. Much like it did last year with the Japanese taking Standard by storm with the Glare deck that had been tearing it up online for a full fortnight before kick off in Yokohama.

With just a pair of Extended Events and metric butt-ton of Standard Events held in the last week, I knew which format I was going to be more forthcoming with the technology, if any. What follows are the combined results across the multitude of Top 8s from this week. The number in parenthesis is the number of times the deck appeared in a Top 8 last time we were able to pull a recap of the Standard Events, which thanks to the Time Spiral Release Age (kind of like the Stone Age or the Ice Age but with even fewer Constructed Events) was, like, a month ago or something.

13 (6) Izzetron (Blue/Red Urzatron Control)
9 (23) Solar Flare (Blue/Black/White Control)
9 (0) Dragonstorm Combo (Blue/Red/Black Combo)
8 (2) Magnivore (Blue/Red Land Destruction Control)
7 (11) Simic Aggro Control (Blue/Green)
6 (8) Boros Deck Wins (Red/White Aggro)
5 (0) Zoo (Green/White/Red Aggro)
5 (0) Azorius Control (Blue/White Control)
5 (0) Blue Boros Control (Blue/Red/White Control)
4 (0) Izzet Snow Control (Blue/Red Control with Stuffy Doll)
3 (0) Flores Angel Aggro Control (Blue/White/Red Aggro Control)
2 (7) Selesnya Aggro Control (Green/White Aggro Control)
2 (0) Mono White Snow Control (Martyr of Sands, Proclamation of Rebirth Combo)
2 (0) Blue/Black/Red Reanimator (The White for Akroma and Angel of Despair don’t count obviously)
1 (16) Satanic Sligh (Rakdos Burn)
1 (3) Gruul Aggro Control (Red/Green Aggro Control)
1 (1) Mono Red Snow Goblins (With Seething Song and Rite of Flame giggle, giggle)
1 (0) Hierarch Control (Green/White/Black Control)
1 (0) Azorius Green Control (Blue/White/Green Control)
1 (0) Mystical Teachings Control (Blue/White/Black Control)
1 (0) MGA (Mono Green Aggro)
1 (0) Mono Blue Snow Control (cold)
0 (7) Heartbeat (Heartbeat of Spring/Early Harvest Combo)
0 (7) Ghost Dad (Black/White Tallowisp Aggro)
0 (6) Counterbalance Control (Blue/Black/White Control, sometimes without the Black)
0 (5) Azorius Enduring Ideal Control (Blue/White Enduring Ideal sorta-Combo)
0 (4) Hand in Hand (Black/White Aggro Control)
0 (4) Sea Stompy (Green/Red/Blue Aggro Control)
0 (3) Azorius Aggro Control (White Weenies with Blue Counter backup)
0 (3) White/Red/Black Firemane Control (<--- that stuff)
0 (2) Golgari Aggro Control (Green/Black Aggro Control)
0 (2) Dimir Reanimator (Blue/Black get big guys in the yard, Zombify ‘em into play)
0 (2) Simic Erayo Ninja (The mBracht special)
0 (1) Unknown (Deal making in private chat makes Baby Jesus cry)
0 (1) Battle of Wits (Yes, a 230 — 250 card deck…)
0 (1) Red/Blue/Black Control (‘twas interesting, to say the least)

Obviously many of the decks in the bottom half of the list just plain fail to exist after Kamigawa Block retired from active service, and many of the ones with results have changed dramatically since they were last spotted in the wild.

(Through cute wee binoculars obviously, we don’t want to disturb these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat!)

Coming out in front and making everyone think the Metagame Clock had been wound back four months is the Blue/Red Urzatron monstrosity. While you can no longer play Keiga, the Tide Star in this deck, you can now flop down another 5/5 flyer any time you please, provided all eight mana is paid of course, that happens to nuke half of the board or much of the opponent’s face.

Solar Flare
Despite the surge in popularity behind the Solar Pox build, most people seem to be opting for the tried and true Phat Dropz version of Solar Flare, which isn’t nearly as cutesy but just plain drops bombs until it’s opponent cries “uncle!”

Dragonstorm Combo
The new combo deck on the block. Any Storm-based combo turn is pretty resilient against Counterspell-like abilities, and if the initial damage to the face isn’t fatal, the residual Dragon presence the remains seldom fails to finish the job. This has caused quite a rise in appearance of Shadow of Doubt and Trickbind in people’s sideboards.

Simic Aggro
Now with Call of the Herd and Mystic Snake, how lovely!

Boros Deck Wins
Now with Soltari Priest and Knight of the Holy Nimbus, how combat nighmare-ery!

I have been admittedly puzzled by the lack of this deck on the standings in the past month or two, simply because I have always found it to be beyond brutally effective. I guess I can sleep a little easier now, unless I end up getting pounded by it repeatedly in the near future.

Azorius Control
The classic Counters-and-Wrath configuration, with Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir holding it all together and making life particularly difficult for any other control deck if he resolves. Luckily for them, they all tend to be running him as well.

Blue Boros Control
Like the deck above, but with Lightning Helix for cheap and effective pinpoint removal and Firemane Angel to buffer up the back line. Oh, and p.s. Demonfire you.

Izzet Snow Control
The other side of the two control decks above, this one shies away from Wrath of God and instead runs the Snow Engine to power out Skreds that could stop an elephant at ten paces. Okay, that’s not a good example because an elephant is only a 3/3, and Skred will usually hit for somewhere between five and thirteen damage. Also spotted in these decks is the hilariously painful Stuffy Doll. There’s nothing funnier than watching someone drop a Doll before blockers (thanks Teferio!), throw it in front of some power before poking it with a Skred for seven-plus damage to the face. In playtesting this weekend past, I went Skred for eight, Skred for eight, Mouth of Ronom for four in one turn. Yeah, I had a laugh, I can tell you.

Flores Angel Aggro Control
I can’t for the life of me remember what he named the deck, but I’m willing to bet it had his name in it somewhere [Nope, it’s “This Girl.” — Craig]. Traditionally, an Angel theme deck would spend most of the game waiting to actually cast any of its pet critters on the grounds that they cost like, a million mana and stuff. However, Serra Avenger and Lightning Angel both come out at a reasonable hour, and backed with Good Spells you end up with a solid deck.

Selesnya Aggro Control
Scryb Ranger and Spectral Force are quite the beating apparently, and Stonewood Invocation can be quite the sock in the chops too. On top of that you have Yavimaya Dryad smoothing the way for an already well-established deck, how can you go wrong?

Mono White Snow Control
Similar to the Mono White Urzatron deck that was betting bandied about a month ago, in that it tries to stall the game out with Martyr of Sands and Proclamation of Rebirth. Usual route to victory is the opponent dying of old age related ailments.

Blue/Black/Red Reanimator
Kind of building on where Solar Flare goes from time to time, in that Compulsive Research is a really good way to get an Akroma or an Angel of Despair into the graveyard, and Zombify is an equally excellent way of getting one of them back into play. Add Thought Courier, Dread Return, and Lightning Axe and you’re cooking with gas.

So my mental map of Standard is filling in nicely, which is a good thing, because it could also be just sitting there dreaming of pointy tropical fruit. Also, good job Wizards on nerfing Blue cards, only nine of those thirteen decks run Blue omg Magic is Dying lolwtfpaintthinnerplx.

Extended isn’t looking as clear just yet, what with only two public Events being played out so far. These results don’t have a number for last time, because last time we checked Extended, I think Squire was still legal. Oh crap, it’s still legal.

3 (-) Boros Deck Wins (Red/White Aggro)
3 (-) Affinity (The dreaded Artifact deck)
2 (-) Four Color Gifts Rock (Green/Black/White Control with Blue for Gifts Ungiven)
2 (-) Azorius Control (Blue/White Control)
1 (-) Izzetron (Blue/Red Urzatron)
1 (-) Gruul Ponza (Green/Red Aggro Control)
1 (-) Loam Control (Green/Red/White Life from the Loam Control)
1 (-) Balancing Tings (Balancing Act, Terravore and Sac-Lands)
1 (-) Friggorid (Blue/Black Aggro Dredge)
1 (-) Goblins (Mono Red Goblin Aggro)

The most notable absence is obviously Psychatog, which could be solely because of Sudden Shock. Apparently some people have been sighted waaahing on forums about Split Second cards and how they will ruin Magic and waaah, waaah my arse is on fire waaah, but you know what? Any card that can keep That Grinning Bastard down is A-Okay in my books, and no doubt in many other people’s as well, so cry more nooblets, cry more.

Anyway, these are all very important results, and I would be very surprised if we don’t see a direct correlation between what happens on Magic Online this week and what comes out to play in Paris next week. I still can’t help but think that some group of seasoned professionals is going to bust out something unexpected and everyone is going to line up to get their butt handed too them soundly. However, in my case that was probably going to happen anyway, so it’s probably no big deal. I’ll just do what I did last year and try to have fun.

Tune in next week as we take another look at both the Standard and Extended results to see what has or hasn’t changed in preparation for the 2006 World Champs. I’ll try to spend the time between now and then doing those all-important things like booking travel insurance, getting my warm undergarments out of storage, and buying a small tube of toothpaste. Hell, maybe I’ll even do a little more playtesting between now and then too, but I won’t hold my breath, because I’ll probably pass out after a couple of minutes.