After several weeks of effort, I’ve finally completed a full statistical look at Pro Tour: Los Angeles. I’d hoped to present this study sooner, but based on my observations of this Pro Tour Qualifier season, the material is still fresh. It’s only been a month since the Pro Tour, after all. While I was tapping merrily away on my keyboard, rendering a 330-person, nineteen-round tournament into its manageable bits of data, certain deck trends impressed themselves upon my brain. More importantly (to me at least) George R.R. Martin’s fourth book of A Song Of Ice And Fire, “A Feast For Crows,” was released and my spiffy new copy shipped to my home… and yet I did not read it. Instead of turning page after page of a book I’ve been looking forward to finally reading for years, I spent hour after hour compiling the Pro Tour matchup data.
You know I love you all, right?
Nothing – and I mean nothing – says loving like skipping out on George R.R. to compile tournament statistics. The cost in man hours far outstrips any money I’ll be paid for presenting this article on StarCityGames.com. My reward comes from the insight I’ll impart to you from having done this research and compiled this data.
My gift to you today is an Excel file of massive proportions, which you can download by right-clicking this link and selecting “Save As.” There are two pages of data entry by player — one for the Friday competition, and one for the Saturday competition. I further break down the data by archetype, dedicating one page of data to each of the major archetypes: Affinity, Boros Deck Wins, Balancing Tings, Goblins, Heartbeat Desire, Madness, Rock, Scepter-Chant, and Tog. In addition, I have one page consisting of the miscellaneous decks at the tournament, those that don’t fit the aforementioned archetypes.
The intent of this study was to compare each of these decks against one another, taking into account sub-variations within (such as Red Rock packing Flametongue Kavu against White Rock’s Lodoxon Hierarch and/or Vindicate, or even Psychatog vs. Loamatog). When I have done this type of statistical look at Pro Tour and Grand Prix events in the past, I’ve spat out gross data and let it speak for itself. This time around, I chose to refine the data and explain, in detail, just what it all means.
Affinity is oft considered to be an anchor-point of the Boros/Tog/Affinity “Rock-Paper-Scissors” metagame. Surprisingly, my math reached a different conclusion. What it learned is that we do not have a metagame based around those three decks. Affinity has a nearly hopeless matchup against Boros decks. The game count was heavily swayed in the Boros Deck’s favor (it won 66.6% of games played against Affinity). Even more impressive, Boros’s match win percentage rose to a whopping 77% against Affinity!
“Surely,” you might think, “These losses against Boros must be made up by Affinity. I’m sure the deck smashes Psychatog decks!” What we think we’re sure of is often wrong. It’s no small wonder Psychatog decks have been sweeping up neatly on the Grand Prix circuit over the past few weeks. Affinity claimed a less-than-impressive 56.8% match win percentage against Tog, to go with 56.2% game win percentage. The Affinity/Psychatog match is still favorable for the Affinity player, but this does not make up for the deficit the Affinity deck faces when playing against Boros decks.
Likewise, the Psychatog against Boros matchup ended with the Tog deck as only a 58% favorite to win the match. This percentage went down to 53.25% for any one individual game.
Lesson one: The numbers show that Extended does not revolve around a three-deck, rock-paper-scissors metagame.
Affinity overall win percentage: 48.25% (match), 49.7% (game)
Versus Balancing Tings: 42.3% (match), 50% (game)
Versus Boros Deck Wins: 22.3% (match), 33.33% (game)
Versus Goblins: 63.65% (match), 58.8% (game)
Versus Heartbeat Desire: 33.33% (match), 37.1% (game)
Versus Madness: 85.7% (match), 77.1% (game)
Versus Rock: 43.2% (match), 49.6% (game)
Versus Scepter-Chant: 39.4% (match), 41.6% (game)
Versus Tog: 56.8% (match), 56.2% (game)
Affinity has five unfavorable matchups, two of which are certifiably awful. Statistically, Affinity only wins out of out every five matches against Boros, and only one out of every three against Heartbeat of Spring/Mind’s Desire decks. The Rock, Scepter-Chant, and Balancing Tings are all difficult decks for Affinity to beat – and those five decks account for the majority of the Extended metagame. You smash last year’s beatdown machines,
but those decks have no business competing in Extended right now. It does Affinity no good to beat U/G Madness and Goblins when neither of those decks is dominating the field.
Of all the Affinity decks played, only Erayo Affinity has a winning match record (65.6%). Only four people piloted that version, so there isn’t enough raw data on that deck to call it a success.
(Based on the numbers though, my suggestion is to start using Erayo in Affinity, and stop using Dark Confidant and Broodstar. I only wish I were kidding about the Broodstars. Three people played Broodstar at the Pro Tour. )
A few Affinity players tried running Cabal Therapy, but that one card didn’t seem to swing any of Affinity’s matchups significantly towards one direction or the other. Cabal Therapy might help flip Erayo, and therefore is worthy of consideration as part of a successful Affinity deck. Based on the inherent weakness of Affinity, I wouldn’t want to put a lot of time or effort into developing the deck further. I’d prefer to go with a more statistically proven deck.
I live in a world based on the belief that you can’t play a four-color deck filled with a mish-mash of lands that all come into play tapped. Other brave souls live in a world full of Balancing Tings, which had done well in Magic Online testing during the months prior to Pro Tour: Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Ravnica has left Balancing Tings behind. It appears that most of the Balancing Tings players did not anticipate Life from the Loam, which likely made many matchups more difficult than they would have liked. There were no obvious significant differences between the individual Balancing Tings decks played at the Pro Tour, which is somewhat surprising.
Balancing Tings Overall Win Percentage: 51.05% (match), 51.1% (game)
Versus Affinity: 50% (match), 48.5% (game)
Versus Boros Deck Wins: 55.5% (match), 57.15% (game)
Versus Goblins: 50% (match), 47.75% (game)
Versus Heartbeat Desire: 50% (match), 45.5% (game)
Versus Madness: 57.15% (match), 50% (game)
Versus Rock: 78.95% (match), 67.39% (game)
Versus Scepter-Chant: 50% (match), 56.5% (game)
Versus Tog: 14.3% (match), 19.34% (game)
Balancing Tings seems to be a statistical replacement for the Boros deck in the metagame, if you insist on having a rock-paper-scissors environment. Your chances against Psychatog are virtually nil, but you have a much better matchup against Heartbeat/Desire decks, and you improve your record against Madness decks from unwinnable to slightly favorable. In exchange, you trade a good matchup against Affinity to a heavily favored bout against The Rock. This may be worth doing, because as time progresses, Affinity might be weeded out of the metagame by the simple process known as “Survival of the Fittest.” You have an absolute nightmare matchup when facing Psychatog, so in the end the trade-offs may not be worthwhile – people do play their Psychatog decks, after all.
Boros Deck Wins
Here we have one of the two key decks underpinning the metagame; Boros Deck Wins has a lot going in its favor, it isn’t slaughtered too badly by Tog decks (Sligh just gets lucky sometimes after all), and the decks that decimate it (U/G Madness and Heartbeat Desire) aren’t too popular at this time. I’d say that Boros Deck Wins is a rather good choice to play, all told.
This deck will continue as a mainstay of the Extended format until there’s a large shaking-up of the available card pool, which won’t be until Guildpact becomes legal. At that time we’ll have three more dual lands and three new mechanics that may be worth abusing, but for now Boros Deck Wins appears to be a successful archetype.
Boros Deck Wins Overall Win Percentage: 54.85% (match), 53.35% (game)
Versus Affinity: 77.1% (match), 66.66% (game)
Versus Balancing Tings: 44.45% (match), 42.85% (game)
Versus Goblins: 61.1% (match), 59.55% (game)
Versus Heartbeat Desire: 25% (match), 39.4% (game)
Versus Madness: 17.65% (match), 27.9% (game)
Versus Rock: 64.8% (match), 58.5% (game)
Versus Scepter-Chant: 53.85% (match), 58.6% (game)
Versus Tog: 41.95% (match), 46.75% (game)
A proliferation of Boros Decks effectively makes The Rock and Affinity unplayable, and the Boros Deck will almost always appear in significant numbers at Pro Tour Qualifiers.
Lesson Two: The Rock is unsustainable as a winning deck at present.
This may not invalidate it as a worthwhile choice in the short term, but in the long term it’s a losing bet. If you think your Qualifier won’t have a lot of Red decks, feel free to play the Rock. If you think you need to get lucky to win a Qualifier anyway, go for it. I’ll discuss this more in the Rock section, when I compare and contrast the different variations of the Rock and show how each version stacks up if you want to metagame your Rock deck into a deck that beats the Boros deck.
There are two main variations of the Boros Deck — those with and those without a land destruction element. The most prevalent version packs White and does not contain land destruction. This version made the top 8 of the Pro Tour and is considered the stock version of Boros Deck Wins. The overall match win percentage between Boros decks with or without land destruction is comparable — 53.85% for the Boros Deck without land kill compared to 55.55% with. The match win percentage is 56.35% for Red Deck Wins (the more traditional version of the deck, forsaking the Boros element) though due to the low turnout of traditional Red Deck Wins, its numbers aren’t statistically relevant. The biggest factor in the Affinity matchup for these decks is access to Kataki, War’s Wage. You go from an 84% win percentage (Boros Deck Wins without LD) to a 76.9% one (Boros Deck Wins with LD) to and again down to 70% (Red Deck Wins).
The numbers are flipped against The Rock. Without LD, you have a 50/50 matchup against The Rock, while playing land destruction raises that to win percentage to 74.5%, and playing straight Red Deck Wins increases your odds to 81.8%. Playing with land destruction makes the Psychatog match a 50/50 proposition, while running burn instead reduces your chances to 35.7%… Though straight Red only has a 44.5% winning percentage against the Tog deck. Boros Deck Wins, land destruction and all, only faced Psychatog decks eight times during the tournament so these numbers should not be considered statistically true. Instead, think of them as suggestions. Likewise, Red Deck Wins, only faced Tog nine times, whereas Boros Deck Wins sans LD went up against Tog fourteen times.
Lesson three: Boros decks like to run land destruction. Playing R/W or mono-Red doesn’t make a huge different, because you don’t need Kataki to roll Affinity.
Welcome to the second big Magic Online-tested deck. Goblins is a deck played in large numbers that didn’t prove to be an actual relevant part of the (winning) metagame. Its overall win percentage is 42.9% – an unacceptably low number for it to be considered as a good deck. The only version played by more than two people that came out with a positive or neutral record was the build that incorporated Seething Song, a la Osyp Lebedowicz.
Goblins Overall Win Percentage: 42.9% (match), 45.15% (game)
Versus Affinity: 36.9% (match), 38.65% (game)
Versus Balancing Tings: 56.25% (match), 52.25% (game)
Versus Boros Deck Wins: 37.85% (match), 39.55% (game)
Versus Heartbeat Desire: 75% (match), 60% (game)
Versus Madness: 60% (match), 52% (game)
Versus Rock: 54.55% (match), 54.05% (game)
Versus Scepter-Chant: 18.75% (match), 28.55% (game)
Versus Tog: 35% (match), 42.6% (game)
Okay. Goblins can’t reliably beat Scepter-Chant, Affinity, Psychatog, or Boros Deck Wins. Why are people still playing it? I don’t know.
Goblin decks that ran Cabal Therapy made all their matches worse across the board, and splashing for White in the deck didn’t help any either. Splashing Green helped marginally – but there was only one deck which splashed Green so that isn’t even relevant. Playing Patriarch’s Bidding improved all of Goblin’s matchups (except for the Scepter-Chant match), but the change was not significant enough to matter.
Lesson four: Leave the Goblins at home. While I’m willing to listen to Osyp’s argument that a Goblin deck powered by Seething Song might be an effective choice, I wouldn’t recommend playing a deck that has a losing record against the three most-played decks in the field.
Remember, Friends don’t let friends play Goblins.
Heartbeat Desire emerged from Pro Tour: Los Angeles as the most unexpected new key component of the metagame, and one very worthy of discussion. If not for a series of controversial judge rulings in the semi-finals of the tournament, this deck might have won the Pro Tour. Unfortunately, the Pro Tour itself didn’t provide enough data to throw out reliable numbers in several key matchups. It appears that Heartbeat Desire will lose more often than it will win against Psychatog, and your chances of beating Scepter-Chant are downright bad. This deck didn’t play many games against U/G Madness and Goblins, but trends suggest that the Madness deck can give the Desire deck a tough fight. Madness has the potential to show quick aggression backed by countermagic — allowing it to both put on pressure and to counter key spells. The distinction between Tog and U/G Madness, in this regard, is a bit unclear.
Heartbeat Desire Overall Win Percentage: 48.45% (match), 50.95% (game)
Versus Affinity: 60.7% (match), 62.85% (game)
Versus Balancing Tings: 50% (match), 54.55% (game)
Versus Boros Deck Wins: 75% (match), 60.6% (game)
Versus Goblins: 25% (match), 40% (game)
Versus Madness: 25% (match), 31.6% (game)
Versus Rock: 50% (match), 58.82% (game)
Versus Scepter-Chant: 33.33% (match), 40.65% (game)
Versus Tog: 25% (match), 36.85% (game)
Five players ran this deck without Mind’s Desire, and their numbers were all a small bit worse across the board against the prevalent decks compared to versions of this deck that did run Mind’s Desire. Some matchups seemed to be slightly worse, such as Affinity; Others such as The Rock became downright unfavorable. What this implies to me is that while the deck without Mind’s Desire is favored by .1% (match) and 1.85% (game), the difference shows much more when your resources are put under stress. I’ll invite other interested parties to discuss this in the forums, because the numbers are telling me that the Mind’s Desire versus non-Mind’s Desire argument doesn’t really matter much except when the Heartbeat deck is under attack by discard. If you argue the merits of either approach from that one, the numbers say Mind’s Desire is better than Ideas Unbound.
Billy Moreno Madness/Tog hybrid is included here, but let me forewarn you – he played a statistically strange array of decks throughout the tournament. Billy faced Affinity zero times, so we have no data about that match. He also never played Scepter-Chant and Balancing Tings. He only faced The Rock and Goblin once apiece, and lost every single match he played versus more traditional Psychatog decks. Despite the belief that Billy’s deck was one of the best of the tournament, this supposition cannot be backed up by numbers.
Overall, Madness was an oddly split archetype. People ran last year’s version of U/G Madness, or they built new decks that abused the Dredge mechanic and/or Psychatog.
What do the numbers from Pro Tour: Los Angeles suggest? Out with the old and in with the new! You can play your Madness deck if you want to, but don’t leave your Psychatogs behind.
Madness Overall Win Percentage: 52.11% (match), 53.1% (game)
Versus Affinity: 14.3% (match), 22.9% (game)
Versus Balancing Tings: 42.85% (match), 57.15% (game)
Versus Boros Deck Wins: 82.35% (match), 72.09% (game)
Versus Goblins: 40% (match), 48% (game)
Versus Heartbeat Desire: 75% (match), 68.4% (game)
Versus Rock: 60.85% (match), 56.35% (game)
Versus Scepter-Chant: 66.66% (match), 71.45% (game)
Versus Tog: 35.7% (match), 36.35% (game)
Just as Boros decks destroy Affinity, U/G madness decks destroy Boros decks. It’s not just the tag-team combination of Dr. Teeth and Wild Mongrel, because the old-style Madness decks also decimated the Boros decks. The combination of undercosted creatures, card advantage, and aggressive tempo seems to undermine the entire the Boros deck’s plan of action. The Boros deck can’t win when it has to resort to blocking 4/4s on the third turn.
Madness decks turned in a hearty winning percentage against Heartbeat/Desire decks, winning six times in the eight matches they played — and this includes all versions of both decks. While the five-game set played out in the Top 4 of the Pro Tour might not seem very indicative of what should happen in this match due to play mistakes and judge rulings, the eventual outcome of a match between these archetypes should come out in the Madness player’s favor.
Let’s compare old-school Madness to new-school Madness. The older version of the deck racked up only 26 wins in 67 matches (38.8%), and 70 game wins in 163 games (42.95%). The new Madness decks put up 48 wins in 75 matches (64%), and won 111 out of 178 individual games (62.35%). Clearly the new-school Dredge/Tog inspired Madness deck thrives in this format, while the old-school U/G versions has earned a short and painful death.
Rock decks showed a great deal of variance at the Pro Tour. Some versions were beatdown-oriented while others pushed more for control. Some builds ran Blue (for Gifts Ungiven), White (for Vindicate, Armadillo Cloak or Loxodon Hierarch), or Red (for Burning Wish and/or Flametongue Kavu). In fact, playing just B/G in The Rock without any splash was the rarest choice of all.
The Rock Overall Win Percentage: 42.6% (match), 45.8% (game)
Versus Affinity: 59% (match), 52.8% (game)
Versus Balancing Tings: 17.65% (match), 29.25% (game)
Versus Boros Deck Wins: 35.2% (match), 41.5% (game)
Versus Goblins: 45.45% (match), 45.95% (game)
Versus Heartbeat Desire: 50% (match), 41.2% (game)
Versus Madness: 39.2% (match), 43.65% (game)
Versus Scepter-Chant: 56.52% (match), 52.63% (game)
Versus Tog: 28% (match), 33.33% (game)
Those numbers just don’t inspire confidence. The Rock had positive matchups against Scepter-Chant and Affinity, but only just so. Every other matchup was bad, dismal, or abysmal. The Rock performed horribly against Psychatog — it won only 7 out of 25 matches. This was nothing compared to the nightmare it faced against Balancing Tings — The Rock managed to win an embarrassing 3 out of 17 contests.
When you’re talking about The Rock, you’re talking about one of the most-played decks of the Pro Tour here, so we are not suffering from a small sample size problem; the least-played matchup here still put in seventeen separate points of data. The Rock really does badly against everything excepting Scepter-Chant and Affinity. Even the slight advantage gained there doesn’t compensate for the giant disadvantages you face against the other decks floating around the format.
Still, I mentioned above that there were countless variations on the Rock theme. Could an individually-tuned Rock deck perform better than the norm? Breaking things down to look at the performance of the different archetypes, we find the following:
Beatdown Rock Match Win Percentage: 51.9%
Rock Match Win Percentage: 26.85%
Gifts Rock Match Win Percentage: 44.75%
Burning Wish Rock Match Win Percentage: 30.75%
Red Rock Match Win Percentage: 37.5%
White Rock Match Win Percentage: 42.5%
Clearly, aggression is key. The more control-oriented strategies featuring Burning Wish or Vindicate, are just outclassed by the beatdown strategy (which is backed with copious amounts of powerful discard spells). While The Rock-with-Flametongue Kavu decks in theory might make for effective deck, the results show otherwise — Flametongue Kavu proved to be too reactive. Even the aggro-Rock decks did badly against Boros Deck Wins and Psychatog decks, which makes me wonder why people are even trying to salvage the archetype at this point.
The Rock will always be a mainstay of the Qualifier circuit, but my recommendation, based on these statistics, is that this is not a choice you should make if you intent on winning a tournament.
Many believe that Scepter-Chant may secretly be one of the better decks in the format. It’s been doing well at the Qualifier level, it’s had high finishes on the Grand Prix circuit (especially in Asia) and it is described as having a great matchup against the CAL/Seismic Assault deck that has started to surface (and by surface I mean that it has won multiple Grand Prix tournaments). It has no inherent weaknesses to combo, control or beatdown, since its key strategy (Impriting Orim’s Chant on Isochron Scepter) can shut down the attack phase and sorcery-based combo decks (Mind’s Desire in particular).
Scepter-Chant Overall Win Percentage: 50.65% (match), 52.9% (game)
Versus Affinity: 60% (match), 62.35% (game)
Versus Balancing Tings: 30% (match), 43.5% (game)
Versus Boros Deck Wins: 38.46% (match), 41.4% (game)
Versus Goblins: 80% (match), 75% (game)
Versus Heartbeat Desire: 63.65% (match), 62.1% (game)
Versus Madness: 12.5% (match), 31.6% (game)
Versus Rock: 43.5% (match), 47.35% (game)
Versus Tog: 14.3% (match), 34.4% (game)
Well, so much for Scepter-Chant being a superior control strategy. It got thoroughly mauled by Loamatog decks, which made up all but three of the fourteen matches played against Tog decks. While Scepter-Chant performs well against Affinity, it performs equally badly against Boros Deck Wins. While Scepter-Chant didn’t do as badly as some of the other decks in the tournament (The Rock), it is clear that the metagame shift since Pro Tour: Los Angeles favors control decks, which Scepter-Chant is weak against. While Scepter-Chant’s overall match-win percentage is in an acceptable range, it is not a deck you can pick up and expect to do very well without making modifications to the current metagame. As seen here, the numbers do not currently favor this deck.
Psychatog won Pro Tour: Los Angeles and has continued to win several Extended Grand Prix tournaments this season. Psychatog decks also were the first to enact large-scale abuse of Life from the Loam in Extended. Three of the top four decks at the Pro Tour used Psychatog, including both of the finalists.
There were two main variants on the Psychatog Deck: The version with Dredge, which feels like it has a pure combo-kill engine, or the pure-control version, as played by the French and Belgian players in Los Angeles. The versatility of Psychatog decks has all but killed The Rock archetype, explaining the good performance of Psychatog and the bad performance of The Rock. Instead of splashing cards in The Rock to improve that deck, people found they could splash cards in Psychatog instead. Wild Mongrel, Life From the Loam, and Pernicious Deed were key Green cards that found their way into the traditionally U/B Psychatog deck.
Tog Overall Win Percentage: 57% (match), 56.2% (game)
Versus Affinity: 43.2% (match), 46.65% (game)
Versus Balancing Tings: 85.7% (match), 80.65% (game)
Versus Boros Deck Wins: 58.05% (match), 53.25% (game)
Versus Goblins: 65% (match), 57.4% (game)
Versus Heartbeat Desire: 62.5% (match), 63.15% (game)
Versus Madness: 60% (match), 61.1% (game)
Versus Rock: 72% (match), 66.66% (game)
Versus Scepter-Chant: 57.15% (match), 64.7% (game)
Every other deck seems to have several glaring weaknesses, but Psychatog only has one that has only one matchup below 55%! Judicious use of Pernicious Deed in the main deck might even solve the Affinity matchup on its own. Against Affinity, Loamatog finished with a 48.15% match win percentage, and a 50% game win percentage, showing that the playing field in that matchup can be evened out. This further disproves the rock-paper-scissors theory of the Extended metagame, as rock and paper are going 50/50 with each other and rock still beats scissors. By pulling the rogue Psychatog decks away (such as Scepter-Tog or Tog decks that ran Green without Life From the Loam), we find Loamatog racking up 57.5% of its match wins, and French Tog coming in with a whopping 68.3%.
Breaking this down in its entirety, then, we see the following match win percentages by all the archetypes in Extended, in descending order:
78.95% – MadTog 20/20
68.3% – Psychatog
65.63% – Erayo Affinity
62.5% – Boros Ponza
62.5% – 4c Long.dec
60.87% – New Solution
58.93% – Golgari Madness
57.47% – Loamatog
56.34% – Red Deck Wins
56.25% – Goblins splash Green
55.56% – Boros Deck Wins
54.55% – R/W/G
54.43% – Tooth and Nail
53.85% – Boros Deck Wins (No LD)
52.05% – Red/Green Beats
51.91% – Beatdown Rock
51.06% – Wake
51.05% – Balancing Tings
50.65% – Scepter-Chant
50% – Goblins (Seething Song)
50% – WW/u
50% – U/W Fish
50% – U/B Braids
50% – Landstill
50% – Dragon Bidding
50% – Crazy Pedro
50% – 4-Color Zoo
48.72% – Astral Slide
48.62% – Affinity
48.57% – Desireless Heartbeat Combo
48.48% – Affinity (Therapy)
48.42% – Heartbeat Desire
48.39% – Dump Truck
47.62% – Broodstar Affinity
47.22% – Reanimator
46.51% – Dutch Gifts Control
45.95% – Gifts Domain
45.67% – Goblin Bidding
44.74% – Gifts Rock
43.75% – Psychatog (Deed)
43.75% – Elemental Bidding
42.86% – Bobfinity
42.86% – Big Red
42.86% – B/W Control
42.86% – Domain Zoo
42.48% – White Rock
41.67% – U/G Madness
41.67% – Goblins
40% – Scepter-Tog
38.47% – Goblins splash White
37.5% – Red Rock
37.5% – Loam-assault
36.84% – Goblins (Pithing Needle)
34.78% – Erayo Bobfinity
33.33% – Jushi Blue
33.33% – Battle of Wits
33.33% – BUG Aggro-Control
31.82% – Dragonstorm
30.77% – Burning Wish Rock
30.51% – Goblins (Cabal Therapy)
28.57% – Affinity (Atog)
26.83% – Rock
25% – Ironworks Combo
14.29% – U/G Madness w. Pernicious Deed
0% – Burn
Apply your signal-to-noise filter as you see fit; you’ve read how I break it down among the nine relevant archetypes. Remember that you can’t automatically dismiss a deck just because the numbers are against it — metagames shift and advancements in deck technology can change an entire deck’s composition. For instance, Life from the Loam/Solitary Confinement/Seismic Assault decks didn’t even make Day 2 at Pro Tour: Los Angeles, but those cards have won two consecutive Grand Prix tournaments in the past month. What some dismiss as a pet deck, others mold and tweak until they feel that they have perfected their weapon of choice.
What would I do this Extended season? I’d play a deck with four copies of Psychatog in it. The other fifty-six (or seventy-one if with Sideboard) cards are a judgment call. I’m a better analyst than I am a player, but the math and statistics clearly show that Psychatog decks are far and away the strongest decks in the format.