A-T-L Jo-JAH. The Dirtay South.
Home to the best team in baseball, Outkast, Brian Kibler, and about three million people who weren’t born there. Former home to me too, before I bailed out of my doctorate program at Emory for the world of high tech and high dollars. This weekend, it will also host Dragon Con, and perhaps the largest North American Magic Grand Prix ever.
Estimates from the wise (but not the Gary) say that we could break the one thousand person attendance mark on Saturday, which would result in a packed room and nearly infinite rounds of Swiss – nine or ten on Day One alone. If you have no byes, you are essentially attending Ohio Valley Regionals with an additional three hundred players in the mix and a lot more Pros in the room.
What does it mean?
(Don’t you hate authors that ask rhetorical questions of themselves just because they can’t find other ways to set up their next topic sentence? Knut <- no skillz)
It means that in order to make Day 2, you will need to have a bullet-proof deck and luck. A lot of luck. Which I can’t help you with. I mean, have you seen my luck lately? Between my recent Onslaught Block exploits and my continued unemployment, I must be working off a karmic debt deeper than friggin’ Tartarus. I view this as proof that not only does the Creator (Richard Garfield) have a sense of humor, but it’s a cruel one.
So with the luck, anyway, you’ll have to make your own. But I might be able to help you figure out what deck to play. In this article, I’ll break down all the relevant deck-types featured at Worlds and give you matchup analysis for Goblins, Goblin Bidding, U/G, and Wake, as well as a host of other probable decks that you might see. A Herculean task for some, but I’m fully willing to put in the work… In fact, I actually finished my Dirk interview a week early so that I’d have plenty of time to run the numbers from Worlds and give you hard data. I simply needed to look up the round-by-round info for each deck on the Sideboard and cross-reference to the published decklists.
->.<- See that spot there? That was formerly the location of a hefty rant about the lack of decklists from Worlds (which completely shut down the matchup analysis I wanted to do, since I know who won, but I don’t know what they were playing!), how Worlds 2002 coverage was clearly superior to coverage from Worlds 2003, yadda yadda yadda. But I’m tired of ranting. No mas. They’ve worn me down. You all know most of the issues I have with the current Sideboard, so why rehash what I’ve been bitching about for the last nine months yet again?
Besides, the rumor mill is churning hot and heavy lately with stories about upheaval behind the scenes at Wizards (floating a Blue and a Black, of course), including possible changes at not just one, but both public websites. I haven’t seen an official announcement made yet, but if the rumors are true they could result in some interesting changes to Wizards’ public faces.
As a direct contrast to my complaints about the Worlds coverage (and the fact that I can’t write the article I wanted to write because the decklists still have not been posted), I’d like to point out that the coverage for Grand Prix: London was very solid. Good analysis of the techy U/W decks, all sixty-four Day 2 decklists, and even card-by-card appearance stats. Temple of the False God was the third most-popular land, Grand Coliseum was fourth (if judged by number of players using them), and Island – Island! – was fifth. One measly player running Forests made Day 2, and he finished second. This Block Constructed format makes even less sense than the last one (but I am clearly biased).
Back to the A-T-L… Since I can’t run the matchup numbers for Worlds, I’ll simply have to give you deck profiles of what you’ll probably see in the metagame and estimate the matchups for these decks against the field. These estimates will be less solid than the ones I gave for the Regionals metagame (I’m not playing, so I didn’t prepare as much), and some things I simply don’t know, but if you don’t have a deck yet or are interested in knowing what the metagame will probably look like, read on…
Zvi has gone on the record saying he hates this deck because you do a mountain of work in order to eke out a small victory – but anything that puts another notch in the victory column is what counts. Five of the six undefeated decks from Day 1 of Worlds were Wake decks. Kai played Wake. The Ya-Roon Minotaur (Jeroen Remie) played Wake. 2003 World Champion Daniel Zink played Wake. If you like the control decks, that should be all the pedigree you need for picking up this beating of a deck and decreeing yourself victor.
If you need further reason to play Wake, though, know that ripping a Compulsion off the top of your deck can turn a losing board into a game win in no time flat. The Cunning Wish-based sideboard gives the deck action against every other deck in the field, even in Game 1, and even though creature-based strategies can sometimes overrun Wake unless it gets the right draw, Wake creates the”right draw” more than any other deck in the field.
Matchups: The U/G matchup is tough, but better now than it has been and Wake has a surprising amount of game against both Goblin strategies (Goblin Bidding and The Red Army). Jim and I are still beating ourselves about the head over the Game 1 performance of Wake against Ralphie (it’s a kick in the teeth every friggin’ time), and Kibler’s two losses at Worlds with Decree.dec were both to Wake players. If I had to metagame against Wake only, I’d probably run an aggro-Zombie build and hope for the best, but really… There’s very little not to like about Wake aside from the possibility of playing infinite mirror matches.
If there are infinite Wake mirrors on Day 2, expect the Feature Match staff to commit ritual seppuku. It’s like watching a hundred people who are not Zvi play Turboland… Women’s professional bowling is more fun to watch.
Metagame percentage: These are just guesses so you guy can make fun of me later – but who doesn’t love random statistics? Anyway, Wake could comprise as high as 25% of the field in Atlanta, which would be a monstrous number for an open Standard format.
Model Deck: Where better to start than with Daniel Zink’s World Championship deck? He fought through two Wake mirror matches to take the title – and in a world where Wake is the deck to beat, you better know how to play the mirror match or plan on entering the side events pretty early.
Sigh, are we still talking about this deck? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, but there’s less reason to discuss U/G now than at any time since Judgment was released and Wonder made blocking a thing of the past. It still has”the God draw,” but aside from a reasonable matchup against Wake, it provides little else. Thankfully, Wake will be a large portion of the metagame this weekend, so those of you who are lazy or who are looking to give this deck one last spin around the block before it rotates out are in luck. Pray really hard that you won’t face many Goblin decks on Day 1 and you should do fine.
Matchups: The Wake matchup is favorable for you, which is rare for any deck in this environment. R/G has lost some game since 7th Edition rotated out, while Reanimator seems pretty even. On the flip side, Slide and Goblins both wreck you, as do Decree and Ralphie. Fortunately, with all the Wake in the field, somebody would have to have big steel juevos in their pants before they chose to play Slide – but the other three decks listed should have a more heavy presence in the metagame as a whole than Wake. With those odds, U/G will be a dicey choice, but a lot of players will take the chance anyway.
Metagame Percentage: Could be as high as 20%, but probably more like 10-15% instead. Of course, if a thousand players show up, that’s a hundred and fifty U/G decks running around, meaning a lot of auto-wins and a lot more losses to mana-screw. Good times…
Model Deck: Try Tomi Walamies‘ version from Worlds, as he finished at 5-1 with it. If you are worried about Wake, switch one maindeck Roar of the Wurm with one sideboard Deep Analysis – but if Goblins scares you, I’d leave it and hope you mise well.
I still think you have to have a pact with the devil in order to get the mana to work in your favor, but you can’t deny that Sylvain Lauriol’s 6-0 record and three-color mana base caught your eye. The original Goblin Bidding pioneer, Wolfgang Eder, made Top 8 with the help of his more standardized two-color version.
In contrast to this deck’s mono-Red cousin, G-Bidd features a little more late game action, with the potential for an explosive, hasted Patriarch’s Bidding always one draw (and two black mana) away. In exchange, it’s a little slower out of the gates and sometimes gets stuck with the no-men-Bidding-and-removal draw – which for me is decidedly unfun – but smarter players generally Paris that hand. If you’ve had fun running this deck in Block, you’ll feel like a God when you see how well it can perform in Standard.
Matchups: G-Bidd seems to have strong all-around game against most decktypes, and it beats U/G pretty consistently. Wake and decks running mass removal with Withered Wretch tend to complicate things a bit, but there’s always the”topdeck Siege-Gang Commander” plan to fall back on. If you are looking for a deck that can win, but is also fun to play, G-Bidd is for you.
Metagame Percentage: I’d guess you’ll see 10% of the players out there running a version of Goblin Bidding, and there could be a significant percentage that make Day 2 as well.
Model Deck: I am not brave enough to run Lauriol’s version, especially through ten rounds of Swiss… But if you trust your luck, feel free. The rest of you should stick to Eder’s version and rely on good ole’ German engineering to carry you through.
If I were looking for an aggressive deck to metagame against the field, this would probably be the deck I’d choose. This deck smacks your opponent around harder than Mike Tyson after Robin Givens made fun of his lisp. Speaking of smacking around, Jordan Berkowitz played it to a 5-1 record at Worlds, and my guess is that he didn’t get to be the #1 rated player in the World through poor deck choices.
Matchups: It has excellent game against U/G, and applies so much pressure that most control decks in the field will find it difficult to stabilize as well. Sulfuric Vortex shuts down the life gain element of decks until they find a way to deal with the enchantment (Sabertooth Nishoba, any deck running Exalted Angel or Renewed Faith), and since most decks aren’t packing maindeck enchantment removal, Vortex may just seal the deal. Mono-red usually takes the game against the Goblin Bidding decks as well, making this deck look to be a particularly hearty choice for those who like to swing with little red men.
Metagame Percentage: Honestly, I don’t know. It kind of depends on how many people thought the deck was good after Worlds and managed to track down a decklist for it. This could be one of those deck that shows up in huge numbers on Saturday because people love it, or it could have a very small showing because people didn’t notice the decklist over all the Wake and Bidding present at the top tables.
4 Gempalm Incinerator
2 Goblin Grappler
4 Goblin Piledriver
4 Goblin Sharpshooter
4 Goblin Sledder
4 Goblin Warchief
4 Siege-Gang Commander
4 Skirk Prospector
4 Burning Wish
4 Bloodstained Mire
2 City of Brass
4 Shadowblood Ridge
A lot of people have compared the Decree deck to The Ralphie Treatment (B/W Slide) that my team developed, but the comparison isn’t completely valid. Decree uses similar cards, but it plays a lot more like MBC than a Slide deck. Instead of being clever with creatures that have useful interactions with Astral Slide, Decree opts to go for sheer power, packing a fistful of removal for creature decks, and another fistful of disruption in the sideboard to foul up the plans of control decks as well.
Matchups: The problem with Decree is that it still doesn’t have a great matchup with Wake. Kibler’s two losses on the weekend were to Wake decks, and even moving Cabal Interrogator to the maindeck (thereby possibly weakening your Goblin matchup) may not be enough of an answer. It eats creature decks for lunch though, and has a lot of game against most random decks played by the field. Flores has even told me that he likes the synergy provided by the Decree deck. Combine that with Kibler choosing to run it at Worlds, and you have some serious brainpower that’s gone into developing and perfecting it.
Metagame Percentage: Between Ralphie and this, I suspect B/W control will comprise about 8-10% of the field. People like these decks, they like playing with power cards like Wrath of God, Angels, and Eternal Dragons, and the decks are just solid, making them a decent choice for a long Day 1.
Model Deck: Kibler’s – but take his advice and move the Interrogators to the maindeck for the Wake matchup (he talks about it in his lengthy Worlds report).
Nassif’s Aggro Zombie”Karma Police” is a stellar metagame deck for the field I’m projecting. That said, I think it will fly below most people’s radars this weekend, but should still put up good numbers in the win column.
Peer Kroger played Reanimator to a Top 8 appearance at Worlds – and while I love playing the deck, at this point I’m inclined to believe it isn’t a very good choice anymore. Goblins can run you over, Wake is a pain in the ass, and everything else just seems complicated. It’s not that Reanimator can’t win; it just doesn’t have enough good matchups that I would want to play it.
Slide remains great against creature decks, but in a world of Wake, it seems a bit of a dicey proposition. I think there will be a couple of Slide decks to make Day 2, but they’ll either play no Wake or nothing but bad Wake players (expect a lot of those). If you feel like chancing it, Gabe Walls has been playing and tuning the deck since before US Nationals, so you aren’t likely to find a more tuned version.
There is no current published build of The Ralphie Treatment that I’d recommend, and I’m not sure if even Jim knows exactly what he’s playing this weekend, but B/W Slide has just as much synergy as Decree.dec, handles creature decks nearly as well…. And has the same friggin’ problems with the Wake matchup in Game 1. R/G may see some play, but it wasn’t very splashy at Worlds and it did lose quite a bit from the rotation. U/W control is considered poo in this neck of the woods, but John Sonne did well with it, and it’s a pro-type deck, so I wouldn’t be completely surprised to see some of the NJ crew packing decks with Millstone in the sideboard (and wouldn’t that be glorious? I love Millstone decks!)
And to those who really insist on playing Psychatog one last time, I’m sorry… Dr. Teeth has left the building.
I voted for 100% writers again this year, and I encourage you to do the same. And for God’s sake, please don’t vote for Price and Pikula! Vote for some people who actually care about the game enough to still play it and appreciate the honor of being voted in. Oh, and don’t vote for Finkel because he’s going in automatically anyway, as Kai is none too excited about taking a trip to Seattle during the school year without 30Gs on the board.
If I had to choose your ballot, it might look something like this:
- Walamies! (best tournament report writer out there, including Osyp)
- Jeff Cunningham (More writing please, sir! Just because the Sideboard did not properly understand or appreciate your talents doesn’t mean the rest of the world should be deprived!)
- Zvi, Kibler, Wise, Shvartsman, Rob Dougherty, Ken Krouner, The Ya-Roon Minotaur (Jeroen Remie), and any other players that write as well and that you like.
So what are you waiting for, go vote!
The Kitchen Sink
What a kick in the nuts it is to see comments like this coming in from readers and friends alike:”I don’t regularly feel like reading Mixed kNuts, but this was a great interview.” It’s like, sorry I’m normally unpalatable, but I’m glad you enjoyed Dirk. I’m looking into getting him to take over the column full-time so I can up my hit count some more.
Speaking of hit count, it has been brought to my attention (once again) that running a regular cheesecake section is tactless, tasteless, and is simply a cheap trick to get more teenage boys to read my column. Now I know that the hottie pics are there because I like scantily-clad women and feel I should share that appreciation with the world, and not because I want to up my hit count. On the flip side, the novelty of the Obligatory Cheesecake Section has worn thin, so as of Pro Tour: Boston, the OCS will be on hiatus until at least Christmas. Those of you who miss it the most, feel free to swipe it and stick it in your own articles. I’m sure Ferrett will love having five more articles a week with infinite pics to link, and it’ll be nice to have the soft pr0n come to me for a bit.
I will never be respectable (where’s the fun in that?), but I can at least stop the beatings from my wife for a while.
JLH and the girls looking decidedly frumpy. Has she finally humped – er, jumped – the shark?
This woman married Dennis Rodman, so you know she has to be the kinkiest schoolgirl ever.
When Kai talks (in this case, about how well the whole 1800 Room idea has worked), even Randy Buehler listens…
Amy Smart is hot, okay… like every guy I know would have killed to be Breckin Meyer in Road Trip, but this is not flattering.
Jeans so low you must wax the cha-cha to wear them, and those shoes could poke some eyes out… But for Alyssa Milano, I will choose to ignore that.
Does that vacant look you always see in Tara Reid’s eyes these days mean her brain’s been eaten by aliens? Does anybody else think about these things?
The ultimate”me sandwich”? I’d certainly like to find out!
[Taeme] Do you ever sneak behind the office with Buehler and light some of Rosewater’s stuff on fire?
[WorthHome] Sometimes I light Rosewater on fire.
[mixedrink] it’s nothing worse than what Roseanne used to do to him
I have discovered the single best place to meet hot women during the summer time (excluding the beach, water parks, and pools) is: Smoothie King.
I never thought I’d say this, but I haven’t read Penny Arcade in over three months! Poverty certainly puts a damper on one’s excitement for new $50 apiece games. Of course, a good portion of you probably spend your nights living in Norrath or traveling the Galaxy doing Fed Ex missions for the Empire, so there’s always the option to obtain full-time gaming goodness for a mere $13/month… And my soul.
[copernicu] i’m shocked, SHOCKED that the people who made modo 2.0 can’t run a simple web server
If you’ll be in Atlanta and want to tell me exactly what you think of me and my work (good or bad), feel free. Unless I’m off trying to edit some match coverage, along with Ferrett and Ben”The Penguin” Bleiweiss, I should be around the Feature Match tables all day on Saturday and Sunday. Enjoy the con, the rumored orgies at the hotel, and may you mise well.