So What’s The Metagame Like On MOL?

To get an idea what the environment for that tournament will look like, I decided to talk to people who play in the place that runs multiple Standard tournaments every hour of the day and night: Magic Online. I began by asking Matias Gabrenja, who finished 13th at Worlds, what he thought of the online metagame…

Before I get into this article, I’d like to thank my readers for all the positive feedback I received on last week’s article, The Rules of Engagement.

When I wrote it, I was worried it wouldn’t go over well. My beautiful wife Krista proofreads all my articles (saving the Ferrett much pain, I can assure you). When she finished with that one, I said”Kinda dry, huh?” – to which she responded,”No, I really liked that one.” I guess I should trust her judgement on these things, because it got the best feedback of any of my StarCity articles.

Anyway, it was nice to hear. Thanks.

As I promised a couple weeks ago, the next week’s article will be coverage of the $3,000.00 Magic Open. For those of you who don’t know, the Open is a big Standard format tournament I’m holding this Saturday, February 8th at the Brighton Knights of Columbus (info and directions are available at www.yourmovegames.com).

To get an idea what the environment for that tournament will look like, I decided to talk to people who play in the place that runs multiple Standard tournaments every hour of the day and night: Magic Online.

The Internet is so amazing. Over the course of two hours, I interviewed three players who live thousands of miles away from each other, in three countries spanning two continents… And all from my computer.

Account Name: Tata_TUT, 1854 Constructed rating

Dougherty: What’s your name and where are you from?

Tata_TUT: My name is Matias Gabrenja. I’m from Argentina.

Dougherty: What’s your real-life rating?

Tata_TUT: I play professionally, and my ranking in real life is 2030 in Constructed, and 1900 in Limited.

Dougherty: Nice rating.

Tata_TUT: I’ve had better.

Dougherty: What was your best?

Tata_TUT: About 1980 Limited and 2120 Constructed. That was after I won the Grand Prix: Santiago and after I played in the last Worlds.

Dougherty: Congrats!

Tata_TUT (smiles): Thanks; you, too!

Dougherty: Thanks. What’s your best Pro Tour finish?

Tata_TUT: Is Worlds a Pro Tour?

Dougherty: Yes.

Tata_TUT: 13th.

Dougherty: Not bad.

Tata_TUT: (smiles) Yeah….But not like you.

Dougherty: (laughs) So tell me – what’s the Magic Online metagame like?

Tata_TUT: Blue/Green, Red/Green, some Mirari Kai decks, and some Psychatog. But I play Astral Slide cause it wins against everything unless Psychatog. Dave Humpherys will hate me.

Dougherty: No, I think he would love to play you!

Tata_TUT: Why?

Dougherty: Cause he always plays ‘Tog, of course! Do you find this metagame to be different from what you see in real-life tournaments?

Tata_TUT: The metagame is different from real life because people play Psychatog… And that’s is the best deck, I know. But I don’t think it is in Magic Online.

Dougherty: Why is ‘tog not the best for Magic Online?

Tata_TUT: Cause I think that all the people in Magic Online metagame their decks to win against Psychatog, like in the last Worlds. Hey, can I get some help from you too?

Dougherty: Help with what? I can’t fly you to Grand Prix: Boston!

Tata_TUT: (laughs) Look, in Latin America – Brazil, Chile, Argentina – there are a lot of people that play Magic. Not more than the United States and other big countries, but for those who live and breathe Magic in Latin America…. We should have a Grand Prix. We haven’t, and the people wanna go to a GP, but can’t. We get only $250 if we win a PTQ. That’s really a small amount for the trip…

Dougherty: Yeah, that doesn’t buy airfare.

Tata_TUT: We really need a Grand Prix in our country, otherwise regular players will lose their motivation for tournament play. The problem is they can’t get to all the big tournaments because they are short on cash due to the low tournaments prizes in our country. Many of these players would travel to the Pro Tour if they had money to pay for it, but they don’t have it, since there aren’t decent tournament prizes in here.

Dougherty: I know Wizards takes things like that into consideration. I can’t promise anything, but I can ask the guys at Wizards Event Organization about running a Grand Prix down there. I don’t know if it will help, but it can’t hurt.

Tata_TUT: Okay, thanks.

Dougherty: Back to the subject at hand, what’s your decklist?


3 Living Wish

4 Slice and Dice

4 Wrath of God

4 Lightning Rift

4 Astral Slide

4 Renewed Faith

3 Exalted Angel

1 Cartographer

2 Lay Waste

4 Krosan Tusker

4 Secluded Steppe

4 Forgotten Cave

4 Tranquil Thicket

1 Nantuko Monastery

2 Wooded Foothills

2 Windswept Health

4 Plains

3 Mountain

3 Forest


2 Moment’s Peace

2 Krosan Reclamation

3 Ray of Revelation

1 Auramancer

1 Cartographer

1 Aven Cloudchaser

4 Teroh’s Faithful

1 Exalted Angel

Tata_TUT: I can’t do anything to Psychatog, as you can see.

Dougherty: What are your sideboarding plans against the major decktypes?

Tata_TUT: Depends on the deck, but my sideboard is simple. Against Sligh, I take out the Cartographer and Lay Waste and put in three Faithfuls. Against Psychatog, I lose.

Dougherty: (Laughs)

Tata_TUT: In the mirror, I take out the Slice and Dice and bring up the Ray of Revelations. Against Blue/Green, I take out the two Lay Wastes and I put two Moment’s Peaces in. It’s the same plan against red/green.

Dougherty: Sounds reasonable. So what’s your easiest matchup?

Tata_TUT: Sligh.

Dougherty: Why is it so easy?

Tata_TUT: Four Faith, four Slice and Dice, four Wrath, four Angels – and after sideboarding, four Faithfuls. They can’t do anything to me.

Dougherty: Got it.

Dougherty: Besides Tog, what’s your hardest matchup?

Tata_TUT: (Smiles) Nothing.

Dougherty: So it’s Tog or No?

Tata_TUT: You got it.

Dougherty: Okay, that was great. Thanks again for doing the interview!

Account name Lothar, 1825 Constructed Rating

Dougherty: What’s your name and where are you from?

Lothar: My name is Vitaly Katsnelson and I live in San Diego.

Dougherty: What’s your rating in real life?

Lothar: My composite rating is 1768.

Dougherty: That’s a little lower than Online – why do you think that is?

Lothar: Online, I can hide behind a high rating, and no one knowing me personally takes away the intimidation factor online. In real life, I like to do drafts every Friday at my local store, and am very successful there… But the PTQs are still pretty hard. Southern California is a great area, and we have a lot of talent there.

Dougherty: So the pressure at PTQs affects your play?

Lothar: Yeah.

Dougherty: What are people playing Online?

Lothar: The metagame seems to have shifted since the Masters. I have been playing Sligh since Onslaught became legal. Since the Masters, where R/G beatdown and Reanimator decks there were nearly non-existent, those decks have gained popularity. Tog is still big, U/G Madness continues to get played.

Dougherty: Do you have more than one deck that you play online?

Lothar: I just play Sligh; it is the only deck I have. I borrowed U/G Madness from a friend, but did not like it much.

Dougherty: Well your rating is good; Sligh must do all right. What’s in your version?


3 Barbarian Ring

3 Wooded Foothills

4 Bloodstained Mire

1 Goblin Burrows

8 Mountain

4 Volcanic Hammer

4 Raging Goblin

4 Firebolt

4 Reckless Charge

4 Grim Lavamancer

3 Lava Dart

4 Goblin Sledder

3 Goblin Taskmaster

4 Sparksmith

4 Goblin Piledriver

3 Blistering Firecat


3 Shock

4 Threaten

4 Fledgling Dragon

4 Lightning Rift

Dougherty: What’s your easiest matchup?

Lothar: U/G Madness is likely the easiest.

Dougherty: Why?

Lothar: Its pretty easy because a Sparksmith is almost guaranteed game.

Dougherty: And your toughest matchup?

Lothar: Probably R/G beats. That deck is much like Sligh, but everything is bigger. Their creatures are bigger, and Call of the Herd is a two-for-one. Even their burn does more damage; Violent Eruption is a wrecking ball.

Dougherty: Yeah, that sounds bad. So what are your sideboarding plans against the major deck types?

Lothar: I bring in Threaten against any decks that run big green men. Dragons come in against control decks. The Rifts are obviously against Astroglide. The mirror, which is a common occurrence, is another time when dragons are amazing. I side out the Reckless Charge against creature decks, and Sparksmith leaves against control.

Dougherty: What do you think will be good when Legions rotates into Standard?

Lothar: I haven’t though about that too much yet. I figure some new black creature deck with Withering Wretch and Graveborn Muse will come along; I also see a decline in U/G Madness for the same reason. Sligh might also get some new tricks with Skirk Marauder and Gempalm Incinerator.

Dougherty: Any other thoughts about Standard on Magic Online or in real life?

Lothar: Magic Online is the best thing that has happened to Magic since sleeves. It’s a great place to play, and to practice. It will help me with a lot with insight for Regionals.

Dougherty: Okay; thanks again for doing the interview.

Lothar: No problem! Can I ask you how was I selected?

Dougherty: I looked for players with an 1800+ Constructed rating. I figured you guys would know what you were talking about.

Lothar: (Smiles) I guess you figured wrong!

Dougherty: (Laughs) Tell that to all the people you beat down!

Lothar: I though I might have been picked cause I beat the Hump an hour ago.

Dougherty: (Laughs even louder) Was he playing Tog?

Lothar: Yes, all foil.

Dougherty: Of course he was.

Account Name: TKtony, 1852 Constructed Rating

Dougherty: What’s your name and where are you from?

TKtony: My name is Anthony Ferraro. I’m from Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Dougherty: What’s your real-life rating?

TKtony: My real life ratings are 1910 Limited and 1856 Constructed.

Dougherty: Have you ever played on the Tour?

TKtony: I’ve been to a one Pro Tour, which was Boston. I have qualified for several others, but decided not to go so I could keep playing in the JSS.

Dougherty: JSS? How old are you?

TKtony: I just turned eighteen.

Dougherty: Well, happy birthday!

TKtony: Thanks!

Dougherty: Are you going to college?

TKtony: Yea, I plan to go to UBC. I’m still in my last year of high school.

Dougherty: Good luck with that. So what have you been seeing played online?

TKtony: I’d say the top three most popular decks (in no particular order) are Tog, Slide, and U/G Madness.

Dougherty: Do you find this to be different from what you see in real-life tournaments?

TKtony: Well I don’t play that much in real life except in PTQs and Nationals, so I couldn’t really tell you.

Dougherty: Fair enough. There are no tournaments where you are?

TKtony: Nope. I actually live a few hours away from Vancouver. I just say Vancouver because most people know where it is and I’m going to move there after high school. So Magic Online keeps me up-to-date, as much as it can.

Dougherty: Do you have one deck you play online, or do you play a bunch of different decks?

TKtony: Usually if I find a deck I like, I stick with it for a while until it stops winning me packs.

Dougherty: And right now, that deck is?

TKtony: Red/Green – unless, of course, I’m testing for a tournament.

Dougherty: What’s you Decklist and Sideboard?

TKtony: It’s my friend Jeff Cunningham list from the Chicago Masters, but I have tuned the sideboard for online play.

Dougherty: So what’s your Sideboard?

TKtony: I’d rather not give it out if that’s okay.

Dougherty: Hmm… Well, that’s a big part of the interview.

TKtony: Ahh…. That’s okay. I’d rather get the recognition, so I’ll just give you the Sideboard list.


2 Naturalize

2 Flaring Pain

2 Lava Dart

2 Boil

4 Compost

3 Ensnaring Bridge

Dougherty: What’s your easiest matchup?

TKtony: Goblin Sligh is the easiest match-up, just because they can’t deal with Wild Mongrel… Also, Elephant Guides and Violent Eruptions give them a really hard time, not to mention Calls.

Dougherty: And your hardest matchup?

TKtony: Hardest match-up would be Gary Wise Beasts deck. Glory is a tough card to deal with… Also, their creatures are bigger than mine – Anurid Brushhopper and Ravenous Baloth are huge, and they are just as or faster than me with four Birds of Paradise and Llanowar Elves.

Dougherty: Damn that Gary Wise!

TKtony: (laughs)

Dougherty: So what’s your plan with the teched-up sideboard?

TKtony: Against Tog, I bring in Boils and the Composts (for obvious reasons) and I take out four Firebolts and two Tempers; they become the most useless cards in the deck against Tog. Against Slide, I bring in the Naturalizes to get rid of early Slides and Rifts, and I take out Grim Lavamancers since they tend to get killed really easy without doing any damage.

Dougherty: Slice and Dice tends to do that.

TKtony: And against U/G Madness, I bring in two Darts, three Bridges, and take out four Guides and a Firebolt. Sometimes game 3 I just leave the Bridges in the sideboard and try to kill them faster with Elephant Guides.

Dougherty: Do you have any thoughts on what will be good when Legions rotates into Standard?

TKtony: No clue. I really haven’t seen any Legions cards yet, since Magic Online doesn’t release them right away. The first time I’ll be seeing Legions cards will be at my PTQ on the 22nd.

Dougherty: Oh my! Good luck to you. I suggest you read the spoiler before then!

TKtony: (Laughs) Yeah, I might take a look before that PTQ.

Dougherty: Hey, thanks for doing the interview.

TKtony: No problem. Mention my clan name, please – 604!