Sullivan Library: How to Do Your Very Own Metagame Analysis
You’ve seen it done by countless authors before, but how to do it? Week after week you fret over your choice in the upcoming PTQ, trying to guess what you should do, but without a clear handle of what you can expect in the metagame. You scour the internet looking for advice on what to play, but you know for a fact that a ton of other people are reading the exact same advice, and learning the exact same info. How do you get an edge?
Knowing the metagame is probably one of the best things you can do to set yourself apart from the pack. The problem with trying to figure out the metagame by guessing is that you fail to see anything accurately. You can’t figure out your local metagame from the internet because every area is different. For years, Chicagoland players would inevitably play Burn over superior deck types in the format, simply because there was a strong flavor of local preference. In MBC qualifiers this season, Green/Red is a rare sight to see – but in the Southeast, it is extremely common. So how do you go about figuring out your local metagame?
It takes a bit of time, but it can be done.
The first thing to realize about your local metagame is that it is unique. The net isn’t the best way to gauge the metagame, because many players at a PTQ don’t actually read the net very much, and so they won’t know the latest technology. Other players might come from play areas that have made certain decks popular. Still other players can be affected strongly by individuals or teams of players who make decks together. When all of this comes together, you have to have some strategy.
Follow me through my metagame analysis of a recent tournament in Minneapolis – a PTQ that had an attendance of 133 people.
Step 1 – Count The Number Of People Playing Each Deck
This can be a quite time intensive process, but it needs to be done. This is the hardest step of the metagame analysis, and it basically requires that someone isn’t playing in the tournament for it to work well. If you can’t actually count everyone, do your very best to do so as soon as you can. Try to count as many people as you possibly can in the tournament.
Minneapolis broke down like this:
- JoelPriest G/B: 17
- Mono-Green: 12
- Rubin G/W: 8
- Kowal G/B Control: 5
- Aggro-Waters: 4
- Control Waters 6
- Blue Skies: 7
- Rebel: 5
- White Control: 9
- G/R: 6
- Cowardice: 3
- B/W: 3
- Blue/x Control: 10
- Nether-Go: 10
- Red: 4
- Black Control 9
- R/B: 4
- R/W: 5
- Mercenary: 1
From this information, it is clear that aggressive G/B is popular at this tournament, with some surprising showings from mono-green and Nether-Go.
This information is not enough though. To have clearer metagame information on the local level, you have to know what is doing well.
Step 2 – Continue To Tabulate The Winners
Every round thereafter, continue to count the number of deck archetypes. For round two, count the top 1/2. For round 3, count only the top 1/3. Continue this process ’til the end of the tournament.
What this does for you is gives you an idea, round by round, of what decks will do well. For example, during Round 6, all of the Nether-Go decks left contention. A quick look at Round 6 shows a large amount of blue. Perhaps Blue is good against Nether-Go?
Players in PTQs tend to try to play what wins well. When PTQ players lose, it is to these top decks. Next week, you can expect to see more of these particular decks than other decks, simply because people will have more exposure to these decks, especially those players who don’t have net access or only limited net access.
Step 3 – Compare The Results To The Number Of People Playing A Deck
Here things become more interesting. The large number of successful G/B decks could be attributed to the large number of people playing it (17), yet only one made top 8. That doesn’t mean that the deck is bad, but it might mean that there are a number of people at the tournament who were ready for it. Similarly, a third of the Control-Waters players made the Top 8. Perhaps the metagame is shifted to the point locally where”traditional” Rising Waters could be useful again.
Also interesting with this look is the consistency of the green decks in this metagame. They appeared to be doing well against more of the blue decks. Examining Round 2 results (which are not printed), six of the twelve players lost in round 1 with Green. This suggests that green might not be good against any old deck, but it is good against a heavier group of Blue players.
If you look at every round-by-round result, you can see how well the winners are doing, and what they are roughly losing to. This is useful, if only to help you guess what to play.
Step 4 – Analyze The New Metagame By Using The Internet
You should have an idea of what will be popular simply by checking on how many people are playing the deck, how well it does in the tournament, and then noting how many people make Top 8 with it (prompting copiers).
Add to this the internet.
You can expect that a large number of people will copy the deck of the week.
This week, a large number of posts showed people winning with various Mono-blue decks. Expect an upswing in blue.
Step 5 – The Results
With this data, I feel confident with the following prediction:
If I were playing in the Minneapolis area, I could expect a larger number of White Control (from the Top 8), Green (from the Swiss and top 8), G/B (from the field), and Blue (from the Top 8 and the internet).