Hello everybody and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’re going to talk about our M12 metagame – the decks, the strategies, the tiers and the new archetypes you can expect to see this weekend in Cincinnati. Let’s go!
Your M12 Metagame
So we begin this week by looking at the two most powerful combos in Standard. These define your metagame more than anything else, as these interactions tell you what to expect, and what you have to get around in order to win any event you’re in.
Here’s an example 4-0 list from a recent Magic Online premier event.
In it you see a gameplan of waiting for just the right time to slap down the combo and win out of nowhere. Gitaxian Probe lets you ensure the coast is clear, and Wurmcoil Engine is a Plan B when things go wrong.
Note that evolutions of this deck have begun to include Pyromancer’s Ascension, as the format will now for a short time feature both Ponder and Preordain. For those who love that wacky two mana enchantment, it will probably never shine brighter than it can right now.
The second most powerful combo is Valakut the Molten Pinnacle and Primeval Titan.
While the value of Primeval Titan took a tumble thanks to its reprinting, the power remains the same. Resolving Primeval Titan with a Valakut or two on board is almost certainly game over. With Rampant Growth back in your arsenal, more Turn 4 Titans are possible and with a greater consistency than ever before.
I wish I could say there was an â€˜evolution’ to this deck, but there’s not. It’s straightforward–I got Valakut and Mountains, here’s my Primeval Titan to kill you. Got a counterspell? No? Sweet, Game 2 it is. This deck â€˜changed’ in that it got Rampant Growth back thanks to M12. Otherwise, if you enjoy this type of combo deck, it’s there for the taking.
So those are your two â€˜big bads’ to deal with. What’s left? First up is Mono Red. This deck is just beautiful in its simplicity — burn spells, guys, burn spells, artifacts, burn spells, planeswalkers, and in the sideboard–more narrow burn spells. Yep, you know, I know it, and it’s another part of the metagame that you can’t ignore. There will be lots of players with this deck because the juicing of Grim Lavamancer and Incinerate is not to be denied. Patrick Sullivan, the quintessential red mage, won a Standard tournament in the middle of Jace and Stoneforge madness. Surely with those gone, in a creature-filled metagame that makes Searing Blaze spectacular, we can get Red Deck Wins closer to Tier 1 status.
Next up is U/B Control.
Now talk about a pile of good cards, this comes in a variety of flavors. We have the Tezzeret versions, with stuff like Spellskites, Torpor Orbs, and plenty of discard spells. A slight tweak on that is known as Forgemaster Tezzeret, where our favorite dreadlock-sporting Planeswalker teams up with Tinker on a stick.
Even more interesting U/B concoctions include Shape Anew to find that 11/11 indestructable infected monster.
Yes, four Trinket Mage and a single solitary Everflowing Chalice give you effectively â€˜five’ Everflowing Chalice in your deck with which to sacrifice to Shape Anew. A quick ruffle through your deck and bam, your opponent is probably crying soon after.
But let’s get a little more fringe. Have you seen the Tempered Steel decks?
- 4 Steel Overseer
- 4 Memnite
- 3 Hero of Bladehold
- 1 Phyrexian Revoker
- 4 Signal Pest
- 4 Spellskite
- 4 Vault Skirge
Oh hell yeah, we’ve got ourselves some Vault Skirges and Glint Hawks and Glint Hawk Idols and Heroes of Bladehold, we’re all about the red zone in this deck. If you enjoy smashing face, and dislike red decks, this one is waiting for you. It’s been putting up some serious results on Magic Online premier events, and has all of the tools you need to be competitive. Love it.
Now if there’s one thing metagames teach us time and time again, it’s Don’t Forget About Elves.
Elves produce mana faster than any other deck, even Valakut, and can overwhelm opponent’s quickly. Day of Judgment has fallen out of favor in Standard recently, and if you’re not playing red deck you’re probably going to smashing some serious face with a ton of guys in just a few turns. Between the wonderful flexibility of Dismember to the tutoring of Fauna Shaman, the green guys are always an option in a wide open format.
How about something a little more complicated?
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 2 Acidic Slime
- 4 Lotus Cobra
- 1 Sea Gate Oracle
- 1 Totem-Guide Hartebeest
- 1 Tuktuk the Explorer
- 2 Vengevine
- 4 Fauna Shaman
- 1 Frost Titan
- 1 Inferno Titan
- 1 Sylvan Ranger
- 1 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 3 Deceiver Exarch
For those who like to live on the wild side, take a dash of Splinter Twin combo, add a pinch of Birthing Pod, and season to taste. This deck was recently played and explained in wonderful detail by Michael Jacob on StarCityGames.com Premium, where he walks you through the myriad of Birthing Pod options on Magic Online, which creatures to tutor up and why, and how to play the deck versus the field. For those who like to crunch numbers, figure out extensive game plans and execute them, this seems like just your style.
But we’re not done, oh not by a long shot. We’ve got Eldrazi Green decks, shown to you here in mono green variety but also available in green/white if you prefer a little Journey to Nowhere and Day of Judgement action.
- 1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
- 4 Joraga Treespeaker
- 4 Overgrown Battlement
- 1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
- 2 Obstinate Baloth
- 4 Primeval Titan
- 1 Viridian Emissary
This deck does very similar things to Valakut, except it wants to drop Karn Liberated on Turn 4 instead of Primeval Titan. And let me tell you, Karn is No Joke these days, threatening to win the game on his own, if being a little bit soft to the Splinter Twin menace. Regardless, Ulamog can hit play with scary consistency, and this deck goes from 0 to a billion mana in just a few turns.
White Weenie decks, however, have a straightforward plan: Play lots and lots of equipment.
- 4 Squadron Hawk
- 4 Etched Champion
- 4 Mirran Crusader
- 4 Puresteel Paladin
- 2 Spellskite
- 3 Phyrexian Metamorph
Puresteel Paladin is the man in this deck, playing a whopping EIGHT Swords, a total of 12 pieces of equipment, meaning that better than one in six draws will result in Equipment. With a Puresteel Paladin out, you get the Ultimate Spike Cliche: Putting “Draw a card” on everything you play. You see, there’s this running joke with Magic card design. Every card in Magic, every single one, would benefit by adding “draw a card” to the end of its effect. Sword of War and Peace? Add “draw a card” to it, and you have a “better” one. Flayer Husk? Now it’s a cantrip, and now it’s awesome. Doesn’t matter the card, the joke remains the same. Black Lotus? Man, if only it drew you a card, THEN it would be awesome.
Anyway, there is no shortage of amazing decks to choose from right now. Wizards wanted to unleash the flood of new and interesting strategies when Jace and Stoneforge weren’t strangling the format, and boy do they have them. We have lots of tools to fight stupid combo decks like Combust, Beast Within and Nature’s Claim. People have begun playing maindeck Spreading Seas again, and crazy decks like G/R Tokens and Mono Blue Architect are no longer 0-2 drop decks but real contenders that do real, scary things on tournament tables.
The sky is the limit and the format hasn’t been this wide open in some time. I hope all of you deckbuilders out there start working with the new cards as well. Surely some love can be found for Angelic Destiny and Grand Abolisher. I’m hoping our new Planeswalkers see competitive play soon, and fingers crossed my personal favorite Swiftfoot Boots gets its debut under the lights this weekend. Either way, you can watch all of the coverage of the Cincinnati Open this weekend on SCGLive, now starting at 10:15AM instead of noon so you don’t miss a single round of the action. You’ll have the awesome duo of Gavin Verhey and Ari Lax in the booth bringing you all of the action, along with written coverage all day from coverage manager Glenn Jones.
Lastly, have you updated your SCGMobile? Version 1.2 is here and that means Premium access and a ton of bugfixes. If you haven’t taken the plunge you now have no excuses, as the most awesome Magic iPhone app just keeps getting better. And for those on Androids, trust me when I say we’re working on it as hard as we can.
So that’s another week in the world of Magic folks. M12 is going to rock the metagame something fierce, with cards like Solemn Simulacrum and Grim Lavamancer ready to make their comeback, and SCGLive is on the forefront with all of the tech. Until next time Magic players, this is Evan Erwin. Tapping the cards…so you don’t have to!
Evan “misterorange” Erwin