The next Constructed PTQ season is going to be Onslaught Block Constructed. The first of these qualifiers will be held Saturday, June 28th at Origins – but because this event is happening before July 1st, Scourge will not yet be legal. This gives us an excellent opportunity for a last look at the pre-Scourge Onslaught Block Constructed metagame. A good understanding of that metagame will both benefit the Origins players, and help put the new cards in context as we get ready to design decks including the new set.
The Pro Tour Metagame
The most recent Pro Tour is always an excellent place to look to get a feel for what people will be playing in the format-related PTQs. There’s nothing quite like a few hundred of the best players in the world working on a format to give you a good idea of what’s out there.
After seven rounds of Swiss at the Pro Tour, only those with a 4-2-1 or better record advance to the second day. For Pro Tour: Venice, this cut the field from an initial three hundred and ten decks down to a hundred and four on the second day. After filtering out the unlucky and the chaff, the day two field looked like this:
Goblins – 33
Astral Slide – 19
Beast Bidding – 14
G/R Biorhythm – 14
Beasts – 8
Zombies – 7
Green-White – 4
Black-White – 2
Dragons – 1
Three-Color Vegetation – 1
Any deck that can make day two in the Pro Tour field has to be good – but why settle for a good deck when you can have a great one? That’s the logic many use as they go straight to the Top 8 list when picking a deck for their PTQ.
Pro Tour Venice Top 8:
1 Green- White
1 Astral Slide
1 Three-Color Vegetation
Now that we know what decks made up the Pro Tour metagame, let’s take a closer look at each of those decks, starting with the most prominent force in the event:
With thirty-three goblin decks in day two, and three in the top 8, Goblins clearly made the strongest showing at the Pro Tour. Goblins deal with this”no countermagic, big-spell format” by going for the throat before their opponents can get going. If you like consistent, fast, and aggressive decks, Goblins is for you.
Here are the three top 8 decklists:
- Tomi Walamies‘ Goblins (2nd place)
- Gabriel Nassif Goblins with green (5th-8th place)
- Mattias Jorstedt’s Goblins (5th-8th place)
The successful Goblin decks from the event were all very similar; the usual complement of Goblins and Clickslithers assisted by Ogres, Dragons, or flying Beasts. After sideboarding, they all had the option of breaking from the low mana curve for more big boys like Rorix, Menacing Ogres, and Avarax.
Goblins should be almost as big a force in the Pro Tour Qualifiers as it was in the Pro Tour. It’s fast, fun, powerful, easy to play, and perhaps most important for the PTQ field, easy to build. Keep this red menace in mind when you pick your deck for the Qs. If you decide to run it yourself, take a hint from the Pros and have Skirk Fire Marshals in the board for the mirror.
Widely predicted as the dominant force before the Pro Tour, Slide delivered with a Pro Tour win. Slide controls the early game with a Lightning Rift or Astral Slide powered by its incredible number of cycling cards (nearly 50% of this deck cycles). Once it has its mana in place, it can clear the board with one of its many global removal spells, then clean up with an Angel or Jareth. Some games it breaks from its normal control plan and is swinging with a 4/5 Spirit Linked Angel on turn 4 – or better yet, on turn 5 with Astral Slide as backup.
This deck packs almost as much punch as its Standard counterpart in a field that lacks problem cards like Counterspell and Duress. This build can clearly handle the metagame for the Pro Tour, so if Slide is your style, it’s looking like a good choice for Origins.
Note that Osyp clearly understood the Goblin field he was getting into with his two main deck and two sideboarded Gempalm Incinerators. When Stabilizer rotates in with the rest of Scourge July 1st , Slide players may be in for some trouble; if you’re thinking of running Slide after the 1st, you’ll definitely want to do some sideboarded testing against that card.
Green/White Vegetation was one of the lesser-known decks going into the Pro Tour. Despite the small number of players running this deck, a copy found its way into the Top 8, which speaks volumes about its power level.
This deck’s plan is to stay alive with Walls, Ravenous Baloths, and Windborn Muses while setting up its mana for big-mana, late-game bombs like Akroma, Angel of Wrath and Silvos… Or it can just do the”swing with Exalted Angel on turn 4″ thing.
This is a great deck, especially in a Goblin-heavy field. Its late-game spells are just so powerful, and it has the tools to stay alive long enough to cast them. In Standard, a deck like this would get ripped to shreds by good countermagic, but the block as it stands is relatively permission-free.
Now that Billy made Green/White Vegetation famous with his top 4 finish, I’m sure it will be played much more in the PTQs than it was at the Pro Tour.
It’s time for some good old-fashioned Green/Red beefy monster beatdown. While slower than Goblins, the Beasts deck puts on solid pressure with large beasts fairly quickly. The Canopy Crawlers can be downright insane, especially combined with the deck’s primary source of removal, Contested Cliffs.
- Jordan Berkowitz’s Beasts Deck (3rd Place)
After the Pro Tour, this is the deck I most wanted to try out. The big Red/Green monsters with Contested Cliffs is just so my style. With the four Gempalm Incinerators and four Broodhatch Nantukos in the sideboard, it should be able to handle Goblins, and the Contested Cliffs with Tephraderm or Canopy Crawler can deal with almost any creature threat in the format. Like Goblins, this deck is easy to build; some good rares plus draft scraps and you have yourself a Pro Tour Top 8 deck.
This deck is little Timmy’s dream. It builds up quick mana with Wirewood Elves, Explosive Vegetation, and Goblin Clearcutter, then starts dropping giant flying Dragons. It sounds dumb, I know… But trust me, it works.
- Darwin Kastle’s Dragons (5th– 8th Place)
This is the deck Darwin and I designed. If you want all the details, check out the article I wrote on it after the Pro Tour.
This off-the-wall deck is similar to Green/White Vegetation, but a bit more of a control deck. It has the same kill cards, but packs answers like Cruel Revival and Withered Wretch.
- Akihiro Kashima’s Three-Color Vegetation (5th– 8th Place)
Akihiro was definitely prepared for all comers. He had Withered Wretch for Bidding decks, Cruel Revival for Silvos, Akroma’s Vengeance for Akroma and other assorted nasties. The only deck type I would feel nervous against would be Goblins – but he obviously could handle them, given he made top 8 through a sea of Goblin decks. While this deck is cool, I doubt it will be a huge presence in the PTQs due to its complexity.
Beast Bidding spends the early game cycling or buying time by chump blocking with morphs, then tries to set up a Read the Runes, followed by Patriarch’s Bidding… And boy oh boy, can those Biddings be devastating. Many builds of this deck have real trouble with Goblin pressure, and it didn’t make top 8 – but there were fourteen of them in day 2, so it’s definitely worth noting.
3 Contested Cliffs
4 Grand Coliseum
4 Polluted Delta
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Barkhide Mauler
3 Krosan Colossus
4 Krosan Tusker
4 Ravenous Baloth
2 Krosan Cloudscraper
2 Withered Wretch
1 Head Games
4 Read the Runes
4 Patriarch’s Bidding
2 Head Games
1 Silklash Spider
1 Aether Charge
2 Withered Wretch
2 Gempalm Incinerator
2 Visara the Dreadful
It came straight from e-league and got fourteen players into day two (but none into the top 8).
Much like Green/White Vegetation, this deck sets up defenses with Walls and Baloths, buying time to build up its mana with a little help from Explosive Vegetation. It clears the board with Slice and Dice, Starstorm, and Shock, then takes over with a big Legend. Biorhythm nets quick kills when followed up by an attacking Silvos, Rorix, or sometimes just a shock.
3 Forgotten Cave
3 Tranquil Thicket
2 Wooded Foothills
4 Wall of Mulch
4 Krosan Tusker
4 Ravenous Baloth
3 Nantuko Vigilante
2 Rorix Bladewing
2 Silvos, Rogue Elemental
3 Explosive Vegetation
4 Slice and Dice
4 Chain of Plasma
4 Stonewood Invoker
2 Chain of Acid
1 Explosive Vegetation
The above is the e-league list. It is my opinion that this deck needs all four Vegetations main; try moving a Vigilante to the board to make room.
The Magic Online scene:
My good friend Chris Senhouse has been spending a lot of time winning packs in Magic Online Block Constructed tournaments with Billy’s G/W deck. He gave me the lowdown on what’s popular there. Not surprisingly, the environment is about 50% Goblins, with Beasts, G/W, and Slide making up most of the remainder.
Other deck types to keep in mind:
Elves, Zombies, and the Rock. There has been a lot of Standard work done on these decks since the Pro Tour; it would not surprise me if many PTQers brought similar tech over to the block.