The Road to Regionals – The Decks to Beat

Magic the Gathering Regionals!

Regionals is drawing near and now is a pretty ideal time to make your final decisions and revisions, to allow yourself some time to become acquainted with your deck. This article contains twelve of the most popular deck types for Regionals.

Regionals is drawing near and now is a pretty ideal time to make your final decisions and revisions, to allow yourself some time to become acquainted with your deck. Below are twelve of the most popular deck types for Regionals. When possible, I found the most successful and refined lists; when that wasn’t available (see Dissension guild decks), I took the most streamlined list that I could find.

This article isn’t the place to look if you’re checking for new and exciting innovations; it’s just a recap of where we’re at, and what knowledge is available.

Heezy Street

Pro Tour Honolulu, the last major individual Standard tournament, saw a streamlined R/G beatdown deck crowned champion. The deck has subsequently been quite successful in the Team Qualifier season. This coupled with the fact that the deck is quite good will lead to this being a common deck choice for Regionals.


Keep in mind that this is an unrefined list; however, this archetype will surely be represented at Regionals. Unfortunately, the lists that I have encountered online seem to be little more then strictly inferior versions of Kird Ape decks, and unfortunately I think that I’ve fallen into the same trap with the list that I’ve build. If I had to guess, I would say that R/B decks based on heavy disruption will be the most successful Rakdos deck to come out of this year’s Regionals.


Not much to say about Zoo: all the cheapest best threats and burn spells put together in one nice tidy package. If you’re going into Regionals without much practice, this would be a pretty safe choice as you don’t have to worry much about matchups and what your opponents overall strategy is. All that is required is tight technical play, and a good bluff here and there, and you should be golden.

Ghazi Chord

Mike Flores designed this deck for a team PTQ that we needed to 2-0. The only requirement that was needed for his deck was for it to have game against B/W and Red-based aggressive decks. In that sense, the deck was quite successful, and it became a cornerstone deck for numerous qualifying teams. However, it is unlikely that it will be as popular at Regionals, as it was at the end of Team season and many people may shy away from the deck as it has very difficult matchups against Blue control and combo decks.

Greater Gifts

Current Greater Gifts, descending from Frank Karsten’s Worlds deck, has possibly the highest power level of any Standard deck. It’s difficult to play and the tricky matchups against Magnivore, Zoo, Husk, and Heartbeat are good reasons not to play the deck… Those are likely to be four of the five or six most popular decks at Regionals.

Ignoring those points, Andy dealt my teammates and I quite a painful loss when he beat Flores in the finals of the first team PTQ of the season. Mike was playing G/W/B House Guard control, and we thought the matchup would be extremely favorable for us, but Andy made some brilliant plays with powerful cards to take the tournament. This resulted in us being forced to purchase our own airplane tickets, which is something I should probably take care of in the immediate future.


This deck fell out of favor during the Team Qualifier season, as the format was fairly well defined; most players chose to go for consistency rather than raw unbridled power. With the release of Dissension players are somewhat likely to return to this style of deck especially if they don’t think they have a great read on what the format will look like.

That being said, I don’t think this is a particularly good choice for Regionals, in fact, I’m not even sure it’s amongst the four best Steam Vents decks (Wafo-Tapa control, Magnivore, and Kamiel-style control have a solid hold on the top three slots). The mana issues and lack of significant answers are only slightly redeemed by the deck’s potentially high power level.


Man, do I love this deck. Derived from Nikolas Nygaard’s 10th place Honolulu deck (which is in turn derived from the deck played by Anton Jonsson and company at World’s), this deck has been incredibly successful during the Team Qualifier season. I was able to qualify with a list that is almost identical to this one, only dropping one match out of nine played; needless to say, I was very happy with this deck.

No doubt many other players have had similar experiences with the deck, and will as a result choose to run Vore at Regionals. Heck, I know if I had to play in Regionals, this would almost certainly be my choice with exactly the above list.

Ghost Husk

One of the top decks from the Team Qualifier season, Ghost Husk has more than proven itself to be one of the powerhouses of the format. In terms of sheer dominance during the Team season, the only deck that challenged it was Heartbeat, the other major powerhouse of the format.

If you want to qualify for Nationals, you’d be well advised to bring a deck that has considerable game against Husk and Heartbeat. Unfortunately, there’s a reason why Husk and Heartbeat have been so successful: it’s because they’re really, really good.

Ghost Dad

Ghost Dad is quite strong against aggressive strategies and, many players have claimed favorable matchups against Magnivore and Heartbeat. However, my experience has been quite different. In preparation for (and during) the Team Qualifiers that I played in, I rarely dropped a game against Ghost Dad with Vore, and my teammate Paul Jordan was similarly unscathed by the Tallowisp army with Heartbeat. That being said, this deck has become quite the fan favorite; it will most likely see considerable play this weekend.

U/G Aggro Control

This type of deck always finds considerable popularity, as it has basically the best threats in gigantic undercosted creatures, and the best answers in cheap counterspells. This is an incredibly powerful deck, from what is quite possibly the most powerful Guild in the block. If you’re looking for a new deck to take to Regionals, U/G aggro control is probably the way to go.

Azorius Aggro

“Boxy Brown” posted this list in a response to my article on Azorius Aggro. I was very impressed with the way he has taken the deck, building towards the natural advantages by running the best cards instead of going for a tricky or gimmicky plan. I will, however, maintain my position that Mana Leak is preferable to Remand for preboarded configurations of Azorius aggro, as you simply need permanent answers to big time spells like Wildfire and Meloku.

I’m not sure how many people will adopt this deck, as it is quite underpowered compared to the current top decks, but historically this style of deck is quite successful at some point during the span of its legality. Is that time going to be Regionals? That, I don’t know.


Last, but certainly not least, is the juggernaut of the format: Heartbeat. It’s not that the deck is particularly degenerate – in fact, it has considerable difficulty defeating faster decks like Zoo, and decks with considerable disruption and a quick clock, such as Husk. Heartbeat might find itself faced with more resistance in the forms of Azorius Guildmage and Voidslime… but even with those barriers in place, Heartbeat is going to take more than its fair share of slot at this year’s Regionals.

As a parting note, I present you with my 2006 Regionals metagame prediction:

20% B/W beatdown
15% Steam Vent decks
12% Kird Ape decks
10% U/G Aggro
10% Hierarch Beatdown decks (Glare, etc.)
8% Heartbeat
5% Hierarch Control decks (Greater Gifts, Roxodon Hierarch etc.)
20% Misc. decks representing less than 5% of the field.

Good luck!

Steve Sadin