Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #154: Which Metagame Are You Looking At?

Constructed Champs (fka States) is coming. Like the rest of the world, I’m devouring everything I can find, trying to guess the metagame. I watch websites, read the pundits, pros and wannabes, and scour the early tournaments. The result — I have no clue what the real metagame will be.

Let me explain…

Constructed Champs (fka States) is coming. Like the rest of the world, I’m devouring everything I can find, trying to guess the metagame. I watch websites, read the pundits, pros and wannabes, and scour the early tournaments. The result – I have no clue what the real metagame will be.

Let me explain.

We have a few tournament results to review. StarCityGames ran the $1.5k event last weekend. Kings Games Japan held a new-Standard event in side events at Pro Tour: Kobe. Magic League has run tournaments. Finally, we actually have had some Championships in some countries. Australia held theirs already, and Blisterguy gave us some results.

And all of them seem to have different metagames.

We can also review the articles by our best and brightest. No agreement there, either.

The metagame is the breakdown of decks being played at a tournament. The metagame is important – and so is predicting the metagame. For example, I have a funky Mono-White Martyr of Sands / Urzatron deck. That deck does quite well against U/R decks, like Izzetron and Wildfire, and against Solar Flare builds w/o multiple Persecutes. It either loses or wins big against Karstenbot, but has trouble with aggro decks spotting Persecute. Before I could consider taking MartyrTron to a tournament, I need to assess the metagame. If I expect 25-30 percent of the tourney will bring either Persecute and discard decks, I had better either find a great sideboard solution to the problem or get a different deck. If I expect a metagame of 5-10 percent Persecute, I may want to devote more sideboard space to other options.

But you know all that. Let’s look at some actual results.

Here is the breakdown of decks played at the 68 person StarCityGames pre-States tourney. The entries include the deck name, the best finish (in parenthesis) and the number of people playing the deck. The decklists can be found here.

Solar Pox: (First): 1
Fader (B/W Control) (Second): 1
B/W/r Firemane Control: (Third): 4
U/G Beats (Fourth): 6
G/R Land Destruction (Fifth): 1
U/W Control (Seventh): 8
Zoo (Eighth): 5
U/W/R Control (Ninth): 4
Glare of Subdual (Eleventh): 5
B/W/G Control (Twelfth): 2
U/W/g Control (Fourteenth): 1
Dragonstorm Combo (Fifteenth): 4
W/R Control (Sixteenth): 4
G/B Beats (Seventeenth): 2
R/G Beats (Eighteenth): 4
B/R Control (Ninteenth): 4
Snow White (Fortieth): 2
Other (mainly one ofs): 9

Looking at these results, a couple things stand out.

First, Solar Pox is a bomb. The deck has some great interactions. Among the most potent is the ways it abuses Haakon, Stromgald Scourge. Haakon allows you to play knights from the graveyard. Court Hussar is a knight. Playing Court Hussar without White means that it dies – but you still get to Impulse. Late game, that trick was allowing Ken to Impulse several times a turn. That’s pretty good, I believe.

Next, Fader uses the same basic W/B control elements as Solar Pox, but without the Smallpox and Haakon tech. Fader has a similar creature base, plus several silver bullets and Dimir House Guard to fetch them. That said, a one-shot tutor like House Guard is not quite a nice as the Haakon / Hussar engine in Solar Pox. Fader does have a stronger manabase, but land destruction looks to be pretty rare, based on this meta. StarCityGames identifies just one LD deck.

A few other decks bombed. Dragonstorm, according to the numbers above, looks like a non-starter. Mono-White Martyr decks, topping out at fortieth, look like a joke (and the snow builds are…)

Looking at these results, you might want to consider decks that can smash Solar Pox. With decks like Solar Pox, Fader, and B/W/r Firemane Control at the top of the heap, Cryoclasm and LD look a lot better. Pure aggro looks a little iffier. Sideboarding Tormod’s Crypts looks like another good call – at least based on these results.

Alternatively, you could look across the western pond and check out the top eight in the Kings Games event at PT Kobe. The decklists are here. Here’s how that T8 broke down:

G/W Ghazi-Glare (Winner)
R/W/G Zoo with 7 LD cards
Blue Snow
U/W/R Firemane Control
R/W Aggro
B/W Discard / The Rack
R/G Aggro

I don’t have the full metagame breakdown. However, looking at the top eight, the field looks entirely different. This tournament had no B/W control decks – Adachi’s B/W control creature base had no Haakons, Angels or Despair or Akromas. Instead, he had Ravenous Rats, Shrieking Grotesque and Hypnotic Specter.

Maybe aggro isn’t so bad, after all. And Tormod’s Crypts would only be of any use against one of those decks.

Well, with two events showing such different results, we need a tiebreaker. Magic-League has some problems, but they do have tournaments. Let’s look at the breakdown of one of their biggest events, the Master Tournament held on October 21st – held the same day as the StarCityGames $1.5k event. Here’s how that broke down (and I should note that I got my breakdown numbers from CMA-Flippi’s post.) Once again, deck name, (best result), number played.

Mono-White Tron (Winner): 4
R/W Aggro (Second): 19
Ghazi-Glare (T4 & T8): 11
Fungus Fires (T4 & T8): 8
U/W Control (T8): 13
Mono Black Aggro (T8): 3
Solar Flare: 9
Dragonstorm: 8
Karstenbot Baby Killer: 8
Rakdos Aggro: 8
Gruul Aggro: 7
U/R Tron: 5
U/B Aggro:
G/B/u Aggro:4
U/G Aggro: 3
White Weenie: 3
W/G/R Zoo: 3
Mono Green Stompy: 2
G/W/u Ghazi Glare: 2
U/W/g Control: 2
Mono Blue Control: 2
B/W Control: 2
Dark Zoo: 1
Stormbind Control: 1
U/G/r Sea Stompy: 1
B/W Discard: 1
W/U Sliver: 1
G/R/b Aggro: 1
Enduring Renewal Combo: 1
Other Decks: 8

See any difference?

I’m grinning because a MartyrTron deck won this one. Not exactly the same archetype that came in 40th and 50th in the StarCityGames $1.5k though, but something closer to a deck I built. I figured mine was purely for fun. Actually, all the Top 8 decks look a little strange. The Boros deck ran Browbeat. The Mono-White control deck won by decking – and did that by skipping turns with Chronosavant. One Ghazi-Glare deck splashed Blue for Mystic Snake, and neither Ghazi-Glare deck ran Thelonite Hermit, which seems an auto-include. The U/W deck ran Tidings over Careful Consideration.


As for the other decks:

Holy Throwback, Batman! In the spirit of timeshifting, Magic League is bringing back the “metagame-busting” decks that they were playing this time last year. Really – Magic League players were hyping Fungus Fires in the run-up to 2005 States.

It is certainly interesting. Personally, I would be a bit nervous about the interaction between Bob and Liege of the Pit, but it’s not a lot worse than Bob and some split cards. Still, this was not in my test gauntlet.

I won’t include the winning MartyrTron deck, because I think mine’s better.


That’s not saying a lot. Still, the Magic League version won by decking via Chronosavant. {shudders}

My deck is designed to stall with Fetters and Martyr, then take one of three paths to victory. The first is to power out Akroma, using Urzatron mana. The second is to Wrath a lot, then steal something from their graveyard with Debtors’ Knell and kill them with that. The third option is to mill them out.

Sunscour is Wrath 5&6 – and not that bad with Howling Mine filling your hand.

Chastise is marginal, but it does kill Akroma, and it does not put a card back into their library when it resolves the way Condemn does. That, and the lifegain, was huge in the decking plan. With Akroma, that is less of a problem. I would probably change to Condemn if I played the deck Saturday – but I’ll be judging.

Note that Proclamation of Rebirth is almost dead. It does fetch Martyr, but that’s all. Debtors’ Knell does the same thing, for no upkeep cost, and is more versatile.

Coldsteel Heart trumps Thunder Totem so far, because in the matches where it matters, you either need the turn four Wrath / Fetters / Chastise or you are fighting against LD and three mana is a pain. On the flip side, Coldsteel Heart does not beat down – ever.

I can’t really recommend this deck, because it has a hard time with anything that combines aggression and Persecute – and with fifty-minute rounds if you lose game 1. However, it is a kick to play, and it is doing better than any of my other totally rogue decks.

Damning with faint praise, indeed.

Anyway, back to predicting the metagame. If tournament results won’t help, then let’s look to the pundits.

Mike Flores wrote an article about a hypothetical 16-player tournament in which he tried to mimic the metagame. (That article, complete with decklists, is another reason to buy premium.) Here’s his breakdown:

Solar Flare 2
Ghazi-Glare 2
RW Aggro 2
Rakdos 2
U/G Aggro 2
Zoo 2
U/W Akroma
UR Snow Control
Grape Nuts

Mike’s results? – well, get Premium and read them yourself.

Kyle Sanchez also wrote about his testing. He sees the metagame, at least the metagame as he has experienced it, is mainly Dragonstorm, Mono Blue Snow, and G/R LD.

Paul Jordan comments that the best decks in his gauntlet are B/R and UG.

Craig, our editor, tested his U/R deck against U/G, Rakdos and a Solar Flare update – but the update was nothing like Solar Pox.

Hmmm, again.

Finally, let’s look at the only results from early (compared to U.S.) Champs that I can lay my hands on: Australia (or was it New Zealand?) Blisterguy wrote about this, and included decklists. He also finished second. (Congrats, dude.) That tourney’s Top 8 included:

Azorius Control
Solar Flare

So – all clear now? Know what Saturday’s metagame is going to look like?


Enjoy Champs.


pete {dot} jahn {at} Verizon {dot} com