Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #216 – The SCG $5K Deck Breakdown

Read Peter Jahn... at StarCityGames.com!
Wednesday, March 5th – I got all the decklists from the StarCityGames.com $5K tournament two weeks ago. It’s taken some time, but I managed to read and classify them all. You have seen the Top 16 lists. Here’s a complete breakdown. I have total numbers, percent making the Top 16, etc. I also have a number of decklists that were just plain interesting. If you are planning on playing Standard in the next couple of months, there is sure to be something to think about.

I got all the decklists from the StarCityGames.com $5K tournament two weeks ago. It’s taken some time, but I managed to read and classify them all. You have seen the Top 16 lists. Here’s a complete breakdown. I have total numbers, percent making the Top 16, etc. I also have a number of decklists that were just plain interesting. If you are planning on playing Standard in the next couple of months, there is sure to be something to think about.

The tournament had just under 400 players. That is a lot of decklists. I was reading and reading, and the pile was not shrinking. This took hours! It also covered my extra-large dining room table and the floor all around. Standard is nothing if not diverse. For those of you not familiar with to Top 16 decks, they can be found here.

Before I provide the breakdown graph, a quick caveat. I divided the decks into a large number of categories. However, while categories are neat, decklists are not. For example, take a look at this deck.

UG/w Tempo — Joseph Keaveny

4 Treetop Village
3 Adarkar Wastes
3 Yavimaya Coast
1 Horizon Canopy
5 Island
6 Forest

4 Birds of Paradise
4 Wall of Roots
3 Tarmogoyf
3 Mystic Snake
3 Riftwing Cloudskate
2 Reveillark
2 Venser, Shaper Savant
2 Mulldrifter
2 Troll Ascetic

3 Garruk Wildspeaker
2 Loxodon Warhammer

4 Rune Snag
3 Momentary Blink
1 Pact of Negation

So, is that a Reveillark deck, a UG Snake deck or a Blink deck. I could justify calling it anything — and then there is a similar deck that splashed black for Doran, which was even harder to qualify. (For the record, both of those decks fell into the Misc. category.

Here’s the breakdown of everything that was played:

Fear the tiny writing!

That is an amazingly diverse metagame. I love it!

The winning deck was a RGb Big Mana deck. It was the only RG Big Mana deck I noticed splashing Black, and it splashed for Extirpate and Void. Both seemed to work pretty well — and work quite well in testing the deck online (although I had to fake the Mutavaults and Chameleon Colossi, for now. No Morningtide online, yet).

I included the Black splash version in the RG Big Mana category. I counted 21 versions of the archetype being played, and two made Top 16. That’s a 9.5% success rate. Reveillark combo also put 2 copies in the Top 16, but 33 players showed up playing Reveillark combo decks — meaning that only 6.1% of the players with that deck made it through. Here’s a ranking of decks in the Top 16, ranked by percentage making it.

UW Control: 8 played, 1 in Top 16, 12.5% success rate.
UB Makeshift Mannequin: 9 version played, 1 in Top 16, 11.1% success rate.
RDW: 21 played, 2 in Top 16, 9.5% success rate.
Reveillark Combo: 33 played, 2 ion Top 16, 6.1% success rate.
RG Big Mana: 21 played, 2 in Top 16, 5.0% success rate.
Faeries: 21 played, 1 in Top 16, 4.8% success rate.
Doran: 34 played, 1 in Top 16, 2.9% success rate.

Here’s a list of all the archetypes, ranked by number of people playing the archetype:

Elves (all types): 46
Doran: 35
Reveillark Combo: 33
White weenie: 26
UB Faeries: 21
RG Big Mana: 21
RDW: 21
Rock: 15
Mono Black Aggro: 13
Goblins: 12
UW Blink : 12
Storm Decks: 11
UB Makeshift Mannequin: 9
UW Control: 8
LOLementals: 8
Merfolk: 8
UG Mystic Snake: 7
Reanimator: 7
RB Control: 5
UWR Blinkriders: 5
Fuedkiller’s Verdict: 5
Mono Black Rack: 4
UB Control: 3
UW Pickles: 3
RG Aggro: 2

Let’s break down the archetypes a bit further.

RG Big Mana:

This is pretty straightforward, and the first and fifth place decks are pretty good examples of the archetypes. This is nothing that Standard players have not seen before, and there is little more to say. Personally, though, I would play the Black splash version, because Extirpate stops the Reveillark combo decks — and Reveillark is going to be everywhere.

I also saw a couple RG aggro decks, but they were rare. I saw a lot of RDW splashing green for Goyfs, but a pair of RG decks with Garruk and so forth. I lost my copy of the final standings, but I don’t think they did all that well.

Doran / Rock / GB Elves / Elves

This was another hard group of decklists to categorize. Anything with Doran — well, almost anything, not the UG Snake / Reveillark / Doran deck — was included in the Doran category. That extended all the way from the Dauntless Dourbark treefolk decks to the strange Doran / Primal Rage / Indomitable Ancients build. The Doran builds range from heavy aggro to the more controlling versions with Profane Command, Oblivion Ring, Thoughtseize, etc.

The Rock builds start with the same sort of GBW builds as controlling Doran decks, but without the Dorans. They then move down to the controlling GB builds with lots of removal, discard, Liliana Vess, Garruk Wildspeaker and Profane Commands. I also saw some Primal Command decks — here’s an interesting example:

Rowboat Mike — Some Dude in Malaysia (that’s what the decklist gives for name and designer…)

4 Llanowar Wastes
4 Treetop Village
4 Gilt-Leaf Palace
6 Snow-Covered Swamp
4 Snow-Covered Forest
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

4 Mind Stone

4 Wall of Roots
3 Tarmogoyf
2 Civic Wayfinder
1 Shriekmaw
1 Masked Admirers
1 Cloudthresher
1 Tombstalker
1 Withered Wretch

4 Damnation
3 Primal Command
3 Harmonize
3 Thoughtseize
2 Profane Command
2 Sudden Death
2 Nameless Inversion

Those decks tend to blend into the GB Elves builds, which run everything from a couple elves (even counting Chameleon Colossus as an elf), to those with almost nothing but Elves, with Nameless Inversion (technically an Elf) and Thoughtseize as the only non-elf creatures. GB Elves, of course, tends to blend into mono-Green Elves — with a deck that ran Gilt-Leaf Palaces solely to support Extirpate out of the sideboard. I think I stuck that in Elves, not GB Elves, but that’s a great example of just how hard it is to classify decks.

Here’s how they broke down:

Doran: 34
Rock: 16
GB Elves: 22
Green Elves: 25

The most important point is that, although these decks did pretty well at the Chiba GPT and online, the Elves decks did not crack the Top 16, and I did not see many playing near the top tables all day.

Is Elves a deck whose time has passed? I would not count it out, especially online, where a lot of people probably have it built and have plenty of practice with it, but it was heavily played, and it bombed.

Reveillark / Momentary Blink

The most commonly played combo deck in the tournament was Reveillark. The combo is pretty simple: Reveillark, Mirror Entity, Body Double, plus Mulldrifter or Riftwing Cloudskate. Get Reveillark and Mirror Entity into play, stack a bunch of Mirror Entity activations for 0, then keep returning Body Double (copying Reveillark) and the Cloudskate or Mulldrifter and draw lots of cards, bounce lots of permanents, or both. It is fairly solid, and worked well enough for third and fourth.

A few people also played a stripped down version of the deck. They included only one copy of Mirror Entity, and ran primarily as a control deck, with the combo as a last resort. I did not try to split those out — if they had Mirror Entity in the deck, they were combo.

A number of other decks played UW Control with Reveillarks. They also had Mulldrifters and Riftwing Cloudskates — and often maindeck Aven Riftwatchers — but no Mirror Entities. These decks could not combo out, but did have a decent control suite. They generally just won with small fliers — plus Reveillark, which is also a 4/3 flier in its own right.

Here’s a sample no-combo Reveillark deck. Actually, a half dozen people had this decklist, almost card for card, and each had a different name in the deck designer spot.

Reveillark Control (Various people) — (various names)

4 Adarkar Wastes
3 Wanderwine Hub
2 Nimbus Maze
1 Urza’s Factory
2 Desert
9 Island
8 Plains

4 Mind Stone

4 Reveillark
4 Mulldrifter
4 Riftwing Cloudskate
3 Venser, Shaper Savant
3 Sower of Temptation

4 Wrath of God
4 Momentary Blink
2 Condemn

The Aven Riftwatchers were in the sideboard in this build.

Here’s the basic breakdown of the Reveillark decks:

UW Reveillark combo: 34
UW Blink control: 12
UW Pickles (no Reveillark, but with Brine Elemental & Shapeshifter): 2
UWR Blink Riders (and/or Lightning Angel): 5

I think Reveillark will be everywhere — and the fact that it is in a Precon will keep the card affordable.

Storm Combo Decks:

A few people played the storm combo decks. They broke down into two basic groups: the pure burn Swath combo decks, with Pyromancer’s Swath and Grapeshot, and the Dragonstorm decks like the one Chapin played at Worlds. Neither of these is cutting edge tech, but the decks did pretty well, staying in Top 8 contention until the last round.

Sprinerock Dragonstorm: 7
Swath Burn: 4

A digression here, for a moment:

I Kan’t Spelll:

Six decks ran Feudkiller’s Verdict. All six built the decks around the card. Five of the decklists spelled it “Fuedkiller’s Verdict.” None of the decks performed any better than their pilots could spell.

Actually, a ton of the decklists had strange spellings. Some of my other favorites, with hints if you don’t identify them, include:

* The warm and snuggy “Covers of Kolios.” (it’s a land)
* The longer-in-leap-years “Month of Romom.” (another land)
* “Targomoyf” (some creature)
* It could be handwriting, but I think you have to obey the “Sayz Gary Commandment” (the Red Sengir Autocrat)
* “Nameless Immersion” sounds like a baptism. (Does anyone really need a hint, here?)
* “Crovax, a Scant Hero” is a skinny guy, I guess. (or here?)
* “Ritt Blot” is a stain on any decklist. (If you need a hint, think suspend.)

I know being unable to spell isn’t really funny, but I just read 400 decklists. I’m humor deprived.

Moving on.

UB Control:

A small number of players ran UB decks. They divided into a couple categories. The most common was UB Makeshift Mannequin control decks, with Mulldrifters, Cloudskates, Shriekmaws, and Damnation. An even smaller group ran pure UB Control, without the Mannequins. Another group of UB players emphasized the Mannequins, running UB Reanimator builds similar to the build that made Top 8 in the Chiba GPT.

Here’s the breakdown:

UB Mannequin: 9 (one in Top 16)
UB Control: 3
UB Reanimator: 7

I would not be too surprised to see either UB Mannequin or Reanimator at a FNM or Standard PE online, but I doubt it will be all that common.

Bringing the Beats:

By far, the most common beatdown deck was White Weenie. It did about what you would expect White Weenie to do — namely clogged up the bottom tables, then let the pilots play in side drafts. Kithkin are much the same in draft and standard — a tiny little tribe with tiny little expectations and a tiny little chance of winning — but once in a while relentless pressure can win out. Twenty-six players brought Kithkin to play with. Kithkin — it’s Lorwyn for Smurf.

Red Deck Wins was common — as it is in every format. Some players ran lots of burn. Some ran a bit of land destruction along with burn. Some went for fast red creatures. Some ran the snow subtheme and Skred. My favorite versions ran cards like Stuffy Doll and Lightning Serpent. I really don’t know why you would ever run Lightning Serpent over Blaze (Gaddock Teeg isn’t that common), but I love the fact that someone tried.

A number of players ran Mono-Black aggro decks, with Rogues and Bitterblossom, supported with discard and Profane Command. I identified 13 mono-Black aggro decks, although some of those are close to the black heavy goblins decks that also made appearances. I identified a dozen decks as Goblins — and almost all of those were RB.

Here’s a sample mono-Black aggro deck, chosen at random:

Aaron McGlothlin – (no name)

10 Swamp
5 Snow-Covered Swamp
4 Mutavault
2 Pendelhaven

4 Bad Moon
4 Thoughtseize
4 Nameless Inversion
3 Bitterblossom
2 Profane Command

4 Oona’s Prowler
4 Frogtosser Banneret
4 Oona’s Blackguard
4 Morsel Theft
4 Marsh Flitter
2 Earwig Squad

Exact compositions vary, but that is a reasonable example of the breed.

Lorwyn tribes made a fairly heavy showing. Goblins is almost always played, even when the deck is not really good. Merfolk, on the other hand, has not seen tournament play (outside Legacy and Classic) for a long time. At the $5k, however, eight players cast their nets for the fish folk.

I thought about including a Merfolk decklist, but I want to feature an even more interesting tribe. Eight players decided to rely on elemental magics in their duels. Personally, I like the name LOLementals, but this deck’s name is almost as funny — albeit a bit too aptly named.

Eddie Hirko — 5-Color Deck that’s Tournament Worthy? No Way!

5 Mountain
2 Karplusan Forest
1 Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]
3 Shivan Reef
2 Shimmering Grotto
4 Gemstone Mine
4 Primal Beyond
1 Mosswort Bridge

4 Incinerate

3 Supreme Exemplar
3 Reveillark
4 Flamekin Harbinger
4 Spitebellows
3 Shriekmaw
4 Incandescent Soulstoke
3 Nova Chaser
4 Mulldrifter
4 Smokebraider
1 Horde of Notions
1 Timbermare

I did not really expect anyone to bring Supreme Exemplar.

Most Unexpected cards:

I found a few surprises on the decklists. There are always a couple cards that people add. Sometimes those cards rock, or offer new tech. For example, consider Nullmage Advocate against an Enduring Ideal player who has gone Epic. Unless they can Deed for 3, you can keep killing enchantments pretty much all game. On the other hand, some of those cards just make you scratch your head. For example:

Luminescent Rain
Holy Day

Or how about the people who went old school is a big way. Personally, I cannot imagine playing any of these cards in any serious deck — not even Standard.

Serra Angel
Sengir Vampire
Shivan Dragon

Still — you have to give some credit to the players who play the old cards. It may be a decade since Serra Angel was the big threat in “The Deck,” but in its day it was a wrecking ball. Of course, in its day, the Red Baron’s Triplane was a great plane, but I wouldn’t want to fly it into battle today.

Back to archetypes.

UB Faeries:

Although Reveillark may have been the most common archetype to see great success, I think the breakout deck of the tournament may be UB Faeries. As I noted, although RGb Big Mana technically won, the finals were not played out. The players reached an agreement, and did a prize split. Had the match played out, I would have put my money on the Faeries.

UB aggro control has a long history. Back in Masques / Invasion standard, Nether Spirit control was great. When Standard became Invasion and Odyssey block, Psychatog and counters were a dominant deck. Any time blue card drawing and counters mess well with black’s removal and evasion, and the combination has a cheap, efficient creature, it rocks. I think Faeries has the same sort of synergy.

I won’t type out a separate decklist — the second place decklist behind the sidebar is a perfect example.

Enjoying Themselves:

Maro posted an article on the flagship on Monday (today as I write this) about the need to acquire and retain players. Personally, I think the key is to let players enjoy a tournament, even if they don’t win. Magic suffers from a problem that 1) the game is played to win and 2) having more money means you can buy more cards and that makes winning easier. Getting into the hobby can be very difficult if the only people who have any fun are the few with all the cards.

I think the most important thing Magic can do to keep itself going is to make sure everyone enjoys the tournament. I certainly hope these people did.

First, if you watched Even Erwin’s last Magic Show, you may remember someone playing a 1,000 Year Elixir deck. This may be it — or maybe not. Two players were running Elixir decks.

I want to stress that I am not showcasing these decks because I want to ridicule anyone. Plenty of forum trolls do that, and it is both stupid and pointless. I do remember seeing a lot of decks back in the days before they were famous — I remember people ridiculing Trix, 21, Replenish, etc. I don’t know if these may become the next Trix — odds are against it — but you never know.

Jeff Stewart — 1,000 Year Elixir (designed by “My son, Patrick”)

4 Adarkar Wastes
4 Vivid Meadow
4 River of Tears
2 Caves of Koilos
3 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
5 Plains
1 Swamp
1 Island

4 1,000 Year Elixir
4 Condemn
3 Wrath of God
2 Momentary Blink

4 Mangara of Condor
4 Merieke Ri Berit
4 Reveillark
4 Riftwing Cloudskate
2 Shriekmaw

Double tapping seems pretty good with Mangara and Merieke.

James Dean — Jankstone

4 Horizon Canopy
3 Windbrisk Heights
8 Forest
5 Plains

4 Mirror Entity
4 Poison Sliver
4 Sinew Sliver
4 Essence Sliver
4 Ornithopter
4 Thornweald Archer
3 Birds of Paradise
3 Gaddock Teeg
3 Elvish Harbinger

3 Harmonize
2 Hivestone
3 Militia’s Pride

Okay, I don’t recommend this list as is. For one thing, it is 65 cards, with 20 lands. However, the concept of attacking with a Poison Sliver and a Sinew Sliver when you have Militia’s Pride and Hivestone in play is pretty cool. It is the sort of thing that might be worth some experimentation. If nothing else, it could be fun in the casual room.

Here’s a final list. I haven’t had time to think about this much, yet. Some of the interactions look very interesting. Some less so.

Billi Stinnette – Search and Destroy (designed by Jeff Parton)

4 Caves of Koilos
2 Mutavault
9 Swamp
9 Plains

4 Seht’s Tiger
4 Martyr of Sands
4 Aven Mindcensor
4 Windborn Muse
3 Maralen of the Mornsong

4 Wrath of God
4 Condemn
3 Sudden Spoiling
2 Damnation
1 Mind Shatter
1 Beacon of Immortality
1 Ajani Goldmane
1 Feudkiller’s Verdict
1 Beacon of Unrest
1 Loxodon Warhammer
1 Liliana Vess

Maralen and a Beacon or two seems fun. Maralen and a toolbox is a possible idea — and would be great if the opponent did not get first crack. Maralen and Aven Mindcensor needs testing. What I don’t understand is the three Sudden Spoilings.

I have to hang this up. Deadline looms, and Morningtide will be available on MTGO shortly. It may be interesting to try a few matches with some Reveillarks. They are available in a precon, and should be appearing in Auctions shortly.


“one million words” on MTGO