Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #233 – Block, Standard, and MTGO

Read Peter Jahn... at StarCityGames.com!
Thursday, July 3rd – We are moving into Nationals season, and Grand Prix: Buenos Aires was last weekend. So was the Richie Proffitt Memorial Tournament. Standard is – will be, shortly – a widely played format online and at FNM (except around Madison, unfortunately), so people care about it. I do, too.

I actually got to play some Magic this week. Some on MTGO, some in paper, and some I just experienced vicariously through the web. Still, it’s all Magic, so it’s all good.


I can’t talk about Standard and Block on MTGO yet. MTGO fell through a time portal, and it’s still a few weeks ago online — specifically, it’s one week before Shadowmoor can be played in Constructed Premier Events (PEs.) Online, it’s still Shadowmoor prerelease week, and all the PEs and most of the other events are Shadowmoor release events. Standard and Block Constructed PEs are down for the duration of the events. Those events are scheduled to end just five days before the paper Prerelease of Eventide.


Yes, this is really slow.

A big part of the problem was the changeover from version 2.5 to version 3.0. I have written about that in the past. That changeover did delay the start of the MTGO Shadowmoor release events by a couple of weeks. (Shadowmoor release events began on June 13, 2008.)

I am liking Shadowmoor Limited. I bought one tournament pack and ten boosters. I traded for four more tournament packs, and after three PEs and just under a dozen drafts, I have 18 boosters left. I also have three Reflecting Pools. For the first time in my online experience, I may actually be able to come out of the release events with a significant number of the chase cards, instead of having to buy them all.

I won’t spend a lot of time discussing Shadowmoor Limited, but I will say that a pool with Pili-Pala, Juvenile Gloomwidow, Rustrazor Butcher, and two Power of Fire — plus two Trip Nooses — is a decent pool. I did lose in the finals, but only to a guy with double Incremental Blight, double Gloomlance, his own Power of Fire on a Pili-Pala, and Corrupt. All that, and I only saw the first 20 cards in his deck in both games.

Wizards has now announced that the Shadowmoor release events will be extended through next Monday. That’s nice for those people who can play, but it also means that the Constructed Premier Events are not being run. That means no replays, and no online testing. To see how Block and Standard are developing, we have to look at the results of PTQs and the major Standard tournaments

Block Constructed

I wanted to talk about my attempts to create a new archetype. I have done the experimentation. I have played the deck, tested it, redesigned it, and tweaked it. I have tried a different option, and another.

None of the decks can reliably beat Faeries.

How much of a problem is that? Let’s look at the numbers. They fall in the following format: Archetype – # in Top 8 – # of Wins

Faeries — 39 — 7
Mirror Master — 22 — 3
Quick N’ Toast — 21 — 2
Elementals — 4 — 0
Merfolk — 4 — 1
Shaman — 4 — 0
The Rock — 4 — 1

And it’s all downhill from there.

If my nifty little combo deck cannot beat Faeries or Kithkin, it’s not worth talking about. Right now, all I have is a good title for the deck: IHHKM, ISWW! That stands for “If He Hadn’t Killed Me, I So Woulda Won!

That’s actually a pretty good name for a lot of my decks.

I know that Block Constructed is the current PTQ format, and that people care about Block. The problem is that, right now, I don’t. I expect to play in a PTQ in a week or so, and I’m already sick of the format. Maybe that’s because I spend too much time trying to beat Faeries. Maybe I should just play Faeries. It’s like being sober and having to spend time with obnoxious drunks. That stinks — but actually being the obnoxious drunk is probably more fun.

No, probably not. Even without the hangover.


Standard is a bit more interesting. We are moving into Nationals season, and Grand Prix: Buenos Aires was last weekend. So was the Richie Proffitt Memorial Tournament. Standard is — will be, shortly — a widely played format online and at FNM (except around Madison, unfortunately), so people care about it. I do, too.

Besides, I found some interesting data and decklists.

The Top 8 of the Richie Proffitt tournament broke down as follows:

G/R Snow: 1 (and it won)
G/B Elves: 1
Reveillark: 2
Faeries: 4

Nothing in that list is too surprising. Even if we look at the Top 16, the list does not get too weird.

G/R Snow: 1
G/B Elves: 2
Reveillark: 3
Faeries: 5
Merfolk: 2
Elves: 1
Kithkin: 1

I find it mildly interesting that Merfolk can come close, but can’t quite break into the Top 8. The same thing happened in Buenos Aires: the Merfolk fell (splashed?) just a bit short.

The Top 8 at the Grand Prix had one interesting deck. Here’s the breakdown. See if you can spot the unexpected deck.

BG Elves: 1
Gassy Knoll: 1
The Rock: 1
Faeries: 1
Reveillark: 2
Quick N’ Toast: 1
RG Mana Ramp: 1

For me, the unexpected deck was Gassy Knoll. I thought that Patrick Chapin Worlds deck was pretty much dead. I wondered if its good finish was a fluke. One way of making that determination is to look for other copies finishing well. I scanned the Top 16 decklists, and didn’t find another. Ditto Top 32 — and even scanning the entire list of Day 2 decks did not reveal another copy of Gassy Knoll. Interesting.

I think it was a fluke, but feel free to test. I may call it a fluke, but its other name is “second place in a 500+ player tournament.”

Here’s the breakdown of the Top 16 decks.

BG Elves: 2
Gassy Knoll: 1
The Rock: 2
Faeries: 4
Reveillark: 3
Quick N’ Toast: 1
RG Mana Ramp: 2
Merfolk: 1

That’s about what I would expect. However, I still wanted to find something interesting, so I sorted through the decklists for the 17th — 32nd place finishers. And I found some nuggets among the muck and gravel.

Sitting in 18th place was a true Rock deck. It was not simply a GB aggro deck with a touch of discard. It was really a Black control deck splashing Green for pressure. It has a dozen removal spells, discard, a few utility creatures and a bunch of man lands. It is closer to the old Pernicious Deed Rock builds than anything else I have seen for a while.

Tulio Lamego Jaudy
18th place, Grand Prix: Buenos Aires

4 Gilt-Leaf Palace
3 Llanowar Reborn
4 Llanowar Wastes
4 Mutavault
1 Reflecting Pool
5 Swamp
4 Treetop Village

3 Chameleon Colossus
4 Kitchen Finks
1 Oona, Queen of the Fae
4 Tarmogoyf

3 Bitterblossom
1 Eyeblight’s Ending
3 Nameless Inversion
2 Primal Command
4 Profane Command
2 Slaughter Pact
4 Terror
4 Thoughtseize

3 Damnation
1 Extirpate
1 Faerie Macabre
3 Riftsweeper
3 Squall Line
3 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Withered Wretch

Hey — I like it.

I may also have spotted a Japanese innovation. Shuhei Nakamura and Tomoharu Saito were both playing card for card copies of the same RB aggro deck. They finished 18th and 28th, not bad for a field of 578.

RB Aggro
Tomoharu Saito
22nd place, Grand Prix: Buenos Aires

2 Ghitu Encampment
3 Keldon Megaliths
19 Mountain

4 Ashenmoor Gouger
4 Blood Knight
4 Demigod of Revenge
4 Magus of the Moon
4 Magus of the Scroll
4 Mogg Fanatic

4 Flame Javelin
4 Incinerate
4 Shock

4 Lash Out
3 Manabarbs
4 Murderous Redcap
4 Sulfur Elemental

I’m amused by this deck. I took something very similar to Regionals, but I ended up judging instead of playing. That’s probably just as well — “similar” is not identical, and I’m pretty sure my version was worse. Still, I may play this online, once I get a few more cards. (It does have one critical factor I look for in a deck: a decklist with two or fewer Mutavaults.)

I should probably give the breakdown for the whole Top 32 at the GP, since I did spend the time compiling it. If you look at the Top 32, Faeries starts climbing back to a more typical percentage of the metagame.

BG Elves: 3
Gassy Knoll: 1
The Rock: 3
Faeries: 8
Reveillark: 4
Quick N’ Toast: 2
RG Mana Ramp: 3
Merfolk: 4
RB Aggro: 4
RG Aggro: 1

One final decklist is worth highlighting. I like RG aggro decks, and this one looks interesting. Take it with a grain of salt — the coverage report says that he ran a 66-card deck with 30 lands. I don’t think so — even Jamie Wakefield kept his decks down to 62 cards and 26 lands. I suspect someone misrecorded a number — my bet, based on a lot of experience reviewing and transcribing hand-written decklists, would be that the deck played 1 Mountain, but the coverage person read the “1” as a “7.” One mountain, instead of seven, would make the decklist 60 cards and 23 lands, but only 9 Red sources. Those numbers don’t sound right, either, so I would recommend doing the mana math yourself. Still, the deck looks like fun, so consider this for your next FNM.

RG Aggro
Joao Paulo Leite Arauj
29th place, Grand Prix: Buenos Aires

4 Fire-Lit Thicket
7 Forest
4 Karplusan Forest
4 Llanowar Reborn
7 Mountain
4 Treetop Village

4 Boggart Ram-Gang
4 Bramblewood Paragon
4 Chameleon Colossus
4 Imperious Perfect
4 Radha, Heir to Keld
4 Wren’s Run Vanquisher

4 Dead / Gone
4 Flame Javelin
4 Incinerate

2 Faerie Macabre
3 Guttural Response
3 Kitchen Finks
2 Krosan Grip
3 Pyroclasm
3 Riftsweeper

I’m going to wrap it up here. I want to try to get into one more draft tonight, and it is already late. I would like to play in a PE — especially the casual, non-sanctioned events. I like the low-pressure feel of those events, and the fact that I can get a lot of writing done between rounds. What I do not like is the fact that they take just short of forever. With a lot of luck, those events can finish in under six hours. Without luck, they can take a lot longer.

See you online!


“one million words” on MTGO