I will be travelling to Orlando for the StarCityGames Open this weekend. In preparation, I have been looking at the Standard and Legacy metagames. We have a lot of data this time around — the SCG events, the GPs, the Pro Tour and more, so let’s start cranking some numbers.
We’ll look at Standard, first, since it is the format for day one of the event.
I have looked at the data from the major events held since Worldwake became legal. I could include prior events, but the significance of the changes in the format — things like Jund getting manlands and new Jace — make the older results less relevant. Here are the events I have included. Each event links to the SCG table of top decks (at least top 17, often far more) for that event.
Here are some representative decks. Clicking on the name should bring up a decklist.
R/B Aggro, 1st place, Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur, played by Ding Yuan Leong
Naya, 3rd place, Pro Tour San Diego, played by Luis Scott-Vargas
White Weenie, 4th place, Pro Tour San Diego, played by Craig Wescoe
Mythic, 24th place, Pro Tour San Diego, played by Sam Black
U/W Tap-out Control 14th place, Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur, played by Sam Black
Spread ‘Em 2nd place, Star City $5,000 Standard Open, Indianapolis, IN, played by Ben Wienburg
U/W Counter Control 14th place, Pro Tour San Diego, played by Patrick Chapin
I think that’s about it, although it feels like I’m missing something…
Oh, yeah. That deck.
Jund, 1st place, Pro Tour San Diego, played by Simon Gortzen
The Elephant in the Room
The most commonly played deck in current Standard is Jund. People can argue over whether it is really the best deck, or just the most popular. Does it win because it is played in huge numbers, or played in huge numbers because it wins? You can argue either side — after all, with the majority of people playing Jund, more people both make and miss Top 16 with Jund than with any other deck. We can debate specific, but some things are clear. Jund has some real advantages. It is relatively cheap to build. It plays some of the best cards in the format. It utilizes the most broken mechanic in the format. It is — arguably — easy to play.
All of this means you will see a lot of Jund if you play in Standard. (Big news, eh?) And, if you play against Jund, you are probably playing against these cards. This is the statistically-averaged Jund build, compiled from the 45 top Jund decks before GP Kuala Lumpur.
Misty Mountain Games holds a free Standard event every Tuesday. This week, I’ll be taking the above to battle, just because I haven’t played Jund for a while, and I need to remind myself of just how sick it is. Besides, I want to watch for interesting interactions in my opponents’ — and neighbors’ — decks, so I’ll play something I know reasonably well.
Editing this at the tourney. I’m undefeated, waiting for the prize payout. Jund did what it did, and I won the cascade roulette. The only time cascade wasn’t nuts was when I had nothing to kill with Deathtouch but a Birds, and once when I found a Ruinblaster and I had already killed all my opponent’s non-basics. I could not find all the sideboard cards, and filled in with two Masters of the Wild Hunt. They killed a couple Baneslayers.
Some people have commented that the format is unbalanced (seems true) and that the fix is to ban Bloodbraid Elf. I disagree. I think you could fix the format more simply — if you have to ban a card, ban Blightning. Blightning was what won me the games. A turn 3 Blightning was more crippling than almost anything, especially if they mulliganned. I’m not convinced that bannings are warranted, but if they are, Blightning is the card to kill.
I would love to compare the percentages of Jund in the metagame with Ravager in its heyday and Fairies when the Fae were everywhere. My memory says that Ravager was a bit more dominant, but not much. Jund is pretty strong.
The breakdown and exact numbers for the statistically averaged Jund list is here. SCG has similar statistical breakdowns for most of the other major archetypes. To find one, click on the link to any decklist from a major event. Just below the deck’s name, about three rows below, you will see a line like this: Click here to see a summary of all decks from PT: San Diego Clicking that will take you to a breakdown, and the statistically averaged deck breakdown, if available, will be in the third column. Decks with very few appearances don’t get a statistically-averaged breakdown, for obvious reasons.
Let’s look at the Metagame as a whole. Here’s the breakdown of the last few events, including the Top 32 at GP KL, 49 of the top 64 decks at PT SD, plus the top 16s9 at the SCG $5ks at Indy and Richmond.
Last week, I was talking to an experienced casual player that was looking to try tournaments. He was looking to play in a Legacy tournament, because he thought that looked like the most fun. One problem — we don’t have many Legacy events in Madison, anymore. I suggested Standard, because that’s available, but he felt the format was too narrow, and dominated by one deck. These statistics make it hard to argue that point. Jund made up about 55% of the money finishes in these events.
Let’s look at another format. Sunday will be a less Jund and more Legacy. Legacy has — well, practically everything other formats have, but with a lot less Jund.
The Legacy Metagame is almost entirely derived from the StarCity Games $5ks, with one notable exception. The largest GP ever — GP Madrid — was also Legacy. The other difference between Standard and Legacy is that the introduction of Worldwake did almost nothing to change Legacy. As a result, I see no problem with including the results from the top 16 legacy decks from the SCG $5ks in LA and Dallas, even though they were pre-Worldwake. That means we have the Top Sixteen decks from the following events.
Grand Prix Madrid, February 27-28, 2010
SCG Open, Indianapolis, IN, March 14, 2010
SCG Open, Richmond, VA, February 28, 2010
SCG Open, St. Louis, MO, December 20, 2009
SCG Open, Dallas, TX, January 10, 2010
SCG Open, LA, CA, January 3, 2010
Let’s see if the format is a bit more open. As with Standard, I’ll only include decks that have at least two appearances.
Merfolk / Fish: 17
Zoo / Naya Zoo: 9
Countertop Progenitus: 7
Aggro Loam: 5
43 Land: 4
U/W Tempo (a.k.a Angel Stompy): 3
Countertop Goyf: 2
Eva Green: 2
Imperial Painter: 2
Team America: 2
We also saw nine other decks break the Top 16s.
I have played some Legacy, but that was last fall — the last time we held Legacy tournaments in Madison. I played a Mono-Blue Fish (meaning no Tarmogoyf) in the first, and managed to win that one. Some of it was luck, some of it was play skill, and some of it was Force of Will. I also proved that I was better at the mirror match than my opponents. If I had to give any advice for playing Fish, it would be practice playing the mirror, sideboarded.
I also have played a Reanimator: build, although not quite the build that I linked to. The link goes to the deck that won GP Madrid. My deck went 3-1 at a local event. His seems to have a better pedigree. As for playing the deck — my loss came to misreading an opponent. Playing first, he got two basic Forests into play, so I Entombed and Reanimated Iona naming Green. On his next two turns he fetched a Swamp and Mountain and Terminated Iona. We seat randomly, so I had not seen his deck beforehand….
I was going to add some other notes about playing the format, but this site has a lot of Legacy specialists. Read their stuff, starting with So Many Insane Plays – Your Complete Guide to Legacy: The 50 Decks of Legacy by Stephen Menendian. If you cannot find a decklist you like in that magnum opus…
The Cost of Legacy:
The cost of decks in older formats can be a problem, but Legacy is not Vintage. Vintage decks are worth a small car — Legacy decks are not. Let’s look at an upper end deck, first. This is the 43 Land deck that Chris Woltereck used to win the most recent SCG event.
The total cost for this deck is just over $1,500, if bought in its entirety, from StarCityGames today. Okay — not entirely. I did not include the cost of the one Forest. I assumed people owned at least that. The one really big money card in this deck is The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, which runs about $250. The duals are also quite pricey.
At the other end of the spectrum, some of the mono-black decks, or red deck wins versions are cheaper than many Standard decks. A few cards, like Wasteland and Chalice of the Void, top out at $20 or so, but that’s about it.
What I’m Telling my Judges:
I’m the head judge for the Legacy tourney on Sunday. In preparation for that event, I’ve done some planning and issued some initial instructions to my crew or about a dozen judges. SCG has done event more. They have made improvements to registration, card buying and selling, etc. That part should run well.
I have figured out who will be doing what, and when. The biggest problem would be a big turnout, and having a lot of rounds. For some reason, Sunday seems to run more slowly — maybe everyone is tired, maybe Sundays are just slow, but I really don’t want players to have to wait very long for the next round to start. I have spent a lot of time thinking of ways to speed up end of round procedures. We will be watching for slow play all round, but especially after the round ends. Players have a tendency to slow down when time is called, and we will work to prevent that. Slow play in extra turns does not just affect your opponent, it affects the whole event.
Another major activity at a Legacy tournament is getting current Oracle wordings for players. Those of use lucky enough to have Oracle on our Palms and/or smart phones are making sure we are up to date. Well make sure that everyone knows who has Oracle in their pocket.
Beyond that, it is just another big event. Ingrid and I are rereading the Comp Rules, the MIPG and the MTR, and packing our black pants. And maybe our swim suits. We are going to Florida, after all.
Hope we see you there.
“one million words” on MTGO