Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #95: European Regionals Metagame Analysis

I’ll do a card by card breakdown for all seventeen of the Ravager decks placing in the top 2 of European Regionals, and then talk about the rest of the current metagame. Then I’ll close with the latest decklists for a playtest Gauntlet. Well, what are you waiting for?

The first working title of this piece was”Shove your Thoughtcasts!” Next was”Shelve your Thoughtcasts!” since this is a family site. Then”European Metagame Analysis,” since that is where I’ll start, and that information is a lot more important and interesting than my rants about Thoughtcast. I’ll do a card by card breakdown for all seventeen of the Ravager decks making T2 in Europe, and then talk about the rest of the metagame. I’ll close with decklists for a playtest Gauntlet.

Let’s start by breaking down the metagame of the moment. I dredged up all the winning and second place decks for several European Regionals. Here are the results, by deck type, with number of winners and finalists in the following format: W – 4, F – 2, T – 6, meaning that four Regional winners and two finalists played the deck, for a total of six.

Here’s an overall breakdown:

Ravager Affinity: W – 10 F – 7 T – 17

Goblin Bidding: W – 3 F – 4 T – 7

R/W Slide: W – 2 F – 3 T – 5

other: W – 2 F – 3 T – 5

Now country by country:

German Regionals

Ravager Affinity: W – 5 F – 5 T – 10

Goblin Bidding: W – 2 F – 1 T – 3

R/W Slide: W – 1 F – 1 T – 2

U/W Control: W – 1 F – 0 T – 1

MWC: W – 0 F – 1 T – 1

R/G Beast LD: W – 0 F – 1 T – 1

French Regionals

Ravager Affinity: W – 4 F – 1 T – 5

Goblin Bidding: W – 1 F – 2 T – 3

R/W Slide: W – 0 F – 1 T – 1

MWC: W – 0 F – 1 T – 1

Swiss Regionals

Ravager Affinity: W – 1 F – 1 T – 2

(rest of top4: Affinity, Goblin Bidding)

Polish Regionals

Ravager Affinity: W – 0 F – 1 T – 1

Goblin Bidding: W – 0 F – 1 T – 1

R/W Slide: W – 1 F – 1 T – 2

U/W Control: W – 1 F – 0 T – 1

Of the top two slots in the European Regionals so far, Ravager Affinity accounted for fifty percent (17 of 34) slots, Goblin Bidding took twenty percent, Slide took fourteen percent, and that leaves fourteen percent for everything else. If you look just at winning decks, Ravager Affinity took fifty-nine percent, Goblin Bidding took eighteen percent, Slide twelve percent and everything else also totaled just twelve percent.

That, folks, is the metagame (for now at least.) Ravager Affinity in the lead, followed by Goblin Bidding and a few decks running Damping Matrix and Akroma’s Vengeance maindeck. I’ll talk about what that metagame may mean shortly.

First, however, I want to break down the Ravager Affinity decks a bit more, this time card by card. Some cards are givens, some not. Let’s look at this. For each card, the number of decks running them is shown as X / Y, where X is the number of winners’ decks running it, and Y is the number of finalists decks with the card. Remember, there were ten winners and seven finalists playing Ravager Affinity.

Arcbound Ravager: all / all

Arcbound Worker: 8 / 7

Frogmite: all / all

Myr Enforcer: all / all

Myr Retriever: 2 / 0

Ornithopter: 8 / 7

Atog: 6 / 4

Disciple of the Vault: all / all

Slobad: 3 / 1

Somber Hoverguard: 0 / 1

Skullclamp: all / all

Aether Spellbomb: 1 / 0

Aether Vial: 1 / 0

Bonesplitter: 1 / 0

Chromatic Sphere: 4 / 2

Pyrite Spellbomb: 8 / 2

Scale of Chiss-Goria: 2 / 2

Talisman (any): 1 / 1

Tooth of Chiss-Goria: 5 / 5

Welding Jar: 8 / 7

Mana Leak: 0 / 1

Naturalize: 1 / 0

Oxidize: 1 / 0

Shatter: 0 / 2

Shrapnel Blast: all / 6

Thoughtcast: 1 / 3

Ancient Den: 1

Blinkmoth Nexus: 5 / 0

City of Brass: 1 / 1

Glimmervoid: all / all

Great Furnace: all / all

Darksteel Citadel: 9 / all

Seat of the Synod: 1 / 6

Tree of Tales: 2 / 1

Vault of Whispers: all / all

To simplify, I’ll list the cards that each and every Ravager Affinity decks ran – the core of the deck. With the exception of Glimmervoid, where three decks ran just three, all the decks ran four copies of each card.

4 Great Furnace

4 Vault of Whispers

3-4 Glimmervoid

4 Disciple of the Vault

4 Frogmite

4 Myr Enforcer

4 Arcbound Ravager

4 Skullclamp

4 Shrapnel Blast

If your gauntlet deck is missing these cards, you might want to reconsider its construction.

The next addition would be Pyrite Spellbomb. The metagame is defined by two decks – Ravager Affinity and Goblin Bidding. Both decks have small creatures that need to die – specifically Disciple and Goblin Sharpshooter. Beyond those, there are other targets of opportunity. I would also note that Pyrite Spellbombs seem to be key to winning the mirror matches – not only do more winners than finalists play the Spellbomb, but in many of the matchups, presence of Pyrite Spellbombs seems to be the most notable difference between the Winner and Finalist decklists.

Arcbound Worker is looking strong. He is in nearly every decklist, and combines well with Skullclamp, Ravager and the other artifacts. (Some of this stuff really doesn’t need explaining, does it?)

Darksteel Citadel is an artifact land that doesn’t die to Akroma’s Vengeance, and keeps its friend, Glimmervoid, alive. That is reason enough to play it – however you really only need sixteen to eighteen lands, and Tree of Tales is a strong substitute.

Ornithopter is very strong. In many, many games, saccing the Ravager to itself to put counters on the Ornithopter has been the route to victory. Evasion is a good thing, and all but two decks took advantage of it. The other route to evasion is Blinkmoth Nexus, which can also catch modular counters.

Welding Jar is a also a key card. Wrath, Akroma’s Vengeance and other removal is rampant in the format, so being able to regenerate an artifact for free is necessary (which you can do from Vengeance but not Wrath), as is the Affinity boost. All but two decks played the Jar, so add it.

A quick note on Blue and Thoughtcast: I don’t think so. I said so a few weeks back, and people objected. Their objections may have been valid then, but I think the above results show that Thoughtcast is not that great in this format at this time. Only four decks played them, and only one of those won. Thoughtcast may, as people have told me, be great against U/W and MWC, but it isn’t that good against Ravager Affinity and Goblin Bidding.

Adapting the Metagame

The current metagame is dominated by one deck: Ravager Affinity, with Goblin Bidding puffing along behind. As expected, people are calling for the banning of Skullclamp, and/or Arcbound Ravager, or other”critical” cards. I’m not going to get into that discussion.

At the same time, the metagame is adapting. The most common adaptation is playing Damping Matrix maindeck. It works. Most of the U/W, MWC and Slide decks in the top 8 at European Regionals were running Damping Matrices maindeck – some ran a full set.

I expect to see that continue, but I also expect to see Affinity start playing answers. Affinity can run Tree of Tales and Oxidize or Naturalize. Oxidize is cheaper, and can’t be foiled by Welding Jar. Naturalize is better against Slide, since it can keep the extra Affinity counters from Sliding off, but it is weaker against other decks. Both Oxidize and Naturalize are good against Skullclamp in Goblins, and Skullclamp everywhere else.

Goblins needs to maindeck some Sparksmiths, both for the mirror and Affinity. The extra creature kill, on top of four Sharpshooters and a full set of Gempalm Incinerators, is what keeps Disciples, Ravagers, and enemy Sharpshooters off the board. I have also seen some Goblin decks running Pyrite Spellbomb, Shrapnel Blast and artifact lands, with the added advantage that they power Furnace Dragon for the Affinity matchup. That plan works very well in mono-red goblins. I’m not sure about Bidding, where you are already pretty well stretched, but testing will tell.

Goblins probably needs to maindeck artifact removal to deal with Damping Matrix, opposing Skullclamps and Affinity. (Some of the top decks at Regionals did.) Detonate, Echoing Ruin, Shatter all work, as does the Wooded Foothills / Forest / Naturalize combo some decks run to provide an answer to Worship and Circle of Protection: Red. However, the best is yet to come. I happen to know that Wizards will reprint Viashino Heretic in Fifth Dawn, but he will be a Goblin this time, cost just R and have Haste. This is Wizards apology for Crazed Goblin. (Yes, of course I’m making this up. And someone help Zvi back to his feet – he’s just gotten quite a shock.)

As a second change, I expect Goblin and Affinity decks to start sideboarding Flashfires, since base White control decks with Vengeance are their worst matchup. Flashfires is brutal against MWC – which will probably respond by upping the number of Sacred Grounds sideboard. Flashfires isn’t as good against Slide.

Smother may see a resurgence. It could certainly see play as a means of killing Disciples, Ravagers, and most Goblins – everything that matters except Siege-Gang Commanders and Myr Enforcers. It even makes sense in the sideboards of Affinity and Bidding decks, alongside Electrostatic Bolt, which kills Enforcers as well as most other problem creatures.

Furnace Dragon was obviously designed by Wizards as an anti-Affinity card, but it works fine in Affinity mirrors, in Goblins, and in decks running some Red. I really don’t know how good it is – I haven’t played enough sideboarded games in which they were actually played to know. Too many games end too fast – long before the Affinity decks had enough Red mana available.

Slobad, Goblin Legend Guy is one option I have looked at, but have never playtested. He is a nice answer to Vengeance and mirror matches, but he seems a bit narrow. I would also be pretty nervous about playing him against any deck that might bring in Mindslaver – having another method of killing your own artifacts for free seems questionable. Anyone have any experience with the guy?

I am just beginning to test Chalice of the Void, but looks like it might work. Again, I bow to anyone that has tested it enough. It looks interesting – and works a lot better than Trinisphere, which is way too slow against these decks.

Pyroclasm is another serious sideboard option for decks running Red. It was sufficient, along with Oblivion Stone, to control older Affinity and Goblin builds in my R/G Stompy Stomp deck.

Mono-Red control decks have nearly all the tools to handle the two metagame giants. Here’s a rough build: 19 Mountain, 4 Forgotten Cave, Chrome Mox, Electrostatic Bolt, Pyroclasm, Stone Rain, Slith Firewalker, Pyrite Spellbomb, Avarax, Molten Rain, 3 Arc-Sloggers / Rorix / Hammer of Bogardan. The problem is that MWC and other decks are running CoP: Red, and this deck doesn’t handle that too well – Culling Scales is about the only good answer.

Another mono-Red alternative is straight Goblins, without Bidding. Pulling the Bidding allows you to replace them with Sparksmiths, and to replace the Cities of Brass with Wooded Foothills. Losing the Biddings is a good thing in the matchup against Goblin Bidding and other Goblin decks, and the maindeck removal can be better against Ravager Affinity. Against Affinity, if you bid and they get back a couple clerics, the stack can be a nightmare. On the down side, eliminating Bidding weakens the deck against a lot of other (albeit seemingly less likely) matchups, including all the tier 1.5 control decks. Moreover, non-Bidding Goblins has a lot more problems with CoP: Red, and while the deck can bring in four Naturalizes and a Forest, you have to contend with both Damping Matrix and CoP: Red.

U/W Control, although repeatedly declared dead, had a number of T8 showings at large German Regionals. Maindeck Damping Matrix and Thirst for Knowledge to get rid of them in the rare cases where they do nothing, help a lot. The fact that the deck can still pack Wrath of God, Pulse of the Fields, and counters means it has the tools it needs. My biggest problem with U/W Control is finding enough time to playtest the deck – most games go long.

The G/B Oversold Cemetery deck has always been just outside the tent, peeking in. I love the colors and the deck, but I can’t do much more than get winning records at FNM with it. Opposing decks with maindeck Damping Matrices really hurt it, and having more in the metagame lessens its effectiveness. One change it can make is to replace some of the Viridian Zealots (dead under the Matrix) with Shamans. G/B Cemetery can also begin replacing Dark Banishing with Smothers, and maybe some Nekrataals with Festering Goblins – the creatures and artifacts that need to be killed now are Ravagers and Disciples, not Broodstars.

Zombie and Elf decks, both combo and beatdown, are badly hurt by the increase in maindeck Damping Matrix and ways to kill Skullclamps.

Slide is still strong. It can run maindeck Damping Matrix, has Spark Spray to kill Disciples, and packs Akroma’s Vengeance. I don’t have any great advice for this deck – I am not a great Slide player – but it seems solid. Its results also seem solid, although exact percentages are unreliable as we are constantly tweaking both decks..

My R/G Stompy Stomp deck does beat both Affinity and Goblins. Really, it does. Pyroclasm and Oblivion Stone, backed up by insanely big creatures is pretty good. You can usually play around U/W control’s counters, but land destruction owns you.

Now I want to go back to discussing Affinity. Here is my current favorite build coming out of the European metagame. This is pretty much the version I would put in the gauntlet at present, and the one that either Ingrid or I will play in the store tourney Wednesday evening. We might both play it, if we owned enough Ravagers.

Ravager Affinity by Uli Hoene, Winner, German Regionals at Bayern

4 Great Furnace

4 Vault of Whispers

4 Tree of Tales

4 Glimmervoid

1 Blinkmoth Nexus

4 Disciple of the Vault

3 Atog

4 Frogmite

4 Myr Enforcer

3 Arcbound Worker

4 Arcbound Ravager

3 Ornithopter

4 Skullclamp

3 Welding Jar

4 Pyrite Spellbomb

3 Oxidize

4 Shrapnel Blast


1 Blinkmoth Nexus

2 Furnace Dragon

1 Oxidize

3 Electrostatic Bolt

2 Flashfires

1 Sulfuric Vortex

3 Detonate

1 Chromatic Sphere

1 Pyroclasm

It has answers to maindeck Damping Matrix and other problems. It has most of the pure power of Affinity decks. It has Shrapnel Blast to kill the opponent, or problem cards like Molder Slug and Platinum Angel. It has Pyrite Spellbomb for Goblins and mirror-match Disciples.

The one card I miss is Darksteel Citadel, which lets Glimmervoids survive Akroma’s Vengeance. I am also neutral about the Atogs. In certain matchups and games, Atog is great. In others, he just provides a target for the Terrors or Nekrataals that would otherwise be dead cards, and feeding him can be a pain. I might play Tooth of C-G or Scale of G-C in his place.

Next, take a look at a great anti-metagame Ravager Affinity deck, which shows you another direction to head. This deck runs White to allow for a sideboarded Leonin Abunas to protect your artifacts and artifact creatures from removal. White also lets you run Purge, which kills Disciples, Ravagers, and targets of modular counters at instant speed, without having to worry about Welding Jar. The one downside is the lack of an answer to Damping Matrix.

Affinity Aggro by Laurent Garriga, Winner, French Regionals at Poitou Charentes

4 Glimmervoid

4 Great Furnace

4 Vault of Whispers

4 Ancient Den

4 Ornithopter

4 Frogmite

3 Myr Retriever

4 Myr Enforcer

4 Arcbound Ravager

4 Disciple of the Vault

3 Welding Jar

4 Pyrite Spellbomb

4 Tooth of Chiss-Goria

4 Shrapnel Blast

4 Skullclamp

3 Aether Vial


3 Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer

4 Purge

3 Stabilizer

3 Smother

2 Leonin Abunas

Here’s a note for playtesting Affinity – or maybe this is goldfishing Affinity, I’m not sure. Either way, I don’t think most people play it aggressively enough. While watching others play the deck recently, and playing it myself, I think people are way too conservative. (Keep in mind, though, that I am hardly a great player.)

Anyway, try goldfishing pretending that you are playing against MWC, and that it will drop a Damping Matrix turn 3, Wrath turn 4 and Vengeance turn 5. That is pretty much your worst case, so play around it, but don’t artificially hold back cards or wait – assume your opponent will wait if you slow play him/her. Remember to play aggressively, sacrificing where possible and inflicting the most damage possible. I think you will be surprised how often you can win, even against this much hate.

The New Gauntlet

In playtesting for Regionals and other tournaments, my biggest problem has always been finding decklists for the Gauntlet. Now, with the caveat that I am not a great player, and not connected to pros, I will provide one. I’m just doing this because no one else is – so here’s my take:

Tier One

Ravager Affinity (use Uli Hoene’s above)

Tier 1.5

Goblin Bidding

R/W Slide


U/W Control

Goblin Bidding by Alexander Bernwald, Winner, German Regionals: Rheinland-Pfalz 3 Swamp

4 City of Brass

4 Bloodstained Mire

12 Mountain

4 Goblin Piledriver

4 Goblin Sharpshooter

4 Goblin Sledder

4 Skirk Prospector

4 Siege-Gang Commander

2 Sparksmith

4 Goblin Warchief

3 Gempalm Incinerator

4 Skullclamp

3 Patriarch’s Bidding

1 Echoing Ruin


1 Gempalm Incinerator

1 Patriarch’s Bidding

3 Echoing Ruin

3 Dark Banishing

3 Detonate

4 Electrostatic Bolt

R/W Slide by Kai Kammin, Winner, Niedersachen, German Regionals

9 Plains

8 Mountain

4 Forgotten Cave

4 Secluded Steppe

4 Eternal Dragon

4 Exalted Angel

3 Spark Spray

2 Akroma’s Vengeance

3 Damping Matrix

4 Lightning Rift

3 Starstorm

1 Obliterate

4 Wrath of God

4 Renewed Faith

3 Astral Slide


1 Starstorm

1 Obliterate

4 Shatter

2 Circle of Protection: Red

2 Decree of Justice

3 Wipe Clean

2 Pulse of the Fields

Mono White Control by Isabelle Fonchain, Finalist French Regionals: Poitou Charentes,

2 Blinkmoth Nexus

3 Stalking Stones

2 Temple of the False God

14 Plains

4 Secluded Steppes

4 Solemn Simulacrum (maybe Silver Knight for Goblins and Frogmite?)

4 Eternal Dragon

3 Exalted Angel

2 Story Circle

3 Pulse of the Fields

4 Oblivion Stone

3 Decree of Justice

2 Akroma’s Vengeance

3 Culling Scales (I would replace these with Damping Matrix)

3 Wing Shards

4 Wrath of God


2 Ivory Mask

3 Sacred Ground

2 Akroma’s Vengeance

3 Scrabbling Claws

2 Altar’s Light

3 Karma

U/W Control by Jens Döppes, Winner, German Regionals at Hessen

8 Plains

6 Island

2 Temple of the False God

2 Coastal Tower

4 Cloudpost

4 Flooded Strand

3 Eternal Dragon

4 Mana Leak

4 Thirst for Knowledge

2 Rewind

2 Stifle

4 Wrath of God

3 Akroma’s Vengeance

4 Decree of Justice

2 Renewed Faith

2 Pulse of the Fields

4 Damping Matrix


3 Exalted Angel

1 Stifle

2 Mind’s Eye

2 Mindslaver

3 Purge

4 Circle of Protection: Red

That seems to be the current metagame. I may be missing something, but I don’t know what. Everything else looks Tier 2 at present. Of course, we have a month to US Regionals, so the metagame will evolve some more before then.

As a parting shot, here’s a modified R/G deck that did well in Germany. It’s cute – and if you want some different, try it. Pyroclasm helps smash Goblins and Disciples, Creeping Mold kills problem stuff and lands, and Hunting Wumpus is just funny – but Contested Cliffs and Hunted Wumpus is actually a pretty decent metagame choice. The Wumpus can kill off Exalted Angels, Eternal Dragons, Myr Enforcers and practically anything else that actually gets played.

Beast LD by Karl-Heinz Duin, Finalist, German Regionals at Hessen

4 Wooded Foothills

4 Contested Cliffs

4 Shivan Oasis (City of Brass?)

5 Mountain

6 Forest

4 Birds of Paradise

3 Vine Trellis

4 Hunted Wumpus

4 Ravenous Baloth

4 Molder Slug

4 Viridian Shaman

4 Pyroclasm

4 Stone Rain

4 Creeping Mold

3 Reap and Sow


4 Dwarven Blastminer

4 Naturalize

4 Flashfires

3 Starstorm

I know if I play Hunted Wumpus at Regionals, I will face Darksteel Colossus decks all day – and they will always have one in hand. Or someone playing a random Silvos.

That’s it. I hope this helps.