Breaking Down The Metagame: Type II

I love Type II. Um, I guess everyone knows that. I’d like to thank everyone who has signed my petition for a Type II Pro Tour – the response has been better than I imagined. One last time, if you haven’t signed it, please do so. It should be lying around starcityccg.com for a little while. We’re also going to send it out to some other websites, just in case some people (gasp!) don’t read this site. 🙂

Star City sponsors a 1000$ Type II event about once a month. It’s probably the coolest tournament you can hope for: a big prize, relaxed atmosphere and timely conclusion. My second favorite part is that we get six rounds of swiss and a top eight done before the Simpsons comes on.

How good is that?

Of course, my favorite part is watching the decks in action. Man, I tell you, as frustrating as it can be to have to sit there while your opponent spends twenty minutes Bargaining into enough Soul Feasts to make your mother cry, it sure is a rush to watch it from the outside. And, Type II is pretty diverse right now. Here’s the deck breakdown from the last 1000$ tournament:

Top 8:

Bargain, Lucas Hager (1st)

Sneak Attack, Joseph Kinnarney (2nd)

Hermit/Opposition, Jeff Weis (T4)
Mono-blue, Paul Putney (T4)

Negatron, Bryan Schofield (T8)
Plaguelord/Hermit, Henry Brown (T8)
White Weenie, Patrick Touart (T8)
Black Control, Ray Coffey (T8)

In the top eight, we have some awesome pairings. All the matches were a beatdown deck (Ray Coffey’s Black Control was geared towards a much more aggressive game than typical Black Control) against combo/control. In each match, the beatdown deck lost out to one of the other strategies. Black shows up in four of the top eight decks, though – and I think it could have shown up in more, honestly.

Black is, by far, the strongest color in Type II right now. It has cheap hand destruction, cheap search, free creature removal, a couple of Yawgmoth’s Something or Others and limited land destruction/artifact kill, which is just a nightmare. Also, it has PERISH. PERISH – thanks for playing, green mage!

And just when green was getting good.

The semis were really cool – kind of reminded me of the first Extended season, where I watched a Top 4 of Pebbles v. Pox and Pebbles v. Pox, with a Pox and a Pebbles winning. Except, this time, both the combo decks won. There was control against combo in each of the two matchups and, both times, control just ran out of gas against the combo. and subsequently got smashed. They were both in, what looked like, favorable matchups for control. Opposition looks pretty good against Sneak Attack (duh. I tap your Colossus, hyuck, hyuck) and blue with Thwart/Misdirection is solid against Bargain. Again, the "whatever dude" aspect of combo shows up and beats through two bad matches.

Well, Bargain took the day, beating Sneak in the finals. No one really expected Sneak, since Bargain is so powerful. But it did remarkably well, as most of the Bargain hosers do nothing against Sneak. Thing is, Bargain is so easily the deck to beat that, even with most people coming prepared, it still won. People don’t playtest the matchup, either, since it’s so boring. But you have to learn how to beat Bargain to, well, beat Bargain. I watched Lucas beat people with hands that should have beaten him.

In game two, I watched a key example of how to play around the match – and beat your opponent based on nothing but his play style. I sat on the Sneak Attack side because, for my life, I cannot win with that deck. Joseph draws the perfect hand, Grim Monolith, Sneak Attack, four lands and a Serra’s Avatar. He plays a Mountain. Lucas plays a Swamp. Joe plays land/Monolith. Lucas Tutors. Next turn, Lucas Duresses the Sneak Attack and goes off a turn later, with Joe all-but helpless.

Lucas read it off of his opponent’s face. You got’sta play poker with your combo decks.

Play like this:

"You got the combo?"
[shrug] "We’ll see."

Not like this:

"Draw six, draw seven. HOT DOG!"

If Joe hadn’t smiled, or whatever, he totally would have dropped a turn three Avatar while Lucas was digging for miscellaneous combo parts.

No one can take twenty.

That was a 400$ smile. Hope it was worth it.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what was played:

2 Enchantress:

One was Stroke-you-out style, with Palinchron and all. This is one of my favorite decks, but it tends to be a turn or two too slow for Bargain. The other was the Ancestral Mask in-your-face version, with a few questionable choices.

2 Hermit/Opposition:

One made the Top 4 – the other did not. Curiously, both played 4x Thran Quarry. That seems like you’re asking for it to me, especially with PERISH in the card mix. I mean, I go "Quarry, Bird." They go, "Swamp, Vendetta, Chump" or "Mountain, Shock, Chump."

Quarry, Bird is just like conceding against red or black.

3 Bargain:

Lucas’ won the whole thing. The other two didn’t do as well, due to questionable choices in the decklist and/or tournament play. Also of note, one of the rogue decks took out two of the Bargains in the swiss rounds, not playing the third which, incidentally, belonged to Lucas. Had he run into the rogue deck, he might not have made Top 8! As for the Renounce v. Exhume question. one ran Exhume, one ran Renounce, one ran Exhume with one Renounce. Exhume/1x Renounce won.

4 Mono-blue:

These ranged from a really solid accelerated blue deck to some crazy Bribery-tech (which made Top 8!). High tech of the day: Telepathy. If the Briberies had been Desertions, I’d have been very impressed. Bribery is just no good, folks!

5 Stampy:

Most people playing green are smart enough to be packing the amazing Vine Dryad, which is just too incredible in the mirror match. Some Titania’s Chosen are shuffling around in the mix – another good choice, considering the number of green decks present. A critical flaw in five of these decks is the inclusion of 6-8 booster/finishers (Giant Growth, Might of Oaks), when the same role can be filled with the incredible Invigorate. Invigorate is so flexible, Stampy shouldn’t leave home without it. Still, zero Top 8 finishes. PERISH is really, really good.

1 Green Control: 2 black control:

One in the Top 8, one not. Neither version ran Wumpus – the Top 8 ran Skittering Horror over Plaguelord. Both decks took a fundamentally different approach – one of total disruption, reminiscent of older Pox strategies, and one of ultra-discard, with Duress, Stupor and Unmask. Black has a lot of tools to make most anything work.

2 Negatron:

This deck is a beast in non-red environments. With all the red around, I’d shy away from Negator. One of these also made Top 8. Coolest Sideboard card: Distorting Lens. How many times have you wanted to Snuff Out that Negator?

2 Sneak Attack:

One of these was a utility Sneak, and the other made the Finals. The all-out Sneak Attack is a vicious combo deck that is very difficult to beat, with everyone prepping for Bargain matchups. Coolest Sideboard card: Forbidden Crypt. How cool is that? You can’t counter Sneak and Rector sixteen times, can you? Well, yeah, you can. but who plays Forbidden Crypt, anyway?

3 White Weenie:

Rebels were definitely the way to go. With one of them making the Top 8 (top seed, too), Rebels are a definite threat, and white has a great set of sideboard options against the tougher decks. The most interesting choice: Arrest. Two of the decks were playing them. good call.

6 Ponza/Wildfire:

With a good set of players, I’d have thought this deck would go farther. The six decks were all unique takes, from Raze to Balduvian Hordes to a super-tweaked out artifact version using Crumbling Sanctuary and Ring of Gix. The sideboards seemed weak for this archetype. and no one really came prepared to take out Bargain. Tough break for a solid deck.

1 G/B Hermit/Plaguelord:

This deck has done very well on E-League, and the one played make Top 8. Very clever, very solid. This deck has a nice mix designed to give trouble to most decks.

3 Rogue:

Well, none of them made Top 8, though one did have some high tech anti-Bargain: Carrion Beetles.

The trends in Type II can be gathered from these results very easily. Green is on a backslide, even though it is powerful, thanks to PERISH and red decks. Combo tends to take red to school, and control loses the inevitable combo matchups. Yep, that’s how it’s looking, until we get rid of Urza’s Nightmare Block.

I swear. They banned, what, five cards from the block? Still, even after that, there are three very playable combo decks. Someone at R&D needs to take his foot off the gas. That someone’s name may or may not be Mark Rosewater.

Take care.

Omeed Dariani
odariani@aol.com
eic, www.starcitygames.com
Contributing Editor, Scrye Magazine