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By: jamuraa, Michael Janssen
Dec 07 2007 2:22pm
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Hello, I'm Jamuraa and I have been sad the last few weeks. You see, normally I watch quite a few replays on Magic Online. Unfortunately, Replays were turned off for the Lorwyn release on MTGO, and I couldn't watch any of the games that I love to watch. It wasn't so bad until the release events stopped happening, and the regular Premier Events started up again. I was missing constructed action that I wanted to see! Luckily, the powers that be over at Wizards decided that the server could start taking the beating that is replays again, and my faith has been redeemed.

Why do I like watching the replays? Mostly it is because I'm interested in what people are playing. Sun Tzu repeated the saying "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles." The first step in knowing the enemy in Magic is knowing what deck the enemy is playing. By watching games you can begin to recognize the archetypes which are present in the meta-game, and you can plan your deck and your sideboard better for those matchups.

Unfortunately for you, MTGO is a pretty busy place. It's open 24/7 and Premier Events are firing almost every hour. You can't possibly keep up with them all. In the past, the official site had an article titled "Online Tech" which covered the standard metagame every week. Well you're in luck today - I've watched all the games in every Standard PE Top eight this week, and I'm here to present you with them. On to the statistics!

Statistics for Standard PEs: 11/29/2007 to 12/04/2007

There were a total of tweleve Standard PEs this week, giving us 96 Top eight spots. Every Standard PE from the downtime on Wednesday November 29 until Tuesday December 4 is here, with the exception of the 11pm CST Standard PE, which will be included in next week's statistics due to it's late start time.

Winner - Runner-up - Semifinals - Quarterfinals

Colors Deck Name Placings Percentage
Big Mana 19%
Rock 17%
Elves! 9%
Mannequin 8%
Fairy Stompy 6%
Tokens 5%
Pickled Goyf 4%
Sonic Boom 4%
Kithkin 3%
Skred Red 3%
Doran Aggro 2%
/ Pickles 2%
Mannequin Blink 2%
Merfolk 2%
  Reanimator 2%
Snow White 1%
Faeries 1%
????? 1%
Red Deck Wins 1%
Snow Big Mana 1%
????? 1%
Mono-Green Aggro 1%
?? Dropped/Timed Out 2%

Each dot in the above table represents one spot in the top 8 of a single PE. There are 96 dots total this week, so the percentages are very close to the actual amount of PE slots which are taken by a particular deck. This week the dominant deck was the Red/Green Big Mana section, which will be examined later in the article. I'll describe the other archetypes which I saw at the events briefly - some of these decks will be covered in the coming weeks, but they deserve some explanation here, so here are some short descriptions:

  • Elves! is the prototypical Green/Black deck whose goal is to generate tokens, remove enemies, and plow over the opponent. It's a fairly straightforward build most times. Most of the Elves! decks also run Tarmogoyf.

  • Rock decks are slightly more complex than Elves. They are also in the same colors as the previous deck, and have a bit of overlap usually in their cards. Rock tends to play more black removal spells, and also plays a number of efficient green beaters which you would not see in a typical Elves build. Because these two decks are so similar, some of the shorter matches might have misclassified them. It would not be remiss to say that the Black/Green decks are actually overflowing the events right now - Rock and Elves considered together are occupying more than a quarter of the total top 8 spots.

  • Mannequin works by abusing comes-into-play abilities with cards like Mulldrifter, Shriekmaw, and Riftwing Cloudskate in order to keep the board clean and draw cards. They further exploit these abilities by running the deck's namesake Makeshift Mannequin, working at instant speed usually at the end of the opponent's turn so that the fragile creature can go straight into the red zone for some damage. Mannequin Blink is similar to Mannequin, but also runs Momentary Blink with sufficient white mana sources in order to further abuse comes-into-play abilities, and make the creatures reanimated with Makeshift Mannequin into real boys.

  • Faerie Stompy decks are the Blue/Green variant of Faerie deck which exist in the metagame today. By using the green Faeries like (Green Faerie with Prot Blue) which existed pre-lorwyn, they can also bring in other good green cards like Garruk Wildspeaker and Birds of Paradise for mana acceleration and some quite large beaters (the "Stompy"). These decks, while in green, don't usually run Tarmogoyf, as they have a large set of 2-mana drops already.

  • Tokens is another Red/Green deck. It's main focus is getting enough tokens on the board to either swarm the enemy with creatures, or produce enough fodder to get Greater Gargadon onto the board. Once the big beast is suspended, removal just brings it a turn closer to beating.

  • Pickles is the deck that keeps on coming around. The Blue/White variant won Grand Prix: Krakow for Paul Cheon, so it got a lot of attention. It's main goal is to block it's opponent with countermagic long enough to get a Brine Elemental and Vesuvan Shapeshifter on the board at the same time, which will keep the opponent tapped out forever. A quite different build which uses the same lock pieces is fairly popular: Pickled Goyf uses a green compliment color to the blue lock for mana acceleration and more importantly the efficient Tarmogoyf, which can be further copied by the Vesuvan Shapeshifter - essentially running 8 in a deck.

  • Sonic Boom took the number 2 spot at Krakow, and was designed by Guillame Wafo-Tapa, the same designer of the previous dominant control deck Dralnu du Louvre. Sonic Boom runs a truly insane amount of counters - usually over 20 - in order to completely lock down an opponent. The deck's namesake, Guile, is also a card advantage king and an evasive beater. It has recently seen another resurgence after Terry Soh recently presented a variation which runs the Snow lands/Scrying Sheets drawing engine.

  • Kithkin is another linear deck concept coming straight from Lorwyn. It is essentially straight white weenie beatdown, running Militia's Pride and Wizened Cenn, as well as a number of other speedy creatures. It's mana curve is super-low, and I hear it can goldfish on turn 4.

  • Skred Red was presented to the community at large by Bill Stark. Wholly half of the deck is made up of Snow permanents, meaning that the drawing from Scrying Sheets becomes a pretty big factor, as well as basically turning Skred into "kill target creature". Some versions of the deck run Stuffy Doll in order to make that "target opponent".

  • Doran Aggro focuses around Doran, the Siege Tower, running creatures that block and will beat down with the combat changer in play.

  • Merfolk and Faeries (the Blue/Black Variety) are both pretty straightforward Tribal decks.

  • Reanimator uses card selection spells like Merfolk Looter and reanimation spells - usually Dread Return, sometimes with Makeshift Mannequin as well - place in the graveyard big threats like Akroma, Angel of Wrath and bring them into play.

  • Red Deck Wins is a fairly pure red burn deck. It runs four Incinerate as well as four Shock.

Hopefully that explains most of the decks in the list to a reasonable extent.  On to the feature decks!

Mode of the Week: Big Mana / Mana Ramp

This week's dominant deck will also start off the Mode of the Week section of the analysis. In statistics, the Mode is the most popular element in a population - fitting for this week's deck. I hope to look at a different popular deck each week and break down the general gameplan and strategy of each of them. There are a lot of archetypes in the current standard, so there is sure to be a bunch of fodder for this section. Big Mana (also called Mana Ramp) is the focus this week. Why don't we start off with a typical Big Mana Decklist?

Lands
5 Forest
3 Grove of the Burnwillows
4 Karplusan Forest
5 Mountain
4 Treetop Village
1 Urza's Factory
1 Pendelhaven
Creatures
2 Bogardan Hellkite
4 Siege-Gang Commander
3 Tarmogoyf
4 Wall of Roots
1 Cloudthresher
Other Spells 
3 Garruk Wildspeaker
4 Fertile Ground
4 Harmonize
3 Incinerate
3 Molten Disaster
4 Search for Tomorrow
2 Loxodon Warhammer
Sideboard 
3 Krosan Grip
4 Mwonvuli Acid-Moss
4 Pyroclasm
4 Eyes of the Wisent
Bogardan Hellkite

The main strategy of this deck is aggro. It should really appeal to Johnny, because it's main goal is to power up to eight mana so that it can cast Bogardan Hellkite and swing. It ramps up to this truly rediculous amount of mana through the acceleration of Wall of Roots and Fertile Ground along with some help from Garruk Wildspeaker. Harmonize helps keep the hand full of creatures and spells to cast. Cloudthresher compliments the beat package, and Siege-Gang Commander tosses goblins over the enemy in the unlikely case of a stalled board. Tarmogoyf also ends up being a huge beast in the late game as well as a respectable 3/4 or 4/5 in the midgame. As a bonus, even the lands get in on the action with Treetop Village trampling over weenie opponents.

This sideboard is tailored to fight against Blue in general with Eyes of the Wisent, one of the more powerful color hosers to come out of R&D in the last few years. Weenie-ish decks like Elves, Tokens, and Kitkin end up fearing the Pyroclasm, and Krosan Grip is just generally good for any deck playing green as it hits a wide range of potential limiters or opposing adgantages such as Loxodon Warhammer or Teferi's Moat.

Outlier of the Week: Snow White/Blue

In statistics, outliers are points that you throw out because they are not worth considering - they must be created by noise because they are so far away from the rest of the pack that they are not even worth considering. In Magic, these same outliers could be considered as undiscovered gems or rogue decks which could exist in the metagame, but are quite underrepresented. In the Outlier of the Week section, I will attempt to present the deck that got there but stands alone in the field as the sold representative of the archetype. Many times these decks will need to be reconstructed by myself because the pilot of the deck in the PE wasn't around to share. This deck is one such deck.

Snow White/Blue kotarosato04
Lands
10 Snow-Covered Plains
8 Snow-Covered Island
2 Scrying Sheets
4 Boreal Shelf
Creatures 
4 Martyr of Sands
3 Mulldrifter
4 Phyrexian Ironfoot
Other Spells 
4 Wrath of God
3 Teferi's Moat
2 Sacred Mesa
4 Oblivion Ring
4 Foresee
4 Condemn
4 Coldsteel Heart
Teferi

korarosato04 piloted this deck to victory in the event at 4pm CST on December 1st. This deck is a snow control deck which is similar to the popular Snow White deck of the previous Standard. It's main goal is to kill creatures once they hit the board. It accomplishes this with a full compliment of the original sweeper, Wrath of God. Other troublesome creatures such as the ones used by Mannequin are dealt with by placing them as far as possible without removing them from the game - on the bottom of the library with Condemn. Further huge board stalls are evident from the compliment of Teferi's Moat which is run mainboard. Getting two of these on the board can effectively shut down most aggro decks until they draw their fliers. The main win condition is Sacred Mesa's pegasus tokens, which further help defend the player of this deck from those pesky fliers which aren't stopped by the moat. The popular Snow card drawing engine in Scrying Sheets and lots of Snow permanents is used in this deck to speed up the deck in order to find the stalls and win conditions that are needed. I don't have a sideboard for this deck unfortunately as I had to reconstruct it from gameplay (it also may be quite untuned and a bit off - if you know a correct build for the deck, PM me in game).

Well, that's it for the first week of Standard Deviations. Will next week bring more of the same, or a shift in meta? You'll have to find out next Wednesday!

0 Comments

Deck Idea by Devon (Unregistered) 209.209.140.19 (not verified) at Sun, 01/06/2008 - 09:37
Devon (Unregistered) 209.209.140.19's picture

So I recently I was playing my new take on mono black aggro (mono snow aggro) and I was matched up against Sonic Boom. No big deal. I've seen the deck a million times, but I've noticed that b/c of aggro Sonic Boom drops a lot of its counters early and has a troublesome time getting teferi and guile down. With this knowledge I decided to build my own version of Sonic Boom in UG (putting things in like Garruk, Fertile Ground, Mystic Snake, Birds of Paradise, and Yavimaya Coasts). I've only been play testing this deck for the past 3 hours and I've only played against Doran Aggro, Skred Red, Reanimator, and Mannequin but I've won all of those matches (I also keep Trickbind in SB for Storm). But b/c I am so new at deck building I wanted a neutral party opinion on my build of this deck.

Deck Idea by Devon (Unregistered) 209.209.140.19 (not verified) at Sun, 01/06/2008 - 09:37
Devon (Unregistered) 209.209.140.19's picture

So I recently I was playing my new take on mono black aggro (mono snow aggro) and I was matched up against Sonic Boom. No big deal. I've seen the deck a million times, but I've noticed that b/c of aggro Sonic Boom drops a lot of its counters early and has a troublesome time getting teferi and guile down. With this knowledge I decided to build my own version of Sonic Boom in UG (putting things in like Garruk, Fertile Ground, Mystic Snake, Birds of Paradise, and Yavimaya Coasts). I've only been play testing this deck for the past 3 hours and I've only played against Doran Aggro, Skred Red, Reanimator, and Mannequin but I've won all of those matches (I also keep Trickbind in SB for Storm). But b/c I am so new at deck building I wanted a neutral party opinion on my build of this deck.

this is the line by walkerdog at Mon, 12/10/2007 - 02:14
walkerdog's picture

Mannequin Blink is similar to Mannequin, but also runs Momentary Blink with sufficient white mana sources in order to further abuse comes-into-play abilities, and make the creatures reanimated with Makeshift Mannequin into real boys.

Blink works fine to re-use the abilities, or just evoke and get double-usage of the 187s, but not on the Manni-men.  That's what I was referring to.

Re: Makeshift Mannequin/blink by walkerdog at Sat, 12/08/2007 - 05:56
walkerdog's picture

Doesn't blink kill your own mannequined guys? 

by JXClaytor at Sat, 12/08/2007 - 06:02
JXClaytor's picture

It does indeed kill your makeshifted men, but if you are blinking them you are doing it wrong!  

by jamuraa at Sat, 12/08/2007 - 02:26
jamuraa's picture

Worlds will definitely shake everything up, and the Spinerock Knoll Mono Red Storm is getting a lot of publicity now.   I'm tracking meta for next week and it has made some showings already.  Glad you like the article!

Great Article by MechtaK (Unregistered) 70.248.23.154 (not verified) at Sat, 12/08/2007 - 02:51
MechtaK (Unregistered) 70.248.23.154's picture

I really enjoyed reading this.  Great work!

by Shivan Bird at Fri, 12/07/2007 - 20:08
Shivan Bird's picture

Nice job. Do you know anyone who does this for extended?

Article Response by kaityson36 (Unregistered) 69.63.49.240 (not verified) at Fri, 12/07/2007 - 21:52
kaityson36 (Unregistered) 69.63.49.240's picture

Great article. What deck do you think is the best so far or the most consistant as it looks like most of the decks are close in placings. Mono Red Storm has been getting alot of hype from worlds so maybe that deck will appear alot in the meta. Just have to wait till next week!