R Koster's picture
By: R Koster, Rob Koster
May 27 2020 1:12pm

I played in the Hoogland Open last weekend. It was a blast. I had a ton of fun in my matches playing a weird wannabe-Delver Merfolk deck that tried to go one drop, two drop, keep up counterspells. I managed to get to 2 wins with it, which was about two more than I expected.

The format however, is kind of broken and kind of great at the same time.

Why would I say that?

First off, let's look at the deck that won the whole thing, and brutally dominated the field. When I say dominated, I mean DOMINATED. It had an over 70% win rate across the board and a whopping 9 copies in the top 20 while being below 20% of the field. That is an insane conversion rate. If I remember my facts correctly, that's a better win rate than even the mighty CawBlade managed to get back in the day.

While I don't think this deck is better than CawBlade, it's better than I expected when I thought to myself: "Meh, I'll just punt that matchup, it'll be fine." People will have to prepare for it a lot more next time. I'm guessing that people were mostly ready for the Lukka Fires deck and just kind of missed how powerful this deck is.

So what are these decks that I'm talking about?

First off:

What this deck is trying to do is trigger Winota, Joiner of Forces as many times as possible and just deal a boatload of damage. If that fails, just press the attack with everything button a bunch, and you'll usually be fine. While there might be some nuance to it at times, this is the best deck in the format bar none, and you should just be playing it or have an excellent reason why you aren't.

The second best deck in the format is well. A Standard deck. It's Jeskai Lukka Fires.

Yeah, this is just the deck that is currently running Standard with some minor upgrades. It's just good enough, as is in a bigger format. Which is kind of insane and makes me inclined to think something should be done about it in Standard, but I don't know that format well enough to know for sure.

There is one more deck that I would classify as tier 1 in the format. It's this one:

Gruul Aggro is just precisely what you expect from a Gruul Aggro deck in any format. It swings sideways and punches people's faces in the face. Nothing special, but it's terrific.

There are a ton of other decks in the format. They are mostly divided between Blue Tempo decks/Field of the Dead decks and Ramp decks, although there are all sorts of brews floating out there.

Those are the best decks in the format, now moving along to the second part of this article. The part that I am a bit less happy about.

Wizards of the Coast is moving all of their Players Tours events to Arena because of you know, life happening and stuff. We all know it, we all hate it. It is what it is for now.

I love that they are trying to make the tournaments happen. But after watching the Hoogland Open and practicing for it, I fear the absolute worst in client performance.

During my practicing and testing, I could not sideboard with a companion in my deck. It just didn't work. I ended up losing every single post-board game and then abandoned the whole fishing companion and played without one, not because I thought it was better. But, because the client didn't function as it should. I filed a bug report about it but heard nothing back.

After I was eliminated from the Open, I started watching Coverage.  The amount of games on Arena that end in disconnects and technical difficulties is just unreal. How in the world can they call this a release ready product and hold big money tournaments on there? I saw someone lose because their food tokens stopped working. I saw people sideboard and just get their game one deck like had happened with me. It's something about your deck being not compatible with your companion game 2. If that's it, give us a warning or a prompt when it comes up. Coming into game 2 or 3 of your big money game and realizing the client didn't sideboard is horrible. I can see it now. The 100K finals, person A, lost because their sideboard didn't function and didn't warn them, they drew the card that they tried to sideboard out for the one that would have won them the game. Can you scare away players any worse? Do they need a giant flickering sign saying: "Do not trust this client!"

For the love of everything holy. Why is there not a tournament mode for players to host their tournament on? Or at least a spectator mode? When someone first told me there isn't a spectator mode, I thought they were trolling me. It sounded so unreal. But here we are.

The last problem I have is the number of restarts needed to keep Magic Arena functioning. I have a very reasonable computer to work on. I still need to reboot the client at least once every 90 minutes. That is un-real and is a thing that should be solved. Imagine that in any other game? "Well, I've been playing this here shooter for 15 minutes, now the frame drops start happening." People would boycott the absolute living bejeezus out of everything even remotely involved with the game. I honestly don't get why Magic players are just like, "eh, it's fine. I'll reboot every five matches."

To end on a pleasant note, though. The client looks beautiful and is very intuitive. Everything makes a lot of sense, and whoever came up with it did an excellent job. I just wish these things would be solved, and it would probably be the best cardgame client for like a decade to come.

Anyway, enjoy brewing in Historic while you can. There is a tier 1 coming into sight, and it won't last long until the format is solved. Once the pros get involved, playtime is over. We saw it in Pioneer, and it'll happen the same way in Historic. So get in and brew while you still can!