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By: Jbat, Johnathan Batliner
Aug 27 2020 11:00am

 Season 17 of Penny Dreadful has been a wild ride so far with decks of every size, shape, and color rearing their sometimes ugly heads vying for a slice of the metagame pie. Today we are going to take a look at the decks that grabbed the 5 biggest slices, some of their relevant stats, then I will pick one or two to go a little more in depth on and explain some of the play patterns I have encountered as well as some sideboard tech for those decks. 

The top 5 decks by metagame %:

1) High Tide (5.61%, 247 decks)

2) Zombies (3.39%, 149 decks) 

3) Worldgorger Dragon Combo (2.66%, 117 decks)

4) Sultai Control (2.64%, 116 decks)

5) Green Cloudpost (2.64%, 116 decks) 

As you can clearly see there is a very close competition, besides High Tide clearly topping the heap and Zombies which is prevalent almost every season of Penny Dreadful, the decks are separated by 1 or 2 decks and 6th and 7th aren't far behind either. All of these are viable choices for a competitive decklist in this format. What is maybe not so obvious at first glance is the health of this format being relatively good with the top 5 having a healthy mix of archetypes High Tide and Worldgorger Dragon representing the combo portion of the meta, Zombies holding down the aggro slot, Sultai Control being the control deck, and Green Cloudpost being the best ramp deck available. So no matter what your favorite flavor of magic pie happens to be Penny Dreadful season 17 has a tier 1 competitive deck that can satisfy your taste buds. 

So let's dig in: 

1) High Tide

I talked a lot about High Tide in my last article so if you are interested in either playing this deck or learning how to beat it I would highly recommend reading that. Because of that I will keep this section brief as to not repeat old information and instead focus on the relevant statistics. In case you don't know the goal of High Tide is to cast a series of spells that tend to untap your lands generating a large amount of mana and a high storm count finishing off the game by casting either Brain Freeze or Braingeyser milling your opponent out. 

League Stats in the Last Week

  Wins Loses Games Played  Win Percentage
High Tide 131 49 180 0.73

Tournament Stats in the Last Week

  Wins Loses Games Played Win % Top 8 Top 1
High Tide 11 4 15 0.73 2  


High Tide clearly maintains consistent win rate of 73% although in the past week had less tournament appearances perhaps because everyone knows the evil that it is and is packing the sideboard hate to beat it, or maybe the High Tide players have gotten bored of the deck and moved on to other decks. However in the hands of an experienced pilot High Tide can certainly top 8. 

2) Zombies

Zombies is a relatively straightforward aggro deck playing all of the cheap mono black zombies that it can get it's hands on from the one drop Diregraf Ghoul and Sarcomancy followed up by the most tribal lords in the format such as Lord of the Undead, Death Baron, Cemetery Reaper, and Liliana's Mastery to pump the team you have assembled. All of which leads to the big finish of dropping Gray Merchant of Asphodel to close out the game. Zombies has been a staple of Penny Dreadful for many seasons now and doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon so if you are new to the format I would highly recommend trying it out as it requires very few changes from season to season meaning you'll almost always have a competitive deck that is legal in the format. Let's look at at the stats.

League Stats in the Last Week

  Wins Loses Games Played Win Percentage
Zombies 45 21 66 0.68

Tournament Stats in the Last Week

  Wins Loses Games Played Win % Top 8 Top 1
Zombies 37 19 56 0.66 8 1

 Zombies has by far had the most Tournament appearances of all of the top 5 decks although not as many league runs as High Tide. Also managing to maintain a 67% win rate is nothing to scoff at. Pulling through with 8 top 8's is also a solid stat and managing to win one tournament this week. If you choose to play zombies it definitely pays to be prepared for the hate cards that will be on your opponents sideboard, and if you aren't playing zombies you best be prepared to face off against it as it appears to be a staple of recent and past tournaments and leagues. 

3) Worldgorger

The Worldgorger Dragon deck is a combo deck with the backup plan of smashing face with dragons and that never seems like a bad idea. Unfortunately the past week didn't have as many results as I would have liked to see for this data analysis with no decks showing in the tournament top 8's and less league runs than the other decks might mean this deck is heading downward in popularity. Don't despair if this is your flavor as that can often be the best time to bring a deck to a tournament. You can never underestimate the element of surprise not to mention that many players cut sideboard cards intended to hate out certain decks the less they see of it. 

League Stats in the Last Week

  Wins Loses Games Played Win Percentage
WorldGorger 12 13 25 0.48

4) Sultai Control 

Sultai Cotrol, also known as Sultai Teachings named for the card Mystical Teachings, is a control deck that is trying to land a Wilderness Reclamation in order to generate enough mana to freely cast Mystical Teachings and grab whatever spell may be needed in any particular scenario. Like many control decks this is a list full of one ofs and some niche cards. Similar to Worldgorger this deck has less tournament results than I would have liked to see. That being said I trust that in the right hands this is a powerhouse of a deck with an answer to almost any situation that an opposing deck could present. 

League Stats in the Last Week 

  Wins Loses Games Played Win Percentage
Sultai Teachings 21 15 36 0.58

5) Green Cloudpost

Green Cloudpost is the premier ramp deck of the format specializing in colorless threats such as Distended Mindbender, Endbringer, and Myr Battlesphere. All of which can land relatively early in the game thanks to the ramp offered by Cloudpost and Glimmerpost and due to the use of Sylvan Scrying and Hour of Promise you almost always find your posts. The way this deck plays reminds me a little bit of modern Tron so if that is your flavor I do believe that you would enjoy this deck. Let's check the stats. 

League Stats in the Last Week 

  Wins Loses Games Played Win Percentage
Greenpost 35 34 69 0.51

Tournament Stats in the Last Week 

  Wins Loses Games Played Win % Top 8 Top 1
Greenpost 11 5 16 0.69 2 1

These stats are all from a somewhat small sample size but with two top 8's and a tournament victory it's safe to say this deck performs. As far as the lower win % in the league I believe that can be attributed to player skill level as I saw a lot of 0-1 or 0-3 drop games from players that don't usually play this deck, but those who know it well enough to bring it to a tournament seem to always finish well with it. 

Play Experience

After seeing there were less results in the past week for the Sultai Control deck and the Worldgorger deck I decided to give them a try and share my results in hopes of filling in some of the gaps in data we have, also they happen to be the two that appeal to me the most out of the decks we see here. That being said I am not exactly a pro tour level magic player and I'm sure a more or less experienced player would have different results with the same lists so keep that in mind as we dive into the stats. 

Sultai Control

The first deck I tried out was the Sultai Control deck and is it ever right up my alley seeing as it is loaded with instant speed interaction card advantage and all of the elements that you would expect from a good control deck. Below is the list that I played:



The general plan of this deck is to land Wilderness Reclamation as early as possible in order to double your mana. This will feel familiar to anyone who has recently played the standard format. The key difference here, besides the colors, is our access to Mystical Teachings allowing us to search our deck for whatever instant speed spell or card with flash that we may need in the moment. Thanks to our additional mana from Wilderness Reclamation the flashback cost of Mystical Teachings is easily attainable. Trust me the ability to tutor 8 or more times a game is undeniably powerful. Some of our commonly searched for cards include Consume the Meek when we are facing an aggro deck, Neutralize or Power Sink when we are facing a must counter spell, or Lochmere Serpent when it's time to close out a game with combat damage. Let's see how I did playing this deck. 


V.S Game Wins Game Losses Match Wins Match Losses Games Played Win %
Mono White 1 4 0 2 2 0
Taking Turns 0 2 0 1 1 0
Zombies 2 1 1 0 1 1
Superfirends 0 2 0 1 1 0
Teachings w/ White 4 1 2 0 2 1
Maze's End 2 0 1 0 1 1
Soulflayer 2 0 1 0 1 1
Sultai Midrange 1 2 0 1 1 0
All 12 12 5 5 10 0.5


Considering a still small sample size I'm not sure any info we gather from this will be of much value especially considering I have a dead even record however as I played more games and became more farmiliar with this deck my winrate did increase and I suspect that would be the case for anyone reading this. That being said our consistently worst matchup was against the mono white aggro deck so it seems that would be the deck sideboard advice may be the most valuable for. 


Our deck has medium to strong matchups in the maindeck against most decks we will encounter thanks to Mystical Teachings giving us instant speed tutoring for any answers but the mono white aggresive decks still throw a wrench into that paln by simply being too fast for us. The best response to this is to side out some of our high CMC cards for earlier interaction and the anti-anthem effects. I have found myself bringing in Moment of Craving and Bile Blight coupled with the Erebos's Intervention already in our deck they have proven relatively effective at not only removing creatures but also gaining us some life to make up for the early hits we inevitably take in this type of matchup. 

Unfortuantely this can't be our only reaction in this scenario because the mono white aggro deck has a shocking number of creatures that have protection from black so our single target removal is not alwasy effective against them. The most efficient way I found to work around this has been the -1/-1 anthems of Kaervek, the Spiteful and Night of Souls' Betrayal which will often outright destroy the mass of 2/1 creatures they run and maim the surviving creatures buying us time to find a board wipe like Consume the Meek or to get a Wilderness Reclamation up and running. 


The Worldgorger Dragon Deck is one of the most all in combo decks this season that isn't High Tide. It also doesn't have as much of a target painted on it's back so that alone makes it worth consideration. 


The Worldgorger Dragon deck is usually looking to win in two different ways. The first of those is by having either Piranha Marsh or Sunscorched Desert in play while having a Worldgorger Dragon in your graveyard. Step two in the combo is to cast Animate Dead returning Worldgorger Dragon to play which will exile all other permanents you control inculding Animate Dead which will force Worldgorger Dragon back to the graveyard returning all your permanents to play creating an ifinite loop where Piranha Marsh or Sunscorched Desert or both will drain your opponents life total on the spot. This combo may sound confusing but you only need to see it play out once to understand how it works and if your opponent doesn't concede it is alot of clicks on MTGO but it is undoubtedly powerful. 

The second path to victory this deck offers is via Dragonstorm. This method requires casting several rituals to generate 9 mana as early as possible and casting Dragonstorm with 3 or 4 storm triggers. We have three different rituals in the deck Dark Ritual, Seething Song, and Irencrag Feat. usually you need any three rituals in hand to make Dragonstorm a possible way to victory. Once you have cast Dragonstorm with 3 storm triggers simply search out all 4 of the Bogardan Hellkite and target your opponent with all 4 enter the battlefield triggers for 20 damage. However sometimes you are stuck with one or more Bogardan Hellkite in your hand or graveyard in this case you search up as many of the Bogardan Hellkites as possible and with the last copy of Dragonstorm grab a Worldgorger Dragon which will exile all of the Bogardan Hellkites and present a 7/7 flying trample lethal threat that if killed or exiled will return the Bogardan Hellkites to the battlefield. This is a very difficult situation for your opponent to find a way out of. Again this method may sound difficult to grasp just by reading but believe me once you see it work you'll understand, just be sure to get your ritual math right!




Sideboarding for this deck is difficult because there aren't a whole lot of cards that we can afford to cut without removing our combo or at the very least damaging our likelyhood of getting the pieces for it. The one change I have found myself consistently making is against control decks. When playing against a deck with counterspells the level one sideboard move is to bring in the Vexing Shusher a calssic anti control card. The next level move however is to cut the Cathartic Reunions because even though it lowers our chance of getting a Worldgorger into the graveyard it feels so bad to discard two cards and then just have the spell countered drawing nothing. Generally getting 3 for 1'ed is not a good way to win game of Magic. Form of the Dragon is a card I found myself bringing in against the aggresive mono white decks that seem to be everywhere in this format lately. Along with Crux of Fate and Sweltering Suns this at least gives us a chance to combat their mass of creatures before they beat us into dust. Slaughter Games and Duress are simply anti High Tide cards that are obligatory inclusions in any Penny Dreadful deck that can run them this season. 

VS Game Wins Game Losses Match Wins Match Losses Games Played Win %
Mono Blue Tempo 1 2 0 1 3 0.33
Draw 2 Drakes 2 1 1 0 3 0.66
Mono White Aggro 0 2 0 1 2 0
Infect 0 2 0 1 2 0
Discard 0 2 0 1 2 0
Mono Black Heroic 2 0 1 0 2 1
Gates 2 0 1 0 2 1
Jund 2 0 1 0 2 1
Azorious Control 1 2 0 1 3 0.33
Wvae Blink 1 2 0 1 3 0.33
Total 11 13 4 6 24 0.46


It seems as if any of the top 5 decks are a viable choice for competitive play and it's more of a matter of picking your flavor. I see good interactions in all of these decks but I think my favorite is the Sultai Control deck. Which deck is your favorite? Let me know in the comments or feel free to challenge me to some matches on MTGO I'm BatMana for those who didn't know. As always let me know if there are any decks or topics you would like to see me cover in the future and thanks for reading. 


John Batliner aka BatMana