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By: jamuraa, Marie Janssen
Jun 08 2008 6:05pm
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Well, things are going okay around here, with school work still being quite the heavy load, although that is to be expected at this time of year. The other jobs that I have are at least still consistently full of work. Lately I have been playing a bit less Magic, although one weekend was thrilling as I watched my first live top 8 in a while, and followed the coverage throughout the three days of Pro Tour Hollywood. Now that things are going to get a little less crazy soon, I might be able to start reading some of my extensive blogs and stuff in order to keep myself versed in the current happenings.

But this week, I have happy news -- I was amazed in the last week to discover that the powers that be had brought me my wish come true. That's right, Premier Events are back on Magic Online, and they're back with a... reduced population. I was thrilled to actually see that they were around on last Thursday, and they were scheduled for a whole weekend of events including some of the events that I typically cover here. Yes, that means that our metagame analysis is back here on Standard Deviations. However, let's talk about the events first.

The first thing that I noticed (and checked for) when the events came back was the replays. As discussed before, I'm pretty much a replay junkie. I've watched the last 4-5 Pro Tours even though I wasn't interested in some of them just because I am one of the weird people who likes to watch people play Magic. I'm actually somewhat surprised that more people don't, because they still show things like Texas Hold'em on the Ocho or something, right? Magic is a lot more exciting, because you don't know what's coming up, and there is a lot more skill involved sometimes. But I can handle the replays not being up, I've done it before, and it only requires me being nice to a few of the tournament winners and high-placers in order to get some of the information that I would normally get by watching the cards move. I have been doing that and while it's a little harder on V3 due to it's horrible interface, I've met a bunch of interesting people who are quite nice. I'll be acknowledging the people that help me out in each article from now until the replays get fixed.. please, WotC, tell me the replays will get fixed.

The second thing that I noticed was different was the records. See, there's a big change that happened to the top records - they were coming down upon even divisions of three points every time. I found this strange, because as I discussed in my Swiss Math articles, normally if you spend the early rounds of a tournament winning all of your rounds and you only have a couple of rounds left, you should draw the remaining rounds with your opponents because you will be guaranteed into the top 8. This wasn't happening not because they haven't read my wonderful prose about the subject, but because Intentional Draws are currently not enabled for use by the program. Whether this is a oversight or deliberate is a subject which is under much debate over at the Gleemax boards. I currently come down on the side of the people who want to bring back the Intentional Draw system, and it is only because the paper Magic tournaments also have a Intentional Draw system - if somehow the rules of professional magic have changed, then it would be fine to remove them, but I would like Magic Online and Magic Pants to be as similar as possible. However, I'm doing a short study and experiments on the Intentional Draw and will be presenting results in a couple days which may change my mind on this issue.

The third thing, and last thing that I will rant about in this triumphant return to metagame analysis before I get to the sweet, sweet metagame which finally exists online again, was that the population of the events being fired is much lower than we have seen before. I write on Standard, and I thank my lucky stars that I'm not writing on some other format because I don't think I would have any events to cover. I haven't seen any event which wasn't Standard or a sealed format get the required 24 players in order to actually have a tournament start up, and many of the Standard tournaments that are starting are pretty small, with the majority of the tournaments being 5 rounds, and some only having the bare minimum amount of entrants in order to play. This wasn't happening on v2.5 people, even in the lull before the Morningtide release online which was delayed by a bit, we still had events firing regularly for Extended and Block. Personally I don't like to speculate on the reason for this happening, but I hope that the population raises again soon, because people are gonna start testing for the Block PTQ season and I'd like to get in on some of that action online. Maybe it's just that people don't know that the Premier Events are back and working on the program again.

Statistics for Standard PEs: 5/20/2008 to 6/03/2008

This week we have a special treat: one and a half weeks of meta for us all to enjoy. This means we have 22 events in the table below. I have recorded the top 8 decklists for many of the top 8 spots, but I wasn't able to get to everyone, and that is represented by the 9% Unknown decks on the chart. Most of these spots are quarterfinal spots, but some are even finals or wins! 22 events means 176 top eight spots. There were actually 24 events in these weeks, but one event did not fire and another was lost to the system going down. Every event was 2x prizes, hopefully now that we are on the mystical v3 we can get some other nifty incentives to play the Premier Events. Standard Premier Events and got an average turnout of just 31 players this week.

Winner - Split - Second - Semifinals - Quarterfinals

Colors Deck Name Placings Percentage
Elves 27%
Faeries 21%
Merfolk 6%
Big Mana 6%
Reveillark 5%
Tokens 3%
Rock 3%
Token Elves 3%
Doran 1%
Red Deck Wins 1%
Knoll Storm 1%
Burn 1%
Rogues 1%
Kithkin 1%
  Other 2%
  Unknown 9%

Well, well, Elves has returned with a vengeance in this first week of returning Premier Events online. This is probably slightly due to the fact that it did so well at Pro Tour Hollywood, and partly due tot he fact that it is just a powerful deck. It also has a lot of edge against the second most winning deck this week, Faeries, because it can play both Primal Command and Cloudthresher after the board. But more about that later. Merfolk also made a bug splash this week as they also placed well in the land of the stars, and also has game against Faeries. The rest of the meta is rounded out with our oldies but goodies and a couple rogue decks.

I can't really evaluate what the top gainer and top loser is this week, because I don't have the previous week to compare against. However, if you asked me what the top three decks in Standard online are right now, I would not hesitate to tell you: Elves, Faeries, and Reveillark. The Reveillark decks aren't really showing their stuff here in the table, but they are gaining popularity fast and the deck is quite strong. A deck I was surprised didn't get much more play was the various red burn-based decks like Red Deck Wins (with Tarmogoyf now), or the pure Burn decks. They should theoretically have lots of game against the tribal-based decks that we see all around because of effective board sweepers like Sulfurous Blast and even Pyroclasm. It remains to be seen if they will gain again in the coming weeks.

In the "other" category this week, our amalgam of weirdness, we have a red-blue burn deck which apparently uses it's blue to draw into MORE burn spells. Your worst nightmare come true? Well it only has one spot in the meta so maybe not. Also was a Doran variant which used a bunch of elves in order to beat down instead of the Doran-pumping creatures like Ohran Viper. There was also a budget elves in green-black, eshewing really expensive cards like dual lands and Tarmogoyf in order to play more Elves! Rounding out the four rogue decks this week was a mono-red Elementals deck. This deck is probably similar to the deck which was close to the top of the standings in Pro Tour Hollywood.

Mode of the Week: Gindy Elves

Well, Elves managed to Vanquish all the foes they came up against in the top eight of Hollywood, and it shows in the metagame of Magic Online this week. This isn't a big surprise to me because the deck is strong and has been strong since Lorwyn came out basically. This is the deck that Gindy actually played, but it requires a little tweaking in order to play online because we don't have Shadowmoor yet. Wait a minute, there is only one Shadowmoor card in the deck! That's right, this deck ports practically straight into MTGO right now, with alternately Bottle Gnomes or Spike Feeder replacing the Kitchen Finks that is in the board. These are good replacements, but I would probably remake the sideboard based on what you're planning on coming up against. Extirpate seems like a good option right now just so that you can battle the Reveillark infinite combo. Alternately you could up the counts of Cloudthresher and Squall Line in order to make the deck a little more consistent for bashing on Faeries in the sideboarded games.

Let's talk about the matchups of this deck for a little bit. I'm going to start with the elephant which isn't Elves in the room: Faeries. In the first game I would put this deck at about even with Faeries and that is because of a single card: Chameleon Colossus. This card can come down as early as turn 3 and if it doesn't get countered can get past all those Bitterblossom tokens with ease. You need to protect it though, because one crazy Cryptic Command and you won't be seeing the light of day two or three turns later. Even so, without the Colossus in the deck, you are looking at a pretty lopsided match against you. After sideboarding, you can bring in the Cloudthresher and Squall Line, increasing your chances of winning by quite a lot. Both of these cards are instant speed, allowing you to cast them whenever the Fae are tapped out, and they pretty much wipe the board in your favor. If you can put a 'thresher on the board to stay, it's even better because they aren't going to come up with anything that will get past it. Merfolk are pretty easy to beat with this deck because of the nice spot removal available - if Merfolk lose their lords to the spot removal, you are sitting pretty with regards to all their small 1/1s while you bash through with elves that are pumped and gaining numbers. One thing that I worry about after sideboarded games in this matchup is Teferi's Moat, which makes the elves that you want to attack with pretty hard. You can bring in the Primal Command however to shuffle that crazy enchantment in, or alternately put it on top while you bash in for the win on the same turn.

All in all, this deck has obviously proven it's staying power for the majority of this standard season, and I don't expect it to leave until we see the removal of Lorwyn from Standard - there are just too many cards that are straight out of the set.

Outlier of the Week: Prowess Elves

The outlier this week is a deck which I've been postulating about for a while in my head and I think I should present it to the world for review. After Morningtide came out, I realized that if you were going to play green-black, you might as well play elves, and there are two very powerful token generators in black right now. This deck was originally slated to take advantage of Prowess of the Fair by pairing it with Nantuko Husk and Grave Pact, but the pact was quite inconsistent when it could even come out due to it's triple-black requirement for the mana cost. It got dropped in favor of a couple of Chameleon Colossus which give it some game against Faeries if your own Bitterblossom tokens don't start clogging up the skys enough to put them off their game. Things get really crazy when you get a Loxodon Warhammer planted on a Nantuko Husk, meaning that at least some of your damage will get through. Now you can start sacrificing elves, and getting tokens from Prowess that you can sacrifice again. Suddenly almost all of your solid elves on the board mean 4 more damage to your opponent, and very quickly you are going to win the game with this beast which starts at 5/2 thanks to your Warhammer. The hammer is also good on almost any other creature as it will gain you some life. This deck runs eight lords, with the Elvish Champion making it really easy to get through the defenses of and Elves player. Be careful when you put him down though, because he also pumps your opponent and you are also playing the Forests that make his guys unblockable. This deck has been doing okay in the Tournament Practice room, partly because there are a ton of people playing Elves right now and Champion is like "I win" when you have a bunch of elves on the board. I'll probably take it to a PE or queue soon.

Well, that's it for this week where we reunited Magic Online with the Premier Events again. Next article we will be covering the problem or non-problem that is Intentional Draws, and a whole week of metagame info for me to pour over. I'd like to thank the people who helped me with the meta: pisa114, IslandsMcCloaks, BeatzMachine, sandydogmtg, GuruGila, PackRat81, Profane Command, Chelseme, toshiya k, RileyScott, bigvanhood, gurneyh, Scryb, RuySan, ckayes, FFfreaK, siewca_wiatru, and sfenixw. Thanks guys. Until next time, Good luck in the PEs!


by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 06/09/2008 - 11:51
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That's cuz you're a scumbag if you are the kikijiki I'm thinking of

by KikiiJiki (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 06/09/2008 - 12:02
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Posting anonymously with derogatory words in it has no purpose other than trolling. Maybe you should try elaborating or saying who you are, but considering I've never done anything bad on mtgo ever, I would hope you're thinking of someone else

by KikiiJiki (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 06/09/2008 - 10:35
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I'm hurt, I wasn't thanked with the rest of the people :(

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