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By: jamuraa, Michael Janssen
Jul 23 2008 12:01am
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Things are getting a lot better around here, with the patch for MTGO making it a little better in the last week. Unfortunately it doesn't help with the metagame determination, as there are still no replays available of Premier Events. I've been a bit less busy this week than the last week, meaning we have a better picture of the metagame than last week.

In the past month or so I have had to do this metagame determination without the best tool which was available to me before the switch to this new platform for playing the game of Magic, and that it replays. It's incredibly hard to actually do this now, much more than it was before. However, I'm not really complaining - well, I am complaining, but that's not the point of the rant today. There are upsides to the lack of replays, and by far the best part about the lack of replays is that I actually have only one way to find out what the metagame actually is.

Of course, the only way that I can find out what people have been playing in the metagame is to ask them. In order to ask them, I need to chat with them a bit. People aren't usually willing to give up their deck archetype, mostly because they tend to play the same deck again. After all, there is not much reason to change what works, and I'm talking to the people who just won something with the deck. However, the people that do talk to me and are friendly are quite possibly some of the best people that I have had the pleasure to interact with on the Internet.

sandydogmtg is one of those people, he plays almost every Premier Event that I can see in the standard and is training for nationals. He's been switching out decks lately but has always done well. He's always good for at least a couple minutes between rounds, talking about the game that we all love to play. DocAwk is another of my favorites. He's been making the top 8 with decks like KyleBoggemesIsAnAmericanHero and JoshWludykaIsAnAmericanHero, which are actually just Merfolk and Reveillark in disquise, but he never fails to crack me up. I've talked to people all around the world, from Japan to Poland to Brazil, and of course the US.

I'm always happy to chat with anyone in the client - my online name is jamuraa and you can PM me any time you like, except possibly for 7pm Thursdays until the end of SPDC, which I have taken over the hosting duty for. Just so everyone knows, I won't release the metagame decisions for anyone I know of until the end of the tournament, so don't come asking me what your next round's opponent is playing. It also means you can safely tell me what you're playing, and that I usually won't ask you what you're playing until the tournament is over. This week's stats show that people tend to trust me with that info, and I'm happy for it.

Statistics for Standard PEs: 7/15/2008 to 7/22/2008

We are back to the normal schedule, which means that we only have a week of meta for you this week. There were 14 scheduled events this week, which is almost par for the course. One of those events didn't fire, and another one of them bugged out and was stuck in the first round. This leaves us with 12 events of meta, totaling 96 top eight spots to fill. Because of the non-replays, I wasn't able to reach 8 of these spots, or about 8 percent. This gives us a much better look at the metagame than previous weeks where the missing percentage was almost double that. There was an average of 33 players per event which fired, which is an interesting landmark because it means that most of the events this week were six-round affairs. It is also 4 more players on average than the last two weeks.

Colors Deck Name Placings Percentage
Reveillark 14% (+7%)
Faeries 12% (-2%)
Mono-Red Aggro 11% (+1%)
Merfolk 9% (+3%)
Elves 8% (-3%)
Empty Storm 5% (-5%)
Big Mana 5% (-3%)
Quick 'N Toast 5% (+4%)
Swans Combo 3% (new)
Teachings 3% (new)
Reveillark 2% (new)
Platinum Control 2% (+1%)
Control 2% (+1%)
  Other 7% (+2%)
Unknown 8% (-8%)

Well this week we have a new metagame champion, and that champion flys and costs five. It seems like the predictions have come true with respect to the Reveillark. Last week it wasn't anything to laugh at, taking a bunch of spots, but this week we saw the explosion of the Reveillark, seeming like it was in almost every top eight. In fact, it was only missing from three of the twelve PEs which we have data for. In one top eight, it took six of the eight spots. There's no doubt about it, Reveillark is the deck to beat. It has doubled it's percentage from the last two weeks to this week, making it the fastest big gainer this week as well.

The big loser this week is Unknown decks. Well, it is the truth. Other than the fact that I got a lot more metagame this week than in the previous two, the big loser this week is Empty Storm, which is the new name for New Storm. This new name is because of the existence of Empty the Warrens in many of the decks, and because it sounds better than "Ignite Storm" or "Grapeshot Storm". Also, it is missing what the old Knoll Storm decks had - Dragons and Dragonstorm. At any rate, the deck lost a lot of ground this week, and I suspect it is because of the increased participation. With more rounds, it is much more likely that the Empty Storm deck will come across a match where they don't get lucky and draw all the pieces of the combo on time, or they come up against someone who has prepared in the sideboard with a Rule of Law or Story Circle.

There are seven decks in the Other category this week, and they are all quite interesting additions to the metagame. The one which won was a blue-white Wizards deck, I suspect modeled after the deck that Kyle Sanchez was pimping for a while. The deck is quite controlling, and uses of all things Vedalken Aethermage as a tutor for Arcanis the Omnipotent. These are two cards that I wouldn't really expect to see in the standard metagame, but they are nonetheless, and I am thrilled. Also included in the category which holds all rogue decks were a black-green rock deck, a green-red tokens deck, our green-red aggro deck which we had seen lately. The old Orzhov guild shows it's colors as well with a lone black-white rebels deck as well.

Mode of the Week: Reveillark

Will the real Reveillark please stand up? The three lists above represent the most prevalent of the probably fifty or so different variations of the Reveillark deck that I have seen in the last week. It's the reason that the deck is pretty hard to pin down. The most prevalent of the decks are the first two - I can't really present one without the other because it's hard to tell how much of the metagame is taken by one or the other. The third takes a significantly smaller portion of the metagame.

The version with red is the version that kills. Unless you've been sitting under a rock, you know that Reveillark in the grave plus Body Double in play copying Reveillark and a Greater Gargadon suspended equals you win (or lose, depending on which side you're on). However, it doesn't slouch without the combo in play, with good creatures like Aven Riftwatcher which does quite well against the growing Mono-Red Aggro which started growing in the metagame right before the Reveillark took over.

The second version drops the color red, and sticks with the best cards you can find in white and blue. It scales back the combo to basically winning only if you luck into it, while counting on the tempo you gain from Momentary Blink along with the Reveillark, and the great tempo that the Riftwing Cloudskate brings. Additionally, Sower of Temptation deals with the problem creatures on the other side and Kitchen Finks replaces Aven Riftwatcher as a better aggro replacement and an excellent blocker if the ground is muddled.

The third is more like a Quick 'N Toast got together with a Reveillark deck and had a evil step child. All the pieces that make Quick 'N Toast good are there - the Firespouts get rid of the riff-raff and the Primal Command can handle the problematic matchups like Empty Storm. It even adds black in order to Makeshift Mannequin things back into play, which in my opinion is much better in the deck than the Momentary Blink because it puts the 'lark into play while it is already dead. It also has a bunch more in terms of acceleration with the green addition Wall of Roots. Honestly, if you asked for a deck that you would see more of in the next couple weeks, it would be the 5-color Reveillark.

Outlier of the Week: Swans Combo

Swans Combo
Standard-Shadowmoor deck played by Aaron Nicastri
4 Swans of Bryn Argoll
3 Vendilion Clique
7 cards

Other Spells
4 Telling Time
4 Beseech the Queen
2 Gaea's Blessing
4 Ponder
4 Thoughtseize
4 Seismic Assault
4 Lotus Bloom
26 cards
4 Dakmor Salvage
4 Gemstone Mine
4 Graven Cairns
4 Reflecting Pool
4 Shivan Reef
4 Vivid Creek
3 Vivid Marsh
27 cards

Swans of Bryn Argoll

This deck is the deck that laughs at the Reveillark deck: "You call that combo? I'll show YOU combo!". In that vein, it is chock full of what you would expect from a combo deck. The fast mana in Lotus Bloom, the tutoring in Beseech the Queen, the digging for the combo pieces in Telling Time and Ponder. For those that don't know already, the combo is Swans of Bryn Argoll with Seismic Assault and Dakmor Salvage in hand. You shoot the swans with the assault, and that draws you cards. Luckily you can draw the salvage you just shot, Dredging some cards but who cares, you get another card from the top. Eventually you hit another Dakmor Salvage, and now you can draw both of them, shooting one at your swans and another at the opponent. You're not going to draw out because of the Gaea's Blessing, so you're good.

This list made a big splash over the last weekend. It was played by Aaron Nicastri at Australia's Nationals, and it won the whole thing. Aaron Nicastri called it 'Aussie Assault' and it's what about half the people playing it into the top 8 are calling it. It plays very well against everything basically. It finds the combo usually by turn four or five, and the manabase helps out by putting most of the pieces into play at the right times too, including the crazy triple-red cost followed by a double-blue. Because of the great win this weekend, I expect to see a lot of this in the next week as people pick it up.

Life is back to normal here in the wide world of Standard Magic Online, and with the release of the patch in the last week, and patches going forward, I might not be talking to a lot of people a few times more. I have hope for the future of the program with some new PEs and possibly some more incentives for people to play events. At any rate, I'll keep finding and reporting the metagame as I see it and talking with everyone I need to in order to do so. Until next week, good luck in the PEs!


Great work by MrGando (Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 07/24/2008 - 18:02
MrGando (Unregistered)'s picture

This is great work. thanks for this.

Great series by RahXephon1 at Wed, 07/23/2008 - 03:01
RahXephon1's picture

Tnx again for the article I really love them, now I need just to play a premier* so you can feature me :) :) :)

*As soon that I make sure, my client won't crash everytime I play a runed halo (take this seizmic and grapeshot :))