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By: jamuraa, Michael Janssen
Dec 18 2008 8:45am
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The holidays approach, but there's nothing that's really on my wishlist (except maybe a playset of Figure of Destiny). Unfortunately it's contributing to how busy I am lately, so this article is coming about two or three days later than normal. Next week we should be back on the normal schedule. This stuff is reasonably time-sensitive, but not that much. I'm also getting some significant time off so I can spend some time playing the Queues and maybe even a Premier Event or some Daily Events.

One of the biggest events of the year in the Magic world happened just this last weekend, of course I'm talking about Worlds 2008. I am blessed to have an internet connection and wireless, so I was able to watch the Top 8 and see the US team take down the team championship and also the individual. If you've been living in a rock for the last week, there is full coverage on wizards.com. Worlds is always one of the most exciting events for me because of the wide variety of different formats, which of course includes Standard. The best players are battling it out, with the decks that they think are the winning decks.

A couple of juicy tidbits from the coverage that apply to Standard: The Undefeated Day 1 Decklists and the Archetype Breakdown. The breakdown is not all that interesting to most, but it's more relevant to me because I would like to think that the articles and meta which happens on Magic Online actually has some impact on the real world. You know, that place with the burning yellow star that is so bright in the daytime - where you need to wear pants.

At any rate, the top five archetypes in attendance in Standard at worlds were, rounded to the nearest half of a percent:

Deck Percentage
Faeries 27%
WB Tokens 14.5%
Cruel Control 12%
Vengeant Weenie 8.5%
Windbrisk Weenie 6.5%
This isn't good news for the relevance of Magic Online. Okay, so the dominance of Faeries is still predicted, but the rest is all out of whack. Last week's article had Windbrisk Weenie in the number two spot, and later in this article we have the same, but it's barely more than one out of every twenty decks at the worlds. At the same time, we look at the WB Tokens deck, and see that it was on the rise this week, but it was barely on the charts last week and it's second in popularity at Worlds. Cruel Control is also not exactly at the same popularity. Vengeant Weenie is barely on the charts online.

There are a couple reasons that the meta online might be a bit different from it's cardboard counterpart. The first is that the pros who were invited to Worlds don't play much on MTGO. This is what I suspect to be the most reason - while there are a number of pros which play online, many of them aren't online at all and actually don't mind. After all, there are a lot of nuances that you can get in the real game that aren't available online, like people bluffing and the body language. These are actually quite impactful on the game. They might also be playing online and just were keeping back their decks in order to take the field by surprise - this happens with some decks, such as the Dragonstorm deck in last year's worlds, but many of these decks were played in a large money tournament just a week before, so that doesn't factor in as much I think.

The last reason that I will mention is the most troubling of all of the reasons: the pros could be playing on MTGO but also not playing in the Premier Events which we have the metagame and replays for. Events like the ones that we can cover by watching replays and getting decklists for are pretty long with very little reward for the time you put in unless you consistently make the top eight. Some players online can consistently play for the six hours and make the top tables consistently. Even if you make top eight, you get a single pack worth of reward for six or seven hours of play. Queues are more profitable by far - if you can win consistently, you can make 4 packs in two hours, and even in the cheap 4-player queues you can make more than in a premier event.

There's nothing wrong with the meta being a bit off from the pros' games, but that doesn't mean that there is no value in knowing it. You can get some pretty interesting decks from the lists that come out every week. However, I would prefer if there were a little more incentive for people to play in a Premier Event on Magic Online. The Promo cards which have entered the client might be a little help if they were given out for some Daily Events. In the meantime, let's see what the last couple weeks' worth of events have in store.

Full Deck Statistics for Standard PEs: 12/01/08 to 12/07/08

Premier Events (or Daily Events, since that is the room they're in) are the ones that we get the more juicier information for at least. The entirety of all of the decklists are available, which means it's also a bit more accurate than the replays, which we'll get into a little later. We have fourteen total events to look at this week, a total of 112 decklists.

There aren't too many surprises here, with Faeries still taking the top spot, although quite a bit less dominant than last week's article when it was more than double of it's nearest competitor. This week Windbrisk Weenie is still in the second place spot, taking more wins than the top deck with the small Kithkin and free spells from under hills. Weenie is pretty fast against the flyers and the Spectral Procession makes it easy to chump block Mistbind Clique for a couple of turns. Elves is gaining by leaps and bounds, jumping seven places in rankings and matching Faeries for wins. It has the double-whammy for the 4/4 flier, Cloudthresher taking out the tokens as well as blocking for the kill.

There are two new decks in the infographic this week. Blightning Beats is the Mode this week so scroll down just a little bit to see what that is all about. Vengeant Weenie is the name that I was using for the red-white deck which uses Figure of Destiny as well as Ajani Vengeant which is just a house. Some of the other builds which look similar to this use Reveillark, Siege-Gang Commander and Murderous Redcap. Decks like this baffle me in replays and sometimes in the decklists because it's really a continuum with the Reveillark-focused deck on one end, and the Kithkin-based deck on the other end. You can go about halfway between and still be good because the flying Elemental reanimator works fine with the weenies as well, so it's not bad in the other end.

The rogue contingent is taking a step back this week, from the being near the top to very near the bottom. Accordingly, we only have eight rogues to discuss this week, so I can cover them all. The winner-winner-chicken-dinner deck which is in the bar is a particularly fun-looking mono-green Elves, which just uses a lot of good elves, mostly from the Lorwyn-Morningtide-Shadowmoor-Eventide blocks that have been overlooked like Wolf-Skull Shaman and Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers together. It also had Overrun as a finisher, but doesn't have the Heritage Druid required for a Token Elves designation. Another rogue this week is a Rock deck which shows up consistently, and I'm sure I'll put on the Outlier one of these days. Bant Control showed up as well, with not quite enough colors for Five Color / Cruel Control. A copy of the Fellowship deck is now in the other category as well. Mannequin is also making a new showing, abusing Makeshift Mannequin along with Puppeteer Clique as well this time. Lastly, there is a deck after my own heart, which is mono-green and plays basically huge guys all the time - Regal Force and Woodfall Primus join Oversoul of Dusk, with Dramatic Entrance actually being useful in a deck.

Replay Statistics for Standard PEs: 12/10 to 12/15

Last week's client update brought with it a gift which I was hoping for - increased stability of the replays! This means that there are a lot less unrecoverable decks in this week's graph representing every single deck played over the entire week. I'm still missing a couple events for each week, but I have the lion's share of the events taken care of. There were thirteen standard events which I spied with my little dual-monitor setup this week, and 367 players that I looked over.

This week's replay meta looks a little more like the Worlds meta than the previous week, but that is quite strange because for most of the time that this was being collected, the pros were actually already at Worlds. It was collected over the weekend which they were at. Another possibility is that the Worlds metagame actually influenced the online game, which seems much more likely. Cruel Control is still more of the metagame overall, but I still don't think it's going to make the top tables as much, the same as the week before it. Faeries is a fourth of the meta, less than last week, but still more than double of the runner up. White-black tokens is raising in the ranks as well, probably on account of the hype that it received over the weekend. RW Aggro is the nondescript name for something that looks like Vengeant Weenie or Vengeant Reveillark - as mentioned before, they are surprisingly hard to distinguish in replays.

Mode of the week: Blightning Beats

Blightning Beats
Standard-Alara deck as played by millennium9999
Creatures
4 Boggart Ram-Gang
4 Demigod of Revenge
4 Goblin Deathraiders
4 Mogg Fanatic
2 Stigma Lasher
2 Vexing Shusher
20 cards

Other Spells
4 Bitterblossom
4 Blightning
4 Flame Javelin
4 Incinerate
16 other spells
16 cards
Lands
4 Auntie's Hovel
3 Ghitu Encampment
4 Graven Cairns
11 Mountain
2 Sulfurous Springs
24 cards

Blightning

Blightning Beats is the mode this week. This list isn't optimal, but it is one of the ones which exemplifies the spirit of the deck. It's mostly a deck which was evolved from the Demigod Red decks which are of course mono-red. Adding black as a color allows for the inclusion of the quite excellent Blightning, for which the deck is named after. This sorcery is specifically very good because of the discard effect which it includes. It can be cast most times on turn three, taking the gas out of many decks, many times causing the graveyard to fill with at least half of the opposing hand. It also is a threat to Cruel Control, because it can require the use of a counter earlier in the game, opening the field.

millennium9999 played this deck throughout the week of decks, making the top eight a couple of times. The sideboard is filled with the kinds of cards that you would want against most of the field. Infest is pretty decent against Tokens as well as Elves and Windbrisk Weenie, while Manabarbs is good against most control, and people who want to cast seven-mana finishers most of all. (Thoughtsieze) is an all-purpose sideboard card which I would actually probably include in the maindeck, substituting the Goblin Deathraiders which I've always found less appealing. While it may be on the decline, this week it was quite popular and it is still good deck in my opinion. Just watch out for those Wilt-Leaf Lieges.

Outlier of the Week: Merfolk

Merfolk has stuck around after the rotation, but it's changed with the times. This deck was played to a second-place finish by Rogal_in and is a pretty decent example of the most successful decks post-Alara. One thing you might notice is that not all of the creatures are Merfolk - Knight of Meadowgrain is one of the best two-drops in the format right now though and it deserves it's spot. Sower of Temptation is also quite powerful and could be the deciding factor between a win and a loss. The rest looks pretty much like what you would expect from the fishes: Merrow Reejerey isn't backed up by Lord of Atlantis anymore, but Wake Thrasher comes in as a huge beater on your turn and that almost makes up for it. The deck also plays much more control-based than some of the previous iterations, with Sage's Dousing showing up much more often. It's not the winningest deck, but it can run you over something quick when it's on it's game.

Well, that will be all for this week. We only have one more week before the holiday break when I won't be able to play MTGO at all because of a trip out of town for a week. Thankfully, Wizards will also most likely not post decklists that week, or the week after since it is New Years. I'll most likely have an article or two over the week though with replays. I'm also going to take some time to troll through the standard queues to see what sharks are swimming in the less time-intensive sanctioned events. Until next time, good luck in the PEs!