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By: jamuraa, Marie Janssen
Dec 12 2007 1:23am
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I'm back for another week with another look at the standard metagame on MTGO. This week we got a surprise in our box in the form of a deck which showed up at Worlds in New York and started rocking the metagame something fierce. That's right Dragonstorm is back in Standard. The deck didn't take long to start showing up in the MTGO top ranks - the first PE that it placed in was at the 6pm CST last Thursday, taking fourth place. The deck has made a top eight showing in almost every single event since, showing that it's not just catching the field off-guard. Even so, the dominant decks don't seem to be changing that much. There are still a number of decks which are vying for the most popular top eight showing, but Rock is on top this week.

Black-Green continues to be a dominant color strategy, with Elves! and Rock taking a significant portion of the spots. This shouldn't be surprising as no less than half of the decks that the top eight at Worlds were Rock variants.

Statistics for Standard PEs: 12/04/2007 to 12/11/2007

There were a total of thirteen Standard PEs this week, giving us 104 Top 8 spots. Every Standard PE from Tuesday December 4 11:00pm CST until Tuesday December 11 is here, with the exception of the 11pm CST Standard PE, which will be included in next week's statistics due to it's late start time.

Winner - Runner-up - Semifinals - Quarterfinals

Colors Deck Name Placings Percentage
Rock 13% (-4%)
Spine Storm 11% (new)
Big Mana 9% (-10%)
Mannequin 9% (+1%)
Faerie Stompy 7% (+1%)
Elves! 7% (-2%)
Sonic Boom 5% (+1%)
Snow Control 4% (+3%)
Control 4% (new)
Doran Rock 4% (+2%)
Tokens 4% (-1%)
Kithkin 3% (0%)
Faeries 3% (+2%)
Blink 2% (new)
Snow Big Mana 2% (+1%)
Mannequin Blink 2% (0%)
Merfolk 2% (new)
Merfolk 2% (0%)
Goblins 1% (new)
Plans Control 1% (new)
Reanimator 1% (-1%)
????? 1% (new)
GW Aggro 1% (new)
Korlash 1% (new)
Skred Red 1% (-2%)
??? Dropped/Timed Out 3%


The big shakeup this week was the Spine Storm deck which appeared at Worlds. It made the final top eight, you can find a decent decklist on magicthegathering.com - Patrick Chapin had a second-place showing. I'm not convinced myself that the new Dragonstorm will survive the meta. It placed quite a lot this week, but most of those placings were quarterfinal showings, and it hasn't taken home a win yet.  It looks like Big Mana was the main deck which got dumped for the new hotness, showing up a full ten percent less in top eight's than last week. It continues to perform admirably however, getting to the semifinals almost every time it hits the top eight.  kotarosato04 continues to make top eight showings with the Snow Control deck which was presented as the Outlier last week.

Most of the deck types here are covered in last week's deviations, but some of these are new:

  • Spine Storm is the new Dragonstorm hotness.

  • Goblins didn't show last week, but is similar to the Merfolk and Faeries decks, in that it is the linear deck type which Lorwyn basically hands us on a silver platter. Strong goblins like (Siege Gang Commander) and token generators which make goblins such as Empty the Warrens find a place in this deck alongside their Boggart cousins.

  • Doran Rock is a Rock variant which adds a white splash for Doran, the Siege Tower. It differs from last week's Doran Aggro in that Doran is just another beater in Rock's arsonal.

Mode of the Week: The Rock

The Rock aziekial
4 Forest
4 Gilt-Leaf Palace
1 Horizon Canopy
4 Llanowar Wastes
4 Treetop Village
4 Swamp
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Pendelhaven
4 Llanowar Elves
3 Masked Admirers
4 Oona's Prowler
3 Shriekmaw
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Troll Ascetic
Other Spells
2 Call of the Herd
3 Eyeblight's Ending
3 Profane Command
3 Thoughtseize
2 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Liliana Vess
2 Loxodon Warhammer
2 Cloudthresher
2 Damnation
3 Riftsweeper
2 Seal of Primordium
2 Serrated Arrows
3 Slaughter Pact
1 Thoughtseize

I wanted to put Dragonstorm here this week, but I think it's important to cover one of the more dominant archetypes which has proven time and time again it can make the top eight. The Rock is at it's roots a control deck - it depends on mass removal like DamnationHypnotic Specter, Wren's Run Vanquisher, and Shriekmaw. When board control is in the hands of the Rock player, a efficient beater like Tarmogoyf will swing for damage and the win. There are so many variants of Rock out there that even if a whole article was devoted to the archetype it would most likely still be lacking. Some mainboard Damnation, or use Nameless Inversion. Some use the Hypnotic Specter while others make it a one-of or escew the discarder altogether. I'm not exactly sure where the Rock name for the Black-Green color combination came from, but it's been used since at least Apocalypse where it surfaced with powerhouse multi-color cards like Pernicious Deed and Spiritmonger. With the current incarnation using some of the most expensive cards in Tarmogoyf, Thoughtseize, and Profane Command, you could speculate the name comes from the diamond ring that you'll need to hock to afford the deck. From zero, azielial's deck shown here costs at least THREE HUNDRED tickets.

(Editor's Note:  The Rock has been used often times to discribe any Black Green mid range aggro deck.  The name has been in use since Urza's Saga was the newest block, and was coined by Sol Malka, who created a deck featuring Phyrexian Plaguelord (The Rock) and Deranged Hermit (AND HIS MILLIONS!) )
aziekial piloted the deck shown here to win a Standard event on Saturday this week. The sideboard is fairly typical of Rock decks - Cloudthresher is a beast against Faeries, while Damnation handles other swarm aggro like token-heavy Kithkin or Elves! The Riftsweeper works against Dragonstorm's Lotus Blooms as well as suspended Riftwing Cloudskates from Mannequin, and also works against the less-often encountered Greater Gargadon. Serrated Arrows is also good against Mannequin by providing repeatable targets as well as gunning down many-a-Fae.

Rock has been big in recent weeks, and is sure to continue to be a big part of the metagame, probably even after Morningtide shakes things up a bit.

Outlier of the Week: Mono-Black Plans Control

This week I saw a card in the PEs that I never thought I'd see grace the top eight. Most people regard it as a junk rare, but ishi_star got a semi-final placing with a deck containing  Colfenor's Plans. According to his profile, he doesn't speak english, so it's another week for scrying the replay and rebuilding the deck as close as possible.

Plans Control ishi_star
15 Snow-Covered Swamp
2 Spawning Pool
2 Scrying Sheets
2 Urza's Factory
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
2 Korlash, Heir to Blackblade
1 Dread
2 Shriekmaw
Other Spells
2 Colfenor's Plans
3 Claws of Gix
4 Mind Stone
4 Distress
2 Stupor
4 Tendrils of Corruption
4 Profane Command
4 Slaughter Pact
4 Terror
2 Liliana Vess

This deck comes across as a fairly straightforward mono-black control deck. As a control deck most of it's cards are taken up by removal and discard. There are only a few win conditions, but they're certainly a force on the board when they do get out. Korlash, Heir to Blackblade is surely huge once he gets on the board because it's mono-black, Dread has nice evasion and counts as removal as well. Shriekmaw is almost always a two for one in this deck as it's not cast without a target and almost never for it's evoke cost.

The real genius of this deck comes with the insane card advantage that is Colfenor's Plans. It essentially draws you seven more cards for your next turns right away, that you don't need to discard. This comes in handy when you're about to run out of removal. Of course there is the huge downside to the Plans - you can only play one spell per turn. Because of this, most of the removal needs to be at instant speed in order to take advantage of the opponent's turn. This build has sixteen instants, which you will most certainly draw into. It also has a number of lands which can be played and have activated abilities - your land doesn't count towards your one spell per turn of course. But that's not all, the plans has another huge disadvantage: it makes you skip your draw step. Luckily, this doesn't mean you can't draw cards, it just means you don't get your normal card per turn. For this, the Snow engine comes in handy - it clears the top of your deck of lands so that when you do sacrifice a Mind Stone for a card draw, you're drawing something useful. As an added bonus, you can stack your deck with Liliana Vess (who also works well with the discard subtheme) and draw exactly what you want. Once your card advantage engine is done doing it's magic, you can sacrifice the Plans to the Claws of Gix, and resume your topdecking.

I don't have a full sideboard for the deck, but some cards that are definitely in there are Extirpate against control and Damnation against mass creatures. I would expect that a transformative sideboard would work well here, as in game one some sideboard action will take place by your opponent in order to work around the Plans - but you can just sideboard them out for cards which are actually good in the current matchup.

Next week the Weatherlight release events start, so we'll be sorely short-shrift on the number of standard tournaments. But don't fret! In the event of very few events, we will have an event: The Decktastic Spectacular, in which every standard archetype is covered, or at least five of them. Until next week, good luck in the PEs!


by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Wed, 12/12/2007 - 04:09
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

I have seen a versin of the Plans deck with blue running the blue Command to return the plans to your hand...not too bad, but needs work. (this was Lorwyn block)

by jamuraa at Wed, 12/12/2007 - 14:15
jamuraa's picture

Yes, there are multiple versions of the plans deck - other ones uses more plans and expect to draw into more plans for even more cards to choose from, which can be a big advantage.   Most standard ones that use blue also use Perilous Research to get rid of the plans when it's not  useful anymore.  There are also a bunch that use Rule of Law with white in order to at least make the 'one spell a turn' downside symmetrical.