jamuraa's picture
By: jamuraa, Marie Janssen
Dec 19 2007 1:12am
Login to post comments

The Standard meta is back and it's ready to rumble! I was worried last week about the Weatherlight release events, but they don't seem to have affected the standard PEs very much at all, as we have a full schedule of Premier Events to crawl over. I have scoured the Top 8 all this week, and sadly it looks like the meta is converging onto only a couple archetypes. Variety is the spice of life, but the unique decks in the top 8 were few and far between.

A metagame ecology is a strange thing. It's somewhat like Darwinism: the survival of the fittest. When a new standard cardset becomes active, there are a bunch of decks out there from everyone. It's anyone's ball game as the decks battle it out. This is a fun part of the process for all the deck builders and creative types, but a horrible time for sideboarding - you don't know your matchups, so you can't really sideboard for everything that exists on the board. After a while, the "strong" decks start consistently winning. Usually after a few months within a new standard ecology, there are a few dominant decks, which form a top tier. These decks are played the most, because they are considered to be better. In the current standard meta, the top tier is occupied by Big Mana, Rock and Elves decks - in any given Event on Magic Online, you can expect the majority of the decks to be in this top tier, sometimes called Tier 1. Once that tier is established, people start thinking about beating these decks, and measure up any competitive deck they create against them. Dragonstorm made a big splash because it was very good against the most dominant deck in the top tier at the time, Big Mana. These decks take advantage of the element of surprise because noone is expecting them. Of course, after a few weeks in the meta, they either solidify as part of the top tier, or they get strangled out by sideboards and small adaptations to the existing decks. Sadly, it looks like Dragonstorm is being strangled out.

Statistics for Standard PEs: 12/11/2007 to 12/18/2007

There were a total of 15 Standard PEs this week, giving us 120 Top 8 spots. Every Standard PE from Tuesday December 11 11:00pm CST until Tuesday December 18 is accounted for. Finals splits are now being accounted for, with both decks receiving a "Finals" spot instead of a "Winner" spot. Every single event this week split in the finals.

Winner - Split - Finals - Semifinals - Quarterfinals

Colors Deck Name Placings Percentage
Doran Rock 17% (+13%)
Elves! 11% (+4%)
Rock 11% (-2%)
Big Mana 8% (-1%)
Spine Storm 8% (-4%)
Snow Control 7% (+3%)
Snow Big Mana 7% (+5%)
Faeries 5% (+2%)
Faerie Stompy 4% (-3%)
Mannequin 4% (-5%)
Sonic Boom 3% (-2%)
Pickles 3% (+3%)
Kithkin 3% (0%)
  Blink 3% (+1%)
Goblins 3% (+2%)
Tokens 1% (-3%)
  Others 3%
  Dropped/Timed Out 2% (-1%)
This week we saw a drop in the Spine storm decks that popped into the meta last week, and the later Events of this week have many less of the Spinerock Knoll deck showing up. The last 3 events had a grand total of zero. We can see that the Rock deck of last week, and it's cousin Doran Rock which was analyzed in an earlier PureMTGO article, is still the top contenders in the field. Combined, the two Rock variants take up almost a third of the total meta this week. Big Mana and Snow Big Mana seem to be having some shifty-ness, but the total amount of Big Mana decks is staying about steady. More people are getting their Snow lands, and deciding that using them is more to their advantage.

The big gainer this week is easily Doran Rock, which rocketed up into first, gaining more than 10%. The biggest loser seems to be the decks based around Makeshift Mannequin, but there were other big losers as well - Merfolk decks lost every single one of their spots, going from 4% to zero and the Spine Storm deck also lost 4%.

This week I grouped the singletons in the "other category", but I'll go over them here. Included was a green-black deck which used Thelonite Hermit and Heartwood Storyteller, a single Mannequin Blink deck for crazy comes-into-play abuse, and a mono-white snow control deck.

Mode of the Week: Elves!


5 Forest
4 Swamp
4 Gilt-Leaf Palace
4 Llanowar Wastes
4 Treetop Village
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Pendelhaven
4 Imperious Perfect
3 Troll Ascetic
3 Tarmogoyf
4 Llanowar Elves
1 Boreal Druid
2 Masked Admirers
1 Civic Wayfinder

4 Wren's Run Vanquisher
Other Spells
2 Garruk Wildspeaker
4 Thoughtseize
4 Profane Command
1 Loxodon Warhammer
2 Eyeblight's Ending
1 Nameless Inversion

2 Slaughter Pact
2 Cloudthresher
1 Krosan Grip
3 Liliana Vess
2 Phyrexian Totem
2 Razormane Masticore
2 Viridian Shaman
1 Loxodon Warhammer
Imperious Perfect

Elves! is one of the most popular decks on the map today. It had a respectable showing at Worlds in New York this year. Above is the list from Katsuhiro Mori, which has been used by quite a few of the people who went into the top 8 this week. This week's deck, and the deck featured last week, Rock, are very close to each other in deck lists. The main differences -- and where I draw the line when calling the meta on Magic Online -- is the absence of Shriekmaw in the elves lists, and the inclusion of Imperious Perfect.

This deck is a quick mid-range deck, hoping to control the board early with some removal and disruption in the form of Eyeblight's Ending and Thoughtseize. It also controls the board with the totally amazing Wren's Run Vanquisher, which for 2 mana is one of the most efficient 3/3 creatures out there, but also has the bonus of deathtouch, making it 4 more slots of removal, or a hamper to the other side's creature team. From there, it plans on filling up the board with tokens from one or two Imperious Perfects and having them beatdown. This is a solid late-game strategy, and most of the matchups which end up in the late game will not prevail against the mighty elven army.

The deck has a number of strange card counts though -- 1 Civic Wayfinder? A single Nameless Inversion? These one-ofs and two-ofs are included mostly because of their subtype Elf. There are a total of 19 creature type Elf in this deck (including that single Nameless Inversion), which makes the Gilt-Leaf Palace come out untapped most of the time, and almost guarantees something to reveal to the Vanquisher turn 2. There are also a lot of variants of this deck, some which pack more removal, and some which pack less Elves. The sideboard is probably the most common change, where I have seen even a Damnation or two come out of. Even though the deck seems fairly linear, there is lots of room for customization.

Elves is solidly in the top tier, and it looks like it's staying there for a while.

Outlier of the week: Goblins

7 Snow-Covered Swamp
4 Snow-Covered Mountain
4 Sulfurous Springs
4 Auntie's Hovel
4 Keldon Megaliths
1 Graven Cairns
4 Knucklebone Witch
4 Mad Auntie
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Mogg War Marshal
3 Siege-Gang Commander
4 Squeaking Pie Sneak
4 Wort, Boggart Auntie
Other Spells
4 Tarfire
2 Profane Command
3 Incinerate
Knucklebone Witch

Goblins (does that need a "!" too?) is the outlier this week. It was just a speck on the meta last week, but this week it saw three top 8 placements. It's still well within the levels of the outliers even if it is on the rise. The deck focuses on Goblins (surprise surprise), hoping to ride another tribal theme to the top of the events.

The deck's star is definitely Knucklebone Witch, which if left alone can become quite the huge monster. This deck has no less than 11 goblins which can sacrifice themselves or other goblins in the form of Siege-Gang Commander, Mogg Fanatic and Mogg War Marshal. Goblins are huge fans of tossing themselves into the fray for the good of the crowd, and the little Witch capitalizes on this goblins-into-grave action in order to pump herself permanently. Add in a little graveyard recursion in the form of Wort, Boggart Auntie and you have yourself a huge theme.

While "pump Knucklebone" is a viable strategem all on it's own, the other goblins aren't just hanging around. Siege-Gang Commander is a win condition in it's own right, and works overtime to remove the opposing board. The Squeaking Pie Sneak will almost always have a Goblin to reveal with over half of the deck sharing a type, and his fearfulness makes it easy to swing for some early damage. Add that to the fact that Mad Auntie is one of the better lords for keeping guys on the board, and you have a pretty good aggro deck. Add in the fact that many of the creatures are in black and therefore immune to Shriekmaws, and this deck can take it all the way. I Foresee this deck gaining some ground.

There was lots of movement in this week, but I'll be back next week for another look at the metagame, bringing a late present right after Santa drops off your new toys (or lump of coal) for the year. Until then, good luck in the PEs!


by jamuraa at Fri, 12/21/2007 - 02:13
jamuraa's picture

The beard is real.  It's getting pretty long though, I need to trim it down to a manageable size before I go for Yule celebrations. 

by jamuraa at Fri, 12/21/2007 - 02:15
jamuraa's picture

It's great to hear that the articles are helping people out in deck matchups.  It's one of the main goals of the column.  Good luck with that Doran Rock list.  I expect the hate will come eventually. :)

It's got to be by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 12/20/2007 - 16:57
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

Please tell me that the beard is a prop you sellotape on purely for fun.

I fear the answer to this may be no it's real.

At which point I will run in fear, for it surely is the work of Stephen King. 



by Psychatrog at Wed, 12/19/2007 - 19:58
Psychatrog's picture

A great summary of the metagame as always.  Hopefully you'll see me in one of those top 8s very soon with the Worlds Doran Rock list!  I've been using your analysis of the meta to test against specific matchups and it has been helping immensely.

by paks at Wed, 12/19/2007 - 12:32
paks's picture

 Nice articel. Keep them comming!

There are some errors in the Elves! list. the Wren's Run Packmaster should be Wren's Run Vanquisher and the missing sideboard card is a Loxodon Warhammer.

by JXClaytor at Wed, 12/19/2007 - 13:53
JXClaytor's picture