Insider: Battling for the Metagame

Mike-Lanigan QS Magic the Gathering MTG

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We have seven weeks until Battle for Zendikar releases and throws the metagame into the chaos of war and new cards. There is still much exploration that will happen before then though and GP San Diego is no exception. This event compounded with PT Origins results have steered the meta down quite an interesting path. The metagame is wide open for any type of deck your heart desires to play. If these interesting new brews aren’t to your liking, the kitchen is still open and ready for more brewing.

If you will be playing any events before rotation, you could still play against the typical Abzan Aggro, Esper Dragons, Abzan Control, Jeskai Aggro, and G/R Devotion, but you could also play against any of these sweet new decks. So let’s take a look at all these new additions hidden within the results.

Mono-Red rears its ugly head yet again. In this latest version, courtesy of Pro Tour brewing, we see the addition of Magic Origins having an enormous impact on the deck setup.

The key to this deck’s success is Abbot of Keral Keep. As I suspected from before the set was released, he is insane. Dualcaster Mage who? This is the real way of the future and I expect it to impact Modern as well as maybe Legacy. If you’re desperate, you can cast them on turn two as a pseudo-Seeker of the Way, but it’s almost always correct to wait a turn or two so you can gain some card advantage. Abbot is like a creature version of Outpost Siege which blows my mind.

This deck burns you out from high life totals so protect yourself as much as possible. Trade with their creatures if they give you the chance. Players came prepared to beat this new archetype because this was the only copy to end up in the Top 32 of the GP.

A couple weeks ago, I spoke about this archetype being viable but I couldn’t discern the puzzle enough to complete the deck. As it turns out, I was reasonably close to this build and with further inspection on the legal parts I would likely have gotten to this point. Mono-Blue Devotion distractions kept me from getting this far but I’m giddy that the pros figured it out.

The key to success with this deck is not road-blocking yourself with four-drops. Slimming down the mana curve allows you to bust the gate down quickly and allow your thopter army to chop your opponent to pieces. Whirler Rogue sneaks the last points of damage in unless you can Shrapnel Blast your way to victory.

Beware of the Bile Blight response team in the meta though because they seek to take down your army all in one shot so stubbornly deny your opponent the change to plague your army with destruction.

Blame Kibler. That saying may be unrelated in origin but this deck overwhelmed nearly all of his Pro Tour opponents who were vastly unprepared for the green-white onslaught. 9-1 in Standard is impressive to say the least and with a better draft record, Kibler would have scored another PT Top 8.

This beast is ripping the metagame to shreds and it was everywhere at the GP. Many pros jumped on board with this aggressive deck and did well at the event. Unlike many aggressive strategies, there is so much maneuverability with this strategy, especially post-board.

Test against this deck or you’ll find yourself on the losing end. Unravel the Aether is particularly necessary and it will start showing up more in response to Hangarback Walker's dominance in the meta.

You get a Hangarback Walker, you get a Hangarback Walker, everyone gets a Hangarback Walker! You know what’s good against Hangarback Walker? Playing your own Hangarback Walker obviously.

This card synergizes with so many strategies in different ways. I love the Chief of the Foundry upgrade in this deck of Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury and I’m surprised that Dan didn’t balance his five-drops to include another copy or two for this purpose. This deck is basically Mardu Dragons without the white mana, so the strategy isn’t brand new but this version is some of the spiciest food in the room. Just don’t accidentally Bile Blight all of your thopter tokens along with theirs.

Yet another assortment of interesting enchantments is smattering the meta with a constellation of stars. Take your pick at which colors you want to include in your version but the short answer is that running enchantments is not only feasible but there are many possibilities! Sadly this deck will likely find its demise upon rotation but for now, Origins is originating so many fantastically entertaining decks!

Personally, I’d eschew the black mana in favor of creating my own angel army from Sigil of the Empty Throne, but both decks get to draw ridiculous amounts of cards so they would both be fun.

My nemesis returns with a vengeance and I want to go hide in a corner. Turbo Fog, or U/R Tutelage in this case, has been my archenemy since I began playing the best game ever made and I’m in no hurry to start playing against it yet again. Every so often this archetype stops players from doing anything relevant in their games and skates by milling opponents out repeatedly.

Sphinx's Tutelage, which is extremely wrong to do to your opponents in Limited, is being used as the engine for this deck to run on. You can destroy them with all the enchantment hate in the meta, but you may still find yourself with no more cards to draw shortly after that in the game. It’s neat that this is yet another distinct archetype viable in competitive play right now though.

Standard is diverse and the diversity isn’t just a bunch of different versions of Abzan any longer, we have true diversity with distinct archetypes making each tournament a uniquely fun experience. Have you tried any of these decks? What deck are you having the most fun with right now? Let me know in the comments.

I hope you enjoyed this hop around the meta. I’ll see you next week with lots of financial info in anticipation of Battle for Zendikar.

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