Let’s analyze some Standard data like it’s 2003.
MTGO recently started publishing only half as many decklists as they had previously. On top of this, they are also ensuring the lists they post are artificially diverse making them essentially useless for terms of assessing what the format looks like as a whole. This leaves us with examining the little raw, undoctored data that we have – data from large Magic events.
The first weekend Hour of Devastation is legal has come and gone and with it were three major events:
Since the format is new, SCG is kind enough to provide us with double the data they normally do. This means we have 64 lists from the Standard Open, 32 lists from the Classic, and 32 from the MTGO PTQ giving us 128 data points to work with. Let’s start with a couple rough overviews of the format starting with a generic decklist grouping:
Even with fairly liberal decklist combination we still get a whooping 50% “other” section. This section consists of 27 other decks that all had fewer than 10 top finishes this past weekend:
- GB Energy
- GR Ramp
- GR Pummler
- RB Eldrazi
- Esper Aggro
- Temur Emerge
- UB Control
- UR Emerge
- Grixis Control
- Sultai Delirium
- UR Prowess
- Bant Delerium
- Bant Spirits
- BR Energy
- Esper Control
- Four Color Emerge
- GR Aggro
- Jeskai Control
- Naya Midrange
- RB Aggro
- Red Eldrazi
- Temur Control
- UR Eldrazi
- UW Control
- UW Spirits
- WR Humans
Because there are so many different decklists at this point, sometimes it is easier to visual the format in a bit more generic sense. The best way to do this in terms of a TCG is to group every decklist into a specific aggro / midrange / control / ramp archetype. When we do this we get the following summary:
To the surprise of no experienced TCG players, aggressive decks had a good showing the first weekend of the new format. Even with powerful tools like Hour of Devastation, it often takes a few weeks for control decks to find their legs in terms of what answers they want to fight a new format effectively.
While we do not have the entirety of the data from each of these three events, one thing that is provided from the SCG Open is a general archetype breakdown for each of the 110 day two competitors. One of the things that is interesting to look at is the conversion rate for each of the archetypes on the second day of competition. This means comparing how many we had at the start of the day to how many of them finished in the top 64 of the field. Because 64 is about 58% of 110, any deck with average results will have at least a 58% top 64 rate. The five most popular decks in day two of the open were:
|Deck||Total Day 2||Total Top 64||Expected|
This means that even though the Open itself was won by a control deck, control decks as a whole underperformed by a lot on the second day. UW Monument and Mardu Aggro both overperformed a bit and Temur Energy and GR Ramp had fairly average day twos. Overall these results do not surprise me. Blue-Red based control decks have historically had a hard time with beating Mardu Aggro and those control decks being popular on the second day of the Open put Mardu in a good place to succeed.
Hiding in that 50% “other” decklist data are more than a few gems. For the second half of my article today I would like to highlight a few of the decklists from the three events that stood out to me as interesting in powerful in some way.
Bant Delirium by Derrick Davis
This deck leans on the power of ramp in order to meld Gisela, the Broken Blade with Bruna, the Fading Light. Between Primal Druid and Spring // Mind, we can get our pair of angles into play as early as turn five. The Delirium part of the deck comes from the use of Traverse the Ulvenwald to find whichever Angle we are missing for our meld. We also have a toolbox of creatures such as Ishkanah, Grafwidow, Linvala, the Preserver, and even an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger to cast for a very fair ten mana.
Blue-Black Zombies by Floyd Combs
Floyd took a fairly stock Mono-Black Zombies list and added twelve Blue-Black dual lands to give us access to three copies of The Scarab God. This is a powerful top-end finisher that is not only difficult to remove, but also drains our opponent out on stalled boards while generating card advantage. The blue splash also gives us access to a few copies of Negate in the sideboard.
UR Prowess by Levi Basham
While sleeving up a bunch of basic Mountains is certainly efficient, sometimes you want to be aggressive while still playing something sweet. Levi’s Blue-Red deck gives him access to powerful cards like Fevered Visions for running down any control decks in the format. Commbined with his plethora of burn spells, it allow him to play a controlling role against the smaller creature decks in the format. Riddleform seems like a really powerful “Delver” style addition to this archetype from Hour of Devastation.
GR Ramp by Jonathan Benson
With Ulamog no longer castable on turn four, we have to go about other ways of getting the ten-mana creature into play as quickly as possible. Beneath the Sands and Hour of Promise are pretty powerful pickups for this style of deck. The deck’s also great about mitigating the biggest drawback of ramp decks in the late game – that your ramp spells are just more mana you do not need. Beneath the Sands can simply cycle itself for a new card and Hour of Promise can find us utility lands while also creating some threats to pressure our opponent with. Finally we have four main deck copies of Abrade for killing things from Servants of the Conduit to Hearts of Kiran.
Temur Midrange by John Roberts
While there is a small energy sub theme, this deck has a number of distinction from the traditional “Temur Energy” deck that was popularized last season after Marvel was banned. Woodland Wanderer is a powerful threat that can slam into play as early as turn three with six points of power. Altered Ego is an interesting card. At its base it is likely an additional Rogue Refiner to draw another card or an addition Woodland Wanderer to keep beating down with. In the late game though it is a card that we can dump a bunch of mana into if we have flooded out a little bit. Again we see four main deck copies of Abrade for the flexible removal it offers.
Blue-Black Control by Ben Brown
While Blue-Red and “Grixis” control were all the rage this past weekend, there were a few Blue-Black lists that put up results and I like Ben’s list the best of the ones posted. Good mana with 12 dual lands and powerful answer with cards like Murder, To the Slaughter, and Bontu’s Last Reckoning to clear up. The only thing that seems mildly suspect to me in the inclusion of Pull from Tomorrow over Glimmer of Genius since we have four copies of Torrential Gearhulk that cannot flashback Pull.
All in all this first week of standard events has me even more excited for playing around in the format. With all of the busted things finally gone from the format, it feels like there is finally breathing room for a variety of archetypes to exist and be competitive.
What decks did you like best from the results of this past weekend? Was it one of the ones I highlighted here or something else?
* One SCG Invitational Top 8
* Two SCG Invitational Top 16
* 14 SCG Open series Top 8s
* One GP top 16