The Metagame Report, August 17–23

The only major event this week was Gen Con, but the World Magic Cup provided a significant amount of data about Block, Modern, and Standard.

Standard

StandardCount
Delver4
Zombies4
Naya Pod2
R/U/G Run2
Infect1
Esper1
Wolf Run1
Mono-Green1

Surprisingly, Standard was the format with the most variety, as there were eight different archetypes represented in the Top 16. The most popular decks were Delver and Zombies, but combined, they only made up half the Top 8 field.

The Delver lists at the WMC were more traditional than those we’ve seen in the Top 8s of the most recent Opens, as the creature suite has reverted back to including some number of main-decked Restoration Angel (all four lists had at least one in the main) and Geist of Saint Traft, while the lists completely dropped main-decked Hero of Bladehold and Talrand, Sky Summoner. Also a major change was that three of the four Delver lists included main-decked Runechanter's Pikes, which used to be just in a small minority of lists. I don’t really know what prompted these reversions, and I am not sure which lists are better—the more recent lists continue to perform well on Magic Online, and these changes may have simply been due to a predicted shift in the metagame for the WMC.

The other deck tied for most popular was Zombies, with three B/R lists and one U/B Pod list. Both Zombies variants seek to use aggressive 1-drops to provide early damage and then either use burn (B/R) or Birthing Pod (U/B) to give themselves enough of a late game to deliver the final points of damage. A significant amount of this reach is provided by the combination of Blood Artist, Mortarpod, and Gravecrawler, providing enough damage to close any game given enough time. Something interesting about Marcio’s deck above is the inclusion of Bonfire of the Damned, which seems to be a solid main-deck addition to help against other creature decks.

The American team chose to run Naya Pod (Blame Kibler, etc.) which doesn’t seem particularly strong given the number of Zombies present in the WMC meta (Pod decks have performed best in Delver-dominant metagames of the past few months), and there’s really nothing new or interesting about the Naya lists at the WMC.

R/U/G Run was the best-performing deck two weeks ago, and two teams in the Top 16 of the WMC chose to run it. Once again, it’s a deck that performs well when there’s an abundance of aggressive decks with small creatures, and it was hurt by the fact that the Top 16 meta turned away from this. Once again, the list is nothing new or exciting, but ramp is still an important part of the meta.

Mono-green infect gets another live result, but it still doesn’t seem that there’s any reason to play this deck unless you’re on a constrained budget. The deck has a fast goldfish, but the amount of disruption that it encounters in current Standard is extremely high, and it just doesn’t seem to be worth the risk of playing against the plethora of Delver hate, which is also extremely effective against infect.

Modern

ModernCount
R/U/G Delver4
R/W/U Delver4
Affinity3
Jund2
Assault Loam1
Doran1
Pod1

Modern also had a varied metagame, but not as varied as Standard. R/U/G and R/W/U Delver made up half of the Top 16 meta, with Affinity being the third-most-played deck.

R/W/U Delver is the more aggressive Delver variant, with eight 1-drop creatures (both capable of dealing 3 or more damage on turn two) and Geist of Saint Traft as it’s more expensive theat. The deck is rather streamlined, and besides its relatively obvious creature package, it just plays twelve burns spells along with some card selection (Sleight of Hand), removal (Path to Exile), and a counter (Remand) to close out the list.

R/U/G Delver is similar to R/W/U Delver, but it plays a little bit of a different game. The deck is slower and more controlling, but it gets to play both Tarmogoyf and Vedalken Shackles to help power out its game plan. The deck cuts back on burn to play more counters (playing Cryptic Command, Spell Pierce, Spell Snare, Mana Leak, and Deprive), but as its objective is to have a more solid control of game flow, this makes a lot of sense. I expect the cost of R/U/G Delver to prevent a lot of people who would want to play it from doing so in the next Modern Pro Tour Qualifier season, as it’s by far the most expensive deck in Modern.

Affinity is the most all-in of the Modern aggro decks, and the deck is only such a force because of Cranial Plating and Etched Champion. If your deck is capable of neutralizing both these threats, Affinity is not particularly powerful, but the speed at which this deck can deploy and use those cards is what makes it so threatening. In general, I think the fewer Arcbound Ravagers your list has, the better, as the card is not what it was when it was still legal in Standard.

Block

BlockCount
Jund12
Angel Reanimator2
Miracles1
Zombies1

lol

Chris Mascioli
@dieplstks on Twitter