The Devil is in the Details – Evaluating Deck Choices for the Metagame

This past Saturday was the Star City Super Invitational Qualifier at my hometown store Amazing Discoveries. Super Invitational Qualifiers are a big deal as they are essentially the Star City version of a Pro Tour Qualifier. The top two finishers in each format, Legacy and Standard, receive an invite to any Star City Games Invitational tournament in 2012. These Invitational tournaments offer $75,000 in prizes to the top placing participants. Obviously any Magic player who has aspirations of stepping up their game to the next level would want to attend the Super Invitational Qualifier. I have made a conscious choice recently to try and elevate my game and achieve a higher level. I knew the field would be competitive and I would need to choose a deck carefully to maximize my chances of success.

The tournament was strategically placed the day after a new set’s release which introduces an unknown factor to consider when making a deck choice. Which new cards would have the most impact on the metagame? New gems like Cavern of Souls, Tamiyo, Favorable Winds, Bonfire of the Damned, Entreat the Angels, and possibly Temporal Mastery would be making an impact that would need to be dealt with. I started brainstorming what the metagame would look like and had come up with the following:

  • U/W Delver
  • Naya pod
  • U/R Delver
  • RUG Delver
  • R/G & RGB Wolf Run
  • R/G Aggro
  • B/W tokens

These were the decks that I was sure would make up the top tier of opponents that I would likely encounter in the tournament. There were a few dark horse choices that might show up like UB Control, UW control and Frites that certainly would have a representative or two. Based on the decks that I would see I made a decision to start testing a UW build that included eight wrath-style effects in a full four Day of Judgment and four Terminus with Entreat the Angels, Tamiyo, and Drogskol Reaver as win conditions. Testing of that deck proved that it was not well positioned and would need a significant amount of testing in order to be viable.

From there I moved onto my old mainstay of BW tokens which now included the addition of Jubilation Angel. This deck seemed to be decently positioned and aggressive enough to hold its own in the metagame. I had decided this would be the deck to play for the tournament. Then something happened. I ended up having to have wisdom teeth pulled 3 days before the tournament. This came with some implications. First, I was in extreme amounts of pain due to having teeth pulled. Secondly, in order to control the pain I would be heavily medicated over the next 5-6 days. As a result of this occurrence I needed to change my deck choice as BW tokens often requires some precise math in order to maximize the damage that can be dealt.

I was now facing down a quandary as I needed something easy to play, required minimal decision making, and could still win games. The only deck I knew that could perform this way was the deck I played at SCG Phoenix, Mono Green Aggro. I don’t want to post a decklist and have this article turn into a tournament report. If you want to see the deck, I played in Phoenix you can read it in my previous article. I didn’t play swords as I switched them out for maindeck Overruns and I played Champion of Lambholt as my new set addition this time around.

Mono Green has the ability to win creature races through the use of Overruns and most of its creatures are aggressive and hard to deal with. Playing an aggro deck would allow for quick rounds and minimal thinking which was just what I was looking for given my new condition. Mono Green also has a decent matchup against Delver decks which would be running rampant and some game against ramp decks as Overrun can just steal games away. After analyzing the metagame I decided Mono green would be the way to go.

Analyzing and succeeding in the metagame requires the following steps:

  1. Know what decks will be represented
  2. Predict new decks that may show up
  3. Play a well positioned deck
  4. Play a deck that plays to your comforts, needs and wants
  5. Play a deck you like to play

These are the 5 steps I take when deciding what deck I want to play for a metagame. I consider numbers four and five as the most important as you should always play a deck that is fun for you and that you want to play.

I ended up splitting prize in the finals of the Standard portion with The Pendulum, Donald Sheldon, and we both got invitations to a Star City Invitational during 2012. My record through swiss rounds was 4-1-1 with my loss coming from Jason Black playing Wolf Run in round four and my split with Donald Sheldon in round 6. Mono Green remains a decent metagame choice and a solid deck.

I would like to extended congratulations to Amazing Discoveries for placing 6 participants into the top 8 of the Standard portion and for throwing an amazing, no pun intended, event. I would also like to thank Chris Zaborowski and Chet Maleszewski for providing event coverage on the Amazing Discoveries Tumblr page here

Special thanks go out to my Team FallFromHell teammates. It was awesome having you guys support my run through the Top 8. Congratulations to teammate Aaron Lettes for making Top 8, Christian Castro for his 5-2 finish to just miss Top 8, and Sean McCusker for winning a box of Avacyn Restored in a side event draft.  Magic has never been more rewarding or enjoyable as it has the last few months. This is due partly to my awesome team and a great place to play in Amazing Discoveries.

If you have any questions or comments please post below. If you like this article then please click the like button. You can also email me [email protected] or follow me on twitter @fallfromhell. Thanks for reading.

Jeffrey McCoy

Team FallFromHell