Hi all! The Highlander Top 8 for the 2015 season is happening this Sunday January 24th and I thought I’d stop in to give people some insight as to how it works and who the players are!
Hey friends and welcome back to Monday Metagame! I took forever to process this weeks metagame as it was large and very complicated. Most archetypes were fairly well represented in the meta with blue decls tending to rise to the top. The four 3-0 decks at the beginning of the fourth round were BUG tempo, Bant tempo, UR tempo, and UB control. What was incredible about this particular week was that despite the 30 person attendance there were almost no repeat decks! In a field as varied as this one there are a few things that are particularly important in deck selection. Firstly the deck needs to have game plan that is streamlined and focused. With so many different strategies possible in Highlander it is not realistic to craft a deck that is partially good against some match ups and partially good against others as this deck will often lose to itself being too slow and unfocused just as often as it loses due to piloting. For instance a deck that I played very early in my time in Highlander was a BUG infect deck that played a bunch of tempo counter spells and pump spells to go along with a suite of infect creatures. The problem with this deck was that I would have really awkward draws where my hand would contain a bunch of creatures and counterspells but no way to end the game or I would end up with hands of just pump spells and counterspells. What I discovered was that the most powerful draws were those where I had both creatures and pump spells and maybe one counterspell to protect my creature. My deck suffered greatly from being extremely unfocused but if I had perhaps built with more pump spells and fewer counterspells perhaps it would have yielded better results. The second aspect a successful deck in a very diverse format requires to have multiple angels of attack. This doesn’t mean that the deck needs to be able to attack its opponents life total as well as threaten to mill it out or kill its opponent with infect. Rather attacking on multiple angels means that a deck has multiple means of accomplishing its goal. A good example of this is the BG rock deck that both Alasdair and Alistair (if only they spelled their names the same way) have favoured recently. This deck’s ultimate goal is to take control of the board and neutralize potential threats from the opponent. Within the core strategy are many different angles, the deck plays creatures like Tarmogofy, Thrun, and Thragtusk, large resilient creatures which exert a lot of pressure as one its angles of attack however it is not limited to these. The deck also plays many planeswalkers which exert pressure on the board by making creatures or pressuring the opponents life total. The opponent is now obliged to both deal with a tarmogofy and planeswalker both of which require very different types of interaction. Having multiple angles of attack is especially important in a diverse metagame because in any given round you have a reasonable equal chance of playing a deck which excels against one particular aspect of your deck but might struggle against others. The third aspect a successful deck in an extremely varied metagame requires is an unbeatable draw. Obviously this is slight hyperbole but each deck needs some sequence of opening plays that should win most games. This can manifest in a bunch of different ways. For a tempo deck this opening might involve playing Delver on turn one and then having 6 counterspells as back up for the rest of the game. An aggressive deck might curve out perfectly with a Mox and play a powerful 2 drop into a 3 drop into a 4 drop that kills its opponent. For combo decks these broken starts are quite obvious and just involve getting a combo together quickly. Control decks have some of the more interesting broken starts as they typically involve a curve of Sol Ring into some powerful planeswalker. Regardless of what this broken start is a powerful deck in a broad field needs to have this potential. You’re going to play enough games in a given tournament that having the potential to just acquire a free win is essential. The spicy deck of the week award goes Serge for his 4 colour Lands deck which he titled “Maximum Picante” this is a super cool list and features a lot of highly underused cards!
Here’s the meta as always!
Welcome back everyone! This week we had 28 players show up for Monday night Highlander which meant that we had a large and diverse metagame! This week was marked by a departure away from the GBx decks that had previously been dominating the metagame. This may well be partly due to the recent changes to the points list, Mind twist and Treasure Cruise both went to 1 point and Intuition and Grim Tutor both went to 0. These changes were largely motivated by the power of Twist and Cruise in Midrange decks and the relative lack of power of both Intuition and Grim Tutor. So far the changes do not appear to have an enormous impact on the format though it is worth noting that all 4 of the cards did not see a great deal of play on Monday.
The biggest change that occurred this week was that players actually began to play aggressive decks. Prior to this week there were only a few aggro decks in the meta each week however this week there were many more. This was probably in reaction to the fact that more people had chosen to play midrange decks. The faster aggro decks have the potential to go under some of midrange decks and more importantly they pressure the combo decks that have cropped up as a response to the midrange decks.
There are some very interesting tensions that developed from the shift in the meta. While the Tempo decks that cropped up this week perform well against the combo decks they tend to struggle greatly against the aggressive decks. Similarly the aggressive decks that perform well against the tempo decks and have some game against the midrange decks and control decks but struggle to interact with some of the extremely fast combo decks like storm and eggs. There’s a great deal of pushing and pulling going in the meta right now and working out the best deck is no easy task. I look forward to seeing how players attempt to compensate for how varied their potential opponents might be. Above all else it is clear that currently it pays to have a very clear and defined game plan. Decks are getting more and more tuned and if your strategy is too slow to develop and does not have considerable interaction then you’re likely in trouble.
The Spicy deck of the week award goes to Nick Picard for his UW Tempo deck. There have been several attempts at this deck before but Nick really hit the mail on the head with his rendition of the deck. What’s interesting about his list is that he chose to go a bit bigger than typical other tempo decks playing quite a few 4 drops and far fewer 1 and 2 drops than the standard tempo strategy. Furthermore his deck featured several new Dragons of Tarkir cards in Myth Realized and Ojutai Exemplars. Well done Nick!
The Meta as usual is listed below:
This Monday I’m reporting on two different metagames. Highlander for staples happened on the day before Monday night Highlander this week which resulted in an interesting shift in the meta. Stefan Bard took down the staples event with his BUG control deck and then successfully ran it back on Monday to take a huge lead in the year long race with three qualifier points. Stefan’s deck choice is emblematic of the recent Victoria metagame; players are either playing GBx decks, or they are trying to find ways to go under or over those decks. In general those strategies haven’t been able to counteract these GB strategies. The GB decks take advantage of the fact that they are almost always going to be acquiring more value than their opponents. Whether they are of the junk variety and use white cards to disrupt the opponent and play quality removal or splashing blue for counter spells and card draw the deck is very efficient and its individual card quality is usually higher than the opposing decks’.
The decks that have had a good match up against these value decks are the combo decks. Both High Tide and Storm went 3-1 this week and Mono Green Combo had a reasonable showing as well. These decks are either fast enough or interactive enough to get around the discard spells that many of these GB decks play. The one deck that these decks still struggle against is the blue version of the GB deck which potentially demonstrates the true genius of Stefan’s metagame decision.
Lost in these midrange and combo decks are the aggro and control decks. The few aggro decks that people played at the staples event did okay with both Matt and Pat Berdusco making their way into the top 8 with goblins and jund aggro. On Monday however aggro was less present and many of them struggled. Control on the other hand is almost always present due to how attractive it is to experienced players who can gain some advantage out of outplaying their opponents. Alistair Norman made it all the way to the finals on Monday piloting Esper control and Nick Picard also piloted a BUG midrangy control deck to a 3-1 record.
In the current metagame most archetypes are reasonably healthy with the exeception of aggressive decks. They are currently having some issues with the GB decks with a lot of removal and good creatures. Possible directions that the aggressive decks could go in to improve their match up against those decks likely include playing more green based creatures and trying to attack the mana bases of these other midrange decks. Even the straight GB decks play a lot of non basic lands and be vulnerable to cards like wasteland and blood moon. In addition to this these decks are fairly reliant on spending a lot of their mana each turn in order to play their large effective spells. Attacking that mana with cards like Armageddon has the potential to be extremely potent.
The spicy deck of the week award this week goes to Stefan Bard. His BUG control deck is simply too powerful to be ignored. There have been other attempts on this archetype in the past but Stefan has enjoyed particular success of late. The strength of this deck lies in the fact that it maintains all of the benefits that a typical GB shell has such as strength against creature decks while compensating for it’s major weakness, it’s struggle with combo decks, with the blue counter spells. Hopefully we’ll have a deck tech on that deck soon enough!
Here is the metagame!
Welcome back to the Monday Metagame! This week the metagame shifted slightly further towards midrange. In addition to moving even more towards midrange the metagame is also starting to shift away from blue decks and towards more green based decks. Fewer players showed up with combo decks this week as well which meant that many of the midrange decks rose to the top of the standings. Alasdair Howie made yet another run to finals this week as his green black midrange was able to overcome many of the other middling strategies. He however lost in the finals this week to me. I was playing a Bant aggressive deck with some pretty heavy disruptive elements attempting to disrupt other decks mana. This deck’s combination of powerful green creatures and disruptive white and blue elements meant that it was able to over come both aggressive red decks and slower control decks.
This week there were even fewer combo decks in the room than usual. There were no mono green combo decks and only three Academy decks and one Oath of Druids deck. Outside of these three decks there were a few other decks that contained combos in them but were not all in on these strategies. Combo seems like it’s in an incredibly powerful position in the metagame currently. Many of the mid range decks struggle to put a clock on their opponent quickly and are instead looking to acquire significant amounts of value and eventually grind their opponents out of the game. Many of the combo decks in the format can deliberately choose to ignore this value game and instead execute their own game plan efficiently. Furthermore the lack of fast clocks in the format means that many of these decks will be given a significant amount of time to set up before they are forced to go off. Classically tempo has been the hardest match up for combo decks but with many of the tempo decks forced out by midrange combo could be in a very good place right now.
Lastly we have the spicy deck of the week! This weeks award goes to Jeremy for his 4 Colour Oath deck. This deck is extremely well positioned in the metagame currently as there very few decks not playing creatures meaning that triggering Oath is not very difficult. Furthermore the bulk of midrange creature are basically dead to most Oath targets as they have a hard time beating both Emrakul and Griselbrand.
I’ll have a deck tech of Chris Sutherland’s RUG deck and my Bant deck coming out this week.
Also there is a Highlander for staple event this weekend so expect some coverage and deck lists from that!
The meta as always!
4 Colour Graveyard Synergy
4 Colour Artifact Combo
Time Vault Combo
2 Bant Aggro
2 UR Control
2 Junk Midrange
2 Junk Pod Combo
4 Colour Oath
Mono Red Aggro
Thanks as always!
It was the week of combo in sunny Victoria this week as Josh Layne took down the tournament playing Academy combo. He was not the only combo deck at the top tables however; There were several other combo decks of both the mono green and Academy variety sitting near the top tables by the end of the night. A common elements of these combo decks that have made them the most successful and powerful combo decks is that they are very density based and have a lot of redundant interchangeable pieces that all do similar things. The Academy decks play a large amount of mana rocks and land tutors in order to generate large amounts of mana which they then convert into a reasonable number of business spells that all have the capability of winning the game. The mono green deck is looking to do much of the same thing, generate a ton of mana from its creatures and high impact cards like Gaea’s Cradle and then use that mana to cast large threats that can in some instances instantly win the game. Since all the pieces in these decks are so interchangeable it is very difficult for some decks to disrupt them as some tempo and aggressive decks rely on using one or two pieces of disruption in order to slow their combo opponent down. Since these combo decks possess no real key combo pieces these disruptive elements are far less impactful than they might typically be. The story of combo doing so well this week is not only related to the power of big mana combo but also to the rise of mid range decks in the meta. Even the blue based mid range decks like the RUG mid range deck that Chris used to win last week are fairly soft to combo decks which potentially explains the results from this week. Though these midrange decks are weak against combo they have all but pushed aggro completely out of the format. This has led to a fairly interesting conundrum in the meta. The control decks in the format are forced to play more counter spells and cards specifically designed to combat the combos like stony silence (potentially unadvisable). In turn playing those cards they hurt their chances against aggro decks and also give up some cards for the midrange match ups. So what does one play right now? The combo decks out race many of the mid range and control decks, the mid range decks crush the aggressive decks, and the aggressive decks pressure the control and combo decks. This next week will be very interesting in terms of how the meta reacts. Lastly this weeks spicy deck of the week goes to Chris Sutherland for his RUG midrange deck! He has been working with this RUG shell for quite a while and took the tournament down last week! We’ll have two deck techs coming out this week as I no longer need to prepare for a legacy tournament! Here’s the exact metagame break down as usual. UG Sorenson 3 Mono Green Combo RUG Midrange GB midrange 2 Academy Combo Esper Control 2 UWR Control 2 UWR Tempo Goblins Mono Black Aggro RG Ramp BUG Tempo Bant Midrange Grixis Time Vault Esper Stax BUG Midrange Grixis Control Junk Pod Mono Blue Thanks again for reading a please don’t hesitate to leave a comment! -Liam Coughlan
Finally we’re back! I’d like to formally apologize again for the extended delay on the postings of these metagames but I was delayed for much of last week and couldn’t get everything together in a satisfactory fashion for myself. This week we’re going to do something a little different; rather than tackling each metagame individually we’re going to look at the shift in the metagame and what that means for the future!