Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Metagame Predictions Post WWK

The metagame is kind of in turmoil right now, and I honestly have no idea what the metagame at PT San Diego will look like.

But I can say that at an FNM level, there are a number of decks I expect to show up in force. Here are my brief predictions on the metagame. Let's see if I can hit the mark.

Will increase Will decrease Stable
Grixis Control
Eldrazi Elves
UWx Control
Mono Black Control
Ally variations
RB Aggro

Mono-red Aggro
Barely Boros
Spread Em
LSV American Control

Mono White
Naya Lightsaber

Grixis Control is already becoming more and more popular at a local and Pro level. It has advantages over Jund in game one similar to those in the American Control matchup, while not completely sucking against other decks game one as well. Since it doesn't rely on Spreading Seas. It does have notable weaknesses to graveyard-related card advantage. Since it isn't packing Path to Exiles or Celestial Purges. So Bloodghast and Sprouting Thrinax are still major pains for the deck. However Jace 2.0 just makes the deck so much more powerful than it was before. It's a real contender. Unfortunately, it can't maximize synergies like Treasure Hunt with Halimar Depths. Depths just makes casting Cruel Ultimatums reliably much too difficult -- they can't be fetched with Scalding Tarn, and they only produce one color of mana. However it can run Creeping Tar Pit as an alternative win condition and chump blocker.

Eldrazi Elves is already seeing a surge of popularity online in Magic League and MWS. It's obviously one of the decks people want to experiment with, and it's splitting off in multiple directions. Some are becoming very Elf-oriented, swarmy, and aggressive with Joraga Warcaller. While others are focusing more on the token-producing with cards like Wolfbriar Elemental and Master of the Wild Hunt. And of course, if there's any room left, they can squeeze in Leatherback Baloth, which, in my opinion, can just win games by itself when landed on turn two. It really doesn't fit in with the overall plan of either deck type, but it's just too strong to ignore in mono-green. If I had any plans on running mono-green, it would probably include the Baloth somewhere. 

Vampires is another one we could see coming from miles and miles away. After playing with Kalastria Highborn myself, I can see where the appeal comes from. Wielding the Vampire tribe is just exciting! It interacts uniquely with opposing decks. Some Vampires variations are trying to include Abyssal Persecutor, as well. The stock list will probably look very similar to pre-WWK builds, just with more Highborns. But there's definitely room to branch out into new territory with Persecutor. I feel people are starting to respect this previously "jank" deck a little more now. Although it's unclear to me how well it actually performs. I think many people just "play it wrong" and in fact HAVE been playing it wrong since the beginning. The few "experts" on the Vampire deck will probably do very well with it; while the rest will struggle to figure out what to do in each matchup.

Allies are popping up here and there; which has to be an increase because they were simply nonexistent before. Are they viable? I don't really think they are. But people will try. So help them God. They will try. The white-based Ally aggro decks are actually pretty fast.

RB Aggro is the logical next step from mono-red aggro, which is kind of dying. I personally think Slavering Nulls is kind of exciting. We'll see what pops out of the woodworks, but I'm certain you'll see one or two more RB aggro decks than you saw before.

Jund, the big bad menace; the evil empire; whatever you want to call it. I have no doubt this deck will remain in force. Especially with a metagame in turmoil, many people will just want to fall back on this "safe" option. It doesn't even change very much with Worldwake. On the other hand, people are still suffering from a psychological hangover of too many Jund mirror matches, which may keep the overall numbers down. It seems the Pros are all switching over to a new poison, blue control. So I don't think there's much chance of Jund making up 33% of the field again. Or maybe it will - it wouldn't be too surprising. Personally I think Jund's game 2 and 3 make up for a pretty bad game 1 against control. A properly metagamed Jund deck can still take San Diego. I have no doubt Jund will still make up the majority of the field, but I think its majority will not be as overwhelming as pre-WWK. It might be a small drop; or maybe it will even drop to 25%. But it will still have the largest representation.

Mono Red Aggro doesn't WANT to die, but I think it has to. There are several reasons. If Jund isn't as heavily represented, it will not be as easy for mono red to ride the wave of Jund matches to the top. Also, people ARE maindecking Kor Firewalker, even if it's not a good idea. They are finding ways to play this card and profit. And red really doesn't have a good answer to Firewalker. As hard as people like Adrian Sullivan may try... Also, Quenchable Fire is not quite as godly anymore and less maindeckable. (Barely Boros is basically fading for the same reasons.)

Boros is dying? I really don't think it should. But this is just the general sense I am getting. It may just be a local phenomenon, though. For San Diego, I think Boros will make a very good showing. It's still the scariest, fastest deck you can run in Type 2. But I also see many players that have been running Boros getting tired of losing to Jund. In particular, Siege-Gang Commander. But I'm sure clever players will find ways around. Maindeck Earthquakes. Sideboard Quenchable Fires. There are ways.

If blue is getting played, Spreading Seas is just not nearly as effective as a maindeck strategy... so we can wave good bye to LSV's American Control and Spread 'Em.. They were already dying before Worldwake. A new version of RWU control may come about, but it won't be as heavily meta'd as the one that won the 5K.

Midrange strategies like Bant, Knightfall, and Naya are interesting. They're not really here or there. Locally, I see a lot of players catching onto these decks, but I don't know why. They don't gain THAT much from Worldwake, just some add-ons like manlands, Loam Lion, and some sideboard cards. They don't have the strongest matchup against Jund and Control. At best it hovers around 50/50. At least this is my impression. I just don't see these decks spiking in popularity anytime soon. That being said, they're still part of every metagame.