Featured Deck: Meta Watch, Week 1Format: Standard
Last Updated: 11 Oct 2018
Unsure of what to build? JackischMTG offers up 5 deck options for taking on the meta in this week's Meta Watch.
Before we dive in to today’s write-up - I want to make my typical shameless plug. I stream live on Twitch every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, starting around 8:00 PM (EST). I also make myself available on my community discord channel, which you can join here. If you enjoy this deck and want to see more, or perhaps are struggling with the deck and need help, please come join me. I love helping new players, and would be more than willing to talk all things MTG with you.
“Week one? Dude, we’re on week two of Standard…” Hold your horses. We’re calling this week 1 because we’ve officially had the first week of major competitive events in paper and Magic Online. In today’s article, I aim to give a consolidated breakdown of all the events together, how I expect those results to translate over to MTGA, and what I would recommend as a starting point for taking on the current meta. If all goes well, and I hear enough feedback from you, dear reader (lol), I may turn this into a regular or semi-regular occurrence here on Aetherhub.
Without further delay, let’s talk tournaments. Over the weekend, we had both the SCG Columbus Team Open, which consists of 3 players per team, each playing one of Standard, Modern, and Legacy. This does mean that the standard results could be a bit warped with a carried deck, but this is rather unlikely, considering that few top-tier modern and legacy players capable of carrying are going to allow their standard teammate to run jank.
In addition, we also had the MTGO PTQ, where we received some rather varied results. Adding to this variance was the Dragons deck, which from what I hear, included a bug that forced [[Demanding Dragon]] to make your opponent ALWAYS sacrifice a creature. So for our purposes here, we’re not going to include that deck, as a 5/5 flyer for 5 with a non-ascended [[vona's hunger]] attached is a massive power level difference from giving your opponent a choice.
So which decks made the most consistent showings in the top 16 across both tournaments? Here are the counts:
Golgari Midrange (all variants): 7
Mono Red Aggro/Burn: 6
U/B Control Variants (including U/B/x): 5
Selesnya Tokens: 3 (4, if you include the mashed-up list labeled as white wheenie)
Jeskai Control: 2
Boros Angels (midrange): 2
Not to brag too much here, but I almost 100% nailed my call of the meta from the article I wrote up over the weekend where I discussed what I expected to be prevalent for the competitive meta challenge event where we built sultai control. Speaking of, I’ve been doing some further testing, and feel I’ve come to an updated list that is further tuned, which you can find a link to here.
Moving forward now, let’s talk about what to expect over the next week or two. Clearly, everyone is looking to see where to go from here. If you want a sure-fire, strong deck with proof of concept, it looks like the results are crystal clear that we have 4 pillars of standard at the moment. If you want the closest thing to a guarantee to build towards, I’d probably start there. Those pillars are listed at the bottom of this article along with corresponding lists that you can export to MTGA. I’d even recommend that you export all of them to see which ones you are closest to completion on.
But what if you want to try and next-level everyone going for the top performers? Well, one great way is to look at the other one-off or perhaps two-of lists in those tournaments. Many of those decks will be great starting points, and you can check all of those lists out here and here. But for the purposes of staying focused and providing meaningful insight to you, the rest of this article will be primarily on the 2-of showings, Jeskai Control and Boros Angels.
In my opinion, one of these archetypes is what I would recommend as my “Top Pick” for the next 2-3 weeks, while the other just seems to fall flat on multiple levels.
Let’s start with what I believe to be the latter, Jeskai Control. “But Jack, CardCounterChris (or insert individual here) has been crushing Bo3 queues with the deck. How can you say it falls flat?” Let me first qualify my statement by saying that just because I say a deck falls flat, doesn’t mean it’s not able to perform. Rather, the primary detail we care about is which decks are BETTER against the field. Jeskai Control is good, but I want to make the case that if you’re considering Jeskai Control, then you should probably just be playing Esper Control instead (or maybe any U/B/x variant).
What’s the difference? The toolbox, that’s what. In the end, we are almost entirely comparing what red has to offer the Jeskai game plan to what black is offering Esper. There is one exception, which is that the Jeskai mana base supports Settle the Wreckage and Cleansing Nova, where Esper really can’t without making significant sacrifices that are probably not worth while.
So for the aggro match-up, what does Jeskai have going for itself?
[[Settle the Wreckage]]
How about Esper? Or potentially U/B/x?
[[Moment of Craving]]
[[Ritual of Soot]]
Who has the edge? Any why?
In my opinion, I give the edge here to Esper. Why? The residual life gain attached to [[Moment of Cravin]]g and [[Vraskas Contempt]] absolutely CRUSHES the low curve aggro decks (which historically have been favored against control). How many mono red decks play shock? Almost of them? So everytime you stick a moment of craving, you almost 2-for-1’ed them. Not bad for 2 mana.
Now let’s break down the difference in the midrange match-up, starting again with Jeskai’s tools:
[[Settle the Wreckage]]
[[Ral, Izzet Viceroy]]
Now Esper / U/B/x:
[[Ritual of Soot]]
[[The Eldest Reborn]]
[[Profane Procession]] (esper only)
Who has the edge? And why?
This one clearly goes to Jeskai. Clarion, Settle, and Nova are A+ sweepers against multiple decks and cover just about every possible creature-based angle that opposing midrange decks could come from. U/B/x’s tools leave a bit to be desired for this match-up, however that eldest reborn is nothing to sleep on. A final note on the midrange matchup - traditionally, control as an archetype has had an edge against midrange as a whole. So while I’m easily giving the advantage to Jeskai here, I don’t think having the edge here is as worthwhile as having the edge in the aggro matchups.
Finally, let’s talk the control match-ups starting with what red brings Jeskai:
[[Ral, Izzet Viceroy]]
Esper / U/B/x:
[[Arguel's Blood fast]]
[[Thief of Sanity]]
[[The Eldest Reborn]]
[[Chromium, the mutable]] (esper only)
Who has the edge? And Why?
To me, this one is by far in favor of U/B/x Control. Multiple copies of [[Duress]] on their own has the ability to HOSE the mirror. The card is so potent that it’s not unusual to see 3-4 copies in the sideboards of decks that have access to black. Add in the fact that we also have the opportunity for the [[Thought Erasure]] + [[Disinformation Campaign]], and I believe you have a perfect storm of hand disruption that makes winning with Jeskai feel like an uphill battle.
So there you have it, my thought process on why Esper or even U/B/x is the better pick against the field over Jeskai. Can you still win with Jeskai? Sure. But unless the control vs. midrange match-up becomes intolerable for Esper, I believe Esper will remain the better pick for the foreseeable future.
The last thing I want to talk about before I wrap this article up with the links to all the decks is Boros Angels. This is the one deck I believe is best positioned to take on the 4 starting pillars of U/B/x Control, G/W Tokens, G/B Midrange, and Mono Red. I’m not going to go in depth on how to play it, but rather I want to discuss the advantages I believe it has in each of the above matchups that give it a an edge.
Vs. U/B/x Control
In this matchup, Boros Angels fields an incredibly awkward lineup of creatures to kill once they have resolved. This is true of basically the entire curve. [[Knight of Grace]], hexproof from black. [[Adanto Vanguard]], indestructible vs cards like cast down. [[History of Benalia]], 2 tokens, demanding a sweeper or a 2-for-1 with other removal. [[Shalai]], [[Lyra]], and [[Aurelia, exemplar]] all dodge cast down and [[Ritual of Soot]]. Add in [[Banefire]] from the side, and you’ve got a wonderful mix of threats that all demand a very specific type of interaction. If you are U/B/x player here, I can’t recommend [[murder]], [[vraska's contempt]], and even [[Golden Demise]] enough.
Vs. G/W Tokens
First strike, Flying, Trample, Vigilance. All of these keywords matter in the tokens match-up, as they make for some rather difficult combat steps. Who has ‘em all? Boros Angels. Add in [[Deafening Clarion]] as both a sweeper and tool for racing, and you’ve got yourself multiple viable paths to victory. If you’re the tokens player, it might be worth considering going up the curve with your sideboard with cards like [[Lyra]], [[Settle the wreckage]], and [[Cleansing Nova]]. Just stay mindful of how many resource you commit to the board before you Nova.
Vs. G/B Midrange
This one isn’t as much of an edge, but is still worth pointing out where you have opportuntities. Here, we of course have what I talked about under the U/B/x section with being able to make it awkward for the opponent to use removal like [[Cast Down]]. What G/B does have going for it are those [[Ravenous Chupacabra]]. Watch out for those, seriously. But barring our opponent chaining [[Ravenous chupacabra]] and [[the Eldest Reborn]], I do think we are favored due to how many flyers we have. If you’re the G/B Midrange player, I’d argue you need to consider running multiple [[Vivien Reid]] in your 75. Powerful flyers and enchantments are everywhere, and it seems Reid almost feels like a catch-all in that context.
Vs. Mono Red
[[Deafening Clarion]], board sweeper and/or massive life gain. Do I need to say more? Ok, [[Lyra Dawnbringer]]. If you’re the mono red player, side in [[fight with fire]] and play “Red Roulette” with [[Experimental Frenzy]] and just pray that you chain the perfect series of Burn Spells before your opponent can connect with Clarion or Lyra.
I haven’t actually played the Boros Angels deck yet, but I hope my rationale above helps explain why I’m pretty bullish on Boros Angels. I actually plan on playing either Boros Angels or Selesnya Tokens on this week’s Friday stream. Start time officially is 8:00 PM (EST), but as of late, life has gotten in the way on Fridays and I’ve had to start as late as 9:30 PM (EST). If you want to join in for that and explore one or both of those archetypes with me, I’d love for you to join me.
Finally, here are the pillars of the format along with corresponding lists that I feel confident recommending to you as a starting point:
Until next time,
Mainboard - 60 cards (15 distinct)
|Instant, Sorcery, Enchantment, Artifact (13)|
Sideboard - 15 cards (7 distinct)
Mainboard - 60 cards (15 distinct)4 Adanto Vanguard
4 Knight of Grace
3 Shalai, Voice of Plenty
4 Lyra Dawnbringer
4 Resplendent Angel
3 Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice
4 History of Benalia
3 Lightning Strike
1 Justice Strike
3 Deafening Clarion
2 Conclave Tribunal
4 Clifftop Retreat
4 Sacred Foundry
Sideboard - 15 cards (7 distinct)3 Settle the Wreckage
1 Ixalan's Binding
2 Sorcerous Spyglass
3 Seal Away
2 Justice Strike
1 Deafening Clarion
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