Pro Tour Amonkhet Day Two Standard Metagame Breakdown

Posted in Event Coverage on May 13, 2017

By Frank Karsten

378 players entered the tournament on Friday, but only 239 of them (63%) reached the requisite record of 4-4 to qualify for the second day. Theoretically, someone could have gone 1-4 in Standard and stayed alive on the back off of a 3-0 Draft record, while another player might have been 3-2 in Standard and eliminated due to an 0-3 draft. Nevertheless, there is an obvious correlation between a good Standard deck and making Day Two.

Yesterday, the three most popular archetypes were Mardu Vehicles, Aetherworks Marvel, and Zombies. Today, I'll go over every single archetype to explain their game plans, describe their variations, and analyze their performances!

The key measure of performance we will consider is the Day Two conversion rate. This statistic describes the percentage of players who made Day Two with a certain type of deck. So if eight out of ten pilots make Day Two, that's an 80% conversion, which is well above the global average of 63%. But if only five out of ten pilots made Day Two, then that would entail a 50% conversion, indicating a poor performance.

AETHERWORKS MARVEL

Aetherworks Marvel was in second place yesterday, but it has overtaken Mardu Vehicles as the most popular archetype on Day Two.

The ban of Felidar Guardian opened up the space for Aetherworks Marvel to return. It used to be better to assemble the two-card infinite combo with Saheeli Rai on turn four rather than spinning the wheel with Aetherworks Marvel, but nowadays a turn-four Ulamog is arguably the most busted thing you can do in Standard.

Aetherworks Marvel Variant #Day One #Day Two Conversion
Stock Temur Aetherworks 49 34 69%
Spell-Heavy Temur Aetherworks 14 12 86%
Flamecaller Temur Aetherworks 7 7 100%
Sultai Aetherworks 15 10 67%
Bant Aetherworks 5 3 60%
Four-Color Aetherworks 6 2 33%
Total 96 68 71%

The most popular shell was what I labeled as "Stock Temur Aetherworks." This deck looks remarkably similar to the old Four-Color Saheeli decks, except with Aetherworks Marvel and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger instead of Felidar Guardian and Saheeli Rai (and with Woodweaver's Puzzleknot replacing Oath of Nissa). Between Rogue Refiner and Whirler Virtuoso, it's easy to assemble six energy for Aetherworks Marvel, and anyone who has played against Four-Color Saheeli will know that the creature midrange plan is a viable path to victory as well.

Within this group of Stock Temur Aetherworks variants, there were some differences in the flex slots. Most commonly seen were Chandra, Torch of Defiance; Magma Spray; and Tireless Tracker, but there were also versions that relied more heavily on Bounty of the Luxa or Nissa's Revelation. These ramp cards could help cast any Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hungers that were drawn. Several versions with these ramp cards included Pull from Tomorrow as a mana sink as well. Other common choices for the flex slots were sweepers (Kozilek's Return or Sweltering Suns) to gain an edge against Zombies, and big monsters (Bristling Hydra and Glorybringer), which are good by themselves and can help diversify the threat base against Dispossess and Lost Legacy in post-sideboarded games.

The second-most popular Temur version was a spell-heavy variant that generally featured Censor, Glimmer of Genius, and sometimes even Torrential Gearhulk. To make room for these cards, these lists cut Servant of the Conduit. The third-most popular Temur version was one that included three to four copies of Chandra, Flamecaller in the main deck. The planeswalker helps sweep the board against Zombies, can discard Ulamogs for fresh cards, and is a decent hit for Aetherworks Marvel. On the back of these card choices (as well as high skilled pilots), these Temur versions posted an impressive conversion rate that was substantially higher than the (already high) conversion rate of Stock Temur Aetherworks.

Sultai Aetherworks traded in the red energy cards for Fatal Push and Liliana, Death's Mastery. This deck had "Zombie Ulamog" as a backup plan: the deck could mill Ulamog with Vessel of Nascency and then reanimate it with Liliana, Death's Majesty. You don't get the cast trigger, but you still get a 10/10 indestructible monster. Most of these lists featured Ishkanah, Grafwidow and Demon of Dark Schemes as well. I also included two Temur lists with Vessel of Nascency and Ishkanah, Grafwidow in the Sultai group because, despite technically being the wrong colors, they all had Vessel and Ishkanah in common.

Bant Aetherworks the least popular three-color combination. It's essentially a blue-white control deck splashing for green energy cards that is capable of Marveling out a Fumigate at instant speed.

Finally, Four-Color Aetherworks includes the best of all worlds, either splashing red for Harnessed Lightning or splashing white for Nahiri the Harbinger. These decks did not fare well.

MARDU VEHICLES

Mardu Vehicles has been a Standard mainstay since the release of Kaladesh, but it was the deck everyone expected to see and was prepared to beat. Correspondingly, its conversion rate was below average.

Mardu Vehicles Variant #Day One #Day Two Conversion
Stock midrange build 87 49 56%
Version with blue in the sideboard 6 5 83%
Version with Inventor's Apprentice 5 3 60%
Version with Depala/Fleetwheel 1 0 0%
Total 99 57 58%

The most common (midrange) build of Mardu Vehicles typically featured eight one-drops, 25 lands, eight removal spells, and a curve that topped out with several five-drops—most commonly Archangel Avacyn, but sometimes Glorybringer. Usually, this build would feature a transformational sideboard into a Mardu Planeswalkers deck, complete with Oaths, sweepers, and removal spells.

There was no consensus on two-drops. Some lists had Walking Ballista (to increase the artifact count), others had Veteran Motorist (for a more aggressive stance); some had a mix, and a few opted for newcomer Glory-Bound Initiate. Arguably, Veteran Motorist is the best fit for the deck, especially now that Walking Ballista is no longer needed to stop the Copy Cat combo, but it's not an artifact (necessitating the inclusion of Pia Nalaar or Cultivator's Caravan to increase the artifact count) and it requires a lot of red mana sources (which left fewer black sources for the aftermath on Cut // Ribbons).

The versions with blue had Spirebluff Canal in the main deck to support Metallic Rebuke, Negate, and/or Ceremonious Rejection in the sideboard. These versions had the highest conversion rate among all Mardu variants.

The versions with Inventor's Apprentice usually had eleven one-drops, 23 lands, six removal spells, and a curve that tops out at four. These lists looked eerily similar to the deck that won the last Pro Tour. Indeed, Pro Tour Aether Revolt Champion Lukas Esper Berthoud sleeved up his Inventor's Apprentice again, in the hope of beating Aetherworks Marvels and Torrential Gearhulks before the opponent had a chance to set up. He was not successful in making Day Two, but most other Inventor's Apprentice aficionados did.

Finally, there was a lone version with 4 Depala, Pilot Exemplar and 4 Fleetwheel Cruiser that did not make Day Two.

ZOMBIES

Many players expected to see some number of Zombie decks at Pro Tour Amonkhet, but the sheer amount that showed up was somewhat of a surprise. They posted a very strong conversion rate as well, just about as high as Aetherworks Marvel.

The reason for the Zombie outbreak was that the tribe got a lot of support from Amonkhet. Dread Wanderer in particular is a great one-drop to attack early and to grind late, and the deck as a whole can now quickly generate a critical mass of Zombies.

Zombies Variant #Day One #Day Two Conversion
Mono-Black Zombies 63 46 73%
White-Black Zombies 15 10 67%
Total 78 56 72%

Most of the mono-black variants looked alike. Many versions had as many as twelve "lords": Metallic Mimic, Lord of the Accursed, and Liliana's Mastery. In this regard, it looked similar to Merfolk decks in Modern or Legacy. The deck has a strong late game as well with mana sinks and creature recursion, and it includes some of the most efficient removal spells in the format.

The white-black variants sacrificed the most consistent monocolor mana base in Standard (with Westvale Abbey) to gain access to cards like Wayward Servant and Binding Mummy. Many lists had Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Anguished Unmaking in their sideboards as well.

One weakness the deck has is to sweepers. Since the deck intends to go wide with a bunch of 2/2 Zombies tokens, cards like Radiant Flames and Fumigate are quite effective against it. Most decks, including Mardu Vehicles, had access to those sweepers in their sideboards. (About one eighth of the Mardu Vehicles players at the Pro Tour anticipated enough Zombie decks to add multiple Radiant Flames to their sideboard for that matchup.) Given this weakness, I found it interesting to see what kind of sweeper-resistant threats the Mono-Black Zombie lists would have in their sideboards. After all, even if Zombies might be favored against Mardu Vehicles in Game 1, they could be a dog in the post-sideboard games if they don't have a good sideboard against Mardu's planeswalkers and sweepers.

The most notable sweeper-resistant cards I saw were Scrapheap Scrounger; Yahenni, Undying Partisan; and Bontu the Glorified. Planeswalkers and Vehicles—such as Liliana, the Last Hope; Ob Nixilis Reignited; Aethersphere Harvester; or Skysovereign, Consul Flagship—were included in multiple sideboards as well. All of these cards can develop the board while sidestepping sorcery-speed sweepers. Finally, I spotted several sideboards with Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Plague Belcher, which could survive Sweltering Suns and Radiant Flames, even if they aren't as impressive against Fumigate.

BLACK-GREEN

After the "Big Three" of Aetherworks, Mardu, and Zombies, we get to the less popular decks, starting with black-green variants. Most of them didn't gain that many new tools from Amonkhet, and as a whole black-green decks put up a below-average performance.

Black-Green Variant #Day One #Day Two Conversion
Black-Green Energy 10 6 60%
Black-Green Delirium 5 3 60%
Black-Green Cryptolith Rite 5 5 100%
Black-Green Constrictor 5 2 40%
Sultai Delirium 3 0 0%
Abzan Delirium 1 0 0%
Total 29 16 55%

Energy variants generally were built around Attune with Aether, Greenbelt Rampager, and Longtusk Cub. Delirium variants typically featured Grim Flayer, Vessel of Nascency, and Ishkanah, Grafwidow. Multicolor delirium variants didn't fare well. Finally, the Constrictor variants relied on the synergy between Winding Constrictor, Walking Ballista, and Rishkar, Peema Renegade, and didn't include a large energy theme.

Perhaps the most interesting build was one with Cryptolith Rite. Many of the cheap creatures from last year's Rites decks were present once again, this time flanked by Bontu the Glorified and Vizier of the Menagerie as mana sinks. This archetype had an impressive 100% conversion rate.

TORRENTIAL GEARHULK CONTROL

There were still plenty of players who loved to Censor your spells, put your cards back with Commit // Memory, generate card advantage with Pull from Tomorrow, and push ahead with Torrential Gearhulk. Yet, the group of Torrential Gearhulk archetypes did terribly at this Pro Tour.

Gearhulk Control Variant #Day One #Day Two Conversion
Blue-Red Control 16 9 56%
Blue-Red Dynavolt Tower 3 0 0%
Jeskai Control 3 1 33%
Temur Dynavolt Tower 2 2 100%
White-Blue Control 1 0 0%
Total 25 12 48%

Blue-Red Control was the most common variant, which had gained a lot from Amonkhet. Besides the already-mentioned blue cards, it featured Magma Spray and Sweltering Suns to keep the Zombie decks in check.

White versions gained access to Cast Out and Fumigate, but these decks didn't do well. Dynavolt Tower versions also performed poorly, although the ones with green did better.

WHITE-BLUE SPELL QUELLER

As we learned in the aftermath of Pro Tour Kaladesh, counterspells are good at stopping Aetherworks Marvel. Spell Queller in particular lines up well against the four-mana artifact. However, if the Day One results of this Pro Tour are any indication, Spell Queller decks are not the place to be.

Spell Queller Variant #Day One #Day Two Conversion
White-Blue Flash 10 4 40%
White-Blue Spirits 2 1 50%
Total 12 5 42%

Most flash variants were reminiscent of the White-Blue Flash decks from several months ago, except now with new cards like Censor, Cast Out, and Glory-Bound Initiate. Spirit decks had Mausoleum Wanderer, Rattlechains, and/or Nebelgast Herald.

TEMUR ENERGY

Temur Energy encompassed a group of midrange decks that (besides an energy package of, say, Servant of the Conduit, Whirler Virtuoso, Rogue Refiner, Attune with Aether, and Harnessed Lightning) would use the new Channeler Initiate to ramp into big threats like Bristling Hydra, Glorybringer, and so on. I made a distinction between versions with Elder Deep-Fiend and versions without.

Temur Energy Variant #Day One #Day Two Conversion
Temur Deep-Fiend 5 4 80%
Other Temur Energy decks 6 5 83%
Total 11 5 82%

The "other" Temur Energy lists would generally run Verdurous Gearhulk and/or planeswalkers (Nissa, Voice of Zendikar; Saheeli Rai; Chandra, Torch of Defiance; and so on) instead of Elder Deep-Fiend.

Overall, these decks had a great performance, and they put a large majority of their players into Day Two.

RED AGGRO

Red aggro decks came in various flavors and had an average Day One performance overall.

Red Aggro Variant #Day One #Day Two Conversion
Jund Gods 3 2 67%
Red-White Humans 2 2 100%
Red-Green Energy 1 0 0%
Red-Green Pummeler 1 0 0%
Red-White Exert 1 1 100%
Total 8 5 63%

Jund Gods is a kind of a mix between Mardu Vehicles (with Heart of Kiran and Unlicensed Disintegration) and Black-Green Energy (with Attune with Aether and Greenbelt Rampager), but with Rhonas the Indomitable and Hazoret the Fervent thrown in.

Hazoret the Fervent was also included in Red-White Humans—a deck that took advantage of Honored Crop-Captain and Glory-Bound Initiate from Amonkhet.

OTHERS

And to round things out, we have all decks that didn't fit into one of the previous categories.

Archetype #Day One #Day Two Conversion
New Perspectives Combo 7 3 43%
Black-Red Midrange 5 2 40%
Blue-Red Emerge 2 2 100%
Mardu Planeswalkers 2 0 0%
Abzan Tokens 1 1 100%
White-Black Control 1 1 100%
White-Blue Engulf the Shore 1 1 100%
Green-White Tokens 1 1 100%
Total 20 11 55%

New Perspectives Combo decks aim to cast the namesake card, then cycle Shefet Monitor and Vizier of Tumbling Sands to get mana, subsequently cast Shadow of the Grave to do it all again, and then win by, say, casting Approach of the Second Sun twice in the same turn. However, the deck is vulnerable to fast aggro decks and countermagic, and it didn't perform well on Day One.

Black-Red Midrange aimed for a reactive curve of Fatal Push; Lay Bare the Heart; Sweltering Suns; Gonti, Lord of Luxury; and Glorybringer. The deck only put two out of its five pilots into Day Two.

Interestingly, all of the one-of "other" decks advanced to Day Two. I'll give a one-sentence summary of each.

Abzan Tokens uses Hidden Stockpile and Anointed Procession in tandem with token-generating cards to flood the board with, say, embalmed Sacred Cat tokens.

White-Black Control can start with Gifted Aetherborn and Flaying Tendrils and eventually win with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar or Sorin, Grim Nemesis.

White-Blue Engulf the Shore features an all-Island mana base to Engulf your board, do it all again with Torrential Gearhulk, and eventually win by casting Approach of the Second Sun off of Irrigated Farmland.

Green-White Tokens, like before, can go for the mana curve of Oath of Nissa; Sylvan Advocate; Nissa, Voice of Zendikar; Gideon, Ally of Zendikar; and Archangel Avacyn.

Day Two Conversion Summary

If we put everything we've learned into one humongous table, then we see that among the archetypes with at least five pilots, Flamecaller Temur Aetherworks, Black-Green Cryptolith Rite, and Spell-Heavy Temur Aetherworks had the best conversion rates. Among archetypes with at least 40 pilots, Mono-Black Zombies did the best.

Archetype #Day One #Day Two Conversion
Flamecaller Temur Aetherworks 7 7 100%
Black-Green Cryptolith Rite 5 5 100%
Temur Dynavolt Tower 2 2 100%
Red-White Humans 2 2 100%
Red-White Exert 1 1 100%
Blue-Red Emerge 2 2 100%
Abzan Tokens 1 1 100%
White-Black Control 1 1 100%
White-Blue Engulf the Shore 1 1 100%
Green-White Tokens 1 1 100%
Spell-Heavy Temur Aetherworks 14 12 86%
Mardu with blue in the board 6 5 83%
Temur Energy—Other 6 5 83%
Temur Energy—Deep-Fiend 5 4 80%
Mono-Black Zombies 63 46 73%
Stock Temur Aetherworks 49 34 69%
Sultai Aetherworks 15 10 67%
White-Black Zombies 15 10 67%
Jund Gods 3 2 67%
Bant Aetherworks 5 3 60%
Mardu—Inventor's Apprentice 5 3 60%
Black-Green Energy 10 6 60%
Black-Green Delirium 5 3 60%
Mardu—Stock midrange build 87 49 56%
Blue-Red Control 16 9 56%
White-Blue Spirits 2 1 50%
New Perspectives Combo 7 3 43%
Black-Green Constrictor 5 2 40%
White-Blue Flash 10 4 40%
Black-Red Midrange 5 2 40%
Four-Color Aetherworks 6 2 33%
Jeskai Control 3 1 33%
Mardu—Depala/Fleetwheel 1 0 0%
Sultai Delirium 3 0 0%
Abzan Delirium 1 0 0%
Blue-Red Dynavolt Tower 3 0 0%
White-Blue Control 1 0 0%
Red-Green Energy 1 0 0%
Red-Green Pummeler 1 0 0%
Mardu Planeswalkers 2 2 0%

What Are the 25 Most-Played Cards Overall in Day Two Decks?

Of course I have more stats for you. Here is a list of the most-played cards in Standard at the Day Two of Pro Tour Amonkhet. In the table below, the "number of copies" is the sum of all copies between main decks and sideboards of all players. The list is sorted by the number of copies throughout Day Two.

Card Name Number of Copies in Day One Number of Copies in Day Two
Aether Hub 755 492
Fatal Push 720 460
Scrapheap Scrounger 604 374
Attune with Aether 505 356
Transgress the Mind 500 324
Negate 491 316
Harnessed Lightning 464 308
Rogue Refiner 402 298
Botanical Sanctum 419 297
Spirebluff Canal 408 281
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar 487 279
Aetherworks Marvel 388 276
Concealed Courtyard 472 276
Thraben Inspector 449 261
Tireless Tracker 358 256
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger 359 254
Heart of Kiran 420 244
Inspiring Vantage 427 244
Woodweaver's Puzzleknot 344 244
Unlicensed Disintegration 415 241
Servant of the Conduit 341 239
Toolcraft Exemplar 392 228
Cryptbreaker 312 224
Dark Salvation 312 224
Dread Wanderer 312 224

What Are the 25 Most-Played Amonkhet Cards Overall in Day Two Decks?

To conclude this article, here is a list of the most popular cards from the new set.

Card Name Number of Copies in Day One Number of Copies in Day Two
Dread Wanderer 312 224
Magma Spray 366 220
Lord of the Accursed 292 212
Liliana's Mastery 291 208
Dispossess 257 160
Canyon Slough 256 148
Censor 215 122
Glorybringer 204 116
Never // Return 154 96
Sweltering Suns 139 83
Manglehorn 111 78
Dissenter's Deliverance 105 75
Cut // Ribbons 117 72
Cast Out 112 61
Sheltered Thicket 77 47
Bounty of the Luxa 71 46
Wayward Servant 51 36
Liliana, Death's Majesty 55 31
Channeler Initiate 38 29
Irrigated Farmland 71 29
Glory-Bound Initiate 50 28
Commit // Memory 51 27
Pull from Tomorrow 48 25
Bontu the Glorified 27 24
Kefnet the Mindful 45 24

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