Feature: Day One Constructed Metagame Breakdown

Posted in Event Coverage on May 11, 2012

By Nate Price

A longtime member of the Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage staff, Nate Price now works making beautiful words for all of you lovely people as the community manager for organized play. When not covering events, he lords over the @MagicProTour Twitter account, ruling with an iron fist.

Even as the last minutes ticked away before the first round of this tournament, many players, even established pros, had no idea what they were going to play. While there were 51 different deck types played here in Barcelona, it appeared that most of the players decided on variants of one deck: GRW Angels and Wolves. This deck is founded on creature-based mana acceleration in the form of Avacyn's Pilgrim and Scorned Villager, powering out incredibly efficient creatures that can absolutely take over a game, such as Wolfir Silverheart, Huntmaster of the Fells, or one of the gold Angels.

Deck Archetype Number Percent
GRW Angels and Wolves 102 26.91%
RW Humans 40 10.55%
Reanimator 30 7.92%
WG Humans 26 6.86%
RG Wolf Run Aggro 18 4.75%
UWR Miracle Control 12 3.17%
UW Miracle Control 11 2.90%
BRG Vampires and Wolves 9 2.37%
Monowhite Humans 8 2.11%
UGw Tempo Pump 8 2.11%
BRG Wolves 7 1.85%
RUG Aggro 7 1.85%
RUG Temblor 7 1.85%
UWR Control 7 1.85%
UWR Creature Control 7 1.85%
BRG Monsters 6 1.58%
RUG Control 6 1.58%
4-Color Control 5 1.32%
RUG Self-Mill 5 1.32%
UR Temblor 5 1.32%
BWG Planeswalker Control 4 1.06%
Monored 4 1.06%
UWR Aggro 4 1.06%
BUG Aggro 3 0.79%
BWG Angels and Wolves 3 0.79%
Monoblack Zombies 3 0.79%
UR Control 3 0.79%
WUR Burning Vengeance 3 0.79%
BUW Control 2 0.53%
BWr Control 2 0.53%
UB Control 2 0.53%
4-Color Self-Mill 1 0.26%
BG Monsters 1 0.26%
BRG Aggro 1 0.26%
BRG Control 1 0.26%
BUG Control 1 0.26%
BWg Control 1 0.26%
BWG Rock 1 0.26%
Monogreen Aggro 1 0.26%
RG Wolves 1 0.26%
RGb Wolf Run Aggro 1 0.26%
RGW Aggro 1 0.26%
RGw Wolves 1 0.26%
RUG Con-troll 1 0.26%
Still Had All Trees 1 0.26%
UBR Control 1 0.26%
UG Self-Mill 1 0.26%
UW Delver 1 0.26%
UW Humans 1 0.26%
UWR Delver 1 0.26%
WG Angels 1 0.26%

The most popular version of the deck eschewed the enticing Sigarda, Host of Herons; Gisela, Blade of Goldnight; and Entreat the Angels, though there were versions of the deck running around with all combinations of those cards. One thing that remained fairly consistent was the presence of Bonfire of the Damned, just massive against virtually all decks in the field. A whopping 102 players brought this deck to the tournament, comprising 27% of the field.

Following behind it was the white/red Humans deck that was expected to be a powerhouse here this weekend. Running the expected cavalcade of Humans—from Doomed Traveler and Champion of the Parish to newer faces like Zealous Conscripts—the Humans deck lives in the red zone. After vomiting out a string of terribly efficient creatures, the deck has enough range to finish the job more often than not, using Brimstone Volley, Devil's Play, and Pillar of Flame to slash any shreds of life that remain after the initial onslaught. In addition, the majority of the decks pack a pair of cards designed to take even more turns off the clock: Hellrider and Slayers' Stronghold. With Hellrider in play, the Humans deck can smash for an absurd amount in one turn, even before combat damage is dealt. As for the Stronghold, it serves the dual purpose of giving creatures haste as well as providing a beneficial mana sink to make sure that the deck's turns are as efficient as possible. With 40 players sporting the home species, 10.5% of the field came to tattoo their name on the red zone, preferably in their opponents' blood.

Speaking of blood, necromancy has really taken hold in this beautiful seaside city. While Avacyn may be restored, 30 players this weekend are doing the best they can to sit Griselbrand back atop the throne. Using cards like Faithless Looting, Tracker's Instinct, and Mulch to put Griselbrand into the graveyard before using Unburial Rites to put it into play. Surprisingly, the head Demon was often seen in the company of a trio of Angels: Angel of Glory's Rise; Gisela, Blade of Goldnight; and Sigarda, Herald of Herons. Versions of the deck ran less Grisebrands and more Angels of Glory's Rise, but the same general concept holds true: put fatty in the bin, bring fatty back on the cheap. 8% of the people in the field felt like breaking the rules of Magic, and this was the only legal way to do so.

The next couple of decks on the list are skeletal homologs of two other decks already discussed. The first, GW Humans, is similar to the RW Humans build, but exchanges the reach provided by the burn spells for the inevitability provided by Wolfir Silverheart, Mayor of Avabruck, and Gavony Township. Despite completely trading a color the decks run fairly similarly, with GW Humans relying more on continuing to push through the end of the game with combat, while the red version just goes to the face with burn. Another homolog that showed up in numbers was the RG Wolf Run Aggro deck. Not to be confused with the ramp version that tore up Standard, the block version runs fairly similarly to the GWR Angels and Wolves deck, minus the Angels. Rather than using the mana acceleration afforded by the Avacyn's Pilgrims and Scorned Villagers to power out a massive finisher, this deck used Kessig Wolf Run to turn the creatures it has into that finisher. Combined with the punch of Wolfir Silverheart, Wolf Run will end the game in a jiffy.

The final decks to crack double digits are two similar, yet different decks. The first is the Canadian creation affectionately named Hallelujah, a UW Miracle Control deck that uses Terminus and Devastation Tide to keep the game under control while it uses Temporal Mastery to continue to extend itself farther into the game than the opponent. Eventually, after building up a massive mana advantage, the deck can Entreat the Angels for a massive amount and end the game, possibly even on an extra turn thanks to Temporal Mastery.

With the addition of Think Twice and Thought Scour, the deck is even capable of summoning a miracle on the opponent's turn, lending to instant speed armies of Angels, Hallowed Burials, or queued up turns. The deck features Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, as a way to generate even more advantage as it creeps ahead of opponents. Mirroring the abilities of this deck is one that adds red for access to more removal in the form of Bonfire of the Damned, Devil's Play, Burning Oil, Pillar of Flame, or Brimstone Volley. The major difference between these two decks is the lack of Temporal Mastery and Devastation Tide in the red version.

While those cards were used to put the UW version ahead and to stem the flow of creatures from the other side, the red version uses permanent removal to get rid of the offending creatures rather than simply resetting things. The red deck also has access to an incredible finisher in Gisela, Blade of Goldnight. Often, Gisela ends up replacing Entreat the Angels as the deck's preferred kill condition.

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