Feature: Day One Standard Metagame Breakdown

Posted in Event Coverage on November 30, 2005

By Brian David-Marshall

Brian David-Marshall is a New York–based game designer who has been involved with Magic since 1994, when he started organizing tournaments and ran a Manhattan game store. Since then, he has been a judge, a player, and one of the longest-tenured columnists on DailyMTG.com, as he enters his second decade writing for the site. He is also the Pro Tour Historian and one of the commentators for the Pro Tour.

This is a tough field to distill down to distinct archetypes. The multi-colored possibilities that were unleashed with the Ravnica duals and Ninth Edition's painlands encourage builders to color outside the lines.

Archetype Players
Jushi Control 57
Boros Deck Wins 43
Green-Black (some w/white) 38
Gifts Ungiven 33
GhaziGlare (one 6-0) 27
Black-blue-green 17
Fungus Fire 15
Red-white Control 8
Critical Mass Update (one 6-0) 7
Heartbeat 4
Magnivore 4
Eminent Domain 4
Zoo 4
Blue-red Tron (one 6-0) 3
Enduring Ideal 3
Rats 3
MonoBlack Control 3
Battle of Wits 2
Black-White Control 2
Blue-White Control 2
MonoRed Wins 2
Greater Good (one 6-0) 2
Counter Phoenix 2
Deep Weenie 1
Blue-black Eye 1
Total 287

The deck that Mike Flores built for New York Champs is almost always called "Mono-Blue" even though it featured some black elements in the sideboard. I have always preferred to call it Jushi Control to avoid that trap. Jushi Control was far and away the most played deck on Day One of Worlds, with 57 out of 287 competitors wielding the defining elements of that deck - Meloku, Keiga, and Jushi Apprentice.

The Dutch decided that Jushi was just not enough card advantage and were sporting a version this weekend they dubbed "Bob the Builder" because they were running Dark Confidant as well. Paying five life doesn't seem as painful when you are flipping up Meloku as a bonus card for your turn. The fact that Bob often picks up a Jitte and charges across the red zone to get you some of that life back helps a bit too.

The deck archetypes become most confusing when you wander into the Boros realms. It is easy to call all the aggressive red-white decks Boros Deck Wins but that does not account for the heavy red decks splashing white and visa versa. In the end 43 players ended up playing aggressive red-white decks. The most interesting variation on that came from Minnesota and was designed by Gerry Thompson. Their deck features maindeck Orcish Artillery and was played by the likes of John Pelcak and Gadiel Szleifer.

Personally, I hate calling modern green black decks The Rock although that is clearly the default setting when most people see Forests and Swamps working together. Whatever you want to name it, green-black was the third most popular archetype at the tournament with 38 players piloting it. A fair number of those 38 chose to add some white mana in order to accommodate the new Baloth - Loxodon Hierarch - as well as the Selesnya Guildmage, but most were geared to power out a turn-two Hypnotic Specter with Elves of Deep Shadow or Birds of Paradise.

The archetype looms a little larger if you widen your search parameters to include black-blue-green archetypes. BUG decks were played by 17 players in the tournament - the sixth most played archetype - and came in two distinct flavors. Most of the decks seemed to be geared toward powering out Dimir Cutpurse and clearing the path with Putrefy.

Another subset of the decks really blurred the archetype lines. Shota Yasooka is a Japanese deck designer who designed the Blue-black Jushi deck with Hideous Laughter that did so well at California States and at the LA Last Chance Qualifier. He modified that deck for this tournament by adding green for Plague Boiler and Putrefy as countermeasures to the green-white Glare deck that is so popular among the Japanese. More on that deck shortly.

Before we get to the green-white deck, there is still the matter of 33 Gifts Ungiven players to account for. Gifts decks broke down into two distinct camps. The first half was playing a Kamigawa block flavored version with all the usual suspects. The other half was playing remarkably similar versions either designed by Mike Flores or Stuart Wright. The deck attempted to use Wildfire to punish opponents and Life from the Loam to not suffer the same fate.

The fifth most popular archetype took me and many of the other reporters in the back room by surprise. I first heard about it when Darwin Kastle mentioned he had found an unwinnable matchup when he lost to "a rogue Japanese deck" in the first round of the tournament. We now know that deck is a green-white Glare of Subdual deck with Selesnya Guildmage and Vhitu-Ghazi, City Tree. Originally designed by Takahiro Sazaki and tuned and popularized in this neck of the woods by Keiji Aizawa, GhaziGlare was played by almost 10 percent of the field - 27 competitors. The deck is so popular on the Japanese Magic scene that several competitors have made special adjustments such as sideboarding - or even maindecking - Seedborn Muse.

The only other deck with double digit advocates is the MTGO-born Fungus Fire - another Vhitu-Ghazi, the City Tree-powered creation. Fifteen players chose the outpost variant that uses Godo Bandit Warlord to fetch Sunforger - although many chose to fetch Tatsumasa Dragon's Fang instead.

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