Feature: Standard Metagame Breakdown

Posted in Event Coverage on November 17, 2011

By Rashad Miller

365 players sat down on day one of the 2011 World Championships in San Francisco. Standard was the first of three Constructed formats to be played during the four-day event. How would the metagame look with the season winding down?

Archetype Number %
GW Tokens 63 16.80%
Illusions 59 15.73%
Mono Red 50 13.33%
Solar Flare 38 10.13%
Wolf Run 38 10.13%
Tempered Steel 19 5.07%
UB Control 19 5.07%
Esper Control 14 3.73%
UW Humans 14 3.73%
UW Control 13 3.47%
Birthing Pod 11 2.93%
Grixis Control 8 2.13%
Puresteel 5 1.33%
Infect 4 1.07%
Tezzeret 4 1.07%
UR Delver 4 1.07%
UW Tokens 3 0.80%
Delver-Go 2 0.53%
UW Blade 2 0.53%
UWR Control 2 0.53%
Burning Vengeance 1 0.27%
Grand Heart-chitect 1 0.27%
RUG Humans 1 0.27%

Green-White Tokens led the charge with 63 players. Fueled by one-mana acceleration creatures like Llanowar Elves and Avacyn Pilgrim, this deck used Blade Splicer and Geist-Honored Monk to put multiple creatures onto the battlefield. The deck then used Gavony Township to pump its creatures in order to finish its opponents.

The next most-played deck was also an aggressive deck. Illusions, with 59 players, used the fragile "phantasmal" creatures with support from Lord of the Unreal and low-cost yet powerful removal spells to out-tempo its opposition. The high number of instants in this deck also allowed for the inclusion of honorary Illusion, Delver of Secrets.

Continuing the aggro deck theme was Mono Red with 50 players. This deck was a combination of fast and scary creature like Reckless Waif and Stromkirk Noble and excellent burn spells like Incinerate, Arc Trail and Geist Flame. The finishing power of Shrine of Burning Rage helped push this archetype over the threshold of "good" to "great."

Rounding out the top five archetypes, we have Solar Flare and Wolf Run Ramp tied with 38 players. Both these decks were built to inevitably win the game in the long-run. The former used Blue and Black control element like Doom Blade and Forbidden Alchemy to fill the graveyard while staying alive then finished its opponents with powerful Black and White spells like Unburial Rites and Sun Titan. The latter stalled the game with Viridian Emissary and Solemn Simulacrum while it ramped its mana up to cast Primeval Titan. Kessig Wolf Run and Inkmoth Nexus would then team up to deliver a devastating ten poison counters in a single attack.

These were only the top five archetypes here in San Francisco. Six more archetypes each had double-digit representation, including Tempered Steel, Blue-black Control, Esper Control, Blue-white Humans, and Blue-white Control. Twelve more archetypes made up over thirty-seven rogue lists. Which of these decks would help carry its pilot to a birth on Sunday? Find out in the days to come.

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