Grand Prix Las Vegas Day One Metagame Analysis

Posted in Event Coverage

By David Bartholow

Usually when a qualifier season uses exactly the same format as the previous Pro Tour, the metagame becomes fairly clearly defined, with the results of the Pro Tour showing which decks are the strongest in the format. Pro Tour New Orleans was less than a month ago, and even though that tournament saw more variety than ever before in the Extended format, many thought that this Grand Prix would see a more focused metagame as usual. But once again there are dozens of decks that seem to have a shot, and even the Pro Tour regulars are playing a variety of decks, each claiming that theirs is the best. If the dominant metagame can be summed up at all, it is this: Blue. About half of the decks being played contain at least a few blue cards, and very few of the more well known players are not playing blue. On the other hand, just because they contain blue does not mean the decks are similar. There are plenty of Force of Wills and Counterspells, but also blue decks with no counters at all. The extended format certainly seems to be alive and kicking.

Trix - 62 players

The most popular deck of the tournament is Trix. This should come as no surprise, as Trix in one form or another has been dominating Extended play for years. Kai Budde piloted a Trix deck to a win at Pro Tour New Orleans recently, proving that the new version with the Intuition and Accumulated Knowledge engine is still quite powerful. As a result of its popularity, the rest of the field is heavily metagamed against Trix. One popular choice is to play Accumulated Knowledge in other decks, hoping to surprise Trix players by drawing many cards after the Trix player has already used their own Knowledges. Other players have chosen to run main deck Pyroblasts and other cards specifically to stop Trix. It remains to be seen whether the Trix players will be able to overcome these obstacles and follow in Kai's footsteps.

Multi-color Finkel Control - 51

This category includes any blue based decks of three or more colors with Shadowmage Infiltrators and Force of Will. All possible color combinations were represented, with white being the most popular third color.

Walamies' Call of the Herd Control - 29

Traditional control with counters and Wrath of God has never quite disappeared, but the addition of Call of the Herd has finally made it tier one again. Tomi Walamies impressed everyone with this deck in New Orleans, and many chose to play his deck almost card for card this weekend.

PT Junk - 28

White, green and black are combined for large efficient creatures and versatile utility cards such as Vindicate and Pernicious Deed.

U(x) Control - 27

This includes all blue based one or two color decks with counters. Green was the most popular second color, used for Gaea's Blessing and Treetop Village plus a variety of sideboard cards.

Sligh/Deadguy Red - 26

Fast red creatures and burn are still around, though most experts agree this deck matches up poorly versus Trix and the popular control decks. A number of players are running main deck Pyroblasts in an attempt to make up for this shortcoming.

Benzo/Reanimator - 22

Using Entomb, Zombie Infestation and Buried Alive to put fat creatures into the graveyard, this deck then brings them into play with Reanimate or Exhume.

Three-Deuce - 21

Similar in concept to PT Junk, this deck uses cheaper red, green and white creatures with efficient spot removal to kill the opponent while hopefully disrupting the opponent's game plan.

Stasis - 17

Many counters plus your opponent never untapping is a good thing. Players of this deck say it does well versus Trix; ironically, the Pyroblasts and enchantment removal that are being played to stop Trix also do very well against Stasis.

Sol Malka's Rock Deck - 17

This black green deck uses versatile creatures such as Yavimaya Elder, Spikes and Spiritmonger for its offense, and Duress and Pernicious Deed to disrupt the opponent. Vampiric Tutor helps fetch important single spells, such as Recurring Nightmare and The Rock himself, Phyrexian Plaguelord.

White Weenie - 14

Meddling Mage has brought new life to this archetype (which I assure you was not Pikula's intention).

Oath - 13

Although this deck sports more and more red and less and less white, the core is the same: Oath of Druids with Morphling, Spike Weaver and Spike Feeder, plus the usual assortment of counterspells.

Secret Force - 13

These decks are about evenly split between the traditional mono-green and the new green-black version with Spiritmonger and Pernicious Deed. One adventurous player even splashed blue just for Accumulated Knowledge.

Turboland - 12

Another old favorite, this deck has a variety of vastly different versions being played this weekend. A number of players, including the creator of Turboland, Zvi Mowshowitz, chose to put Oath of Druids into the sideboard rather than the main deck, opting for Call of the Herd as a victory condition instead. These players also played Accumulated Knowledge and two or three Intuitions for card drawing, cutting Gushes or search cards. Other players splashed red for Pyroblasts to help beat Trix, and one competitor built a five color version that makes use of the oft maligned Last Stand.

Stompy and Elves - 11 each

These decks can't be matched for raw speed, but their lack of disruption makes them not as popular as in times past.

No other decks were played by ten or more players in this event. Notable but uncommon decks included Slivers, Pox, Aluren combo decks, Five Color Green, Tinker, Enchantress and Song of Flood. One deck particularly worth mentioning made use of some cards no one ever expected to see competitive constructed play: Task Force, Worthy Cause, Tireless Tribe and About Face. Tireless Tribe and About Face can produce a turn two kill. Task Force with the En-Kor (Nomads and Warriors) gives an infinite toughness creature, which is then sacrificed to Worthy Cause for infinite life, or attacks for infinite damage with About Face.

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