The Metagame

Posted in Event Coverage on July 12, 2003

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, 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.

Grand Prix: Bangkok is a Standard format event—the last such event of any significance to include 7th Edition. It is only the second premier event to include Scourge in a constructed format. The next two major Standard events are Grand Prix: Atlanta and the World Championships and both will incorporate 8th Edition. This is the bottom of the ninth for Duress, Counterspell, Llanowar Elves, Disenchant, Opposition, Early Harvest, Memory Lapse, and Mana Short—to name just a few cards.

It is surprising that an environment as old as this one has so many viable decks that are considered good. There are as many as twelve different decks that are going to see significant play here this weekend. The most popular deck during the three Trials that were held yesterday was Red-Green Beats. It was closely followed by Blue-Green Madness. In fact, Brainburst writer Michael Thicke won the first Trial of the afternoon with a Madness deck designed for him by its champion, Jeff Cunningham.

Zombies cannot be discounted, although its poor track record against Red-Green may keep its numbers down here this weekend. It remains to be seen whether a new aggressive build with the addition of Putrid Raptor and the Undead Warchief will be enough to put it over the top.

Astral Slide will face its first test against Stabilizer this weekend. Will the threat of the potentially crippling artifact keep the US National Championship finals deck from being a factor at this event? Or...does the fact that most players think Stabilizer will negate the presence of the cycling deck mean it will be the perfect time for a Slide deck to slip in under the radar?

Mirari's Wake decks were out in force during the Trials and you can expect to see them in full force this weekend—complete with Decree of Justice. Speaking of Decrees...

Gabriel Nassif's Decree.dec from the European Championships piqued more than a few players' interest. There was a smattering of such decks in the Trials but inexperience with the new deck type kept it from advancing.

Despite a lack or recent successes, Psychatog players continue to tinker with various builds, searching for the magic potion that will return the deck to its former glory. More than a few players were seen registering Darkwater Catacombs and Deep Analysis this morning—are they playing Tog or UZI? Or both?

Trade Secrets
Mind's Desire decks were on everyone's minds last night. There were three different builds floating around. While the consensus seems to be that the Tight Sight version that was played by Kai Budde and his teammates during the Euros is not very good, the Japanese players yesterday seemed fond of Olivier Ruel's Trade Secrets/Nostalgic Dreams build that carried him to a 6-1 record in the constructed portion of the same event.

Dark Desire—a Green-Black version that touches blue for Mind's Desire--was Jun-Wei Hew's fiendish plan for this event. His version uses many neglected cards such as Infernal Contract and Cabal Ritual and its kill card is Tendrils of Agony. The deck feels remarkably similar to Cad-Bloom decks. What makes the deck so interesting is that it requires far fewer spells to be on the stack than the versions that rely on Brain Freeze in order to win. Jun-Wei, Nick Wong, Ben Seck and a handful of other players were testing the deck extensively last night. Only Jun-Wei was still considering it this morning.

Ben Seck's creation, Ugly Pete—or as it is more commonly known, Reanimator—has become a real presence in the metagame but Ben is hoping to duplicate the success of Ugly Pete with his newly designed Enchantress deck. It is very similar to the deck that Gabriel Nassif used to finish second in the last Masters event and Ben feels confident that his deck will follow suit in Standard.

That is only the tip of the iceberg. There are still Goblins, Beasts, Black-Green Cemetery, Elves, Verdant Succession decks as well as any new decks that Scourge may inspire. Follow out coverage throughout the day and see which decks will emerge victorious and advance to tomorrow's competition.

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