Metagame Madness with Frank Karsten

Posted in Event Coverage on May 29, 2010

By Bill Stark

Hall of Famer Frank Karsten is famous for many things. There is his impressive Pro resume, his writing, and his decks. But most uniquely, Frank is famous for teaching the Pro Tour how to analyze things correctly. He was the player who taught us how to build our Ravnica mana bases correctly. He introduced the concept of the "aggregate" deck based on hours poring over data from Magic Online, a method he used to Top 8 the 2008 World Championships in Memphis.

Metagame master and Hall of Famer Frank Karsten, seen here looking smart.

Given all that, I was not surprised when Frank, a friend and honorary Belgian, sent me and Pro Tour historian Brian David-Marshall an email prior to the Pro Tour. It read simply, "Before leaving for San Juan, I made an analysis of the Block Constructed metagame in Magic Online tournaments and calculated some average decklists; see the enclosed file."

The enclosed attachment was filled with data, and I'm pleased to present it to you here courtesy of Frank.

Metagame Analysis

Archetype Aggregate Metagame Actual Metagame Difference
White-Blue Control 38.20% 24.05% -14.15%
Devastating Red 15.70% 14.43% -1.27%
Monument Green 6.90% 10.89% 3.99%
Koros 6.40% 7.09% 0.69%
Vampires 11.30% 5.82% -5.48%
Summoning Trap 1.50% 5.06% 3.56%
Blue-Red-Green Comet Storm 4.90% 4.56% -0.34%
Green-White-Blue Control 3.90% 4.30% 0.40%
Green-Blue-Black Landfall 1.00% 1.01% 0.01%
Green-Blue Control 1.00% 0.76% -0.24%
Valakut 2.00% 0.51% -1.49%
Mono-Red 1.50% 0.51% -0.99%
Allies 2.00% 0.25% -1.75

Frank's data came from the Zendikar Block Daily Events on Magic Online. Each 4-0 archetype received a four points of value, while each 3-1 archetype got two points. That gave the Dutch pro a starting point to estimate what archetypes would be present at the Pro Tour. So how did the numbers turn out? Magic Online missed a few archetypes that showed up at the Pro Tour itself, and when compared to the metagame analysis by Rashad Miller posted on Saturday, the stats range from wildly off (by almost 15% on the most played archetype, White-Blue) to almost dead on (.01% off on the Green-Blue-Black Control archetype).

The truly interesting data from Frank, however, are his aggregate deck lists. He averaged all of the cards from each deck that received a point weighting in his data set, the 4-0 and 3-1 lists from the Magic Online Daily Events, and came up with the "perfect" number of each copy of each card for the major archetypes. Those decks look like nothing you've ever seen before. (We actually had to check to see if the deck engine on DailyMTG.com could even handle them.)

Karsten's Aggregate White-Blue Control

Download Arena Decklist
Other (64)
4 .91 Plains 4 .78 Island 4 .0 Celestial Colonnade 3 .93 Sejiri Refuge 2 .66 Halimar Depths 2 .59 Tectonic Edge 1 .08 Arid Mesa 1 .61 Scalding Tarn 1 .49 Marsh Flats 1 .43 Misty Rainforest 1 .14 Kabira Crossroads 1 .09 Evolving Wilds 3 .89 Wall of Omens 2 .96 Sphinx of Lost Truths 1 .34 Sphinx of Jwar Isle 1 .28 Iona, Shield of Emeria 1 .05 Sphinx of Magosi 1 .05 Emeria Angel 1 .04 Kozilek, ButcherofTruth 1 .03 Sea Gate Oracle 1 .05 Pilgrims Eye 3 .86 Jace, the Mind Sculptor 2 .27 Gideon Jura 3 .91 Journey to Nowhere 3 .85 Day of Judgment 2 .51 Everflowing Chalice 3 .46 Cancel 2 .01 Deprive 1 .43 Into the Roil 1 .14 Spreading Seas 1 .65 Treasure Hunt 1 .43 See Beyond 1 .38 Spell Pierce 1 .24 All Is Dust 1 .19 Rite of Replication 1 .09 Luminarch Ascension 1 .08 Oust
64 Cards
Sideboard (35)
3 .46 Kor Firewalker 2 .7 Devout Lightcaster 1 .77 Kor Sanctifiers 1 .64 Luminarch Ascension 1 .15 Pitfall Trap 1 .86 Spell Pierce 1 .77 Dispel 1 .61 Spreading Seas 1 .5 Deprive 1 .19 All Is Dust 1 .16 Rite of Replication 1 .14 Into the Roil 1 .14 Cancel 1 .09 Journey to Nowhere 1 .09 Demystify 1 .08 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth 1 .08 Emeria Angel 1 .08 Domestication 1 .07 Oust 1 .05 Hedron Crab 1 .05 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn 1 .05 Archive Trap 1 .04 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre 1 .04 Perimeter Captain 1 .04 Guard Duty 1 .03 Sphinx of Lost Truths 1 .03 Rest for the Weary 1 .03 Iona, Shield of Emeria 1 .01 Gideon Jura 1 .01 Eye of Ugin 1 .01 Day of Judgment 1 .01 Angelheart Vial
 

Karsten's Aggregator Devastating Red

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Other (60)
4 .0 Arid Mesa 3 .77 Scalding Tarn 2 .97 Teetering Peaks 11 .17 Mountain 1 .87 Smoldering Spires 1 .23 Evolving Wilds 4 .0 Goblin Guide 3 .9 Goblin Bushwhacker 3 .43 Plated Geopede 3 .17 Kiln Fiend 3 .13 Kargan Dragonlord 1 .13 Tuktuk the Explorer 1 .13 Cunning Sparkmage 1 .1 Goblin Shortcutter 1 .07 Obsidian Fireheart 3 .9 Burst Lightning 3 .63 Searing Blaze 3 .5 Devastating Summons 3 .1 Staggershock 1 .5 Forked Bolt 1 .47 Flame Slash 1 .6 Punishing Fire 1 .13 Zektar Shrine Expedition 1 .07 Elemental Appeal 1 .03 Chain Reaction
60 Cards
Sideboard (32)
1 .13 Cunning Sparkmage 3 .47 Goblin Ruinblaster 2 .03 Unstable Footing 1 .23 Tuktuk the Explorer 1 .07 Flame Slash 1 .03 Punishing Fire 1 .8 Obsidian Fireheart 1 .6 Forked Bolt 1 .53 Mark of Mutiny 1 .47 Roiling Terrain 1 .47 Lodestone Golem 1 .4 Runeflare Trap 1 .4 Journey to Nowhere 1 .37 Chain Reaction 1 .33 Hellkite Charger 1 .27 Elemental Appeal 1 .2 Mountain 1 .2 Grotag Siege-Runner 1 .13 Spire Barrage 1 .13 Comet Storm 1 .1 Tuktuk Scrapper 1 .1 Tectonic Edge 1 .1 Stone Idol Trap 1 .1 Plains 1 .1 Devastating Summons 1 .07 Traitorous Instinct 1 .07 Surreal Memoir 1 .07 Ricochet Trap 1 .03 Chandra Ablaze
 

Karsten's Aggregator Vampires

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Other (63)
3 .7 Verdant Catacombs 3 .57 Marsh Flats 15 .61 Swamp 1 .83 Tectonic Edge 1 .17 Evolving Wilds 1 .09 Dread Statuary 4 .0 Vampire Hexmage 4 .0 Gatekeeper of Malakir 3 .96 Vampire Nighthawk 3 .91 Bloodghast 3 .74 Malakir Bloodwitch 2 .52 Kalastria Highborn 1 .04 Arrogant Bloodlord 1 .17 Pulse Tracker 1 .13 Guul Draz Assassin 1 .09 Bloodhusk Ritualist 1 .09 Anowon, the RuinSage 3 .35 Urge to Feed 2 .39 Inquisition of Kozilek 2 .09 Grim Discovery 1 .39 Smother 1 .04 Feast of Blood 1 .78 Mire's Toll 1 .61 Quest for the Gravelord 1 .48 Mind Sludge 1 .13 Consuming Vapors 1 .09 Disfigure 1 .04 Marsh Casualties
63 Cards
Sideboard (25)
3 .17 Hideous End 2 .7 Mind Sludge 2 .13 Smother 1 .96 Marsh Casualties 1 .35 Tectonic Edge 1 .96 Ob Nixilis, the Fallen 1 .39 Urge to Feed 1 .39 Bloodhusk Ritualist 1 .35 Sadistic Sacrament 1 .35 Consume the Meek 1 .17 Vampire Lacerator 1 .17 Mire's Toll 1 .17 Grim Discovery 1 .17 Disfigure 1 .13 Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief 1 .13 Arrogant Bloodlord 1 .09 Malakir Bloodwitch 1 .09 Bloodghast 1 .04 Quest for the Gravelord 1 .04 Kalastria Highborn 1 .04 Anowon, the Ruin Sage
 

Karsten's Aggregator Eldrazi Ramp

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Other (59)
4 .0 Eldrazi Temple 3 .57 Tectonic Edge 3 .21 Khalni Garden 2 .93 Eye of Ugin 12 .14 Forest 1 .29 Misty Rainforest 2 .86 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre 2 .0 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth 1 .29 Ondu Giant 1 .0 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn 1 .43 Pelakka Wurm 1 .29 Overgrown Battlement 1 .29 Oracle of Mul Daya 1 .14 Avenger of Zendikar 4 .0 Explore 3 .93 Growth Spasm 3 .71 Everflowing Chalice 3 .71 Ancient Stirrings 3 .71 All Is Dust 3 .36 Expedition Map 2 .36 Skittering Invasion 1 .43 Summoning Trap 1 .29 Awakening Zone 1 .07 Dreamstone Hedron
59 Cards
Sideboard (21)
3 .43 Mold Shambler 3 .14 Living Destiny 3 .07 Tanglesap 3 .07 Lodestone Golem 1 .07 Pelakka Wurm 1 .29 Oran-Rief Survivalist 1 .21 Tajuru Preserver 1 .21 Naturalize 1 .14 Tectonic Edge 1 .14 Oracle of Mul Daya 1 .07 Pathrazer of Ulamog 1 .07 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn 1 .07 All Is Dust
 

Karsten's Aggregator Koros

Download Arena Decklist
Other (58)
5 .79 Plains 4 .21 Mountain 4 .0 Scalding Tarn 4 .0 Marsh Flats 4 .0 Arid Mesa 1 .64 Evolving Wilds 1 .57 Tectonic Edge 3 .93 Steppe Lynx 3 .93 Plated Geopede 3 .86 Cunning Sparkmage 3 .64 Stoneforge Mystic 2 .93 Kor Duelist 2 .5 Kor Skyfisher 2 .29 Student of Warfare 1 .43 Goblin Guide 1 .36 Goblin Bushwhacker 1 .36 Emeria Angel 3 .29 Burst Lightning 2 .71 Staggershock 2 .36 Adventuring Gear 1 .0 Basilisk Collar 1 .71 Trusty Machete 1 .71 Punishing Fire 1 .29 Oust 1 .29 Devastating Summons 1 .14 Emerge Unscathed 1 .07 Flame Slash
58 Cards
Sideboard (19)
2 .71 Kor Firewalker 2 .64 Goblin Ruinblaster 1 .79 Devout Lightcaster 1 .71 Refraction Trap 1 .5 Kor Sanctifiers 1 .07 Journey to Nowhere 1 .0 Flame Slash 1 .71 Luminarch Ascension 1 .43 Day of Judgment 1 .43 Blazing Torch 1 .21 Kor Skyfisher 1 .21 Basilisk Collar 1 .14 Stoneforge Mystic 1 .14 Oust 1 .14 Burst Lightning 1 .07 Plains 1 .07 Brave the Elements
 

Karsten's Aggregator Blue-Red-Green Comet Storm

Download Arena Decklist
Other (60)
4 .0 Misty Rainforest 3 .89 Mountain 3 .78 Scalding Tarn 3 .67 Raging Ravine 3 .22 Halimar Depths 3 .11 Island 3 .11 Forest 1 .78 Kazandu Refuge 1 .89 Evolving Wilds 1 .44 Tectonic Edge 3 .11 Oracle of Mul Daya 2 .33 Sphinx of Lost Truths 1 .33 Avenger of Zendikar 1 .89 Overgrown Battlement 1 .67 Lotus Cobra 1 .22 Sphinx of Magosi 1 .11 Pilgrims Eye 1 .11 Cunning Sparkmage 3 .89 Jace, the Mind Sculptor 4 .0 Explore 4 .0 Comet Storm 3 .56 Burst Lightning 2 .67 Spreading Seas 2 .0 Staggershock 1 .11 Growth Spasm 1 .67 Searing Blaze 1 .56 Deprive 1 .33 Prophetic Prism 1 .33 Into the Roil 1 .22 See Beyond
60 Cards
Sideboard (20)
3 .78 Goblin Ruinblaster 1 .56 Cunning Sparkmage 1 .44 Rampaging Baloths 1 .44 Lotus Cobra 1 .33 Spell Pierce 1 .33 Dispel 1 .78 Flame Slash 1 .67 Mold Shambler 1 .44 Narcolepsy 1 .44 Guard Gomazoa 1 .44 Chain Reaction 1 .33 Cancel 1 .22 Recurring Insight 1 .22 Deprive 1 .22 All Is Dust 1 .11 Rite of Replication 1 .11 Relic Crush 1 .11 Basilisk Collar

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