Pro Tour–Berlin Feature: Day 1 Archetype Breakdown

Posted in Event Coverage on October 31, 2008

By Bill Stark

The impact Shards of Alara would have on the new Extended format had been much talked about coming in to the weekend. As the current round finishes in the background, it has become clear what level that impact has been: profound.

Perhaps the most important card to come from the set so far has been Wild Nacatl. The unassuming 1/1 receives a huge power boost in Extended where it's joined by Onslaught's sac lands and Ravnica's dual lands. Combined, they allow Wild Nacatl to easily attack as a 3/3 on the second turn of play. That means Zoo players the world over have a new weapon to add to their arsenal after losing Gaea's Might to the set rotation. Without a doubt, Zoo is the runaway hit of the weekend popularity-wise, making up nearly a third of the field with 126 players (27.75%) playing a version of the deck.

Wild Nacatl

The second most popular strategy and one of the biggest fan favorites so far is undoubtedly Elves, a combo deck that just happens to be able to Red Zone it up with its combo pieces. Players around the venue have been seen using Glimpse of Nature to play an obscene amount of Elves in a single turn. When you add Heritage Druid and Birchlore Ranger to that mixture, you also get a huge amount of mana. From there, players can kill with nearly anything they choose. Grapeshot, Brain Freeze, even Chord of Calling for Predator Dragon have been used to go lethal as early as the third turn. In total 71 players, 15.64% of the field, opted to run the iconic green tribe this weekend.

Heritage Druid
Glimpse of Nature

Rounding up the top five are Storm, Next Level Blue(s), and Junk. Storm decks vary in makeup, with some builds including Shards standout Ad Nauseam, other builds incorporating the Pyromancer's Swath / Grapeshot combo, or straight-up Mind's Desire / Tendrils of Agony builds. They've proven to be very popular despite lots of flexible hate existing for them.

Ad Nauseam
Mind's Desire

Next Level Blue, generally described as a blue control deck running Tarmogoyf and some form of creature control by way of Threads of Disloyalty or Vedalken Shackles (and sometimes both), has remained popular despite losing Sensei's Divining Top from last season. Thirty-two players have brought the deck to battle, including some big names from the professional community.

Rounding out the most popular strategies are various green-white-black "Junk" decks. The decks almost universally benefit from Doran, the Siege Tower and feature such hits as Kitchen Finks, Thoughtseize, and Putrefy. The big question for the 27 players using the strategy is whether their "old-fashioned" form of disruption will be enough to get them through a field of aggressive combo and aggro strategies.

Here's how the entire field broke down:

Deck# of players% of field
Next Level Blue327.05%
Death Cloud Rock214.63%
All-In Red173.74%
Hulk Combo51.10%
Life from the Loam Rock51.10%
Tezzeret Control51.10%
Bant Control40.88%
Martyr Proclamation40.88%
Second Breakfast40.88%
Blue-Red Tron40.88%
White-Blue Tron40.88%
Bant Aggro20.44%
Swans Combo20.44%
Battle of Wits10.22%
Belcher Combo10.22%
Black-Green Rock10.22%
White-Black Tokens10.22%
Green-White Slide10.22%
Rift Slide10.22%
Seismic Loam10.22%
Mono-Blue Control10.22%
Mindlock Orb Control10.22%
Blue-Black Tron10.22%

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