Standard Metagame Breakdown

Posted in Event Coverage on June 28, 2003

By Wizards of the Coast

Once again, the tireless Scienticians here at Sideboard Online have tabulated and re-tabulated the one hundred and ninety-nine constructed decks played at Nationals, in an attempt to give you, the reader, some insight into the goings-on going on. From the sheer numbers, the only real surprise is the presence of the Zombies deck that won French Nationals. All around it at the top of the shop you'll find the usual suspects: Red-Green, Wake, Psychatog, Blue-Green Madness, Mono-Black Control. It feels like the format is well-explored heading into this, the final major Standard event before Scourge rotates in. What follows is an archetype-by-archetype breakdown.

Red-Green Beats – 36

Grim Lavamancer
The boogieman from three months ago is still going strong. Back then, Kai Budde lauded Red-Green Beats as Standard's Best Deck, and players were powerless before his word. Since that time the metagame may have become less single-minded in their sideboard hatred for the big beater, but everyone gives it respect. Still, players can't resist the combination of efficient threats and burn to clear a path. With Flaring Pain to catch Wake with its pants down, and Phantom Centaurs that make Psychatog cry, it's no wonder that it's out in force. Add to that the "some games you just win" factor, and you have your most-represented deck.

Wake – 25

Almost universally these decks are the blue-white-green Cunning Wake decks that have been refined from the original OBC versions. Now starting Exalted Angels for the kill, and functioning like a blue-white control deck that touches green for reusable Fogs, Wake is a force to be reckoned with. It tends to manhandle aggressive decks, but a dedicated control deck like Psychatog can usually enjoy a field day with its superior countermagic and card drawing.

Psychatog – 24

Speak of the devil! Psychatog refuses to go away. Declare it a dead deck and it will only rise up stronger than you can imagine. Not even four Composts in every board could keep it out of the metagame. Compulsion is far and away the key card, allowing the 'Tog player to burn through their deck to the cards they need. It has the habit of quickly tilting a parity position in the favor of Doctor Teeth.

Zombies! – 22

Rotlung Reanimator
From the final table at French Nationals comes this mono-black aggro deck. Efficient black weenies backed by the ridiculousness of Rotlung Reanimator, Graveborn Muse and Unholy Grotto, together with black's excellent hand disruption. None other than Brian Kibler has made this his deck choice for Nationals, though with his usual "gassy" modifications. He already swept the first three rounds on his way to 6-0, so he may finally be the one to benefit from his talents as a deckbuilder.

Blue-Green Madness – 19

To play blue-green madness is to defy the mana gods, plain and simple. Not even Jeff Cunningham, the undisputed master of blue-green, is safe from this deck's vengeful mana base. The problem is that when blue-green works, it's nigh-unstoppable. An aggro deck par excellence, there are plenty of draws with Circular Logic in them that can leave an unprepared player sobbing. Access to Phantom Centaur makes it even bustier. In fact, there's a trend towards less reliance on Quiet Speculation, making more room for the brutal 5/3.

Mono-Black Control – 17

You may remember the set Torment, and its signature deck from Odyssey Block Constructed. Augmenting its power with the rest of the Standard Environment, mono-black control can be an utter juggernaut. With Composts selling out across the globe, modern versions sport maindeck Visaras for an answer blue-green just can't handle. Haunting Echoes gives it game against a lot of decktypes, and creature decks tend to roll over.

White-Red-Green Slide – 9

Astral Slide
Just take the your standard red-white Slide deck, throw in some Krosan Tuskers, Nantuko Monasteries and appropriate cycling lands, and you've got a good idea what's in store for this deck.

Reanimator – 7

Hated out of the Chicago Masters Qualifying Tournament, Reanimator has nonetheless remained a popular strategy. It's even slightly better after Legions, getting the saucy Akroma, Angel of Wrath. Most were textbook, but there was some innovation.

Black-Green Cemetery – 6

First brought to light by the Dutch, this deck recently took top honors at Canadian Nationals at the hands of Josh Rider. Essentially a disruptive deck, Cemetery gets maximum utility out of its Cabal Therapies. With Living Wish it can also set up a quick Braids lock if need be. Its stores of creature elimination seem limitless. The Cemetery itself ensures that it owns the long game.

Black-White Slide – 3

Also known as "Dark Slide", this deck sports some control elements, as well as Graveborn Muse and Exalted Angel.

Blue-Green Threshold – 3

Nimble Mongoose
Madness's unsung cousin, this deck takes full advantage of Nimble Mongoose.

Green-White Beats – 3

Brushhoppers, Angels and Glory, oh my!

Black-White Clerics – 2

The all-powerful Master Apothecary can make you wish you'd packed more Smothers. Cabal Archon gives a big finish.

Upheaval-Infestation – 2

A departure from Psychatog, this deck swaps the Togs for Infestations as a nod to Smother.

Goblins – 2

Sometimes, red just wins.

Mixed Bag – 19

Everything that went solo. There's Tight Sight, Punisher, Opposition and Monastery Control. There's also some decks that just don't have names yet. Check them out and see if there's anything that catches your fancy.

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