The Three-Bye Metagame

Posted in Event Coverage on September 2, 2015

By Josh Bennett

Let's face it, three byes usually means you're sitting pretty for Day 2. The average North American Grand Prix only has seven rounds on the first day, meaning that Joe Pro only needs to post 2-2 after sleeping an additional three rounds. At Kobe byes are still as good as gold, but with Magic players as far as the eye can see and nine rounds before the cut, even those with the luxury of three free wins have to consider what they're going to be facing, lest they fail to post 4-2.

With that in mind, our scientists here at have examined and re-examined the decklists of the forty-seven players who earned the coveted three byes. They have categorized them by archetype, and it is our hope that this information will give insight on what the pros feel are the best decks for this format.


Blue-Green-Red Bear, Bounce and Burn: 8

These are descendants of the flurry of blue-green decks that broke following Origins. They use cheap threats, countermagic, Repulse, Flametongue Kavu and Urza's Rage to maximize flexibility. They play the tempo game to a T, headlined by Mystic Snake.

Blue-Black-Red Control: 5

These decks vary widely in constitution, agreeing only on the value of Urza's Rage, Undermine and Fact or Fiction. That terrible trio meets up either with bears and Nightscape Familiars, or an extended arsenal of countermagic and burn.

Go-Mar: 5

These decks are mostly creatureless, except for Dromar or Desolation Angel as a finisher. No longer base blue-white, they are fully spread across three colors thanks to Gerrard's Verdict and Vindicate from Apocalypse. One or two run Galina's Knight and Spectral Lynx, with Meddling Mage surprisingly absent.

Domain: 5

The deck that everyone discounted is back in force. The counter base is extended thanks to the amazing Evasive Action, and Legacy Weapon is a standard addition. Questing Phelddagrif is the path to victory of choice.

Machinehead: 5

These decks run the accepted complement of Shivan Zombies, Blazing Specters, Skizziks, Thunderscape Battlemages and Crypt Angels, as well as Plague Spitter. Terminate and Urza's Rage provide removal. Some of them have even dipped into blue for the almighty Fact or Fiction.

White-Red-Blue Aggro: 4

A post-apocalyptic invention, these decks assault their opponents with Goblin Legionnaires, Flametongue Kavu and Lightning Angel. With a solid backbone of countermagic and more than enough burn to go to the head with style, these might be the breakout decks of the tournament.

Red-Green Beats: 3

Not much to say about this Tokyo-dominating mainstay. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Consistency is the key to pulling in four wins.

Green-Red-Black Animal House: 2

Tsuyoshi Fujita's deck. Packed with powerful comes-into-play effects from red and green Battlemages and Blazing Specter (sort of). This deck accelerates to explosive plays with Utopia Tree and Thornscape Familiar. Shivan Wurm and Crypt Angel recycle, as well as smash face.

Black-White-Blue Arena: 2

Departing from early Arena decks by the inclusion of countermagic, these decks play the expected game with the added bonus of not folding to topdecked bombs.

The Solution, Redux: 2

Adding black was the answer, apparently. Now running twelve bears, thanks to Spectral Lynx subbing in for Crimson Acolyte, these decks are more than capable of making the switch to aggro. Vindicate takes care of anything presumptuous enough to get past the countermagic.

Blue-White-Red "THE Ben Seck" Control: 1

Permanentless but for its signature Goblin Trenches, "Seck"-style control pulls the best reactive spells from red, white and blue, and after dominating the opponent with its many card advantage spells, it drops the Trenches and marches to victory.

Aggro Arena: 1

Deckbuilder extraordinaire Satoshi Nakamura is at it again, and this time he's brought plenty of help to bring the beats. Instead of playing the traditional slow-motion control game, Nakamura's Putrid Warriors and Spectral Lynxes come out fast and don't stop punching until the opponent is down. Backed by the powerful Vindicate, Gerrard's Verdict and Death Grasp, and fuelled by Phyrexian Arena, his deck is exciting to watch in action.

Black-Green-Red Rogue: 1

Defying description, this deck plays like Machinehead's hulking cousin. Spiritmonger and Pernicious Deed tag-team alongside standard red-black fare.

Blue-White-Green Rogue: 1

Another deck that had our boys in white scratching their heads, this is a completely unknown creation. Eladamri's Call gives access to a wide variety of fatties, including the very mean Sabertooth Nishoba. Its defensive arsenal includes such unexpected hits as Treva's Charm

Land Destruction: 1

That's right, Land Destruction. Maxing out on Implode, Frenzied Tilling, Benalish Emissary and Dwarven Landslide, this deck starts rocking at the four mana mark. Surprisingly, unkicked Emissaries really mess with many decks' early game plans.

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