Regionals Results

Posted in Feature on May 6, 2004

By Alex Shvartsman

The results are in, and Affinity is a clear winner at this year's U.S. Regionals. As of my writing this Ravager Affinity decks earned more than 50% of all U.S. Nationals invites that were up for grabs this Saturday – an unprecedented number!

Goblin decks were the only other heavily represented archetype in the top 8s across the country, most versions showing up with some Swamps for Patriarch's Bidding. Tooth and Nail and White Control decks made a notable appearance, while every other deck to earn an invitation showed up only a couple of times. All told, there were eleven archetypes that took players to the invitation slots:

Ravager Affinity64
- Bidding - 17
- MonoRed – 4
Tooth and Nail8
White Control8
-MonoWhite – 6
-Blue-White - 2
Mono-Red Control5
-Land Destruction -2
-Beatdown – 2
Red-White Control3
-with Slide – 2
-without Slide – 1
Death Cloud2
Black Clerics1

Considering many of the Regional tournaments drew over 500 players, these numbers are an excellent indication as to the state of Standard at the moment.

James White – Northeast Regionals 1st place

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Was there less anti-affinity this time around?

So what is it about Ravager Affinity that makes it so successful? Obviously the deck is very resilient or it would not enjoy such success. However, that alone is not enough. After all, Regionals in other countries saw Affinity perform well, but not this well. Looking at the deck lists from various American Regionals, I believe the answer is the lack of anti-Affinity cards in the main decks. Players in Japan and elsewhere went as far as to run 4 Shatter and 4 Echoing Ruins main in their Goblin decks. Now I am not saying that doing so is the right metagame call – after all, your deck becomes far weaker against anyone not playing artifacts – but that kind of hate may have prevented Affinity strategies from dominating other metagames the way they have dominated in the United States.

In last week's column I was able to correctly identify the top 3 archetypes of this Regionals for you. This week we can look at some of the interesting rogue decks that were able to succeed in this field.

Clay Pierce, Southeast Regional 1st Place

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Bad news for opposing Affinity decks…

Not only did Pierce qualify for Nationals using this highly unorthodox strategy, he also finished in first place overall, winning his Regional. Considering that six of the top 8 decks in his region were Affinity, Disciple of the Vault must have been an MVP in this deck. Affinity decks often rely on Disciple to win the game and literally cannot win without many artifacts being sent to the graveyard. Pierce's deck turns the table on them with four Disciples of his own. There are even Misery Charms in the deck to bring the Disciple back should an opposing Affinity player manage to remove it via Electrostatic Bolt or Shrapnel Blast.

Josh Wiitanen, Mountain Regionals 2nd place

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Worship might be something most players overlooked in this metagame, but it is a powerful answer to decks like Goblins and Tooth and Nail. Affinity is able to get around it by using the Disciple of the Vault effect to finish off an opponent, but after sideboarding it is apparently negated by Ivory Masks and Leonin Elders. Another very interesting factor in this deck is the choice to run as Green-White control in the first game, but with the ability to morph into a Tooth and Nail deck should the match-up warrant it.

Finally, let me show you the deck I would have played if I was playing at Regionals. A friend suggested the archetype to me on the way to GP Washington and I put together a version of the deck and was impressed with it (though I've done very little testing):

Alex Shvartsman, March of the Machines

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This deck is particularly nasty against Affinity, since March of the Machines (which you can often cast on turn 3) effectively Armageddons then, not to mention prevents them from using Skullclamp. Once Lattice comes into play, it's Armageddon for everyone! At that point lands just won't stay in play, and you are left with a 6/6 artifact creature to beat up on your opponent with.

Although Thoughtcast is never going to be as good in this deck as it is in Affinity, paying three mana to draw two cards is good enough – and Thirst For Knowledge is excellent with all the Talismans, extra Lattices and Citadels. The deck wastes no slots on victory conditions as setting up its combo is a perfectly good way to win, so it is able to play a high mana ratio and a lot of card drawing in order to set it up quickly. In metagames where beatdown decks such as Goblin Bidding are more prevalent, you might want to replace Thoughtcasts with Sanctimony, COP: Red or another quick way to stave off damage long enough to draw Wrath or Vengeance.

For more Top 8 Regionals deck lists make sure to check out the Regionals deck lists page, which includes lists from all over North America.

Magic Trivia

Last week's question:

What was the first cycling card ever designed?


New Question:

Who was the first player to win multiple Pro Tours?

(Please do not e-mail me the answers. The correct answer will be posted in next week's column.)

Play Of The Week

Courtesy of Dale K.

“I was playing a Sliver deck, and my friend was playing his death-by-token deck which featured lots of elf mana, Armageddon, Snake Basket, and many ways to abuse hordes of green snake tokens.

I played first and dropped a land every turn. His first two turns included Birds of Paradise, Gaea's Cradle, and Snake Basket.

On his third turn, he played Channel and paid 15 life to activate the Snake Basket for a boatload of snakes. He then played Juniper Order Advocate to make all of them 2/2s. I was saving my mana for an end-of-turn Krosan Tusker cycle, but the opportunity was just too good... I cycled Slice and Dice in response and killed all the tokens, leaving him at 5 life with just the Advocate in play.

The really sad thing for him was he had Fireball and Last-Ditch Effort in hand. It was a 3 player game, and he could have killed both of us on turn 4, but he couldn't even use the Last-Ditch Effort since he tapped out for the Advocate”

And now for some fun with Pyrite Spellbombs at two life:

Bad Play Of The Week

Courtesy of Peter Charles Roby

Pyrite Spellbomb
“At The JSS here in Massachusetts, my friend Adam was in the last round with his Ravager Affinity deck against an opponent with Goblin Bidding. Adam was at two; here is his opponent's turn: Draw Pyrite Spellbomb, play it, sac and draw a card. Draw another Pyrite Spellbomb, play it, sac and draw a card. He though he needed a bidding to win the game and never realized the Spellbomb would win it for him.”

Bad Play Of The Week #2

Courtesy of Jeff Greenland

“I was playing in a two-on-two, randomly paired tournament. My teammate and I were beating the opposing team 38 life to only 2 life but they had heavy defense and were bouncing back. One of the opponents had played Confusion in the Ranks earlier for some reason. On the last turn, he cast Pyrite Spellbomb for 1 mana and promptly traded it for my teammate's Cathodion so he could crack it open and use the mana for some elaborate scheme he had planned... We just kind of stared at him for a minute and decided to pop our new Spellbomb with red mana for the win... They looked disappointed.”

Please e-mail me any Magic news, stories, tournament results, or anything else you think should appear in this column. You can contact me by sending an e-mail to ashv at kingsgames dot com.

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