State of Standard

Posted in Feature on November 8, 2006

By Brian Rogers

For me, the most memorable thing about the 2006 West Virginia State Championship was the realization that once we cut to the top eight, we had eight distinctly different decks. This is a stark contrast to many times in Magic's history when one or two decks dominated the environment. I keep thinking back to Grand Prix Detroit, which was Onslaught block Constructed. Every deck there was some variation of a control-style deck using Akroma, Angel of Wrath.

Here are the top eight decks from this year's West Virginia State Championship. WV Champs Top 8 Deck list

Of these decks, three are true aggro decks and two are creature decks that rely on some control elements. There’s one combo deck, and two primarily control decks. Conclusion: Wizards of the Coast has created a format that is truly diverse and very complex.

The Epic Battle in Charleston

Sometimes, when the alarm goes off before 5 a.m., I just have to ask myself, “Why do I do this?” The West Virginia State Championship was no different this year. 5 a.m. is exactly the time I had to wake up to get to the Charleston Civic Center by 7:30 to set up the room. With the aid of my fellow judge, Matt Gunn, and an old friend, John Girior (no way on Earth is that the correct spelling), Registration when very smoothly and 77 players were ready to start round 1.

Turnout for this year’s States was down in West Virginia, but elsewhere it trended upward. Everyone I talked to really liked the format. The games I was able to watch had a great deal of depth, and all of the different match-ups I saw had a distinct feel.

After 7 rounds of Swiss, we had our top eight. I table judged one match in the first round between the Smallpox deck and the green/red creature beats deck that finished eighth. The Smallpox deck definitely had the advantage over the creature deck, but in game two, a turn two Blood Moon completely shut its opponent down. The next round of the single elimination, I watched as the player with the Dragonstorm deck went three turns without playing a single spell, then on turn four ended that game with a Lotus Blossom, a couple of Seething Songs, and a Dragonstorm.

The finals were not pretty to watch at all. The white weenie deck was exactly the type of deck that the blue/red/white control deck was meant to defeat. The first game, the eventual champion mulliganed down to five cards, yet the game was won handily and with little question. The next game, the champ had to go down to four cards, yet the white weenie deck was not able to put up much of a fight.

Let the Games Begin

There were many more deck types played at this event, some variations of the above decks and others completely different. I saw a couple of decks designed to put big creatures into the graveyard and resurrect them. There were some that took advantage of cards like Mystic Snake and Momentary Blink. There was not a true dominant deck.

The next step in the evolution of Standard will be determined as players across the world scour over the results from Charleston and all of the other events held over the previous weekend. Much of what happens will be the further evolution of the decks we have already seen. However, there will be plenty of opportunity to take examples like the above-mentioned Blood Moon weakness of the Smallpox deck and put it to good use, either by adapting the deck to survive the weakness or creating sideboard options to exploit it. It’s up to everyone out there to solve this tangled web we have uncovered. As I like to say at the beginning of each round, “Good luck, have fun, you may begin!”

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