As The Pendulum Swings

Posted in Perilous Research on July 12, 2012

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Hello and welcome back to Perilous Research, a metagame analysis of Magic Online. I received a lot of great feedback last week and it seems that most readers would appreciate more subjective commentary on the undefeated decks from last weekend's daily events. This week, I'm going to offer another in-depth analysis of all Magic Online formats' metagames, but I'm also going to take a closer look at some of the 4–0 decks that are particularly exciting. I have also decided to be more forthcoming about the decks that I would play in the coming week's events and include sample decklists I would be interested in playing.

Runechanter's Pike | Art by John Avon

This week, we're going to be looking at the decks that went 4–0 in daily events last Saturday, July 7, 2012. Remember, Magic 2013 is being released this weekend, so there's a huge swath of cards that are going to be added to the available card pool for live tournaments.


Last week, the Standard metagame was oscillating toward the aggressive end of the spectrum. Various Delver strategies made more 4–0s than any other strategy, but aggressive black-red and red-green strategies were nipping at Delver's heels. This week, the pendulum has swung in the other direction. More controlling strategies enjoyed huge success last Saturday, no doubt preying on the most aggressive strategies in Standard. Let's take a look at the decks that went 4–0 in last Saturday's Daily events.

White-Blue Delver decks continue to do well in the face of adversity. Many of this week's Delver players shaved their third Gut Shot in favor of another cantrip or a third Equipment. Delver lists have been using Sword of War and Peace recently, but a few of the 4–0 lists from last Saturday went back to using Runechanter's Pike. These versions of Delver play nineteen or twenty land and max out on cantrips. I'd recommend something like the following list if you plan on playing Delver this weekend:

Hoey07's White-Blue Delver

Download Arena Decklist

The release of M13 will give Delver players the opportunity to play with Augur of Bolas. Augur of Bolas is especially strong in Runechanter's Pike versions of the deck. You're going to want around twenty-four instants and sorceries in your deck if you want to maintain the effectiveness of Augur of Bolas. Snapcaster Mage is very easily the best card in any Delver deck. Augur of Bolas is a less impressive—albeit still awesome—Snapcaster Mage. I imagine we'll be seeing some decks that look like this in the coming weeks:

Jacob Van Lunen's Blue Delver

Download Arena Decklist

As I predicted last week, White-Blue Midrange decks performed exceptionally well this week. This archetype crashed into the Standard metagame when Sam Black made an impressive run with it in a Magic World Cup qualifier. The Standard metagame had a lot of creature-based decks left over from last week and the Blade Splicer-laden versions of White-Blue were well-equipped to handle any creature onslaught. This deck doesn't get much from Magic 2013, so this weekend's versions, both live and online, should look a lot like this:

Jroleksy's White-Blue Midrange

Download Arena Decklist

The most exciting deck to give multiple players undefeated records has got to be White-Black Vengeance. This deck has seen some scattered success on Magic Online for the past few weeks. Last Saturday, multiple people managed to go undefeated by firing a pair of Sorin's Vengeances at their opponents' faces. The deck is surprisingly strong in the current metagame. Traditional Delver decks and most creature-based strategies are good matchups for the latest versions of the white-black deck.

The deck uses a ton of removal to buy time until it's ready to cast Sorin Markov and set the opponent's life total at 10. The deck accrues card advantage by taking advantage of the synergy between Ichor Wellspring, Mycosynth Wellspring, and Phyrexia's Core. I strongly suggest picking up a deck like this if you're bored with decks everyone is playing and you're looking to try something new that's well positioned. The release of Magic 2013 gives this deck the opportunity to try being mono-black. Liliana of the Dark Realms will be best friends with Sorin Markov and Sorin's Vengeance until they rotate out of Standard. The following list is a great starting point for anyone looking to build a black control deck for Magic 2013 Standard:

RaptureReady's White-Black Vengeance

Download Arena Decklist

Magic 2013 is going to shake things up at this coming week's Constructed events and I'm expecting Red-Green Ramp decks to put up the most impressive numbers. Red-Green Ramp preys on control and most creature decks. The deck has struggled recently because of a bad Delver matchup. Delver is becoming less popular and the newer versions of Delver might not be as well-positioned against ramp decks as previous incarnations. Thundermaw Hellkite will probably make an appearance in the ramp deck's sideboard. I'll probably be playing something like this in my first Magic 2013 Standard tournament:

FellArin's Red-Green Ramp

Download Arena Decklist

Remember, Magic 2013 won't be released on Magic Online until July 30. Standard will remain in its current form for another two weeks. I'd recommend Red-Green Ramp for this week's Magic Online events; the deck is strong against aggressive decks and blue decks that lack Equipment and Delver of Secrets.

    Innistrad Block Constructed

Innistrad Block Constructed remains dominated by the Black-Red-Green deck:

Players who have been following the format can tell you that Black-Red-Green decks have established themselves as the decks to beat in Innistrad Block Constructed. The most recent events have further cemented Black-Red-Green's place on top. Most lists had two or three Falkenrath Aristocrats a few weeks ago, but now it's a four-of in almost every list. Falkenrath Aristocrat is exceptionally strong in a format with no Lingering Souls; expect Falkenrath Aristocrat to do some big things in Standard once Thundermaw Hellkite becomes legal. Some players have begun including one or two copies of Olivia Voldaren in their lists this week as well. Here's what you can expect from your Black-Red-Green opponents in this week's Block Constructed tournaments:

DaKriket's Black-Red-Green

Download Arena Decklist

The staleness of the Block Constructed format has given players the opportunity to attack it accordingly. At least one player decided to play a Black-Red-Green deck that included the best cards in the mirror, but also splashed for Restoration Angel, one of the better cards against Black-Red-Green decks. I would recommend the following list for the coming week's Innistrad Block Constructed events:

Wuggalix's Black-Red-Green + Angel

Download Arena Decklist


Modern remains diverse and exciting. Again, we have five different decks that went undefeated in last Saturday's Daily Events:

I recommend playing the deck you're most comfortable with in this week's Modern events. The wide-open format gives you an opportunity to experiment with new decks too. I was excited to see Sam Black's Goblin Bombardment deck in the Top 8 of the recent Legacy Grand Prix. His Legacy deck inspired me to work on a new Modern archetype. I'd like to try something like the following in this week's Modern events:

Jacob Van Lunen's Modern Pox

Download Arena Decklist


A more in-depth look at Pauper has given me a better understanding of the format in its current form. Storm strategies are still a force to be reckoned with, but the format is regaining its diversity. This week, again, we have no Storm decks with undefeated records:

I'm a sucker for some Wee Dragonauts, especially when they go 4–0. Surucucu managed to best all opponents by smashing in for huge damage with Kiln Fiend and Wee Dragonauts. The list includes a lot of cards that I didn't even remember existed; Shadow Rift is especially exciting to me. Delver of Secrets is a natural fit in this type of deck. The deck is more likely to blind flip a Delver than any other deck I've ever seen. Let's take a look:

Surucucu's Kiln Dragonauts

Download Arena Decklist

Thanks for joining me for another edition of Perilous Research. Be sure to leave your feedback on the forums or shoot me an email. I'm still getting my footing with the new column and I'd like to get a solid understanding of what you, the readers, are looking for. I'll happily shape the column to what readers want to see.

Knowledge is Power!

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