Saturday, 3:15 p.m.

Posted in NEWS on February 8, 2014

By Marc Calderaro

Saturday, 3:15 p.m. – Born of the Gods Standard Metagame

by Marc Calderaro

The first Standard with Born of the Gods is here. The Theros–block expansion is legal as of yesterday, so this is our first swing at the new format. The breakdown of the archetypes present brings some predicted changes, but also some surprises.

The first change you'll notice is that there are a grand total of zero, ZERO, Mono-Blue Devotion decks! Going from the most-played archetype in Theros Standard to immediately tied for the least-played. It's tied along with, you know, Gush, Cephalid Breakfast, Friggorid, Blue-Green Madness, and every other deck that exists in the Magic world that is not played in Standard. The big reason for this is Bile Blight. Bile Blight kills everything in the deck that matters. And when combined with Drown in Sorrow, that every black deck will be considering, there are few tricks that Mono-Blue Devotion can use, in its current form, to stay competitive.

The big winners so far today are Black Devotion and Azorius Control. But with only two decks at the top of the heap, there is certainly room for another deck to complete the Rock-Paper-Scissor format. Will the rise of Brimaz, King of Oreskos make a deck to fill that void? The Legendary Cat Soldier has been on the tips of everyone's' tongues since it was spoiled. Will it live up to the hype? The early thoughts are: yes, duh, why are you asking me?

Players Drafting

No. 12 Owen Turtenwald said that the cat gives people "a reason to play white." This sentiment was completely echoed by R&D designer, Gavin Verhey. Who talked about how the creatures survives just about all the removal that matters, and can go in Boros decks, Selesnya decks, and even Mono-White decks. The creature goes in just about every flavor of white deck one can think about. For example, No. 4 Reid Duke, playing Azorius Control, has multiple Brimaz in the sideboard.

Though the deck has always sided into some amount of creatures, Duke was clear to say "Brimaz is better than Fiendslayer Paladin." Brimaz also finds its way into Selesnya Aggro decks, pairing nicely next to Voice of Resurgence and company. And it's even finding its way into Aaron Lewis' dreadfully awesome Azorius Auras deck. Meletis Astronomer and Ethereal Armor go great together, and Brimaz is just a totally separate and equal threat all on its own.

Here's the total archetype breakdown.

Black Devotion (2w, 1g) 10
Azorius Control (1g, 1r) 8
Gruul Monsters 3
Green Devotion 2
Boros Burn (1 Pyro) 2
Dimir Control 2
Orzhov Midrange 2
Esper Control 1
Orzhov Control 1
Junk Reanimator 1
Azorius Auras 1
Bant Midrange Monsters 1
Golgari Midrange 1
Esper Gods 1
Selesnya Brimaz Aggro 1
Mono-Red Aggro 1
Mono-Black Aggro 1

But don’t forget that we’ve already played three rounds of limited. The archetypes at top ten tables look like this:

Azorius Control 5
Gruul Monsters 2
Black Devotion 3
Azorius Auras 1
Esper Gods 1
Golgari Midrange 1
Mono-Black Aggro 1
Boros Burn 1
Dimir Control 1
Esper Control 1
Orzhov Midrange 1
Orzhov Control 1

So Azorius Control is sticking at the top of the heap for the moment. This is likely due to a less-flashy card that has come in this set—Temple of Enlightenment. This is super-smooth for Azorius Control. It helps the mana and it helps the early-game draws. These control decks in Theros used to play off-color Temples to get better draws early on (and late on), but now the decks can help the mana at the same time.

Black variations are showing up as well. With better removal, Orzhov, Esper, Dimir and Mono-Black decks are showing up in all stripes. This is a gigantically open field, for everything that doesn't include Master of Waves.

Which will end of up at the top of the heap after three rounds? We'll have to wait and see.