Hall of Famer Patrick Chapin is playing Mono Black today, let's get that out of the way.
But Chapin, like many others in the room, are aware of the deck's several variations and gave them their due consideration, weighing the pros and cons, testing, and carefully selecting two decks he would be happy to play.
Then he through all that out of the window at 2 a.m. last night because Paul Rietzl told him to.
We'll get back to that in a moment.
You see, there are, basically, three flavors of Black-based midrange Thoughseize decks running around, all growing out of the base Mono Black devotion deck that broke out at Pro Tour Theros and continued to dominate in the hands of No. 3 Owen Turtenwald and others.
This was the list Turtenwald used to Top 8 Grand Prix Albuquerque, pre-Born of the Gods
Black-White, playing Blood Baron of Vizkopa in order to counter its Mono Black brother, was the first to splinter off. Marlon Gutierrez used the following twist on the archetype to win Grand Prix Dallas/Ft. Worth, again before Born of the Gods.
Recently, and with the printing of the Temple of Malice, a red splash has started to gain steam, as in this grinder-winning decklist from Ryan DeMarco.
Three flavors, three different twists on an already strong archetype, and a million different reasons to play any one of them. So what advantage does playing it straight have?
"Mono Black has an advantage against Red-Green decks," Chapin said, pointing out that stayed true for most any deck based on red cards.
Since his 9th place finish at Pro Tour Theros with Black White, Chapin has bounced back and forth between versions of that deck and the Mono Black Devotion variation for different reasons each time, always based on his reading of the metagame.
"This time around it's the big surge in RW Burn and RG Monsters, where Mono Black significantly better," Chapin said. "Grey Merchant is incredible where Blood Baron is just ok. That and untapped lands."
If you've been playing Standard any time in the last 6 months, this should be a pretty familiar sight out of Mono Black Devotion.
However, Chapin said, there are very real reasons to play Black White as well, and he demonstrated why in the fifth round. Significantly ahead in the second game, Chapin simply couldn't deal with a Blood Baron of Vizkopa and died to it after a few attacks.
"Black White has an advantage in the mirror and against control. It's a small edge, but the lands don't cost you anything and Blood Baron is better than Grey Merchant while Sin Collector is better than not-Sin Collector."
So Black White is better in a control and Black-heavy field, while Mono Black is better in a field light on those two decks. That seems to cover everything.
So why splash Red?
"I haven't tested the deck, but it looks good," Chapin said. "Dreadbore is just a fantastic card right now. Red offers incredible sideboard options like Slaughter Games, Mizzium Mortars, Sire of Insanity and Rakdos Return."
At least a few players agree, but the Red version is easily the less popular of the three branches on the Mono Black tree.
So why, you're surely asking (because you're the type to speak to articles and computer screens), did Chapin pick Mono Black?
Chapin wanted to play either Black White or Esper Control. Meanwhile, Luis Scott-Vargas was on Esper or Mono Black. No. 8 Josh Utter-Leyton and Eric Froehlich each had takes on the black deck as well. But in the end, Paul Rietzl—who made Top 8 at Pro Tour Theros with the same deck Chapin finished 9th with—cast the deciding vote.
Hall of Famer Patrick Chapin stuck with Mono Black this weekend...and with very good reason.
"Every time I've listened to Paul it has worked out," Chapin said. "And every time I haven't, it has not worked out. So I switched at 2 a.m. last night."
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Patrick Chapin decides on a deck in this Standard format.