Day 1 Top 100 Metagame Breakdown

Posted in Event Coverage on August 28, 2016

By Craig Jones

As I don't have a Mklthd to help/hinder me here in GP Lille (see Chapman Sim's Day 2 Metagame breakdown of GP Guangzhou for explanation. Are you okay out there in China, buddy?), I crunched the numbers on the Top 100 going into Day 2. (With thanks to the judge deck-check team for sifting through the near 2,000 decklists to find the 100 coverage needed.)

The Top 100 after the close of Day 1 looked like this:

Archetype Quantity
Jund 18
Bant Eldrazi 7
Ad Nauseam 6
Death's Shadow Aggro 6
Merfolk 6
Affinity 5
Infect 5
Burn 3
Company* 3
Dredge 3
Elves 3
Jeskai Nahiri 3
Tron* 3
WU Control 3
Scapeshift* 3
Death & Taxes 2
Esper Control* 2
Kiki-Evolution 2
Other 17
Total 100

So how does this compare to the Top 10 Modern archetypes I talked about going into the tournament?

Jund looks more and more the top dog of the current Modern metagame, as it took up nearly a 5th of the slots in the Top 100. A particularly spiteful innovation I saw in a couple of lists was to run four copies of Blood Moon in the main deck to really ruin an opponent's day. While Grim Flayer showed up in a few of the Guangzhou Jund lists, Dark Confidant was still preferred in Lille.

Below Jund and it was the usual many-way scrap between the various proven Modern archetypes, with Bant Eldrazi, Death's Shadow Aggro, Merfolk, Affinity and Infect all putting five or more players in the Top 100 finishers after nine rounds.

The biggest surprise was possibly Ad Nauseam up there in the Top 5. This is not an unknown quantity in Modern – Andreas Ganz won GP Charlotte back in May with the same deck. This is a combo deck that uses the interaction between Ad Nauseam and either Angel's Grace or Phyrexian Unlife to draw the entire deck and then win the game with either Lightning Storm or Laboratory Maniac. Why the deck didn't appear in greater numbers before this Modern GP weekend might be because it's fairly fiddly to play on Magic Online. Players attempting to pick up the deck for the first time will likely be familiar with that awkward moment of drawing their entire deck and then dinking their opponent for just 3 points of damage with Lightning Storm because they forgot to retain priority. (Been there, done that. It is indeed awkward.)

Before the tournament I heard it was a rough metagame for the Tron decks and this was borne out by the results. The three versions appearing in the Top 100 were all different – one was the typical red-green version, one did away with the red entirely and another was a blue-red hybrid also incorporating Through the Breach and Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn.

Scapeshift was another combo strategy that came in a few different flavours. The strategy there is to get a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle into play and then follow up with enough mountains until the opponent is toast. Scapeshift is one way to pull this off. Primeval Titan will also get there, with the added bonus of 6/6 body to beat the opponent around the head with. One deck chose to use Bring to Light to optimize the SCapeshift plan, another used Through the Breach to hurry Primeval Titan into play quicker, while the third relied on an abundance of ramp effects to just cast the Titan naturally.

Defining the Collected Company decks was hard. Some use Collected Company to assemble the various creature-based infinite combos that used to be a feature of the old Birthing Pod decks (Kitchen Finks + Melira, Sylvok Outcast (or Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit) + Viscera Seer = infinite life). These decks usually also have other creature-tutoring in the form of Chord of Calling and new-card-on-the-block Eldritch Evolution and various infinite Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker combos. Other company decks rely on using to Collected Company to get more variety out of their ‘hate bears' – creatures like Gaddock Teeg and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben – to disrupt opponents' strategy.

The two Esper control decks were different. Wafo-Tapa was running the typical Wafo-Tapa™ deck where Snapcaster Mages were the only permanents, while the other deck relied on hiding behind Ensnaring Bridge.

As to be expected with a format with a card pool as deep as Modern, there were plenty in the column marked ‘other'. These are the one-ofs decks and the full list of them is here:

Archetype Quantity
4C Control 1
Abzan 1
Amulet Scout 1
Fairies 1
G/W Hatebear Evolution 1
GriSHOALbrand 1
Grixis Control 1
Humans 1
Jeskai Ascendency Combo 1
Jeskai Control 1
Mardu Boom/Bust 1
Mardu Nahiri 1
RG Ponza 1
Restore Balance 1
Storm 1
Zoo 1
Bant Spirits 1
Total 17

The others were a mix of strategies old and new. Combo decks like GriSHOALbrand and Storm still have their devoted pilots. As covered by Frank Karsten in more detail for the GP Indianapolis coverage, Amulet-Bloom is not necessarily dead even with one of its signature cards (Summer Bloom) currently sitting on the banned list. I imagine the Fairies deck's opponents were just as surprised to find Fairies still existing as a strategy as I was.

Mardu Boom//Bust is a black-red-white mid-range controlly type deck that abuses the interaction between Goblin Dark-Dwellers and Boom // Bust (Yes, you can pick Bust when recasting Boom // Bust from the graveyard).

Also in the blow-everything-up category is Restore Balance. This relies on sac'ing all lands to Greater Gargadon in response so the opponent is left with nothing and facing a very angry beast coming in off suspend. Cheap cascade spells allow the player to cast the normally uncastable Restore Balance.

In summary, Jund might be eating up a big slice of the Modern metagame pie, but everything else looks pretty varied.

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