Day 2 Archetype Breakdown

Posted in Event Coverage on October 23, 2016

By Marc Calderaro

Sometimes we all get a little inventive—seeing that glimmer of inspiration. Last night, Corbin and I had a slight glisten in the eye to archetype the entire Day 2 field at Grand Prix Providence. (Well, I dragged Corbin kicking and screaming, but still.)

Here is the results of our labors, burning the Midnight Oil. Yes, this includes all the X-3s—which some might hem and haw about. But when you come to a Grand Prix, this is what you can expect ... at least, this weekend.

We'll break down things further after the charts.

Full Archetype # %
White-Blue Flash 88 25.60%
Red-White Vehicles 31 9.00%
Black-Green Delirium 27 7.80%
Black-Red Zombie Madness 27 7.80%
Jeskai Control 26 7.60%
Black-Green Aggro Delirium 20 5.80%
Mardu Vehicles 17 4.90%
Black-Red Aggro 13 3.80%
Red-Green Energy 10 2.90%
Grixis Control 9 2.60%
Bant Midrange 8 2.30%
White-Black Control 6 1.70%
Blue-Red Control 5 1.50%
Blue-Black Control 3 0.90%
Four-Color Aggro 3 0.90%
Green-White Humans 3 0.90%
Grixis Emerge 3 0.90%
Mardu Tokens 3 0.90%
Red-White Tokens 3 0.90%
Temur Emerge 3 0.90%
Black-Red Vehicles 2 0.60%
Four-Color Control 2 0.60%
Four-Color Vehicles 2 0.60%
Jund Delirium 2 0.60%
Red-White Aggro 2 0.60%
White-Blue Control 2 0.60%
Bant Aggro 1 0.30%
Bant Control 1 0.30%
Bant Spirits 1 0.30%
Blue-Black Zombies 1 0.30%
Blue-Red Spirits 1 0.30%
Colossus 1 0.30%
Esper Midrange 1 0.30%
Five-Color Walkers 1 0.30%
Four-Color Tamiyo Aggro 1 0.30%
Green-Blue Eldrazi 1 0.30%
Grixis Amalgam 1 0.30%
Jeskai Aggro-Control 1 0.30%
Jeskai Emerge 1 0.30%
Jeskai Flash 1 0.30%
Mardu Aggro 1 0.30%
Mardu Planeswalkers 1 0.30%
Mono-Black Eldrazi 1 0.30%
Mono-Blue Engulf 1 0.30%
Naya Angels 1 0.30%
Red-White Humans 1 0.30%
Sultai Delirium 1 0.30%
White-Blue Aggro 1 0.30%
White-Blue Emerge 1 0.30%
White-Blue Spirits 1 0.30%

Here's a bit more consolidated chart. Obviously it's even more reductive, but much more digestible.

Collapsed Archetype # %
White-Blue Spell Queller 90 26.20%
Vehicles 52 15.10%
Delirium Decks 50 14.50%
Torrential Gearhulk Control 47 13.70%
Black-Red Non-Vehicle 40 11.60%
Red-Green Energy 10 2.90%
Bant Midrange 8 2.30%
Tokens 6 1.70%
White-Black Control 6 1.70%
Other 35 10.20%

Just a note—the “White-Blue Spell Queller” includes an Aggro and Spirits build (yes, dedicated Spirits), but not the Torrential Gearhulk Control decks that sometimes have Spell Queller more defensively.

Let's gab.

Obviously the biggest deal is White-Blue. It's over a quarter of the second day's metagame! There's a very good reason for that, and it all comes back to Pro Tour Kaladesh last week in Hawaii.

At the Pro Tour, combo decks showed up in much higher numbers than were expected. Aetherworks Marvel and Metalwork Colossus appeared left and right, and made everyone take a step back and reassess what they had thought of the format before. It's no surprise that the decks that rose to the top last week were the Control strategies that could contain the combo decks by countering the only important spell in the combo chain. Where other, more proactive strategies folded like cheap card tables.

So we learned that Combo and Control were real. Also, we already knew that Aggro was great too. So, for the next weekend (this weekend), while aggressive strategies were busy trying to go under other aggro, and Control was trying to beat the mirror match, White-Blue said, “We can have the best of both worlds.”

The myriad efficient creatures that the colors offer (and a great Planeswalker in Gideon, Ally of Zendikar) allowed the deck to skew against the aggressive decks, while fighting through the combo and the counterspells with the Archangel Avacyn and the almighty Spell Queller.

Though the decks skew on how aggressive, how tempo, and how midrange they fall, they are using mostly the same group of cards to achieve this middling goal to straddling both sides of the fence. It seems to be working.

Often the Black-Green Delirium decks are trying to achieve something similar in terms of beating both bigger and smaller decks, though they usually err larger than the White-Blue counterparts (even the Aggro Delirium strategies). They have the best late game in the format with Emrakul, the Promised End, and can get to that quite quickly, but it's possible that not playing Spell Queller makes this deck slightly worse against the rest of the field.

A lot of people playing the Delirium strategies believe the White-Blue match is favored (at least at a non-Pro Tour level), which could account for much of the deck's finishes this weekend. Only time will tell.

Next are the more aggressive strategies. The vehicular decks and the Black-Red Zombie Madness in particular. The Vehicles decks play aggressive creatures that pilot well, along with a smattering of the brand new vehicles to drive into the red zone. It's extremely consistent. If your opponent is on the deck and goes Thraben Inspector into Smuggler's Copter, you've got a real threat facing you. The Vehicles decks are the currently low-end of the format.

But the current aggressive question mark is the Black-Red Zombie Madness. Playing a suite of Prized Amalgam that it usually cannot cast, Cryptbreaker, Haunted Dead, and Voldaren Pariah (sometimes in the sideboard only), this deck is constantly shifting cards among the hand, battlefield, and graveyard. It's an amazingly intricate and powerful deck to play. However, it's undeniably less consistent and harder to play than the Vehicles decks, and that likely explains the gap in success between the two decks.

But that may be just a lack of iteration. This deck sometimes uses creatures to draw cards, discard cards, attack, and sacrifice—sometimes in the same turn. Figuring out what to do and when to do it takes a lot of time.

Last up, the Control decks. They are solidly behind the White-Blue and Aggro strategies in Day 2 representation, despite giving a command performance in the Top 8 of the Pro Tour last weekend. It's possible the deck is positioned worse (with the dearth of combo decks, it's surely at least slightly worse positioned); but it's also possible that Control decks are just often harder to play perfectly. With most players having only a week of practice at most, the stock of the strategy could rise as the format wears on.

Don't worry, Torrential Gearhulk—the largest Snapcaster Mage to exist—is still a very powerful card. But it just takes more than five days for players to play like No. 1–ranked Shota Yasooka and Carlos Romao. Not quite surprising.

So that's a snapshot of the field as it stood at the beginning of Round 10 today. Will this split be reflected in the Top 8? A few more rounds will answer that question.

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