Day 2 Metagame Breakdown

Posted in GRAND PRIX SINGAPORE 2015 on June 28, 2015

By Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

In all my years of doing Magic coverage, and now that I think about it, there's been more than a few of those, I don't think I've ever seen a metagame as diverse as Modern is right now. Admittedly, there are some things going on that look a tad more degenerate than usual, but the variety of decks that survived the day 1 brawl is impressive. So how do we break ‘em down?

Let's start with the Splinter Twin decks. Already a well established archetype, Del Moral León's victory at Pro Tour Fate Reforged earlier this year really hammered home how powerful building your deck around this plan is. All you need to do is play a Splinter Twin on a Deceiver Exarch. You then tap the Exarch to make a copy of itself, and the new copy will untap the original, ready to make another, and another, and another. Pestermite can stand in for the Exarch, and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker does a fine Splinter Twin impersonation, making the deck very consistent.

Variations can include splashing black for Terminate and Tasigur, the Golden Fang, or splashing green for Tarmogoyf. Day 2 includes:

  • 7 Blue-Red Twin
  • 4 Temur Twin
  • 3 Grixis Twin

But there are other combo decks, too. Amulet Bloom decks seek to abuse Amulet of Vigor, Summer Bloom, and lands like Simic Growth Chamber and Boros Garrison. When you can play several lands a turn that effectively don't enter the battlefield tapped, you can play your Garrison, tap it for mana, return it to your hand, and play it again. It gets even nastier when you have multiple Amulets untapping them. This can lead to things like turn two Primeval Titan, fetching a Boros Garrison and a Slayers' Stronghold, giving the Titan Haste, and well, let's just say you don't want to be on the receiving end of that.

Goryo's Vengeance is a newer combo deck on the scene, or Grishoalbrand, as some players have been calling it. They look to find a way to get Griselbrand into the graveyard with things like Faithless Looting, and then cast Goryo's Vengeance to bring it back. Griselbrand draws them a bunch of cards, and Nourishing Shoal exiling things like Worldspine Wurm let you draw more. Before you know it, there's a Borborygmos Enraged in play and fistfuls of land cards are headed in your general direction.

Scapeshift is not nearly as new, having appeared in a few Pro Tour Top 8's in the past, so people are less surprised when their Scapeshift playing opponents trade away their lands for a bunch of Mountains and a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle to kill them out of nowhere. Where things get odd is when their Scapeshift opponents also have the Splinter Twin combo in their deck.

Less popular are the Living End combo decks, and we even have an Ad Nauseum deck, too.

  • 8 Amulet Bloom
  • 4 Goryo's Vengeance
  • 3 Scapeshift
  • 1 Scapeshift/Twin Hybrid
  • 1 Living End
  • 1 Living End/Twin Hybrid
  • 1 Ad Nauseum

While the combo decks are looking to end the game quickly, they aren't the only ones. Aggro decks have been doing it forever, and some would say, doing so more honestly.

Whether they actually have any cards with the affinity ability or not, the Affinity decks that are descended from the Affinity decks of old continue to efficiently deploy artifact creatures and finish their opponent's with hefty Cranial Platings. Boros Burn decks play small and vicious creatures like Goblin Guide and Monastery Swiftspear and follow them up with a flurry of burn spells. Naya Aggro decks trade some of those burn spells for bigger creatures like Wild Nacatl and Tarmogoyf.

Infect is another story. They instead use pump spells like Might of Old Krosa and Become Immense to deliver poison to their opponents as quickly as possible.

After that, there's a Death and Taxes port from Legacy, a deck that is mostly made up of small white creatures that interfere with your opponent's game plans, affectionately referred to as "Hate Bears". A Mono Green Aggro list that has a lot in common with the Infect decks, and a Mono Red deck that has Snow-Covered Mountains to allow them to play Skred as a huge removal spell.

  • 13 Affinity
  • 13 Boros Burn
  • 5 Naya Aggro
  • 4 Green-Blue Infect
  • 1 Black-Green Infect
  • 1 Death and Taxes
  • 1 Mono Green Aggro
  • 1 Mono Red Snow Aggro

Looking more to interact with their opponents and disrupt their plays are the Midrange decks. Best characterised by Jund decks, and now the Abzan Midrange lists that are also gaining in popularity and share a lot in common with the Jund decks.

And then there's Collected Company. This "mini Tooth and Nail" from Dragons of Tarkir has helped form the backbone of a wide range of Midrange decks, from Abzan to Naya and even Mono Green Elves making a showing.

Rounding out the Midrange category are Black-Green deck that looks a lot like Jund without red cards (or Abzan without white cards, I guess) a Mardu deck that leans heavily on Blood Moon, and a Soul Sisters deck, which is a Mono White deck that tends to gain a great deal of life.

  • 12 Jund
  • 6 Abzan Midrange
  • 4 Abzan Coco
  • 3 Green-White Coco
  • 3 Naya Coco
  • 2 Elves Coco
  • 1 Black-Green Midrange
  • 1 Mardu Midrange
  • 1 Soul Sisters

Really slowing the game down are the Control decks, which are almost always centred around the colour blue. Some decks are faster than others, but in this day and age, all are better served being able to close out the games they gain control of as quickly as possible while countering key spells from their opponents.

  • 6 Grixis Control
  • 4 Jeskai Aggro-Control
  • 3 Grixis Delver
  • 3 Merfolk
  • 1 Temur Delver
  • 1 Jeskai Control
  • 1 White-Blue Control
  • 1 Esper Control

And last but not least, we have a handful of Ramp decks, most of which are generally known as Green-Red Tron. "Tron" is short for "Urzatron" which is what players have been using for years to describe what you have when you have Urza's Mine, Urza's Tower, and Urza's Power Plant in play. Using things like Ancient Stirrings and Expedition Map to pull it all together, these decks are often capable of playing a Wurmcoil Engine or a Karn Liberated as early as turn 3.

  • 5 Green-Red Tron
  • 1 Green-Red Tooth and Nail

Lastly, here's the slightly condensed Day 2 breakdown in order of popularity:

  • 14 Splinter Twin
  • 13 Boros Burn
  • 13 Affinity
  • 12 Jund
  • 10 White-Green-X Collected Company
  • 9 Grixis Aggro-Control
  • 8 Amulet Bloom
  • 7 White-Blue-X Aggro-Control
  • 6 Abzan Midrange
  • 5 Naya Aggro
  • 5 Green-Red Tron
  • 5 Infect
  • 4 Goryo's Vengeance Combo
  • 4 Scapeshift
  • 3 Merfolk
  • 2 Elves Collected Company
  • 2 Living End Combo
  • (9 Others appearing no more than once)