Pro Tour Kaladesh Day 1 Standard Metagame Breakdown

Posted in Event Coverage on October 15, 2016

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Pro Tour Kaladesh is big, and we're not just talking about the player count. With only a few days of Kaladesh availability on Magic Online, and just one major weekend tournament way back during release weekend, understanding the metagame of Standard was a daunting challenge for players. Vehicles and aggro in general looked good, but powerful combinations of cards lurked just outside the flashy tournament victories, and finding the answers to everything would give you the presumed control deck nobody believed could exist.

Here's where the 466-strong player field ended up:

Archetype Count % Field
Temur Aetherworks 82 17.60%
Black-Green Delirium 55 11.80%
Black-Red Aggro 38 8.20%
Red-Green Energy 31 6.70%
Red-White Vehicles 29 6.20%
Black-Red Madness 21 4.50%
Jeskai Control 18 3.90%
Bant Midrange 13 2.80%
Mardu Vehicles 13 2.80%
Grixis Emerge 12 2.60%
Blue-Red Spells 11 2.40%
Temur Emerge 11 2.40%
Green-White Midrange 9 1.90%
Green-Blue Aetherworks 7 1.50%
Jund Delirium 8 1.70%
Red-White Humans 7 1.50%
Temur Colossus 7 1.50%
White-Blue Control 7 1.50%
Bant Aetherworks 6 1.30%
Blue-Red Control 6 1.30%
White-Black Control 6 1.30%
White-Blue Flash 6 1.30%
Blue-Red Emerge 4 0.90%
Sultai Midrange 4 0.90%
Temur Energy 4 0.90%
White-Blue Midrange 4 0.90%
Green-White Humans 3 0.60%
Grixis Control 3 0.60%
Mardu Midrange 3 0.60%
Red-Green Aetherworks 3 0.60%
White-Black Aggro 3 0.60%
Black-Red Midrange 2 0.40%
Blue-Black Control 2 0.40%
Four-Color Aetherworks 2 0.40%
Grixis Colossus 2 0.40%
White-Blue Emerge 2 0.40%
White-Colorless Midrange 2 0.40%
Black-White Midrange 1 0.20%
Blue-Black Emerge 1 0.20%
Blue-Black Madness 1 0.20%
Four-Color Emerge 1 0.20%
Four-Color Vehicles 1 0.20%
Grixis Devoid 1 0.20%
Grixis Madness 1 0.20%
Jeskai Colossus 1 0.20%
Mardu Control 1 0.20%
Mono-White Aggro 1 0.20%
Mono-White Humans 1 0.20%
Naya Humans 1 0.20%
Red-Green Delirium 1 0.20%
Red-Green Midrange 1 0.20%
Red-White Angels 1 0.20%
Red-White Equipment 1 0.20%
Red-White Tokens 1 0.20%
Temur Control 1 0.20%
Temur Eldrazi Ramp 1 0.20%
Temur Ramp 1 0.20%
Total 466 100.00%

That's quite an unwieldy list. Let's roll things up a step further.

Archetype Total % Field
Aetherworks 100 21.50%
Delirium 64 13.70%
Midrange 46 9.90%
Aggro 44 9.40%
Control 44 9.40%
Vehicles 43 9.20%
Energy 35 7.50%
Emerge 31 6.70%
Madness 23 4.90%
Humans 12 2.60%
Spells 11 2.40%
Colossus 10 2.10%
Ramp 2 0.40%
Devoid 1 0.20%
Total 466 100.00%

That's…still pretty wild. Here's what's going on.

Aetherworks Marvel

How does a turn four Emrakul, the Promised End or Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger sound? If it's you that's casting it, then you're probably on board, and that's exactly what happened here. Multiple testing groups and pros settled on the powerful Aetherworks Marvel card as the way forward in Standard.

Aetherworks  
Bant Aetherworks 6
Four-Color Aetherworks 2
Green-Blue Aetherworks 7
Red-Green Aetherworks 3
Temur Aetherworks 82

While the Temur build was far and away the most popular deck choice, all the Aetherworks Marvel decks rely on early sources of energy, such as Attune with Aether, that ensure Aetherworks will hit the battlefield firing. If there isn't a monstrosity in waiting near the top of the library, finding a way to generate enough energy to fire again would be, ensuring that as long as Aetherworks Marvel is sitting on the battlefield, you can count on it giving you something.

The balance of the deck helps fend off everything else and gives time to set up the engine, with favorite Kozilek's Return serving both as early- and late-game battlefield wipes.

Delirium

Delirium  
Black-Green Delirium 55
Jund Delirium 8
Red-Green Delirium 1

Delirium decks make the return from the previous Standard format, and they too were a popular choice among players that tested together. Delirum is a creature-heavy deck that's somewhat aggressive, but brings with it the best midrange options. Creatures like Ishkana, Grafwidow can take over a game, stymieing other aggressive strategies, and with things like Pick the Brain and Transgress the Mind available to hit opponents' hands, it can fight combo decks like Aetherworks Marvel too.

Aggressive Decks

Aggro  
Black-Red Aggro 38
Mono-White Aggro 1
Red-White Equipment 1
Red-White Tokens 1
White-Black Aggro 3
Devoid  
Grixis Devoid 1
Energy  
Red-Green Energy 31
Temur Energy 4
Humans  
Green-White Humans 3
Mono-White Humans 1
Naya Humans 1
Red-White Humans 7
Madness  
Black-Red Madness 21
Blue-Black Madness 1
Grixis Madness 1
Vehicles  
Four-Color Vehicles 1
Mardu Vehicles 13
Red-White Vehicles 29

Aggressive decks, in a general sense, were the largest overall group of decks, and came in the widest set of options. Vehicle decks, like Red-White and Mardu, planned to overpower opponents with an aggressive curve topped out by Fleetwheel Cruiser or Skysovereign, Consul Flagship. Veteran Motorist and Depala, Pilot Exemplar put a fast clock on opponents without a way to answer them. Being the winning deck for the biggest Standard tournament before the Pro Tour put it on the map as step one in aggressive choices.

Black-Red Aggro was another popular option, with Unlicensed Disintegration packed in as an absolute answer to opponents' creatures. Here, Bomat Courier and Pia Nalaar provided range and speed, though vehicles like Smuggler's Copter and Fleetwheel Cruiser rounded out its ways to apply pressure. Unlike vehicles decks, there wasn't particular synergy with them in Black-Red Aggro. They were just great vehicles that hit hard too.

Black-Red Madness repeated from the previous Standard format, though now it was one of the stronger decks to consider. It took powerful removal like Unlicensed Disintegration, but instead focused on making use of madness and the graveyard to get ahead. Cryptbreaker draws cards as Haunted Dead and Prized Amalgam fill up the graveyard alongside Fiery Temper, ideally fired by discarding it to Smuggler's Copter or Cathartic Reunion. Scrapheap Scrounger rounded things out in this and other decks ready to get a creature back from the graveyard.

Finally, Red-Green Energy rounded out the biggest hits from aggressive decks. Like Aetherworks Marvel decks, early sources of energy power the deck. Unlike the combo-in-a-card artifact, Red-Green Energy was all about Longtusk Cub, Voltaic Brawler, and other creatures that care about energy. Electrostatic Pummeler provided combo potential thanks to Blossoming Defense and Larger than Life, but the deck didn't need that combination exclusively. Longtusk Cub or Bristling Hydra unanswered was enough alone too.

Control and Midrange

Control  
Blue-Black Control 2
Blue-Red Control 6
Grixis Control 3
Jeskai Control 18
Mardu Control 1
Temur Control 1
White-Black Control 6
White-Blue Control 7
Midrange  
Bant Midrange 13
Black-Red Midrange 2
Black-White Midrange 1
Green-White Midrange 9
Mardu Midrange 3
Red-Green Midrange 1
Red-White Angels 1
Sultai Midrange 4
White-Blue Flash 6
White-Blue Midrange 4
White-Colorless Midrange 2

Contrary to popular belief, control was still around in Kaladesh Standard. Jeskai Control was the most popular angle, piling up removal like Harnessed Lightning and Incendiary Flow with some number of Void Shatter, Negate, or other countermagic to handle bigger things. Dynavolt Tower was the surprise inclusion here, ensuring that as instants get used to answer threats, extra Lightning Bolts show up to help out. Unsurprisingly, Fumigate was often a one-of or entirely excluded from decklists. Sorcery-speed answers don't work well against the aggressive vehicle decks, which was a must-answer deck for the weekend.

Midrange too had plenty of picks, with Bant and Green-White options leading the way. Almost all of these decks played Archangel Avacyn and Sylvan Advocate. Blue-inclusive versions packing the venerable Reflector Mage and Spell Queller from the old Collected Company decks. Like in the last Standard format, these midrange decks played creatures that hit above their curve, and fight off fast aggressive decks with sheer value. Here, Verdurous Gearhulks appeared en masse to ensure oversized threats would dominate late.

Final Choices

Colossus 10
Grixis Colossus 2
Jeskai Colossus 1
Temur Colossus 7
Emerge 31
Blue-Black Emerge 1
Blue-Red Emerge 4
Four-Color Emerge 1
Grixis Emerge 12
Temur Emerge 11
White-Blue Emerge 2
Ramp 2
Temur Eldrazi Ramp 1
Temur Ramp 1
Spells 11
Blue-Red Spells 11

Emerge decks also returned, largely similar to their previous Standard incarnations. Elder Deep-Fiend provides a powerful way to disrupt opponents, and Filigree Familiar served as a new body to sacrifice for value entering and leaving the battlefield. Grixis and Temur options varied with their bodies but used Kozilek's Return to keep the board clear until Deep-Fiends or bigger things could be found.

Ramp was hardly visible at all in the field, limited to just two players, each adapting from Temur options.

Metalwork Colossus was the core of another combo deck. Unlike Aetherworks Marvel builds, the acceleration in Colossus decks could power out other threats too, such as Skysovereign, Consul Flagship. Like in Aetherworks decks, Glint-Nest Crane helped find the necessary pieces, and the story-pivotal Deadlock Trap could buy time while making Metalwork Colossus come down faster. Sanctum of Ugin made this deck exciting as one Colossus typically led to another…cast for free, of course. Without Fumigate hanging around in many decks, answering multiple Metalwork Colossus was a tough challenge for opponents.

Blue-Red Spells also made a comeback, though eschewing Fevered Visions in most builds to instead use Dynavolt Tower. Like Jeskai Control decks, Spells decks used red removal to stay alive and keep the path clear for a lonely Torrential Gearhulk later on. "Free" Lightning Bolts are pretty good then they come from card draw and filtering like Anticipate, Take Inventory and Tormenting Voice.

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