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FFfreaky Friday – Standard Primer

 

A lot of people wanted me to talk about how to go infinite online last week. This struck a chord with me because I had to ask myself this question: Are there any secrets I know that others want in on? There isn’t any special way to profit on MTGO besides playing constructed (But somehow I made an article of it – LSV).

I decided with only two more weeks left before the PTQ season ends that it is time for a Standard primer. I have been playing a lot of Standard the last week and want to share my findings with players hoping to qualify. The metagame online has shifted a lot since Nationals. Many decks have said goodbye and old favorites are coming back.

Kithkin

The little white men have had a tough time earning glory ever since their creation. When Honor of the Pure was released many people thought this deck was going to have the breakout it finally deserved. This, of course, did not happen. It has been a popular deck in the last month at Nationals all over the world but with barely a handful of high finishes.

Kithkin isn’t a bad deck, but it has a hard time closing out tournaments. It’s very draw-dependent deck without the reach or surprises most other decks can produce. Its “God Draw” is can almost never be dealt with, but that doesn’t happen too often. With how the metagame is shaping up, its opportunity for glory is growing dim.

Time Seive

The best part about this deck is that it is probably the easiest deck to hate out in the metagame but no one does it. I see this deck from time to time doing well and it just makes me laugh. [card]Time Sieve[/card] puts all its hope of winning a tournament into praying no one out there takes it seriously.

I would not recommend playing this deck in any upcoming tournament. It is very fun to play and to even watch try to go off on the other side, but it just has way too many things going against it. For starters, the deck is clunky, with a combo clock barely a turn ahead of the agro decks in the format.

And now, with 5CC being played less, it’s even harder to get the job done. Not only that, but with Lark running 4 Glen Elendras, I don’t see the deck resolving any of its big spells. Next!

5 Color Control

This deck has had many metagames it could shine in, but sometimes it just gets hated out. This is exactly what is happening now. So many decks are playing [card]Reveillark[/card]s, Vendilion Cliques, and Anathemancers, it’s tough to be victorious. The deck does have a lot of power to counter these downsides, but many players have shied away from playing this online.

I would not have much faith in this deck performing well any time soon. After US nationals there was a boost of interest, but once that calmed down it has again had a tough time earning good winning percentages.

I do, however, have a deck list with a very interesting take on the archetype. Duotianshi203 is the front runner to win the Player of the Year race on Magic Online and has been playing 5 Color Control in the Standard Daily Events:

5CC

This list is better designed to deal with the Jund-based metagame online. [card]Anathemancer[/card] still is a problem, but [card]Kitchen Finks[/card] and [card]Baneslayer Angel[/card] can counter the effect of long game burn.

UW Merfolk

This deck is back and better then ever. It has done well at a few Nationals and PTQs, and is now taking over the four-round Standard Daily Events online. Many of Merfolk’s bad matchups were slowly pushed out the metagame, making it a powerful deck in today’s tournaments.

One of the things that surprised me was when I asked a fellow MTGO player some questions about Merfolk. Aaron Tobey, a.k.a. Ace of Drafts, has played the deck for some time. When I asked how it deals with Volcanic Fallout, he told me the card is actually a good thing to play against.

Many situations arise where the Merfolk player has one or two more creatures in play then the opponent. When the opponent wants to Fallout, they tend to wait until attacks from the Fish player. This sets up a devastating Harm’s Way that usually ends the game.

Merfolk used to struggle with the more aggressive decks in Standard. This has changed recently, though. There are fewer one-drops being played, which gives the deck the time it needs to set up game-winning Cryptic Commands and Sleeps. Harm’s Way also plays a valuable role in winning early beater fights.

This is the list Ace of Drafts plays:

Merfolk

This is a very good deck right now and will be played in the last few PTQs. Be prepared to play against this deck so you don’t get run over by it in the near future.

UBR Faeries

Yes, it’s back again with even more reach and is ready to burn people out of the game. Faeries has finally been forced to reach out for a third color and is once again terrorizing MTGO.

There are a lot of takes on the deck. Some have a more controlling plan with Jace, Thoughtseize, Broken Ambitions, and curving all the way to Cruel Ultimatum. The other lists are more aggressive without any Scions and a much faster curve of creatures and removal. Both are packing Lightning Bolt in the main and Firespout and Anathemancer in the sideboard.

I Talked to Jacob Van Lunen about the archetype and got a bit more info on the deck he’s been winning 8-man after 8-man with. This deck seems like it should be on the rise given the current metagame. UBR Faeries has an incredibly good matchup against Merfolk, 5CC, and all sorts of aggro. The deck struggles a bit with Jund and red decks, but decks playing Bitterblossom, Mistbind Clique, and Cryptic Command have proven time and time again that they have the capability to beat anything on a sunny day.

Jacob Van Lunen’s

UBER FAERIES!!!

 

Jund Variants

I am very familiar with this archetype. I cast Leeches and Bloodbraid Elves at PT: Hawaii, US Nationals, and even yesterday on MTGO. There are a few different ways to approach this archetype. The more aggressive approach with Ram-Gangs, Sygg, and Sign in Blood is one way, or you can go with a more controlling Makeshift Mannequin version that Conley Woods and I played at Nationals.

I have been playing and tweaking the Mannequin version because of its ability to succeed in this metagame. As I said earlier, 5 Color Control is being pushed out by other decks that are good matchups for The Conley Wood’s Special. I have been having good success with the deck online and it should prove viable until rotation.

The only matchup where I think you are a god is in the more aggressive mirrors. The mirror plays out as a race to have lethal Anathemancers. Other lists tend to be a turn faster than mine and I have to play catch-up to stand a chance of winning. One card that helps do just that is Puppeteer Clique. Puppeteer Clique has been a game breaker and might make its way to the main deck if the format stands still for more then a few days.

While testing the deck, I played Cruel Ultimatum in it. It was a very powerful card, but I found situations when it was castable yet still terrible. It’s bad against Merfolk, Faeries, and the mirror, so I just cannot justify slots and a warped manabase for it. It also was giving me some very awkward opening hands. The splash for Mulldrifter is still the right call and [card]Makeshift Mannequin[/card] has become Anathemancer’s best friend.

This is the list I have been playing online and would suggest to anyone playing in the next few weeks.

Mannequin Jund

Now to the more aggressive Jund archetype. This deck probably makes up 30 to 40 percent of the online metagame and to no surprise. It’s very aggressive and has all the tools to put the opponent in the graveyard before they even have a chance to fight back.

The deck list I have for this archetype is a bit different then the normal lists. Vv1nc3ntt has been playing piloting this list to very high win percentages. It’s more aggressive then the normal lists and keeps away from Fallouts and Finks:

Jund Aggro

UW Reveillark

I have not seen a deck take off like this one online since Cascade Swans. After it won Great Britain’s Nationals, it’s hard to find a tournament without three or four of these running around. It is a very powerful deck capable of stealing games with Baneslayer Angel while being able to control the game from every angle.

I have played against this deck many times now online and every game is a nailbiter. The power and synergies this version has are much more powerful then the older versions that relied on card advantage to win. Glen Elendra Archmage has never been used the way it is in this deck. Its sole job is to protect Baneslayer Angel and sit back while the Angel takes home victory after victory.

Post sideboard, this deck can transform into a more traditional Reveillark list, giving it a bigger edge in the slower matchups. The mana base makes it almost untouchable by Anathemancer, guaranteeing to not get blown out in the late game. This gives the Jund decks a hard time getting through with the last bits of damage. It has Hallowed Burial to stop the aggressive starts and Reveillarks to break the stalemates. If it wasn’t for my list running 4 Shriekmaw, I don’t believe I would have won any matches against this deck.

Reveillark

It’s a powerful deck that will be running the top tables in the next few weeks. I would suggest play testing against this deck and knowing how it works and what it’s capable of if you are seriously trying to win a PTQ. You will face it and if you don’t go prepared you will lose to it.

There are other decks in the metagame that are just not on the radar right now, and I didn’t feel it was necessary to go over them. The decks I’ve listed are what everyone is playing on Magic Online. PTQ players have to understand Magic Online’s metagame because it has been a consisten trend over the years that this week’s Magic Online metagame will be next week’s PTQ metagame.

I hope this helps you in the next few weeks at your PTQs – or if you really just want to “go inf.”

Brad Nelson

FFfreak on MTGO

[email protected]

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