MTGO Metagame Breakdown #2

With very few Standard events happening both on Magic Online and in real life, I decided to try a little something different. Let’s talk about Classic!

With From the Vault: Exiled and Masters Edition 3 being recently released, Classic is about to go through some major changes. For those unfamiliar with Classic, it’s like a weird crossbreed between Legacy and Vintage, where the following cards are restricted:


These are the top decks from the DEs a couple weeks ago:

Ace of Drafts-Burn
xkorpio-Hermit Druid

DampingEngine-MonoG Natural Order
Kerrick_-UW Landstill

xkorpio-Hermit Druid
Wizard not of the Coast-GBR Loam

MtgCollector-MonoB Smallpox

MtgCollector-MonoB Smallpox
SorryMsJackson-UG Merfolk
2005tazylua-Naya Zoo
slearch-Naya Zoo
xkorpio-Hermit Druid

dunkle_stille-GB Smallpox
xkorpio-Hermit Druid

Ace of Drafts-UBG Counterbalance
craig_mack-MonoB Smallpox

FitzgeraldJD-Naya Zoo

Kerrick_-UW Landstill
Bazaar of Baghdad-Tinker/Painter

Bingo_bongo-4c Zoo

That leaves us with:

GBR Loam-1

A lot of these numbers are inflated simply because it’s the same people playing their same deck each week. While that might make the format kind of boring, it’s great for you, the player who is looking to break into Classic. It’s extremely easy to metagame against people who don’t switch decks.

Dan Skinner (SICKSICKSICKSICKSICKSICKSICK on MTGO, heh) is one of the players that benefits from playing against the same decks in each tournament. When Necro was at the height of its popularity, he designed a Grow-a-Tog (GAT) deck with Hymns and Duresses that effectively a Necro hate deck. Still, even with Necro’s restriction, GAT remains a playable deck.

Here is an updated list, played by Samwise_GeeGee:

BUG Control


Skinner is also responsible for the return of Flash. He knew that combo would be great in the Necro-less format, as everyone would probably cut their combo hate and focus instead on beating the tribal strategies. Even though Flash is restricted, the deck is still very potent, as evident by the multiple good finishes by SICK, prolepsis9, and others.


Facing down a lot of hate post board with Flash? Say they have a Pithing Needle on Carrion Feeder AND a Tormod’s Crypt, what do you do then? Ideally, you would end up with a 4/3 flier and some little guys, but with prolepsis’ sideboard, you get two Dreadnaughts and a Sylvan Safekeeper protecting against Swords to Plowshares.

Unfortunately, with Masters Edition 3, Dredge is going to get a huge boost, and therefore graveyard hate is going to be on the rise, specifically Leyline of the Void. Flash probably can’t deal with that onslaught of hate.

Merfolk is a deck that just seems to be getting better and better. If you’re looking for a good list, look no further than AthosTheMusketeer, aka Scott Barrentine. Scott recently went on quite the tear with Merfolk, albeit in Standard. He won the 5K in Dallas, 8-0 dropped the PTQ to the next day (to hopefully qualify on rating), and then made top eight of the 5K in Charlotte as well.

Most of the top finishes in Classic with Merfolk have been his, and here is the list he uses:


Let’s check out last weeks Classic winners.

dunkle_stille-GB Smallpox
M0x-MonoB Leyline/Helm

Ace of Drafts-UGB Counterbalance

Rsimpson182-UW Landstill
Kerrick_-GB Smallpox
Grapplingfarang-MonoB Smallpox

Tommstok-GBW Smallpox
Pekniety_dez-Canadian Threshold

Pumbles Mumbles-GB Smallpox

As you can see, Dredge is becoming quite the player, thanks to Bazaar of Baghdad. Unsurprisingly, prolepsis9 has what looks like the best Dredge list:


So you’re thinking that Classic looks like fun and is a change of pace, but too expensive? Well, as you can see, there are several decks performing admirably that are also affordable. Burn, Dredge, and Elves are fairly cheap, as is Zoo if you already have the fetchlands from Extended. Basically, anything without Force of Will is probably doable if you’re on a budget. Honestly, there is no real reason that Classic shouldn’t be more popular than it is.

Hopefully I get some free time in the near future, and I can try out this beast:

Servant Control

Black doesn’t seem necessary, as aside from Demonic Tutor (which isn’t that good when you don’t have Yawgmoth’s Will and Ancestral Recall to fetch) and Leyline of the Void (which is easily replaced) the Black cards kind of suck. You can beat Merfolk and Goblins with things like Balance, Tinker, Tarmogoyf, and a combo kill, so you probably shouldn’t need Engineered Plagues either.

The Goyfs could easily be maindeck instead of the Painter’s Servants, but then I would probably end up cutting the Tezzerets and most of the artifacts for Tops and maybe Counterbalances, but Top is a slow card in a very fast format, and Counterbalance isn’t very good right now either. Without Tezzeret, I would play a single Life from the Loam to Mystical for, which may or may not be better than Crucible anyway.

As it stands, Dredge seems like the most powerful deck, although there are plenty of great foils to that. I wouldn’t be caught dead playing an underpowered deck right now, as Smallpox and Wild Nacatl both look a little silly next to Bazaar of Baghdad.


27 thoughts on “MTGO Metagame Breakdown #2”

  1. Not Scott Barrentine

    Scott Barrentine is the merMAN people, you don’t understand. I’ve seen him win casting only 2 spells against cascade!

  2. I was standing over the shoulder of the cascade player who lost that game… Merfolk mulls to 4, keeps Silvergill Adept, and (I think Rejerey, but a lord regardless), and he wins on turn 5. He is the nuts I guess.

  3. are dredge decks not running lion’s eye diamond?
    also, it’s possible to hard cast an inkwell off of mana drain (not easy, but possible). i guess, against dredge, the extra turn it takes to kill can be letha.

  4. Serum powder is awesome at finding bazaar, but in this deck it actually makes you mull more since you just want an enabler (or two), a dredger, and the appropriate lands, and powder is a dead card. Powder is really useful in manaless ichorid where it is completely based on finding bazaar, but this list is a lot more like the extended version and is fine casting breakthroughs and carefuls.

    LED kind of sucks. The strength of the deck is being able to put constant pressure on your opponent. There are some matchups you need to t2 them and the LED build will help you blow your load, but otherwise I’d rather have a more consistent build.

  5. Gerry, I run at the moment a deck quite similar to your last one. However I run a Leyline/Helm kill (ok I play black, but it doesn’t change so much), which is probably better at the moment with so much dredge.
    You might maybe consider having a leviathan somewhere.

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  7. george aka whiffy penguin

    so, it is fantastic to see a paper site covering classic. That said I have to wonder about your exposure to the format. you are quite correct on a number of your topics and it seems as though you either play the format or follow friends who do. however your assertation that Skinner is responsible for flash is very wrong, that title goes to Javasci aka robert. he is the one that ressurected the archtype when it was in a lull or dead. also im not sure how old your placing data is since dredge is taking up 38% of placing decks.

    I am very confused about the last list and you talking about d tutor and lotv. neither of these cards are present in the list so thats the confusion. also md lotv with some kind of helm of obedience back up seems good in a format where close to 40 percent of the placing lists use the graveyard.

  8. I know that Javasci played/plays Flash. Skinner was the one who resurrected it though. Without him playing it, Prolepsis probably wouldn’t have, nor would have all of the other people.

    My placing data is from the Decks of the Week.

    “Black doesn't seem necessary, as aside from Demonic Tutor (which isn't that good when you don't have Yawgmoth's Will and Ancestral Recall to fetch) and Leyline of the Void (which is easily replaced) the Black cards kind of suck.”

    I don’t understand what’s confusing about that paragraph. I talked about the potential black cards I could play, and why they probably aren’t worth the splash. Did you actually read the article or just skim it?

    Just because 40% of the “placing” lists “use” the graveyard doesn’t mean you should play Leylines main. It’s not 40% of ALL decks. Leylines are still close to useless against Zoo, Elves, etc and just because a black deck has Crucibles doesn’t mean that you would bring in Leylines against them, so why would you want those in your maindeck?

  9. george aka whiffy penguin

    ah the confusing part to me was the abrupt section about black cards right after the deck list, it seemd to me as though you were critiquing the list, my bad i misunderstood.

    as for javasci he was in my clan and i follow classic pretty savagly so mayhaps i am wrong but from my memory of the last 3ish months right b4 flash became popular again it was javasci putting up results with it after a long long hiatus of the deck placing. talking with the guy and working on lists with him have me pretty sure though that if anything robert put the idea in skinners head if you must stay the course that he ressurected it.

    and no i didnt skim, i actually read it twice b4 commenting and read the black splash about 6 times to make sure i was not misreading, it truely confused me that you say”hopefully i get some free time to try out this beast” deck list and then start talking about black cards. there was no break that you were expressing another idea alltogether, it seemed like you were still talking about that particular list.

    but as i said i find it fantastic that you wrote this article. i was not trying to be overly critacle i enjoyed your article and i would like to see more. your a good player and i enjoy reading you, it was just those nitpicks that hopefully i have explanied in such a way as to not make my self look like a jerk.

  10. As you said yourself, Javasci played Flash for about three months, by himself. Skinner started playing it, then Prolepsis played it, and then a few other people did. If it weren’t for Skinner, the deck wouldn’t have caught on, period.

    I posted the list, and then immediately wrote, “Black doesn't seem necessary” before launching into what black cards I could be playing, as I envisioned the most asked question would probably be “Why not play black for X?”

    I’m not sure how you read it six times and was still confused, when I made it about as clear as possible.

  11. george aka whiffy penguin

    ok, well i tired to correct the negaitive sound in my origanl post and even apologized for it.

    you however seem hellbent on being negative towards me for the confusion that i claimed as my own mistake. Thanks for that.

    as for flash you deflate your self in your own rebuttal. if prolepsis didnt start running it no body else would have jumped on the train of thought that “hey the current best player in the format is playing this why dont i?” if anything prolepsis9 is the ressurector and not Skinner or Robert.

  12. george aka whiffy penguin

    quoted directly from classicquarter.com, which tracks every placing classic deck for every event.

    5/30/09-6/27/09 in 4 seperate events Javasci was the only one making flash happen. this is after a 3 month lull where he had stopped playing the deck. previous to 5/30/09 he was also the only player to place with the list with 5 more finished inbetween 1/22/09 and 2/27/09.

    The next placing list was on 8/6/09 by Winstonsmith

    After that Prolepsis9 places 2!!! times on 8/27/09 before Skinner makes his 1st placeing. Then continues to place another 6 times until 9/12/09.

    please tell me how it is possible for skinner to go back in time and ressurect the deck when the person you claim he is influencing places before he does??

    also how does running a deck sucsefuuly once ressurect an archtype when consistyenly placing with it for 6 months does not. I would absolutly love to hear how you will still claim that Skinner did this but I feel as though it will be dripping with arogance as your last 2 replys have.

    thanks for the time.

  13. I love ya Gerry, but Java was putting up continual results while Skinner was all “necro, gat” etc. Skinner playing the deck doesn’t mean he brought it to prominence; Java was T8ing back before Necro got the restristick.

  14. Mr. Penguin: Your first post addressed two points, and you were wrong on both counts. I answered your questions/statements and you were still confused. At that point, I’m a bit irritated because I have to keep answering the same things.

    “Dripping with arrogance?” Please define arrogance, because I was trying to be helpful and explain my very basic points that you don’t seem to understand.

    Consider this: Javasci played Flash for a long time and had solid results. If he continued to play it, it probably would have gone on much the same way it had already: He would be the only person playing it.

    Skinner says, “Hey, a combo deck would be good in this post Necro format since no one is playing combo hate,” so he builds a Flash deck, shares it with Prolep, and they both start playing it. They are both good players and place well with the deck (including me going 3-1 with the deck on Skinner’s account, losing to Prolep rd 1 in the mirror, who went 4-0).

    People take this to be a sign that the deck is actually good, as now instead of one pilot, the deck has three. Then the deck has five, etc.

    Now consider this: Skinner never decides to play Flash.


    I am not talking about who played the deck first, because that doesn’t matter. This really isn’t a difficult concept to understand, nor do I think it’s particularly relevant, but there ya go.

  15. Gerry, that’s a fine arguement, except if you’d been playing the deck for 6 months and suddenly Skinner and Prolepsis started in on it, you’d be claiming credit, and I don’t mean that in a dickish manner.

  16. george aka whiffy penguin

    so let me get this straight. skinner posts 1 finish with the deck, per the poy race that documents the finishes of all placing decks and pilots. on top of that you say you were on his account and went 3-1.HOW on earth is skinner the reviver if he didnt even play the deck to a single money finish? accorrding to you, you finished in the money on his account so if you need to be right(which it looks like) then you my friend are the resurecting player of the flash archtype.

    Merriam-Webster online

    Pronunciation: \ˈer-ə-gən(t)s, ˈa-rə-\
    Function: noun
    Date: 14th century
    : an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions

    there you go since you apparently dont understand the word or its deffinition.

    your continual defence of skinner in light of hard facts fits the presumptuos claims or assumptions.

    your inabilaty to let go of a simple mistake on my part fits the attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner.

    and just because your such a nice guy, there are 11 restricted cards you missed channel. good job on doing your home work.

    maybe your hot stuff in std, but you should get your stuff straight if your going to comment on other formats and doggedly defend losing positions.

    in a way the last 3-4 days have been kind of fun for me as you are semi clueless but i seriously would can you from this site for thinking that you are or were ever having a rational perspective in this argument.

    for a “professional” player you dont cut the mustard in my eyes any more, and you should be thanking your lucky stars that you are able to be associated with some of your other column mates.

  17. I realized I didn’t mention that I’m glad to see Classic get some love and I hope you continue to talk about it on occasion; I don’t want to just be arguementive.

  18. Look, you guys can bicker and argue about who did what first, but this below comment really struck me…

    “Leylines are still close to useless against Zoo, Elves, etc and just because a black deck has Crucibles doesn't mean that you would bring in Leylines against them, so why would you want those in your maindeck?”

    5 mana and Helm of Obedience is why. Or 4 mana and a Tinker.

  19. I guess I will further repeat myself and state that the finishes, or the order of finishes is irrelevant.

    I guess you think I’m being arrogant because I’m explaining myself and you can’t quite grasp a very simple concept. I continue explaining how Javasci had nothing to do with Flash getting popular, and instead of refuting my ideas, you just repeat “You’re wrong, Javasci played it first!” which isn’t even the point.

    As far as presumptuous claims and assertions, that would be you, defending your clanmate rather than actually even attempting to understand WHAT I’m saying.

    As for Channel and my research, I got the list from here:


    Which has 10 cards listed.

    Oh man, I don’t “cut the mustard” in your eyes anymore? That hurts man. I really wish there were something I could do to earn back the respect of the mighty penguin who has exactly ZERO placing finishes listed in this article.

    You are right. You are way smarter than I am. I am very wrong. You are a Classic genius and I should have deferred to you before writing this article.

    Walkerdog: I am not claiming Skinner invented Flash. Seriously, do you guys even read my responses?

    dangerlinto: Sure, that’s all great in Magical Christmas Land, but you don’t always have Leyline in your opener. Even if you do, that doesn’t make it any better against Elves, Zoo, etc. It still sucks.

    Guess what? Tinker is always going to be awesome. You don’t need Helm in your deck (and a crappy Leyline that effectively mulliganned because of) to make Tinker good.

  20. Sure, but you’re acting like Skinner is a key proponent of Flash without mentioning Java’s results for months which is what bugged me. Otherwise, I’m just nit-picking I guess. But it’s fun to argue and all.

  21. Well I guess MTGO must be played Magical Christmas Land a lot, since Helm of Obedience decks with maindeck Leylines (6) were 2nd only to dredge decks in the latest round of placing decks…

    My assessment of the quote wasn’t whether or not it works well (though the stats say it does place), merely that anyone who was following classic should have known the answer as to why maindeck Leylines were being played.

  22. george aka whiffy penguin

    fine gerry. you win. either i am just a douche or i dont understand tournament magic at all. you and your firend skinner( who by the way i have no problem with at all) are might juggernaughts of tournament trends.

    obviously i have no idea what im talking about as no matter what i say and no matter what facts i present you are right and i am wrong.

    i am sorry to have wasted your time.

  23. Danger: I guess I’m more referring to my proposed control list rather than a combo deck with Dark Rituals and such. If my deck were relying on the Leyline + Helm combo to finish off a Zoo deck, and I didn’t draw a Leyline in my opener, it might be difficult to assemble the combo in time.

    Obviously this changes when I have access to Dark Rituals and am looking at ending the game as quick as possible.

  24. It’s all explained when SICKx7 (Skinner and GerryT) play in the same account. GerryT was once again just trying to get credit for his netdecking.

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