Breaking down the Meta game in Nagoya – June and July

It’s been a while since I did a metagame update about Nagoya. I guess I got caught up in the Magic World Cup Qualifiers and the M13 pre-release and didn’t think anything about it. Sorry! I going to break up today’s post into two parts. The first will talk about the metagame game PRE-M13 release, and the other will be after the release on 7/13. It’s only been one week, but I’ve had a chance to see how the game is adapting and what cards are becoming popular.

June and pre- M13 release metagame:

Please keep in mind that my deck was the UR Titan Control deck that I’ve been recommending for a while now. I’ve tweaked and touched it up, but it’s always been a battle to find a winning combination. June was definitely a battle for most of the month. I’m putting my record at the start of the list, and afterwards I will break down the decks that won and which typing seemed to be the most popular.

Big Magic, Sunday 6/17 –  (0-2-2) Naya Wolf Run (lost), Esper control x2, Grixis control (tie), Solar Flare (tie), mono black zombies, UW delver, UBG zombie pod (lost)

I was running my 4 Devastation Tide version at this point and hadn’t really changed my UR Titan Control. It led to a lot of tie games and at places like Big Magic it was really difficult to get the ball moving. I was able to shut down a lot of people but couldn’t deliver the final blow due to my creatures being killed or just running out of time. Jace was performed pretty well in these matches if I could get him out.

Card Brunch, Monday, 6/18 – (1-3-2)WR Humans (win), WB tokens (lost), GUW spirits, UW delver x2, Naya pod, GR Kessig, WBR Frites (lost), Esper control

Didn’t change much from Sunday’s deck and had the same problems. Due to all the Whipflares and Ratchet Bombs I could take care of the WR Human deck easily, but couldn’t draw them in my second match up and against Frites I again couldn’t get the right cards (like Surgical Extraction) and ended up getting overwhelmed. But I was starting to learn from my mistakes at this point.
Card Brunch, Friday, 6/22 – (2-4-3) UG Primal Surge (tie), GRW Kessig Beatdown (win), BG Pod, UW Blink control (lost)

I barely lost against the Blink deck, and the Primal Surge deck had switched from 3 colors to 2 with a lot of mana creatures to help cast it, but the strategy for playing the deck still seems to be under development. The player made a lot of misplays like not attacking which would have let him win the game. If you only focus on casting Primal Surge you’re putting all of your eggs in one basket and if it fails you’re finished. A good strategy would be to have creatures that can win on their own despite not having Primal Surge.
Amenity Dream, Friday, 6/29 – (used BR suicide deck so I’m not adding this record to my UR control deck) WRB Token control (won),  mono red (lost), UB zombies (lost- winner of event), WG Human

I switched it up and used my BR Suicide deck, but I haven’t really taken it seriously. I should give it more of my powerful cards from other decks, but instead I went into FNM with a deck that was loosely held together by my Blood Artist/Slagstorm combo that would kill all creatures on the board while gaining me life and activating all of my undying creatures. I absolutely destroyed the Token control deck because of this, but my deck was too slow against mono-red and  Zombies.

Card Brunch 6/29: UW delver (winner), Bant planeswalker control, WRU miracle, WU artifact control, WRB frites, Zombie pod (winner 2)

This was the same day but after my FNM finished so I checked it out afterwards to see who won. It was a big turnout so they actually had 2 groups with 2 winners. I’d like to think of week as my turning point. After this week I got a lot more serious about reading the metagame and fighting against it.

This is a lot of data so far, so let me sum up the second half of the metagame in Nagoya. It’s not all there because I only recently started keeping track of which decks I played against and how I did against them, as well as which decks won the events. I’ll be sure to keep better notes in the future.

My record for the 2nd half of June with my UR deck: 2-4-3

What decks won the events: Zombie Pod, UW Delver, UB Zombies

Types of decks being played: For the most part, in the second half of Nagoya control was pretty dominant. There were a lot of Esper/Planeswalkers control decks, some Miracle decks, and a few Grixis decks as well. UW Delver and Naya/GR beatdown decks also held their popularity. Pod decks were also neck and neck with those top decks, but as you can see June seemed to be controlled by Zombies in the local metagame.

Getting back into the game


As I said before, June had been a turning point for me. I had a good week in there where I went 4-0-2, but after losing a lot more for a middling record, I knew I needed to rethink my decks weaknesses. While the build of my UR Titan Control deck is largely the same as it was when I posted it after the Avacyn Restored Game Day, I have made some KEY changes that have drastically improved my record. Here’s a look at my new build.

Lets use that artifact, creature, and land again . . .

SPELLS (24)

2 Mana Leak, 1 Negate, 1 Dissipate, 3 Red Sun’s Zenith, 2 Pillar of Flame, 1 Blue Sun’s Zenith, 3 Ponder, 4 Think Twice, 2 Whipflare, 2 Devastation Tide, 2 Ghostly Flicker

I’m still running the same spells, but the new addition is Ghostly Flicker. I got the idea from a player I interviewed for a past SCG article who was using a Blue/Green/Red Birthing Pod deck. He had Zealous Conscripts in his deck and would steal my creature, then use Ghostly Flicker to bring it back into control on his side. I REALLY liked that combo, and I wanted to make it work so I decide to throw two into my deck. But not only does it work with Conscripts, but also with every other creature in my deck. It’s great at activating an enter the battlefield ability, AS WELL AS saving your creature from being killed. I’ll expand on this more with the creatures portion. Aside from Ghostly Flicker, the Red Sun’s and Pillar of Flame are still doing an amazing job against Zombies, undying creatures like Strangleroot Geists, against Solar Flare decks as well (bye bye Blade Splicers). I did take out one Ponder, but it hasn’t really hurt me that much with all the card draw I have.

Creatures (11):

2 Zealous Conscripts, 2 Dungeon Geists, 1 Frost Titan, 2 Inferno Titan, 2 Snapcaster Mage, 1 Wurmcoil Engine, 1 Phantasmal Image

There has been no change with the creatures aside from putting the Phantasmal Image main board. I had it in the sideboard before to fight against Legendary creatures, but recently I decided it would be good to have another Conscripts, Titan, or Wurmcoil. It’s a pretty versatile card and can help you in any situation. Going back to what I said earlier about Ghostly Flicker, it works with just about every card here. With Conscripts you can take control of a new permanent, with Geists you can target a new creature, tap a different permanent with Frost Titan, do 3 more Damage with Inferno, and recast another spell with Snapcaster Mage. For somebody who can’t afford 4 Snapcasters or 4 Zealous Conscripts, Ghostly Flicker is a good work around that also has the benefit of saving your creature from death one time.

Other (1):

1 Batterskull

Land (25):

1 Cavern of Souls, 4 Sulfur Falls, 1 Rootbound Crag, 1 Hinterland Harbor, 2 Ghost Quarter, 8 Island, 2 Desolate Lighthouse, 6 Mountain

The biggest addition to my lands are Cavern of Souls and a 2nd Desolate Lighthouse. One of my biggest problems, leading to quite a few losses, was having my Conscripts or Titan countered. That would usually end the game for me. I was extremely lucky to pull one from a pack, and even having just one has been a god send. My win % against control decks has gone up considerably. The 2nd Lighthouse has also been great to have since I got rid of my 4th Ponder. If for some reason I get mana flooded, I can use those extra lands to draw more cards with the Lighthouse, which is important for control decks later in the game. The Ghost Quarters also have been proving their worth, destroying Kessig Wolf Run, Gavony Township, and other Cavern of Souls. There are quite a few people out there running Ghost Quarters in their main deck, but I think for control players it’s a MUST!

Sideboard:

2 Negate, 2 Surgical Extraction, 1 Spellskite, 1 Jace Memory Adept (changed to Sands of Delirium after M13), 1 Whipflare, 2 Ancient Grudge, 1 Ratchet Bomb, 1 Karn Liberated, 1 Devastation Tide, 1 Corrosive Gale, 2 Pillar of Flame

A lot of these changes I’ve made recently to combat the new M13 threats such as Thragtusk and Rancor, but overall I think this sideboard has me covered. Changing the target of Rancor to my Spellskite is about the only think I can do against it at this point, especially in mono green decks that are using Dungrove Elder. Corrosive Gale is great to have against Delver decks and Restoration Angels too. I was running into more Zombie decks before, but lately I think it’s more important to have Whipflares main to deal with beatdown decks coming from green. I still have 5 burn spells that remove creatures from the game, and with 2 on the side I can become a Zombies’ deck worst nightmare. Karn hasn’t seen much play, but he’s still nice to have in there against some troublesome permanents such as enchantments I missed out on countering.

So how has this new build done against the meta? See for yourself. Just like before I’ll keep a running total of the wins and losses for July.

Card Brunch, Monday, 7/2 -( 1-2) Naya pod (lost), RUW Planeswalker miracle,  UW delver (winner), UW Delver(lost), Naya pod, UW Delver, WR Humans, Mono white humans

After the World Cup qualifiers, lots of people were switching over to Delver. I’ve had so much practice playing against Delvers I have it down to an art. I still have trouble against the really good players, but even against them I can be a huge pain in the ass. I’ve run them out of cards, Whipflared their Geists of Saint Traft the turn it comes into play, removed their Delver’s from the game with Pillar of Flame (which ruined their Moorland Haunt plans), and countered pretty much anything I can. That’s pretty much how it worked out this week. I beat one player but lost to the second one due to his superior ability with Delver. He’d Vapor Snag his own Geist or Delver and then put them back down with me having no answers for them. It was a pain but a good learning experience.

Card Brunch, Friday, 7/6 – (3-2-1) mono white Solar flare (won), URW Miracle, GR wolf, UW delver(tie), GR Beatdown, mono black zombie (won), mono white Angel/human (FNM winner)

My first match up was against a Mono white Solar Flare deck. I don’t know if you could call it Solar Flare since it didn’t have cards like Lilina of the Veil or Phantasmal Image, but what it did have was all of the white cards from SF (Sun Titan, Blade Splicer, Oblivion Ring). I was quite the tough customer against him due to my Pillar of Flame and Red Suns and he could never get the combo going because of this. He only managed to get a Sun Titan out once and I quickly tapped it with a Dungeon Geists then ended it on the following turn with a Run Sun Zenith aimed at him. I beat the Zombie deck in pretty much the same way. Pillar of Flame and Red Sun. Those cards are just AMAZING in the current format. I also blinked a Zealous Conscripts with a G. Flicker to steal one of his own creatures to block, clearing the board and attacking for the win the following turn. I ended up going to time in the UW Delver match because I couldn’t deal enough damage to him, but I definitely know I can beat that deck with mine in the future.

Card Brunch, Monday, 7/9 – (6-2-1) WB Tokens (won), UB zombies x2 (won), UR Titan Control (winner of event),  RUW Miracle, Naya Pod (won), UW control

My first event win in a long time. I feel like my deck is finally back on track. Tokens had nothing when I Whipflared after turn 3 and Negated Sorin, Lord of Innistrad on turn 4. UB Zombies again felt the wrath of my Pillar of Flame, in the last match I was able to humiliate a Naya Pod deck by stealing their sole creature then blinking it with Ghostly Flicker to keep it. Even with 3 Strangleroots beating me down, I managed to Pillar them, then gain my life back with Wurmcoil Engine. This was a good first week in July, but now new problems have arrived with the official release of M13. I’ll be sure give you my first impressions on how the meta game has changed (because of M13) after this weekend.

 

So what have I learned about the metagame in June and July? For starters, Restoration Angel has become a big deal. Aside from Bonfire of the Damned (which seems to be in almost every deck), and Cavern of Souls, pretty much 90% of the white decks are using the angel in one form or another. Going into July, there has been a shift away from control decks and more on aggro. With cards like Thragtusk getting played, it’s going to be more difficult to run control decks in the future. I also think Green will be back in a big way thanks to Rancor. If the metagame does come to be dominated by creatures and you still want to run control, I recommend taking control of these creatures with cards like Switcheroo, Zealous Conscripts, and other various red control spells and using their own power against them. If you have any other suggestions on other decks you think would be effective, please leave a comment.

 

 

NOTE:

Okay, I know you’ve probably noticed that a lot of my games have been from Card Brunch lately, and I apologize about that. Amenity Dream recently hasn’t had a lot of players showing up for FNM, and Big Magic usually does booster drafts which don’t help me see what the metagame is like. I also had a lot of weekend work, volunteering, and other things happening on Saturday and Sunday the last few weeks so I’ve been unable to attend Hobby Station and Big Magic events. Those are were the big boys play and I’ll be sure to get a more in depth view of what the meta is like there in the coming weeks. Until then, please be patient.

Thanks again for reading and I hope to see you back here next time.

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