In the End, it doesn’t really matter – a Massive Metagame recap

I’ve posted a few articles in the past months about the metagame in Nagoya, Japan, but I have fallen behind on posting it. So now, less than a week until the Return to Ravnica pre-release, I’m just going to throw everything out on the table. I doubt this information will be that useful to you, but it might be interesting to see what people were playing and if there were any patterns in the metagame. I’ll go over a week to week breakdown of what I saw since M13 Magic Game Day on August 4th.

The following is my personal Japanese Metagame Diary chronicling the growth of my GW Life gain deck. 

Week 1: 8/6  – 8/12

  • Control – UB control, RWU control, UW Venser blink control
  • Aggro – Esper Token,  UW Delver x2, UW delver Spirits, WG aggro, mono blue
    Wizard x2, mono black aggro
  • Ramp –
  • Midrange – UWR Midrange
  • Re-animator – 5 color frites, WRB Frites, RUW miracle/solar flare
  • Rogue – WG enchant, RG Werewolf
  • Birthing Pod – Bant pod, JUND pod

UW delver Spirits, Bant Pod, and UWR Midrange were the winners for this week. Aggro was big the second week in August.

In the first week I won against Mono Blue Wizards, WRB Frites. I lost against JUND Pod, RWU Miracle Solar Flare, Mono Blue Wizard, Bant Pod, WG Aggro, UW Delver, and UB Control. I tied against a WG Enchantment deck, 5 color Frites, RWU Control, and an Esper Token deck. My deck had too much control the first week and didn’t have any game finishers. Most the losses against control decks were because of Jace, Memory Adept milling me to death. I lost to the aggro decks because I kept slow hands and couldn’t do anything about my opponent’s creatures. Even with life gain, if you let enough creatures out on the board you’ll lose to attrition. I was 2-7-4 this week.

Week 2: 8/13 – 8/19

  • Control –  Grixis burning Vengeance, RWU control, UB Tezzeret, UB Tezzeret post, JUND aggro control, UW miracle control
  • Aggro – Tempered Steel, UW delver x4, WG aggro x2, mono green Dungrove Elder, mono black zombies, WB tokens, Naya Beatdown, WGB gavony Tokens, Naya Beatdown x3, BR zombies, UG delver
  • Ramp – mono green elf wave, GR ramp
  • Midrange –
  • Re-animator – Solar flare
  • Rogue – WG enchantment
  • Birthing Pod – Naya Pod x2

Mono Black Zombies and Naya Pod were the big winners this week, taking on a field heavy with UW Delver and Naya Beatdown. Control saw a spike in play with the introduction of UB Tezzeret Trading Post, and reanimator seemed to drop off the map.

The second week with my GW Life gain deck was definitely an improvement (even though I did have a few bye rounds). I won against a UG Delver, Grixis Burning Vengeance, and a WB Tokens deck. I tied against WG Enchant, UB Tezzeret Post, and a WG Aggro deck. I lost to Naya Pod, GR Ramp, WGB Gavony Tokens, Jund control, Naya Beatdown, and Mono black zombies. Most of my losses again came because I kept bad hands and couldn’t draw cards or play anything until turn 4. The deck was still kind of top heavy and needed to be revised. I finished 5-6-3 this week. My high point as at Big Magic, finishing in the top 9 out of 37 players.

Week 3: 8/20 – 8/26

  • Control –  WGU Bant Venser blink, Esper control x2, BR control
  • Aggro – UG infect, BRU zombies, Bant blink, GW Beatdown x3, GR Beatdown, mono blue wizard, mono black aggro, UG delver
  • Ramp – GWB Gavony Ramp, Mono green elf wave,
  • Midrange –
  • Re-animator – Solar Flare x2
  • Rogue – 5 color door to Nothingness/Post control
  • Birthing Pod –

Short week. I could only attend two events this week and went 2-4-2 overall. A big change that happened AFTER this week was the inclusion of Terminus in my sideboard. I had trouble finishing the game again in all of my losses. I was either unable to take out their creatures on the board or didn’t have a big enough threat to end the game. I beat a GW Aggro and a UG Infect deck (which was really lucky, I just had more creatures than my opponent). I tied against a Solar Flare and GW Aggro deck, but lost against UG Delver, GR Beatdown, Bant Venser Blink, and RUB Zombies.

Another one of my weaknesses was sideboarding this week. I KNEW that a Sword of War and Peace was coming into play, but I didn’t side in my Natural End to destroy it. It hurt me a lot against GW and GR beatdown. I also failed to put in a Terminus in these match-ups and lost out on speed. Vapor Snag was also another problem for me. I’d get out a Rhox Faithmender or Wurmcoil Engine but my opponent would snag them and take me out the following turn. It was really frustrating.

BRU Zombies was the deck to beat this week in the meta, and aggro decks continued to dominate the metagame here in Nagoya.

Week 4: 8/27 – 9/2

  • Control – UB Tezzeret, Esper planeswalkers control
  • Aggro – UW delver x2, mono black zombie, Esper tokens, GW aggro, WB tokens, GR Beatdown,
  • Ramp – GR ramp x2,
  • Midrange – UB heartless summoning, UWR midrange
  • Re-animator –
  • Rogue – UW Blightsteel  (with Shape Anew)
  • Birthing Pod – Naya pod, BUG zombie pod

UW Delver and UWR Midrange were the winners of the events this week. I won against Mono Black Zombies, tied WB tokens, and had 2 byes, but otherwise I did horrible this week. Misplays spelled my doom, as well as not having answers for certain cards like Blightsteel Colossus. I lost to UW Delver, UW Shape Anew, GW Aggro, UWR Midrange, Naya Pod, and UB Tezzeret Post for a 3-6-1 record. It might seem like I should stop using my GW life gain deck, but a lot of these games were winnable without my misplays. If the deck was totally weak I would have tossed it out a long time ago, but I know there is a build of it that I haven’t tried yet, and when I do it will be really strong. I also had really bad luck with mulligans this week and have been striving to create a deck that gives me better opening hands.

Week 5: 9/3 – 9/9

  • Control – UB Tezzeret, Esper Tezzeret/Post, Bant control , mono black control, UB control,  BR control
  • Aggro – WB tokens x3, RUG delver, UG infect, mono green infect, Naya Beatdown, BR zombies x3, WG Beatdown, mono black vampire aggro, UW delver x2, UR delver, GR Beatdown
  • Ramp – Naya ramp, GR ramp x2,
  • Midrange – UWR midrange
  • Re-animator – 4 color frites, Solar Flare, WRB frites
  • Rogue – Naya tokens, UW delver flare, GR wolves, BG Garruk post
  • Birthing Pod –

The first week of September was the turning point for my deck. My GW Life gain deck has been frustrating a lot of players and because of that it’s led to a lot of slow play while my opponent decides how they should play against me. This has led to a lot of ties, but I’ve also become more confident with my deck and can take advantage of my opponent’s mistakes. I went 5-8-5 with wins against Bant control, Mono black control, BR Zombies, Naya Ramp, and another BR Zombie deck. The addition of Thalia into my sideboard has definitely helped against control, and Zombies in general hate any type of life gain. Getting a Rhox Faithmender in play on turn 3 against zombies is pretty much a game ender if they can’t take it out.

My losses were against GR ramp, BR control, Solar Flare, UW Delver, Mono black Vampire aggro, Naya Beatdown, RUG Delver, and BW Tokens. Some of these losses were due to mulligans, and others because I couldn’t draw the right card to shut my opponent down. I have improved my sideboarding, but there are still decks I have problems with. Ramp still out performs me in speed, and unless I get a Terminus it’s hard to fight back against due to Primeval Titan and Kessig Wolf Run. Inkmoth Nexus also led to a few losses because I couldn’t destroy it fast enough.

I also had a few ties against UW Delver Flare, BG Garruk Post, Esper Tezzeret Post, 4 Color Frites, and Naya Tokens. As you can see, a lot of these were Rogue decks and I actually didn’t have too hard a time against them. I would have won most of these if I had more time to play against my opponent. I still need to work on finishers, but I also have to tell me opponents to hurry up as well.  How long some of these people take is insane and frustrating.

GR Ramp and UB Tezzeret saw some tournament wins this week, and it’s interesting to note that ramp decks seem to be losing popularity, as well as Birthing Pod decks. UB Tezzeret/Trading Post decks seem to be the control deck of choice in September, and BR Zombies has all but replaced the previously dominant UB Zombies deck.

Wrap Up

As you can see from my metagame report in Nagoya, Aggro/beatdown decks have been prominent over the past month and a half and continue to be so. Players are seperated into two camps: those with tons of creatures trying to beat you into submission and those with board wipes and late games. Delver decks seem to have dropped off the radar recently and have been replaced by GR beatdown decks. I don’t think that either of these decks will be prominent after Return to Ravnica so my guess is that BR Zombies is going to be the new UW Delver, and that UWR Midrange is going to take over for GR and Naya Beatdown. Thundermaw Hellkite has been getting a lot of play  recently, and Hellrider has also made a debut in GR beatdown decks. I think we’ll see a lot of those cards come rotation in October.

Hopefully you’ve gotten some info about what decks are popular and what people around Nagoya play. If you’re thinking of getting into standard soon, knowing the current metagame is very useful when deciding what deck you want to use. Whenever a new set comes out, there is always some overlap from the previous metagame, so before the official release of Return to Ravnica on October 5th I will be writing one more article. Until then, please be sure to check out my review of all of the RTR cards next week! As always, I’ll be making my picks as to which cards will be big in limited/drafting and which ones I think will also be big in standard. Thanks for reading.