Unlocking the New Metagame: Help for Newbies to the Meta

It’s come to my attention that there are a few of my readers out there that would like to get into competitive Magic but are a little confused at some of the words and jargon I use when I give reports or talk about what cards will be good in what kind of deck. I’m going to use today’s post to give those readers a short overview of this vocabulary. For those of you who know a bit about Magic and would like to help me add to this list of vocabulary, please leave a comment afterwards and I’ll be sure to edit it in.

Deck Colors

This is the first step in learning about competitive Magic. We’ll start off with colors first:

  1. W = White
  2. U = Blue
  3. B = Black
  4. R = Red
  5. G = Green

You’ll usually see these in my reports, as well on on some other website. A RUG Delver deck, for example, would be a Red, Blue, and Green deck. BR would be Black and Red. While some people will post decks like this, others use Guild names. You probably know them all by now, but just in case here’s the list again:

  1. BR = Rakdos
  2. RU = Izzet
  3. UW = Azorius
  4. WG = Selesnya
  5. GB = Golgari
  6. BW = Orzhov (sp?)
  7. WR = Boros
  8. RG = Gruul
  9. GU = Simic
  10. UB = Dimir

This means if somebody is playing a Golgari Zombies deck, it means a BG Zombie deck. Izzet control would be UR. Following me so far? Well, this isn’t all there is. There are also 3 color combinations. These decks get their names from a previous block where 3 color combinations were prevalent, Shards of Alara. They are:

  1. BGR = Jund
  2. WGR = Naya
  3. GUW = Bant
  4. BRU = Grixis
  5. WBU = Esper

I might be forgetting some, but that’s all I can think of right now. Let’s test your knowledge again, and say Grixis Control, what colors are they using??? – – – that’s right, BRU (Black Red Blue). I also want to state that people using ONE color, use the word “Mono” + color for their deck. If you’re playing with all red, your deck is a mono red deck.

Deck Types

Now we’re going to move on and talk more about the TYPE of decks out there. Some of these deck types are self-explanatory; Humans, Zombies, Elves, etc., but some might use words you aren’t used to. These are closely related to the theme and strategy of the deck. Be sure to ask questions afterwards if you need more information.

  • Mill – ‘Mill’ comes from an old card back in the early days, the “Millstone”. It was an artifact that took cards off an opponent’s library and put them into the graveyard. As you know, if an opponent can’t draw a card during their draw phase, you win. There are some decks being played that focus on mill strategies, usually with cards like Jace, Memory Adept, or Mind Scuplt.
  • Ramp – Ramp decks are decks designed to get out a really big creature or spell as fast as they can. This is usually done with mana producers or cards that search for land and put them into play. GR Wolf Run Ramp was HUGE in the previous metagame. It played cards like Primeval Titan on turn 4 sometimes, and would then keep getting mana out to use with the Kessig Wolf Run Ramp card.
  • Control – Control means that the decks main focus is to make sure you do NOTHING. They fill their deck with counterspells, remove from game effects, total board destruction/creature destruction . . . basically cards that are labeled as “removal” by the Magic community. These are cards that remove another card from play, or keep it from getting into play.
  • Beatdown – Beatdown decks are all about hitting you hard and hitting you as fast as they can. Their strategy is to hit you relentlessly without stopping. Right now there is a GW Beatdown deck that uses Strangleroot Geists and Loxodon Smiters, two EXTREMELY aggressive cards. These decks will look to do large amount of damage to you.
  • Aggro – I’m still kind of unsure of the differences between beatdown and aggro, but how I view Aggro is this: Your opponent will keep playing cards to make you respond to his actions, taking away your card advantage and hitting you every turn so you must respond. Zombies are very aggro, because although they don’t hit for large amounts of damage in one turn, they just keep hitting you and hitting you, forcing you to respond to the cards in play or killing you. These decks are dropping threats every turn.
  • Frites/Reanimator – Frites is a graveyard manipulation strategy. It seeks to put creature cards into the graveyard as quickly as possible with discard effects like Faithless Looting, then uses Unburial Rites(ISD) to return the card to play, usually by turn 4. These creatures are POWERFUL, like Griselbrand and Angel of Serenity, and will easily dominate the game if you don’t take them out right away.
  • Tokens – It’s main focus is making and attacking with tokens, hence the name.
  • Midrange – While some decks like aggro/beatdown focus on the early game, and other decks like control focus on the late game, Midrange decks do just what they say. They help you do dominate the game after a few turns. They have some cards to keep them in the game until turn 4 or 5, and then from that point onward they start dropping big, beefy creatures to dominate the game with. UWR Midrange uses Restoration Angel (4 mana), and then Thundermaw Hellkite (5 mana). GW Midrange uses Sublime Angel (4 mana), Sigarda (5 mana), and Armada Wurm (6 mana). These decks are really powerful against both control and “weenie” strategies that use a lot of small creatures to win.

I’m sure there are a few more that I’m missing, but hopefully this will give you some more insight into the metagame next time you read one of my reports. I won’t be able to tell you how to BEAT these decks because I’m not at that high a level to do so yet. I’ll be posting the link to this article along with my store profiles in my “Magic The Gathering” tab at the top of my page, so if you’d like to use it as reference in the future, please click on the tab and follow the link there.

I hope today’s article was useful, but if there are still some things you want to know more information about, please leave a comment! I’ll be following this up next week with a list of the dominant decks in the metagame right now, and what cards they are using in their deck. Hopefully together we can come up with some strategies to beat them! Thanks for reading. See you next time.