The Japan Metagame Diaries – Going Goth(ic)

With the introduction of Eldritch Moon into the fold, the standard format is looking to become full on gothic. You can be sure that there will be a lot of vampires, zombies, ghosts, and Lovecraftian horrors all around the metagame in the coming weeks. In today’s article I’d want to go over what the last few weeks of the metagame here in the Nagoya region was like, and then talk about how I think all these new cards will change it. The last time I wrote about the metagame here was a full 5 weeks ago, so it’s high time I do a information dump so you can see how trends changed during that period.

 

Getting Back on my Feet

 

In my last article I had talked about the problems I had run into following GP Tokyo in May with my RW deck that had once done so well in the metagame. With limited time to play and make adjustments, I simply  wasn’t keeping up with the metagame. I had tried out the GR Tokens deck that was showing good results in tournaments around town, but I simply couldn’t get it to work for me. I had trouble deciding on the lines of play and sometimes I just got into match ups I couldn’t win.

In the middle of June I ended up going back to my tried and true RW Tokens deck formula with a few changes (I added in Hanweir Militia Captain instead of Knight of the White Orchid) and miraculously that changed everything. My first big result was a 4-1 finish at a 27 person tournament in town at Big Magic. I managed to beat RW Humans, GW Humans, BW Eldrazi, and Bant Humans before losing to another Bant Human CoCo deck. The winner of the tournament was supringly, an Abzan Season’s Past control deck.

Bant Humans had become the defacto deck to beat during June as it put up win after win after win. Previously popular decks like GB Aristocrats, GW Tokens, and Esper Dragons were nowhere to be seen. I managed to finish 2-1 at a lot of 3 round events in June, and in the first week of July I actually won a FNM in Iwata City (where my wife is from) when I visited it for the weekend.

I had one big tournament left on July 10th before the EMN pre-release and I thought I’d give my RW Tokens deck one more shot to redeem itself. 54 people showed up to the PPTQ at the Amenity Dream in town, which is a lot of people for the end of a season. In round 1 I managed to beat a 4 Color Eldrazi Rites deck, but lost in round 2 to a unique mono green Eldrazi beatdown deck with a full set of Reality Smashers and Thought Knot Seers. I bounced back in round 3 by offing a Sultai Midrange deck, but lost in round 4 to Bant Humans. At this point I was just staying in for the points and prizes, but a split between two more Bant Company decks assured that I would go home empty handed.

I ended up in 26th place, which wasn’t as disheartening as what the top 8 looked like:

  • Bant Humans
  • Bant Humans
  • Bant Humans
  • Bant Humans
  • Bant Humans
  • Bant Company
  • Abzan Midrange
  • Sultai Midrange

Yep. You’re not seeing things. The metagame had become so dominated by Bant Company decks that it placed 6, SIX different ones into the top 8. The Sultai Midrange deck managed to make it into the top 4, but the winner of course would end up being Bant Humans. The decks are largely stock lists from previous GPs except that most of the winning version had Eldrazi Displacer in their 75 to deal with the mirror and other troublesome cards.

Bant Humans/Company will definitely be the deck to beat next season and you can be sure that many people will be gunning for it. The most dangerous addition to the deck is going to no doubt be Spell Queller.

 

Spell Queller

Not only does the card stop Collected Company from being cast at instant speed in the mirror match, but it also has built-in evasion and can even handle cards like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. It will be a potent card both in Bant Company and Spirit decks. You can be sure that we’ll see Bant Spirit/CoCo become a new variation of the already popular archetype.

 

Let Bygones Be Bishops
75 cards, 15 sideboard
6 Plains
4 Prairie Stream
4 Island
4 Port Town
4 Battlefield Forge
2 Shivan Reef


24 lands

4 Mausoleum Wanderer
4 Rattlechains
4 Selfless Spirit
4 Nebelgast Herald
4 Spell Queller
3 Bygone Bishop
2 Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
2 Eldrazi Displacer


27 creatures

4 Declaration in Stone
2 Stasis Snare
3 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar


9 other spells

Sideboard
2 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
3 Blessed Alliance
3 Stratus Dancer
2 Negate
3 Silkwrap
2 Dragonlord Ojutai


15 sideboard cards

 

This deck just goes to show you how powerful the synergy is between all of the spirits in standard now. We have flash, flying, conditional hexproof, counterspells, tempo, indestructible, and even card advantage. This kind of deck could be incredibly dangerous in the new metagame so you better be prepared for it.

So how do we beat these flashy spirits and Collected Company decks?

 

Thalia, Heretic Cathar

That’s where Thalia, Heretic Cathar comes into play. Not only can white decks like RW Humans play her to sterilize Collected Company threats, but all of the Bant Company decks will probably be playing her as well. Thalia also has the benefit of tapping all creature lands, pain lands, and even the lands used in Eldrazi Ramp so she’s going to be an amazing card in the next metagame. During the previous standard season I had a pretty good win % against Bant Company decks, but having Thalia would really give me the edge I need. Here is an updated list of my RW tokens deck for Eldritch Moon standard.

 

RW Tokens
75 cards, 15 sideboard
8 Plains
4 Mountain
4 Battlefield Forge
4 Needle Spires
2 Stone Quarry
1 Hanweir Battlements
2 Westvale Abbey


25 lands

4 Thraben Inspector
4 Hanweir Militia Captain
4 Hanweir Garrison
3 Reckless Bushwhacker
2 Thalia, Heretic Cathar


17 creatures

4 Dragon Fodder
4 Declaration in Stone
4 Secure the Wastes
4 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
2 Stasis Snare


18 other spells

Sideboard
2 Blessed Alliance
2 Chandra, Flamecaller
2 Tragic Arrogance
3 Nahiri, the Harbinger
3 Silkwrap
2 Impact Tremors
1 Descend upon the Sinful


15 sideboard cards

 

The deck is relatively the same, especially the spells, but I’ve decided to drop Thopter Engineer for Hanweir Garrison because the card is just overall more powerful. Being able to continuously put new tokens into play is going to be huge, especially if I have a Gideon Emblem or give it haste with Reckless Bushwhacker. Another reason for the Garrison is of course the ability to flip it into The Writhing Township which will give my otherwise small creatured deck a LOT of reach late game. This is just another threat on top of Westvale Abbey, but it’s an important one. Thalia in the mainboard gives this already quick deck an even stronger game 1 against midrange and Collected Company decks. I’m not sure putting Chandra in the sideboard is the right idea, but until aggro decks like RW humans start rearing their ugly heads again I think it’s okay. I think Blessed Alliance will be a good card against aggro decks as well. Great tempo card.

 

Decimator of the Provinces

Another card that I think will see some play is Decimator of the Provinces. This card is reminiscent of Craterhoof Behemoth (although not as powerful). Decimator of the Provinces seems like it would be a great fit in a GR token deck that floods the board with small creatures then swings for huge amounts of damage all at once. I think you can realistically play this card for 6-7 mana in a green deck thank to its Emerge cost, which means this could be a great card for GW Tokens as well. I, however, have a different plan on it.

 

 GB Decimation
75 cards, 15 sideboard
8 Forest
4 Shrine of the Forsaken Gods
4 Llanowar Wastes
4 Hissing Quagmire
2 Swamp
2 Westvale Abbey


24 lands

4 Deathcap Cultivator
4 Ulvenwald Captive
4 Sylvan Advocate
4 Duskwatch Recruiter
4 Matter Reshaper
4 Catacomb Sifter
3 Tireless Tracker
3 Decimator of the Provinces
2 Distended Mindbender


34 creatures

4 Collected Company


4 other spells

Sideboard
2 Transgress the Mind
3 Clip Wings
3 Ruinous Path
2 Ultimate Price
3 Languish
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet


15 sideboard cards

 

This is an old fashioned aggro deck with a huge top end. The key is to play your mana dorks quickly along with your Collected Companies to fill the board with creatures, then to cast Decimator of the Provinces on turn 5 or 6 for massive damage. My initial idea had been to play more Eldrazi scion makers such as From Beyond but a few of my fellow Cardboard Samurai suggested I go with more of an all in creature deck to take advantage of Emerge and overwhelm an opponent’s defenses. There are tons of ways to get card advantage with this deck  (Recruiter, Reshaper, Tracker, Collected Company) and even if you can’t play Decimator with a full board you’ll still have a lot of effective creatures to finish off your opponent with. I’m not sure about Ulvenwald Captive as my second mana dork choice, but it does give you a better late game than any other one would.

Is this the correct way to build a deck around Decimator? Maybe not, but I think it’s one of the many possibilities. I’d like to see the card show up in token decks as an extra finisher, but I think it would also do well in a GB Delirium deck alongside cards such as Grim Flayer.

Final Thoughts

 

Aside from these three cards and decks I talked about, I think there are a number of cards that will definitely see play in tier 2 and other fun decks. Here’s my list and where I think we’ll see them.

 

Gisa and Geralf

Both Gisa and Geralf and Cryptbreaker will show up in a UB zombies deck, but after brewing one up I’m not sure it’s fast enough for this meta. It has promise though!

 

The Shambling Dead
75 cards, 15 sideboard
8 Swamp
5 Island
4 Sunken Hollow
4 Drownyard Temple
3 Geier Reach Sanitarium


24 lands

4 Cryptbreaker
4 Relentless Dead
4 Diregraf Colossus
4 Prized Amalgam
2 Liliana, Heretical Healer
2 Gisa and Geralf


20 creatures

4 Take Inventory
3 Liliana, the Last Hope
3 Murder
2 Grasp of Darkness
2 Ultimate Price
2 From Under the Floorboards


16 other spells

Sideboard
3 Negate
2 Transgress the Mind
3 Languish
2 Imprisoned in the Moon
2 Ruinous Path
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 Sidisi, Undead Vizier


15 sideboard cards

 

 

Emrakul, the Promised End

Emrakul will definitely show up in GR Eldrazi ramp decks and shouldn’t have problems being played at 8 mana (Oath, Return, Hedron Crawler, Explosive Vegetation), but it’s possible we’ll see it in GB Delirium or reanimator decks as well. It will most likely see more play than Kozilek ever did.

 

Bedlam Reveler

Bedlam Reveler seems like a great card for UR Goggles or Brain in a Jar decks that are all about playing lots of spells to flip a Thing in the Ice or put a lot of zombie tokens into play. It should give those decks a little more oomph.

 

Stromkirk Occultist

There are quite a few new Vampires that will slot in nicely to the BR Vampire/Madness deck that saw some play last standard. Stromkirk Occultist is good because it keeps giving you cards upon damaging an opponent and works wonderfully with Drana. I think Geier Reach Sanitarium will also be a great card for this type of deck.

 

Tree of Perdition

Tree of Perdition + Triskaidekaphobia should be fun for a few people, and with the green enchantment from Dragons of Tarkir that lets your creatures attack with their toughness (even if they have defender) still in standard I’m sure this will show up at FNM a lot.

 

Eldritch Evolution

I’m not sure where Eldritch Evolution will fit in just yet, but I think it wouldn’t be a bad card in a reanimator deck. Sacrificing your creature to get a better one, then bringing those creatures back later with something like Ever After could be a thing, and I’m sure that Ishkanah, Grafwidow will show up alongside most of the time. It will either be GB or Jund.

 

Splendid Reclamation

This cards SCREAMS to be abused by Landfall. The problem is getting all of those lands into the graveyard first. It will have to be some kind of delirium/reanimator deck that is able to toss cards into the graveyard easily and then it will have to have a huge payoff like Omnath, Locus of Rage. If you have a card like Kolaghan in play to give your creatures haste, reanimate an Omnath, then play this card it would win the game instantly. I think that’s too magical christmasland though. I’m still going to try and work this into an Omnath deck tough, perhaps even with Reckless Bushwhacker to give all those elementals haste. Sounds like a fun challenge.

 

Well, that does it for my new standard preview and wrap up of Shadows Over Innistrad standard. What do you think of the new cards? Which ones do you think will have the biggest impact on standard? Which ones do you think will bomb? If you have any thoughts or comments please leave them down below. I’d like to hear what all of you think. I hope your new brews do well this weekend, and be sure to check back next week as I go over possible investment ideas for cards currently in standard that stand to gain a lot in the coming metagame. Until then, good luck.

 

 

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