понедельник, 22 января 2018 г.

Rivals of Ixalan Standard. Post-Bans Special Format Analysis plus Week 0-1

Rivals of Ixalan Standard
Post-Bans Special Format Analysis and Week 0-1
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They left us. It was needed. They deserved it. Format's health is restored.


Today we first going to look at old decklists, then we will check new cards for new and old decks, then we will walk through new decklists from online data.

By the time this article will go live, we will already have stats from SCG Open in Dallas.
But the main event is Team Constructed, hence we want Classics data too.

This is how 4C Energy looked like, even though just Temur was even more common.

Without Attune many starting hands become unkeepable, you cannot really go more than 3 colors, etc. And 2-drops become less attractive, but people still try.

Without Refiners it is much harder to transition from early game into midgame,
and harder to bail out removals and counterspells.

Green as a whole becomes unnecessary, but players still try barely untouched builds,
because apart from the new merfolk Ranger, there are really no replacements,
and even Ranger is not quite the thing.

As a consequence, Grixis Midrange is sprouting out. More on that deck later.
But that Grixis is not really so much about Energy anymore, and is not that much about beatdown.


Without Ruins and the Dino control matchups and all white matchups in general become barely winnable.

Perhaps, that part of the meta wouldn't be that common. Monored or Rw can still be a good deck versus other aggro and midranges.

The deck hasn't gained much, or rather I should say I doesn't really need a whole lot. With crippled Monored, which was the biggest problem, the archtype should be one of the pillars of the format.

The deck is just that strong, and Scarabs will still trouble Gift decks for instance. Some edits or tunes can be moving Hulks into SB to have much safer Game 1s, and perhaps slicing in 1-2 Essence Scatters maindeck. That's pretty much it.

Flavors of Gift decks should be a pretty big deal now. They got much less opposition. I do want to see Gift and Control builds with the new monsters, but right I suppose there just isn't space, and it is not certain that they will improve the decks. Baffling End will eventually be in many strategies, but currently it doesn't touch Vehicles, nor the Gods, nor the "gifts".

Nobody is taking Orders, but...but...well, It doesn't protect from Fumigate and opponents might respect it and cast removals at the beginning of combat. The more I think about, more of a myth it becomes. Best dinosaur in my view in the set unlikely will ever see play. It's not beefy enough, but it gives really good value. Pirates are pirates. Most of the playable ones are very obvious. Vampiric Elvish Visionary in my mind is too slow for Weenie builds. The deck can refuel in much better ways. In Gift or Tokens decks that's a whole different story, because those are actually value-based decks.

Red did get a lot of new toys. Phoenix Midranges will soon frustrate masses of people. It is just such a fantastic curve out with the Dragon. As for aggros, not such a huge fan of Daredevils maindeck. Although, burn spells and Pushes are still crazy in aggro mirrors. I suppose it is a lot more about timing. And, of course versus control you will try to catch draw spells or counterspells maybe. More on the Path later, whilst Summoner is likely to drop in midrange, than aggro, or some weird Mardu Tokens, let's say. But the card is strong.

The deck builds itself. It does have few flex slots, and in that department most lists I saw do not inspire me. The deck is good, but we are yet to see, if good will be enough to become great eventually after some tuning and optimizing. It is still early, but I would say that the archtype will never be spectacular. It will just become a safe pick, Jund Midrange of Standard, the sweat factory. With no insane pluses, but no real minuses either. 

Control decks didn't receive much, but they didn't need much either. So far only the Chest and the Tutor didn't find a home, and not all of the planeswalkers. UB and Esper variants apparently just cannot sacrifice tempo right now for value or flexibility. I think once the meta stabilizes at least a bit we could see more of fun cards.

Something tells me that pretty much every deck will feature some Disenchant type of cards. All Mardu decks already sport couple Fragmentize in the sideboard, but decks like BW Vamps will need some 3 or 4 drops to combat Gift and such, since they are lighter on interaction and don't fly that much, etc. Elenda, in my opinion, should be much better in tokens, than in actual Vampires deck. In Tokens she will be utilized properly. 

Pummeler decks are pretty much dead after the bans. No need for green anymore. People might try some UR builds with Enigma Drakes, but I don't those version will go further than FNM level.

Doggy is in every second black deck that is not hyper aggresive. Grixis Control is back, but yet has no space for the Form, or people are just yet too vary to experiment. Vehicles are back for now in numbers, and so are few other red aggro decks. Which is expected. But that means Abrades are there. Not even mentioning all Naturalizes and white removals. This means funky decks are better to stay home and not come to store play. Although, while Reservoir is about a focused deck, there can be some Panharmonicon Midrange with Doggies and such, that will not rely on the artifact so much, or just use Refurbish. But then why not to just play some Gift deck...

BGx Constrictor was bound to be a thing at least at this early stage. The core of the deck is so strong, that I think it is there to stay. Above you just see few sweet options that can align with the core in some diverse build, especially if it includes that black-green transform Aura. But those likely aren't for competitive safe builds.

I really want all color combinations of Pirates to be at least remotely playable. It is good for the game, players' base, the format. I really want someone to break Release to the Wind. It is a spicy one. And we are yet to see a viable build of RG Ramp, which should, in theory, stomp other slower decks. I don't think RG Dinos and RG Monsters will get very far. But I wouldn't be surprised either, if they will pop up here and there. 

Top 10 New Trends or Conclusions

1. New Kings: Approach, Cycling, Gift, Tokens, and Vehicles.

2. Tribal decks will try. Especially Merfolks, but Vampires can also challenge control decks via CA, discard and drains.  

3. Grixis can be a thing. And so can other midrange decks (incl. Snakes and Co, BGx)

4. UGx Pummeler will become a fringe deck.

5. Temur Energy and Monored will not die completely, but will become tier2.

As long as Monored will dodge white decks, it should still be very playable. Unlike Temur.

6. Red removal spells will retain value, since the meta will still be creature heavy.

7. Sultai Energy will die, but get reborn as a more Midrange deck hunting all the tribals.

8. BG/BW Transform Enchantment based decks

9.You tell me, could be a few new things. Angrath Combo Control.
Grixis Puzzleknots Energy Improvise Colossus Fling...Storm the Vault, Marionette, Revel in Riches  

10. Less Abrades might help fringe FNM non-Gift decks like Reservoir, Panharmonicon, Colossus.

Let’s have a look at Week 0 into Week 1 from online. Based on how mtggoldfish.com compiles it.

The cuts have already changed since I screened the meta. But I will have a conclusion on the lists featured right before Dallas Open.
You can just check exact decklists from the website.

Below after the graphs I would just focus on what’s new compared to what we saw before bans.

I.e. I will note only new tweaks of old decks, and go just a bit deeper on new archtypes.

Card choices that is.

Grixis Midrange - new Temur energy. Just a pile of all the best cards in these colors. More grindy than Temur used to be, but still rather Midrange and not Control compared to past 4C builds.

Esper Approach - Same list as at the last Grand Prix. It’s ok, but there can be some customization.

Hulks don’t have to be in the maindeck, but then how to fit them in SB among all things.

Couple Essence Scatters will smoothen the maindeck, or at least the new Enchantment for 1W.

Should be the default Control deck of the new format, unless someone will come up with superb Grixis list,

which will be better than the deck above, which is actually Midrange.  

UB Control - Nothing crazy, nothing really changed. Except that the sideboard can be tuned up for any field or matchup. UB has enough tools for anything right now actually.  

UG Merfolks - Jadelight Ranger and Jade Bearer are some creatures I do not favor in the deck,

and then my vision as for spells maindeck would be some kind of 2-2-2 split of Spell Pierce, Unsummon, and Blossoming Defense.

Then, I prefer the unblockable blue  1-drop as the second set for the curve, but it will be tough on mana.

And, perhaps Tempest Caller, Herald of Secret Streams or Seafloor Oracle could have some presence maindeck.

UW Control - Basically your stock UW Cycling. Impeccable Timing is the only news in the sideboard, outside of the enchantment for 1W.

Monoblack Aggro - Nothing new, literally. Same deck as we have seen before.

Abzan Tokens - Nothing new really so far, except that Lost Legacy will be more important now,

since Drake Havens and Approaches will be more present.

UB Tempo or Midrange - is basically what we saw at the Brazilian Nationals plus the new Shriekmaw-Doggy.

Solid, but with that type of a core you can better things. Like shift to Esper Gift. It is not a bias.

I just think that the deck is less powerful, than certain alternatives. But it looks more consistent.

UW Tokens - It is more like UW Cats, or UW Mummies (Embalm/Eternalize).

The deck was quite fine before the bans, but now I think there are better alternatives.

Anyways the deck has tools against each side of the meta spectrum.

BW Vampires - Typical Weenie deck. Timely Duress or Lost Legacy could save you,

but the deck looks boring to me and likely will feed Approach and UB decks.

UW Approach - Circulating lists right now are very basic.

There isn’t much space for new tools, and not that much is actually needed now that Monored lost its major tools to fight slow decks.

UW Gift - Seems like players are yet vary to add new big monsters. I can’t blame them.

Be it Esper or UW build, the space is tight, and those big butts do not guarantee a better deck.  

BG Snek - Merfolk Branchwalker, Jadelight Ranger, and Chupacabra seem like natural fits to the deck.

Rw Aggro - While Path of Mettle sort of acts as Ramunap Ruins replacement, it can be countered and it takes a spell slot in the deck.

But the card together with few other new ones still makes it the best aggro deck on the block as long as it dodges white decks.

In creature matchups the deck is certainly live, and also midrange ones, but controls will be a big issue.  

Esper Gift - Black Elvish Visionary and Chupacabra both are very strong pickups.

With crippled Monored and Temur, other aggro decks will not be that crazy, so I favor Esper over UW Gift.  

Jeskai Gift - Red gives the deck more explosiveness, and a few cool sideboard tools.

But if the format after a while would be more about Midranges and Controls, then Esper would probably be better.

Then disruption and Scarabs would be more important.

Temur Energy - Rangers will not solve all the problems for sure. And former Temur pilots probably already started to build proper backups.

Mardu VehiclesGood stock builds. Nothing stands out all that much. Except that Dusk/Dawns have been swapped for Settle the Wreckage. That is probably due to many Gift and Tokens decks, in addition to the fact that it is a one sided sweeper and Scarabs and Hazorets are still there.

RG Dinos - Lists I saw are quite solid, but don’t excite me much either. The deck will feast on some aggros and some midranges, but that’s about it.

I don’t there will be developments that can really propel the deck up in the format. And I’d much rather want to see some ramp deck instead.  

In addition to the above decks, there are also various Phoenix Midrange variants and flavors of red aggro. The field is open for now.

But very few of the decks will make a real difference. Nevertheless, more diversity and variety is ensured.  

I expect various aggros to keep on challenging other styles, some of them are bound to stay there, based on the sheer variety of those.

As for slower decks, Scarabs, Mardu and Combos will lead to more Exile effects and importance of Lost Legacy and Scavenging Grounds.

P.S. On Dallas Open. Looking at both the Open and the Classics. What stands out is Mardu Vehicles and few other aggro decks. Here are a few points to remember. It is just a good solid deck. People had the cards and the decks already. It was fine before and now much better. It is easier to take such a linear deck Week 1, because fine-tuning a Midrange or Control takes a lot more time and more stats.


- Aarne Pyulze
Until the next cruise!
Stay reasonable and listen to your guts!
OthalaBor in Hearthstone, EternalTCG and Faeria
Ekvilor or BoatBrew at other game accounts
@BoatBrew on channels and media
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