Do NOT Metagame

Metagaming is a concept that most competitive players are familiar with.

For those not familiar, metagaming is the process of building your deck for a tournament to beat the most popular decks.

Several professional players talk about metagaming for a big tournament and how it’s a key for success.
In my experience, this is not the case. I have done better in GPs when I played a deck that I liked instead of when I played a deck that was metagaming.

Here are the 3 main reasons you should not metagame:

  1. It’s almost impossible to build a deck that beats all the popular decks, so you have build the deck that beats most of them.
  2. “Metagaming is a vicious cycle”. If you are build a deck for the metagame of last weekend’s result you are a step behind. If you build a deck for the decks from the previous sentence, then you are weak to last week’s metagame, etc.
  3. You will probably not face many of those popular/winning decks during 15 rounds of a GP or SCG Open.

You will not play only against the best decks. This especially is more pronounced in Modern and Legacy, but this happens in Standard as well.

I can give you few examples of this:

  1. GP Omaha 2017. In GP Omaha, Dan Ward and I played a Bant Marvel deck that was really good against Zombies and Temur Marvel. I played once vs Zombies and once vs Marvel (in 7 rounds played).
  2. GP Vegas 2017 – Legacy. The best decks at that time (according to MTGGoldfish, 33% of the Metagame) were: Grixis Delver, 4c Czech Pile, Storm and New Miracles. In 13 rounds played at GP Vegas I faced only 1 Grixis Delver and 1 Storm. Leaving me to face 11 decks that were not the top 4 decks.
  3. GP Vegas 2017 – Modern. The best decks at that time (according to MTGGoldfish, 32% of the Metagame) were: Grixis Shadow, Eldrazi Tron, Affinity and Naya Burn. If you are going to a modern GP, how much of those deck will you face? At GP Las Vegas I faced only 1 of those decks day 1.
  4. A Modern PTQ a while back. I decided to play Skred Red with Simian Spirit Guides and Blood Moons. It was very good vs the 3 color decks that were really popular at that time. I faced only 1 of those 3 color decks, losing several matches to mono colored or 2 colored decks.

These are my recommendations for preparing for a GP or SCG Open:

  • Do not build a deck to specifically beat the expected metagame.
  • Do not build a deck that loses to fringe strategies.
  • Do not put good/spicy 1-ofs in the mainboard, in case you draw them, that are good vs the best decks. You are losing percentage points by diluting your deck.

What you should DO:

  • Build a deck that has a plan vs the most popular deck, without giving up the power of your deck. Very important to have a plan and not specific cards that answer a subset of what your opponent is doing.
  • Your “metagame” should be in the sideboard, not a mainboard plan.
  • Have a ton of repetitions with your deck. Be familiar with the deck.
  • Be aware of how people might sideboard against you and what type of hate are people packing. Have an answer to the hate or have a plan B.
  • (Optional) Play some fringe deck to catch off guard and beat people that are trying to metagame.

tl;dr: Prepare, don’t metagame.

Tune in every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:30PM EST on where I will play brews/fringe decks.

Keep brewing!


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Andrea Biaggi

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