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:

  • 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 https://www.twitch.tv/kirwansgamestore where I will play brews/fringe decks.

Keep brewing!

Andrea

All In Madcap Moon

Hello everyone!
Today I’m bringing you a sweet All In Madcap Experiment and Blood Moon deck.

The combo in the deck is to cast Madcap Experiment and have only 1 artifact in your deck in Platinum Emperion. Platinum Emperion prevents you to take damage from Madcap Experiment.

Madcap ExperimentPlatinum Emperion

I don’t know who the creator of this archetype is, but the first time I saw it in action was from a friend of mine at GP Dallas – Fort Worth. He did great at the GP. He was 12-1 with 2 win-and-in rounds to go. Unluckily he lost both matches. The first one to BBD on Dredge and the last round to Skred-Red (the Blood Moon mirror).

Here is the list Dylan played at the GP:

After that GP, I thought that interest on the deck died down. But recently Gerard Fabiano played the deck in the Modern Unified GP San Antonio. Him and his team got 3rd place in the event. He played a revisited version of Dylan’s deck. Some numbers are really interesting (only 2 Madcap Experiment, 1 Mana Leak and only 2 Blood Moon).

This is the list Gerard played at the GP:

After GP San Antonio and discussing with Dylan, I got interested in trying out the deck. While I enjoyed a lot to play the updated version of Dylan’s Madcap Moon, I decided to try out an ALL IN version of the deck.
This deck has:

All In Madcap Moon:

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Here are the pro/cons of this version over the Blue Red version:
Good: This version is faster and more reliable to get the Moon or the Emperion combo.
Bad: Not having access to Cryptic Command to push damage through and not having access to Snapcaster Mage will make the games go long and give your opponent the chance to have enough blockers that you cannot attack and win.

Keep brewing!
– Andrea

Frontier is dead (?), R/B Dragons is still the best deck and AKH Lands

Frontier popularity is declining, local stores can’t get 8 people to fire a Frontier event, GP Side Events are firing with not many people (if they are firing). But I think we as a community need to keep Frontier alive!

Last week I participated in GP San Antonio (organized by Cascade Games). I didn’t make day 2 and I decided to play the Frontier Side Event on Sunday.
Sadly only 4 people showed up to play Frontier, but Cascade Games were great and decided to fire the event anyway, giving everyone a Round 1 BYE, and play in a Round Robin format maintaining the prize structure of the event (50 packs for 4-0, 20 packs for 3-1 and 2 packs for 2-2).
I played my RB Dragons list, still not updated with cards from Aether Revolt.

  1. Round 1: BYE
  2. Round 2: Abzan Blue Delirium (2-1). The match up felt really good, lost for drawing too many lands. Opponent’s deck was really good, good synergies. The list ran Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, Traverse the Ulvenwald, Torrential Gearhulk, Satyr Wayfinder,… I really loved seeing innovation and a sweet deck.
  3. Round 3: Atarka Goblins with Smuggler’s Copter and Metallic Mimic (2-0). I am always afraid of this match up, I am afraid that they go wide with tokens against my sport removal spells. Game 1 Opponent tapped a few goblins for Obelisk of Urd and a dashed Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury was able to steal the game. In game 2 opponent over extended and Seismic Rupture was able to clear the board and take the match home for the good guy.
  4. Round 4: Boros Humans with Smuggler’s Copter (2-1). This match up felt a bit harder than the rest, but being patient, I was able to trade off resources to have time to play a few dragons and win. The game loss was for a wrong sequencing from my side that forced me to trade a lethal Thopter.

Here is the list I played:

Goblin Rabblemaster has been really underwhelming in this deck, it rarely gets to live, and even if it does, it’s goblin tokens will get blocked every time. For this reason going forward I want to test out Walking Ballista. I also want to test some number of Fatal Push for early interaction with cards that are really popular in the format, especially Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and Smuggler’s Copter.

Here is an updated list I would play before Amonkhet comes out:

I am really excited about the new Amonket Cycling Lands spoiled on the Mothership website.

Canyon Slough

Canyon Slough


I think that Canyon Slough will be included in some numbers in my Red Black Dragons list.
I really like having lands that you can fetch with the Khans of Tarkir fetchlands and that late game you can use to “redraw”.

Amonkhet is also bringing us a new Dragon:
Glorybringer.
glorybringer

I don’t think it will replace Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury; Kolaghan is the key that makes R/B a great deck, and there’s no reason to have more 5-drops in the deck in this fast format. Maybe it can be in the sideboard, but I would have prefer it to do 5 damage so it could kill Siege Rhino.

Don’t let Frontier die!
– Andrea

Preparing for GP Chiba with UR Delver

andrea

Hello everyone!
I would like to give you a bit of insight of the preparation for GP Chiba (Legacy).

Deciding to go to GP Chiba

I always liked going to Japan, I went few times for work and once for GP Shizouka 2015 + vacation. In GP Shizuoka I had a good time, even though I didn’t do great.
After the GP Shizuoka experience, I always wanted to go back to Japan for a GP. I’ve been discussing with few friends and finally decided to go after my good friend Edward Nguyen told me he was planning to go there.
Ed notified me when the registration was available; the GP sold out of his 2500 spots in less than 24 hours. Luckily I registered on time!

Choosing and tuning a deck

The choice

Historically I play UR delver, I like the combination of blue counter spells and card selection with red burn spells. I believe that Price of Progress is an unfair card in legacy, abusing that card is great. I also prefer aggressive decks.

For this GP I had a lot of time to prepare for, I wanted to challenge myself and play Death and Taxes. I picked up the 3 Karakas that I was missing to complete the deck and played a bit at my local store.
With Conspiracy: Take the Crown coming out, 2 great additions to D&T got printed: Sanctum Prelate and Recruiter of the Guard. I read articles at the Thraben University by Phil Gallagher and decided to test out the following list and variation off the list:

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I have played a decent amount with Death & Taxes, but still I was no confident enough to play the deck on a major tournament. I will practice more with Death & Taxes during local tournaments.
I also saw an updated list of UR delver popping up on Magic Online leagues piloted by Olle Råde.
After the first few games on Magic Online with the list I was really impressed with Stormchaser Mage and especially with Bedlam Reveler. Those 2 cards were able to solve problematic match ups that I was struggling to face before.

The tuning

After some testing, tuning and discussions with Ben Friedman and updated lists from Olle Råde I decided to make the following changes:
Mainboard i saw Olle cutting a Stormchaser Mage for a Fireblast. After testing this change I liked it a lot. Several times having too many Stormchaser Mages in hand was a problem, whether having a Fireblast to close out games quickly was beneficial. If I had a Fireblast in hand by Turn 3, it meant I would kill my opponent that turn. Running Fireblast made the manabase change a little, removing 1 blue Fetchland for 1 red Fetchland.

In the sideboard, after discussing a lot with Ben Friedman, we wanted to cover the more problematic matchups better and be more flexible in the sideboarding process.

Here is the updated list:

Sideboarding with UR Delver

Once I decided the deck, I did my research of what the top 20ish popular decks are and created sideboarding guide (guidelines) for the deck.
Just a quick note, sideboarding isn’t an exact science. I’ve been finding myself sideboarding slightly different based on what the opponent deck configuration.
The most expected decks for GP Chiba is the following: Miracles (really popular in Japan), Eldrazi, Death & Taxes (thanks to the new cards) and combo decks. I’ll explain a bit how I would sideboard against those decks. If you want to know more details, please let me know and I will respond to your comments.

Miracles
In: 2 Pyroblast, 1 Sulfuric Vortex, 1 Pithing Needle
Out: 2 Price of Progress, 2 Daze on the Draw, 2 Force of Will on the Play

Mentor Miracles
In: 2 Pyroblast, 1 Sulfuric Vorex, 1 Pithing Needle, 1 Electrickery, 1 Izzet Staticaster
Out: 2 Price of Progress, 1 Gitaxian Probe , 3 Daze on the Draw, 3 Force of Will on the Play

Eldrazi
In: 3 Smash to Smithereens, 1 Price of Progress, 1 Dismember
Out: 2 Chain Lightning, 3 Daze on the Draw, 3 Force of Will on the Play. Counterspells are important only for Chalice of the Void in this matchup.

Death & Taxes
In: 3 Smash to Smithereens, 1 Electrickery, 1 Izzet Staticaster, 1 Pithing Needle
Out: 2 Price of Progress, 5 cards between Daze and Force of Will

“Generic” combo SB
In: 2 Flusterstorm, 2 Pyroblast (if blue deck), 2 Surgical Extraction, 1 Pithing Needle (if it can stop the combo)
Out: 2 Price of Progress, X Chain Lightning, 1 or 2 Bedlam Reveler. Even though those cards are good, I don’t think they are right in the combo matchups.

Thank you for reading. I am off to GP Chiba. I will be back with an article about the trip and the GP Report.

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Frontier Format: Thoughts & Decklists

andrea

Hello everyone!

In the past few weeks I learned about the MTG Frontier format. I am really interested in it, but there’s no support locally because the format is pretty new and still unknown. In this article I will explain a bit of the format, give you my thoughts and provide with few decklists.

MTG Frontier Format
Hareruya and BigMagic (famous MTG Stores in Japan) created the Frontier format, also named Postmodern.
The format includes all the sets with the new card frame introduced in M15. So, all the sets from M15 forward (only formats there are/were standard legal during the period, does not include special product such Commander and Eternal/Modern Masters).
The sets legal at the moment of this writing are:

I think this is an effort to create a new eternal format where the barrier of entrance is lower in respect to modern staples. Modern staples can be as expensive as $30 to around $130.

Banned list
At this moment there is no banned list, but I could see if cards get oppressive a few cards could get banned.

The Good

  • Cheap barrier to entry
  • New deck ideas
  • Something different

The Bad (as for now)

  • Card pool is still limited, most of the decks look like a small improvement over most popular decks in previous standard formats
  • Fetchlands are a must for most of the decks
  • 4 color decks (with several fetchlands) and Collected Company decks look like the most powerful things you can do

Wishes

  • I would love for local stores to pick up Frontier as a format and schedule a weekly event
  • I wish MTGO would support Frontier format with Leagues

Decklists
Here are some decks I would sleeve up if there was a Frontier tournament nearby.

Keep brewing!!

Andrea Biaggi @ KarnsBlueprints.com