The biggest winners from last weekend were players who enjoy varied metagames, because we saw a whole host of different decks winning and Top 8’ing. If I have to pick one archetype though (and I do) then ultimately it has to be RW, which was all over the place. Not only is it one of the better-performing decks on the weekend, but since Fate Reforged came out online it has enjoyed a resurgence and retaken its #1 slot in the Dailies.
The cleanest-looking of the RW lists from this weekend came from Daniel Medellin.
No fuss or weird choices here—everything is pure efficiency from the full sets of Seeker of the Way, Goblin Rabblemaster, and Lightning Strike. No Outpost Siege here—Chandra, Pyromaster knows best—and a bunch of the usual burn. Even the sideboard isn’t doing anything outrageous. Some shocks here, some enchantment removal there, and a few more Dragons just in case.
Sometimes the best plan is to streamline as much as possible and beat your opponents by being brutally efficient. I am somewhat interested to see the overload at the 3 slot there, with Outburst, Rabblemaster, and Brimaz all competing for space. Obviously these all are respectable plays on turns four and five as well, but Ashcloud Phoenix has been one of the classic picks for the curve and omitting it entirely is unusual.
I’ve banged on about Temur over the past few weeks, so I need to stay consistent and talk more about Frost Walker. One of the midwest grinders, Jeff Hoogland, played a variant of the Temur aggro deck I covered last week:
Shaman of the Great Hunt continues to impress, and while Wild Slash out of RW is a bit obnoxious, the higher power level is well worth the frail body. Jeff sticks with Courser of Kruphix in this build as an additional way to avoid flooding out, and I’m sure Crater’s Claws loves the steady stream of lands. If the situation calls for it, the Temur deck can go pretty heavily into tempo, relying on Stubborn Denial and Disdainful Stroke to keep the highest-cost threats and sweepers in check. It also makes for some easy swaps when Frost Walker just isn’t getting the job done.
Abzan continues to push for the top slot and is still one of the most popular decks in many metagames. There are three main configurations of the typical Abzan deck before going into Reanimator territory. First is the version from pre-Fate Reforged—other than Valorous Stance, you could copy any of the lists from two months ago and go to town.
Fate Reforged spawned two updated variations on the deck thanks to the new cards. The lesser of the two swaps was a hybridization of Abzan Aggro and Abzan Midrange. It doesn’t run quite such an aggressive curve and usually only picks Fleecemane Lion or Rakshasa Deathdealer as a 2-drop rather than both. It helps split the difference with Warden of the First Tree as an early drop and potential mana sink. Tasigur, the Golden Fang was the other big addition as it makes for a solid 4-drop while also providing a solid late-game card to replace Wingmate Roc with.
Tasigur also allowed for the popularization of a real Abzan control deck which outright cut Sylvan Caryatid and much of the supporting cast. Instead the deck goes back to the basics, utilizing only Courser, Siege Rhino, and Tasigur as creature-based threats. The rest is just removal pieces, Thoughtseize, and planeswalker support. End Hostilities makes a much bigger appearance as a maindeck answer, and even Ugin has gotten in the mix. One card that I’ve been very impressed by in these decks is Palace Siege out of the board—the Dragons mode allows Abzan to consistently outlast red decks and even UB Control. And Khans mode makes it very difficult for opposing Abzan players to win the mirror short of exiling all of your Siege Rhinos.
Here’s a sample build courtesy of Talon Carrin who finished in 2nd place at his Regionals this weekend.
As for other decks, while they certainly exist, for the most part the metagame has shifted heavily back to RW Aggro/Midrange, flavors of Abzan, GR and Temur as the big three archetypes. UB Control, Mardu, Jeskai Tokens, and G/x ramp decks have all been performing reasonably well, but on a week-to-week basis. Part of this could be simply a metagame shift where decks like Jeskai and ramp need to adapt again or it could be the new pecking order. Regardless, the field is very open and there’s a fair bit of variation in construction for the same archetype.
Deck of the Week: Abzan Reanimator
Speaking of Abzan Reanimator, this was a hybrid build one of my readers played at a PPTQ two weeks ago. While he wasn’t successful in his endeavor, I did enjoy the hybrid concept. Eidolon and Doomwake have already proven themselves, and Frontier Siege powers out the the heavy hitters well. Between Tasigur, Eidolon and Whip of Erebos you have plenty of places to start sinking mana. I’m sure this concept could be streamlined, but I do like Rhino a lot in this build to control the board when you don’t get the constellation or Whip engine going.