Last week I talked about how the Standard metagame has shifted concluding with the Top 8 of GP Baltimore, which showed the strength of UB control in a field dominated by Delver-Spirits and Wolf Run.

How does this help us prepare for the future metagame?

As I write I am winging my way to France to attend a Standard GP. When I started playing I would naively just take the “best” deck from the previous weekend, namely UB control. I would then have a weekend of mirrors and bad matchups and do poorly as a result.

The better strategy is to be taking the deck with a good matchup against the latest “best” deck.

I didn’t have a particularly successful time at GP Madrid. I lost my win and in and then contracted Salmonella. Having woken in the night with my food poisoning I was failing to fall asleep again due to a chainsaw being present in the room. However, I did finally work out the correct deck for this weekend–Humans.

But not Humans as I played it at the PT. Humans with [card]Angelic Destiny[/card]. [card]Sword of War and Peace[/card] has become decidedly less strong in the meta. [card]Angelic Destiny[/card] gives the deck a much stronger clock against Wolf Run, a traditionally poor matchup, who I’m pretty certain will just lose if it gets on a Geist.

Thalia, [card]Mirran Crusader[/card] and [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card] are all incredibly strong against UB control. There is a bit of dis-synergy between Thalia and Angelic Destiny but hopefully the benefits will outweigh the awkwardness.

Speaking of Thalia-related problems, my initial inclination was to run [card]Gather the Townsfolk[/card] as playing a turn 1 [card]Champion of the Parish[/card] followed by turn 2 Gather is just awesome. However, I tried, and was genuinely impressed with, [card]Loyal Cathar[/card]. This board state against Wolf Run does not make them happy:

[card]Loyal Cathar[/card] also interacts better with Thalia, although I disapprove of its flip side being neither White, Human or able to block.

Humans is also, handily, strong against UW Delver-Pike. As a copy of the deck won GP Baltimore last weekend, it will likely be the other deck people will pick it up en masse. Additionally, UW Delver-Pike has a strong matchup against UB control making it another potential go to deck for people looking to game against the meta. These two factors makes Humans even more tempting as an option.

Humans is weak against Delver-Spirits, but that deck has a bad control matchup and everyone is now boarding in [card]Corrosive Gale[/card]s. As such I am expecting only a small showing from the deck, and if it does show up, a couple of Corrosive Gales in the sideboard will hopefully help out. The metagame is so diverse at the moment that a bad matchup is expected but ideally this is minimised to a small portion of the field.

The other bad matchup for Humans is Frites… when the deck works. However, I dislike Frites as a deck as it is perfectly capable of beating itself. When it does work though, a turn 3 or 4 [card elesh norn, grand cenobite]Elesh Norn[/card] is just game against Humans. There are [card]Mana Leak[/card]s in the sideboard to hopefully stop this happening. [card]Surgical Extraction[/card] was another option but, after much discussion, it was decided the matchup was bad enough that we didn’t want to waste the two slots on a card for just this deck.

So, having come up with this genius plan and convinced all of my play group we are now heading to Lille with 4 copies of this:

[deck]4 Champion of the Parish
4 Doomed Traveller
3 Fiend Hunter
3 Geist of Saint Traft
4 Hero of Bladehold
4 Loyal Cathar
4 Mirran Crusader
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
2 Angelic Destiny
4 Honor of the Pure
13 Plains
4 Seachrome Coast
4 Glacial Fortress
3 Moorland Haunt
Sideboard
2 Celestial Purge
2 Corrosive Gale
1 Divine Offering
1 Fiend Hunter
3 Leonin Relic-Warder
4 Mana Leak
2 Sword of War and Peace[/deck]

Sideboarding Guide

In summary, take out Geist of Saint Traft when it will be blocked, take out a land against slower matchups and take out Thalia against creatures mirrors. It can also be worth taking out a land on the draw. Here a rough matchup by matchup guide:

Vs UB Control

Out

[draft]3 Fiend Hunter
2 Angelic Destiny
1 Geist of Saint Traft
2 Hero of Bladehold
1 Plains[/draft]

In

[draft]4 Mana Leak
2 Celestial Purge
2 Leonin Relic-Warder
1 Divine Offering[/draft]

They tend to bring in [card]Batterskull[/card] and [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] so you need to pre-emptively bring in artifact removal. If they show up with lots of clones after board and start copying Loyal Cathars then you may want to take some of these out instead of Heros as having clones return over and over again is a tedious experience.

Vs Delver-Spirits

Out

[draft]2 Angelic Destiny
3 Fiend Hunter[/draft]

In

[draft]2 Corrosive Gale
2 Sword of War and Peace
1 Divine Offering[/draft]

Sword is pretty good in the matchup and can help to balance it back in our favour. Corrosive Gale is still strong and the Divine Offering is in case of enemy Swords. If you do see equipment and go to Game 3 bring in the Relic-Warders too!

Vs Delver-Pike

Out

[draft]2 Angelic Destiny
2 Hero of Bladehold[/draft]

In

[draft]3 Leonin Relic-Warder
1 Divine Offering[/draft]

The important aspect for this matchup is to take out their equipment to dramatically reduce their clock. Hero of Bladehold is too expensive as it often become the target of a [card]Vapor Snag[/card], likewise for anything with Angelic Destiny attached to it.

Vs Frites

Out

[draft]2 Hero of Bladehold
1 Geist of Saint Traft
1 Plains[/draft]

In

[draft]4 Mana Leak[/draft]

You just need to be as aggressive as possible here. Angelic Destiny would be the cut except it can help a creature survive an Elesh Norn and get in for the win.

Vs Mirror

Out

[draft]4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
3 Geist of Saint Traft[/draft]

In

[draft]2 Sword of War and Peace
3 Leonin Relic-Warder
1 Fiend Hunter
1 Divine Offering[/draft]

The main reason for [card]Sword of War and Peace[/card] in the sideboard is for the mirror. As I believe this to be the best deck it would be foolish to not plan for the mirror match. Similarly the artifact hate comes in to deal with their Swords.

Vs Zombies

Out

[draft]2 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
3 Geist of Saint Traft
2 Angelic Destiny[/draft]

In

[draft]3 Leonin Relic-Warder
1 Divine Offering
1 Fiend Hunter
2 Celestial Purge[/draft]

I really like the Zombies matchup and consider it strongly in the favour of Humans, especially after boarding. [card]Phyrexian Obliterator[/card] can be a bit of a roadblock but [card]Mirran Crusader[/card] can safely get past and [card]Celestial Purge[/card] is an excellent answer.

Vs Pod

Out

[draft]3 Geist of Saint Traft
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/draft]

In

[draft]3 Leonin Relic-Warder
1 Divine Offering
1 Fiend Hunter
2 Celestial Purge[/draft]

Vs Wolf Run

Out

[draft]4 Honor of the Pure
2 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/draft]

[draft]4 Mana Leak
2 Celestial Purge[/draft]

On the play, leave in all the Thalias and board in only two of the Mana Leaks.

Boarding in varies slightly depending on whether you are on the draw or the play. Thalia is excellent at slowing them down on the play but is almost dead on the draw as they already got to play their turn 2 ramp spell.

One GP later…

So, how did we do?

Five of us played the deck. I had a less than stellar day but three of my friends made it to the bubble with one making it through to Day 2. It was played by the two who lost in the bubble in a side event on the Sunday where they finished 7-2 and 6-2-1. There were an awful lot of mirror matches that we seemed better prepared for in general.

Ironically, we did less well against the two decks I expected to performed against (Delver-Pike and UB Control). Maybe they came better prepared for Humans, and certainly there were a lot of post-board Batterskulls.

Humans still seems strong against the other aggro decks (Zombies and R/G) and our build seemed better set up for the mirror (not a single loss all weekend). The Angelic Destinies have definitely helped against the Wolf Run decks. A traditionally poor match has swung drastically in our favour while Destiny can also steal free wins against other decks.

Our overall showing was 43 wins, 25 losses and 1 draw (ignoring byes). Whilst less than I was hoping for, I genuinely feel we played a good deck in the field. The metagame from Day 2 also seems to agree with this.

If you have a Standard tournament coming up this weekend I would predict a field of Zombies and R/G Aggro. As such I would actually still recommend Humans. I was expecting to want to shift deck but after such a strong performance against both of those decks I see no reason to fix what isn’t broken though I would make a few changes especially to the sideboard.

[deck]4 Champion of the Parish
4 Doomed Traveller
4 Fiend Hunter
2 Leonin Relic-Warder
4 Hero of Bladehold
4 Loyal Cathar
4 Mirran Crusader
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
2 Angelic Destiny
4 Honor of the Pure
13 Plains
4 Seachrome Coast
4 Glacial Fortress
3 Moorland Haunt
Sideboard
3 Celestial Purge
2 Corrosive Gale
2 Divine Offering
2 Geist of Saint Traft
4 Mana Leak
2 Sword of War and Peace[/deck]

If you just aren’t into Humans the other deck I would suggest in R/G Ramp as that will be very strong against those two decks, though it might be time to main deck [card]Gut Shot[/card] again to deal with the evil Thalias!

I hope you have found this discussion of metagame shifts interesting and helpful. Thanks to everyone who said hello at the GP, I enjoyed meeting you. Until next week!