The winner above everything else this last weekend, and probably weekends to come, was Smuggler's Copter:
Now let’s talk about the archetypes into which the Roflcopter found its way. (Spoiler alert: all of them.)
It’s safe to say that anyone who has been testing with the new cards thought this was either the deck to play or the deck to beat. Setting aside the axiom "play aggro in week 1," the whole deck screams to be put together, and it is really good—you don’t need to play a million games to find a close-to-optimal build or to realize how amazing it is.
Team Cardhoarder came up with an excellent 75, going slightly bigger to make sure to beat the mirror and other aggressive strategies, while keeping the deck fast enough to have a good matchup against B/G Delirium and other Emrakul nonsense.
Despite not making Top 8, the Roanoke crew showed up with a similar idea to Cardhoarder’s for attacking week 1. They did convincingly well with a card that wasn't on anyone's radar—Blossoming Defense.
This deck was not as obvious as almost every other deck that did well last weekend. That’s not surprising, because it came from the Roanoke crew, who have been preparing for the Pro Tour. They took an under-the-radar card and tried to make the best deck with it. I’m not saying Blossoming Defense is a build-around card—all the other cards in that deck are very good on their own—but my point is that they found one card that wasn't used anywhere else yet. Playing with those kinds of instant-speed cards in the first few weeks of a format, especially when your skill level is above most of your opponents, certainly gives you an edge.
I was going to say that this was the only successful deck that doesn't have Smuggler’s Copter in it, and then I stumbled upon the best performing list... guess what?
You would expect that these decks would try to play longer games and finish with Emrakul as they did in the past. Unfortunately, Languish is gone, so controlling the board has become a tough proposition, and hoping to reach the late game just isn't reliable anymore with all of these aggro decks.
Black-green and green-white, the last of the midrange decks, now lean toward aggression instead of playing incredibly long games like they did in the past.
Unlicensed Disintegration has my vote for the most Siege Rhino-like card of this set. When you draw multiples, you just feel like you’re stealing games. It's amazing, and the reason why this deck isn't just mono-red—it’s worth the splash by itself. I’m not surprised to see a deck like this do well in the first week, but if people adapt to aggressive strategies, red-black seems like it’ll be the least able to adapt. It just doesn't have the ability to play resilient games like green-white does with Tireless Tracker or red-white with Depala.
You may be quick to call this deck a loser. It was regarded as the hardest deck to play in the previous format—and even harder to figure out the best list—but I’m sure it will remain a player going forward. If it turns out that it is indeed not as good in this format, I'd attribute that to Kozilek’s Return and Emrakul becoming generally much worse cards in a super aggressive environment.
Surprisingly, the deck that didn't lose anything and gained Chandra didn't make a sound last weekend. There are two reasons for that. First, Chandra is not as good as advertised. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad—it's just a little awkward against the best card, Smuggler’s Copter. In her defense, all planeswalkers have gotten way worse because of that protected-from-sorcery-speed flying threat. Second, the deck was previously designed to prey on the midrange deck that were quite slow—in a world where people play a ton of 1-drops, Fevered Visions just isn't as good.
The departure of Languish was too painful, Fumigate being a turn slower and turned off by Selfless Spirit sucks. Grasp of Darkness is the best removal, but you need more than just that, and the other options are awful. Anguished Unmaking, as much as it deals well with Vehicles, is just too slow and the drawback too harsh against these red decks.
The strategy overall is happy to see fewer Emrakul decks, but is not that good against aggressive decks either—your creatures don’t block well. It would rather see a bunch of midrange decks like G/W Tokens and Bant. Try to keep an eye on whether people try to beat aggro with midrange.
- Grixis Emerge
- Bant Decks
- Colossus Decks
Grixis Emerge finished in 2nd place, but there was only one player on it—we’ll have to see if the deck was a fluke or not.
Bant and Colossus decks all showed up in some numbers, but not enough to declare them winners. I don’t want to say losers, either, because I believe they have potential—it’s just that the best lists have yet to be found.