24 out of 224. Or 6 out of 56. Remember this for later.
As of 11:30am on Sunday, August 28th, when I was writing this, StarCity had posted the Top 16 decklists for the standard open and the Top 8 lists for the invitational. Combine these 24 decklists with those of the Top 32 from the event in Richmond last week and we've got ourselves a fair sampling of the new metagame with M14. That being said, let's take a look at the breakdown of those 56 decks.
I looked at all of the lists briefly and classified them pretty generically. Yes, I am aware some of the decks played an array of different cards and could be considered aggro, midrange, or vice versa. If you are going to be that guy and throw a fit over proper magic deck nomenclature then I guess have fun being that guy. I'm not writing this article to be 100% accurate with deck classification nor do I want to argue about whether or not you feel Loxodon Smiter is aggro or midrange.
Anyways, it looks like the M14 Tour has started with Jund headlining on the main stage, Bant Auras and American Midrange on stage two, and then a mesh of everything else that mostly nobody has ever heard of on stage three. Before I go any further I'll just tell you now I'll attempt to make as many music and/or concert related analogies as I can in this article. My roommate happened upon free tickets to the warped tour on Tuesday, so out of pure curiosity I want to see how many times I can relate the two unrelated subject matters, without writing a pile of nonsense.
We only have a relatively small sample size to work with here, but here are some notes about what appears to be the metagame shift since the start of the M14 Tour.
Jund just released a new album and the streets are buzzing. Their new hit singleScavenging Oozehas captured the audience and this baby is going platinum in no time.
Junk Rites is fading from memory. A new album from them is needed soon or they might be booted from the tour.
Naya Blitz's lead singer was reportedly having problems with his better half. He contemplated for months about how to solve their issues and eventually came to a bright idea…hire an undercover hitman. In a sick and twisted sense it technically is “til death do us part,” right? Well, until he gets his legal issues worked out, they have cancelled their shows and are no longer on the tour. (For those of you unfamiliar, click here for a quick informative piece from CNN Entertainment.)
Recent hype about new tracksGarruk, Caller of Beasts, Archangel of Thune, and Kalonian Hydrahasn't exactly shot their respective no-name bands into the limelight. The tour is just beginning though and only time will tell if these works of art have what it takes to ascend to stardom.
Will Haas, the guy that finished 17th in Richmond, is awesome. I've never met him personally, but I can tell you with 100% confidence his taste in music strikes a chord with me and is most certainly a conversation starter. In the last week or so he may have moved on to newer and better things, but last weekendRapid Hybridizationwas his favorite tune.
All five of the above points are front cover worthy for Rolling Stone magazine. There are some sub stories, but we'll tackle those another day.
You: “Um, yeah…about point number five. Is that really front page worthy? Be honest with me bro.”
Me: “Yes. Hmm, (thinks briefly and shrugs) maybe it's a stretch.”
You: “Yeah, how ‘bout a BIGGG stretch?”
Me: “Have you ever seen the tongue on a frog lizard? Those amphibians were born for BIGGG stretches my friend. ”
I know you can't wait for an explanation, but let me touch on some of the other front cover headlines in more detail, and then I'll provide some commentary on aRapid Hybridization Bant remix that is bound for fame, groupies, and a Super Bowl halftime show.
Jund is still the same band with the same sound, but Scavenging Ooze is pretty catchy. Many of folks liked the comparable Ground Seal from their last album, but something about the lyrics from the Ooze just connects with the audience a little better and gives them the extra boost of life. The chorus from Ooze also packs a little more punch and delivers the beats itself rather than durdling around and waiting for another song on the album to get the job done.
The extra life and ever increasing body Scavenging Ooze provides has made an already versatile deck more versatile. I was hesitant to claim anything in advance about the Ooze, but after losing three creatures in the yard, a Rancor, the back half of a Feeling of Dread, and consequently the game with my opponent at two life, I was hooked. The punishment of Reanimator is just the beginning when it comes to the havoc the Ooze creates. Expect this tune to remain at the top of the charts for quite some time.
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Speaking of Reanimator, I hear their front man Brian Braun-Duin (BBD) is working on a new album to try and compete with Jund. From the looks of it, Acidic Slime is finally taking a backseat, Lingering Souls is out of rehab and playing bass once again, and a demo called Shadowborn Demon is in the works. BBD could be on to something as two maindeck Garruk Relentless provide additional answers to Ooze, and Obzedat is generally hard for Jund to answer. Keep an eye out over the next few weeks as Reanimator fine tunes their sound for the rest of the tour.
Hitman hiring aside, I honestly have no idea what happened with Naya Blitz. Does anybody? My only inclination of its decline is that all the humans have become acclimated with the stop, drop, and roll process as they have been bonfired to near Extinction. There appears to be an uptick in Junds, Nayas, and now even Gruul decks running multiple copies of Bonfire. If this continues (and it will), Naya Blitz may have to sit the rest of the tour out.
Since the final spoiler of M14, numerous articles have been written containing discussion and/or brews with our newest mythics (Garruk, Archangel, and Kalonian Hydra), but only 16 combined copies of these cards saw play in the 56 decks (don't quote me on this total. I may have missed a few). Before we cast them aside and say expectations were not met and/or these singles are busts, think for a second why this may be. You may have come up with several reasons and they could all be correct, but it is my honest opinion that people just didn't have the actual cards yet. The Richmond event was only one day after the release. Most of us have M14 cards we want to test out, don't we? And just how many of us had a play set of those by last Saturday? Exactly. I would expect in due time these mythics to rise as well as the rest of the M14 hits.
Now we get to the good stuff. What you've all been waiting for. Remember what I said about the 24 out of 224 and the 6 out of 56? Well, out of a possible 224 slots (56x4), 24 was the total number of maindeck copies of Boros Reckoner present in all of these lists. All of the lists containing the Minotaur Wizard ran four copies in the main, so some simple common denominator math brings us to 6 decks out of 56. People, prep the stage for Super Bowl XLVIII. Rapid Hybridization Bant (RHB) is about to release their new album and the Rapid Hybridization remix is about to be off the charts.
For those unfamiliar with RHB, please familiarize yourself with the following list here. I feel I have the right to discuss this deck with you as this list is my own.
After playing various versions of the list for two months now, I will firmly say it cannot consistently beat a deck with Boros Reckoner in it. The only way to permanently kill the Boros Reckoner is to Rancor it and then Selesnya Charm it. You wouldn't believe the reaction opponents give you when you tell them you are putting a Rancor on their creature. It happens with this deck on average once in four rounds. Carrying on…if this line of play is unavailable, I hope Feeling of Dread / Unsummon / Simic Charm can out-tempo them or hope my opponent is foolish and nonsensically attacks for an irrelevant three damage.
No need to worry RHB fans, Jund's prevalence appears to be so strong that Boros Reckoner bands are being booed off stage. A 3/3 for three that is Putrified or Abruptly Decayed is merely not good enough. You know what isn't as worried about Putrefy, Abrupt Decay, or _____ (insert Jund removal spell here)? Undying creatures, regenerators (Exp One), and Geist of Saint Traft! Also, other than Geist of Saint Traft these creatures have favorable interactions with mass removal spells like Bonfire of the Damned. I'd like to personally thank Jund, Junk Aristocrats, and Xathrid Necromancer for enticing the crowd to boo Boros Reckoner bands off stage. Jund for what I've described already, Junk Aristocrats for guiding players away from Act Two, and Xathrid Necromancer for replacing Boros Reckoner in the remaining Act Two lists. You have all ripened the path for the RHB remix below:
In case any of you are looking at this decklist and are questioning its synergy or effectiveness, let me point out a few things I have seen my opponents be surprised by, which either already is, or leads to be a competitive advantage for the deck.
This is not Bant Hexproof. Every now and then I'll get a Strangleroot Geist, Geist of Saint Traft, and Rancor-ish type of draw and my opponents think I'm playing Bant Hexproof. They sideboard incorrectly or make match altering misplays revolving around the fact that they do not know I am playing Rapid Hybridization.
Speaking of Rapid Hybridization, nothing swings a game in my favor like an opponent attempting to Pillar of Flame a Voice of Resurgence when I have a blue mana up. In response to the Pillar, hybridize the Voice, get an elemental and a lizard and bash face on the following turn. Doing this essentially two-for-ones my opponent, and three mana (two for Voice, one for Hybridization) is awful cheap for a substantial amount of attacking power. The elemental token can easily get to a 5/5 or 6/6 by turn four.
Continuing on with the creatures rapidly hybridizing. Nothing gets a good mosh pit going like Cloudfin Raptors and Experiment Ones, in conjunction with Rapid Hybridization. i.e. Frog Lizard enters play, trigger, elemental token enters play and if large enough, then trigger. I have 3/4 Cloudfins and 3/3 Exp Ones almost every game. That is also a fair amount of power considering they are only one mana each.
Given some of the strategy notes I mentioned in my article two months ago, along with the commentary above, here's what RHB would need to do to win a Battle of the Bands.
Dump its hand and attack relentlessly. The deck generally has enough juice to trade undying creatures with spot removal and force enough damage through. Geist of Saint Traft is great in this matchup. Bonfire is often the only way they can kill it. Also, getting 3/3's is very important here (Exp One, Centaurs, Frog Lizards, Elemental tokens, etc.) Attacking into a Huntmaster and wolf with 3/3's is 1,000 times more favorable than being stuck with a 2/2 Exp One you can't evolve up and 2/2 Knight. Board out a Rancor and the Selesnya Charms for four Spell Rupture.
*As an FYI, I have played about 100 games against Jund with this deck and I've won about 70 of them.
Get Rancor!!! and hope they do not land a Blood Artist. Most of the time the tokens cannot favorably block your creatures, but the vampire is king for them here as creatures do quite a bit of dying in this matchup.
Block with its undying creatures and then race by hitting them on the backswing. RHB generally boards in the Nearheath's for the Rootborn's and two Charms.
That's about it. I could ramble on and on about card choices, strategy notes, sideboard plans, etc. but that would take a long time. If you want to take a risk and get a jump on the metagame shift, give RHB a try. With Jund decks everywhere and Boros Reckoner on the decline, RHB is ready for a sold out show…a sold out Super Bowl halftime show.
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