Extended Season Take 2: How the GPs and/or PTQ Results Changed the Meta

Extended Season Take 2: A Second look at an interesting Metagame.

Hello there! Today we take a second look at the Extended metagame. We'll look over a bunch of past results, and we'll use them to make a detailed analysis of the meta.

So let's get cracking shall we?

Part 1: Past Results:
First, let’s see some past results from the PTQs as well as the Pro Tour and the Grand Prix:

GP results on November 5th
GP Kitakyuushuu:
1st Place NO Stick
2nd Place: Dredgatog
3rd Place: CAL (NEW DECK!)
4th Place: NO Stick
5th Place: NO Stick
6th Place: Classic UB Tog
7th Place: Dredgatog
8th Place: Balancing Tings

GP Melbourne
1st Place: UB Tog
2nd Place: BDW
3rd Place: Affinity
4th Place: RW Goblins
5th Place: BDW
6th Place: Aggro Rock (Levy Version)
7th Place: UB Tog
8th Place: Aggro Rock splashing White

GP Copenhagen:
1st Place: Dredgatog
2nd Place: BDW
3rd Place: Affinity
4th Place: BDW
5th Place: Erayo Affinity
6th Place: Affinity
7th Place: UB Tog
8th Place: Balancing Tings

November 5th PTQs

Mad Tog
DredgaTog (Meloku MD)
Mad Tog
Living Rock (Rock with living wish toolbox)
Aggro (Macey) Rock
Aggro (Macey) Rock

Affinity: 11
MadTog: 10
NO Stick: 3
Psychatog: 9
Dredgatog: 7
BDW: 7
Rock: 7
Goblins: 4
Heartbeat: 3
Trollatog: 0
RDW: 0
Other: 9

November 12th PTQs

Heartbeat (Unbound)
UB Tog
GR Beatdown.

Affinity: 12
BDW: 11
Dredgatog: 9
Heartbeat: 8
Madness Tog (and UG Madness): 7
Rock 7
NO Stick 5
UB Psychatog 4
Goblins 2
Other: 5

GP Bilbao
1st Place: CAL (With Confidant)
2nd Place: BDW
3rd Place: Aggro (Macey) Rock
4th Place: BDW
5th Place: Affinity
6th Place: Burning Tog
7th Place: Aggro (Macey) Rock
8th Place: Affinity

November 19th PTQs

NO Stick (Fire/Ice)
Dredgatog (Stinkweed)
BGW Confidant-Aggro
Zoo (5 color aggro with Confidant)
Dredgatog (With Glory MD and Kataki SB)
Heartbeat Desire
NO Stick (Helix, Telling Time)
Rock (Less Aggro build, no Confidant, Spiritmonger)
UB Psychatog (No Mental Note)

UB Psychaog 6
Dredgatog 13
Madtog 2
Affinity 9
Goblins 2
Heartbeat Desire 6
Heartbeat Unbound 1
Rock 6
NO Stick 5
BDW: 11
Other: 19

GP Beijing (November 28th)
1st Place: CAL (With Confidant and genesis)
2nd Place:NO Stick
3rd Place: CAL (Confidant)
4th Place: NO Stick
5th Place: Dredgatog
6th Place: Affinity
7th Place: Affinity
8th Place: Dredgatog

A few notes before we do any analysis:
1. A few deck names may be inconsistent. I did my best. Some decks stopped being significant at some points and hit the other category. Others sprouted up.
2. Winners may have comments in parentheses, more on these later.
3. All data came from WotC. Some of it is inaccurate, as some PTQs were not fully reported.
4. The November 12th info is ripped directly from Flores' column. Thus, less comments.
5. PTQs are highlighted by colors indicating date. November 5th = Red, 12th = Blue, 19th = Green.

So let’s start the analysis now, shall we?
a) Mike Flores is Evil
A long time ago, Mike Flores sold his soul to the CCG gods so that pro players and pro-wannabes would listen to him. And his evil gift has an odd way of changing a metagame

Take Heartbeat (both Desire and otherwise) for example. It was not a very popular deck, though it certainly had winning potential. But Flores then "predicted" that it would post good results to everyone on November 10th. All of a sudden, it breaks into the top tier of most popular decks in the PTQs.

The lesson from this? If Mr. Flores "predicts" or recommends a deck, make sure to test against it, regardless of how unpopular it was the week before.

b) Affinity is not dead.
I wrote in my previous article that Affinity was probably around Tier 1.5, but it could make a resurgence if the meta changed. Well, the meta didn't change too much did it? So what happened?

Well a couple of things:
First, Affinity has a great ability to strike when it isn't expected (See Pro Tour Columbus for details). Hearing so much about how Affinity was dead, Affinity-hate became scarce. Dredgatog decks stopped playing Oxidize (though this is probably correct anyhow) and a large number of BDW decks put Kataki in the SB! This greatly helped Affinity to start winning more often.

Second, Tog decks, depending on the build, can be a good matchup for the artifact beast. So with an increase in their playability, Affinity got better.

Third, like Goblins, Affinity is still very popular and its cards aren't exactly old, and are thus easier to get. As such, Affinity probably had the biggest or second biggest number of players of any deck thus far. And as it showed up in GP Top 8s, its popularity only grew.

That said, Affinity is still not a top tier deck in my mind. An Affinity deck still hasn't won a GP due to BDW's mere dominance of the matchup (regardless of what Maaten said this weekend). However, the deck is still ridiculously popular, and you should prepare for it thoroughly.

c) Madtog and Trollatog are falling fast.
Trollatog and Madness Tog are both the madness-tog hybrids. Trollatog, after its rather impressive performance at PT Los Angeles, seems to have fallen off the map. In GP Kitakyuushuu, a Trollatog deck seemed to due fairly well, earning 9th, but since that, it has had no impact on PTQs or GPs whatsoever. It is clearly inferior to MadTog.

Madtog also fell in the latest batch of results, having only two decks make T8 this weekend. Testing seems to have shown Dredgatog and UB Tog to be far more effective. In fact, the Madtog's early performance was probably due to the new deck factor (A new cool deck is fun to play and quickly becomes popular, but fades fast.). As soon as Flores stopped championing it for Heartbeat, its popularity died, and its performance hasn't kept up. It clearly is not tier 1 anymore.

d) This is not a rock-paper-scissor metagame
This is probably the most obvious and glaring thing about the results. Despite what Brainburst and Wizards would have you believe, there are no three best decks that form a rock-paper-scissors metagame. Sure, at first glance BDW>Affinity>Tog>BDW, but as these results show, this analysis is flawed. First off, there are several other top tier decks, such as CAL, Aggro (Macey) Rock, Heartbeat, and NO Stick, which beat one or more of these three decks. Second, there are variations of each of these decks (such as Erayo or no for Affinity, or what type of Tog) that can entirely change a matchup. Believing in a three-deck metagame will only hurt your preparation for a PTQ or GP, especially in this fluid metagame.

e) Other decks can win, but not as consistently, and certainly not at GP/PT levels
At the PTQ levels, decks like Tings, Wake, Slide, Domain, and Zoo make T8s on occasion, and can win an entire thing. However, these decks make up a much smaller part of T8s than defined decks. Sure, the other category commands a good number of decks, but these are generally decks that aren't good enough to make more than one or two T8s, and are clearly not T8 material. On the GP and PT level, these decks certainly seem to have problems making the T8 and are very likely a bad choice to play.

Part 2: A Deck by Deck analysis of the metagame.

And now for everyone's favorite part, though without putrefying goblins, DECK BY DECK ANALYSIS! But this time, let’s organize our analysis through deck tiers.

Tier 2: The bottom of the barrel of playable decks.

Deck Name: Goblins.

Tier: 2/unplayable
Results: One GP T8, eight PTQ T8s, one PTQ win.
Thoughts: My previous analysis of Goblins was that it was unplayable unless serious adaptations are made. The weak Goblin presence in the T8s backs up my claim. Personally, the only reason I think there were 8 PTQ T8s was the massive popularity of little red men in all playable formats. With so many people playing the deck, it’s no surprise that T8s would happen. Still, some may claim that Goblins are Tier 2. Whether that’s true or not, it’s clearly the bottom of the barrel, and if you want to play them, you should be playing Legacy.

Deck Name: Troll-a-tog (Golgari Madness)
Tier: 2/unplayable
Results: 9th place at GP Kitakyuushuu
Thoughts: Well, so much for a deck I had previously called "Tier 1." To be honest though, this deck was nowhere near as hyped as it should've been for its performance (Unlike MadTog, damn Flores.) at L.A., and thus should’ve scored an early PTQ top 8 or so. But still, with so little players, and inferiority to all three other tog decks, this deck barely made a blip on the format. It joins Goblins at the bottom of the barrel. If you want to play a madness-tog hybrid, don't play this deck.

Other "Rogueish" decks: (Slide, Zoo, Domain, Tings, Wake)
Tier: 2
Thoughts: These decks all seem to make a few PTQs T8s each week. And yet, none of them are consistent enough to be considered anything more than Tier 2. Sure, they'll win a PTQ or T8 some others. Sure, Wake may put 4 out of 7 players into day 2 of the GP. Still, one must remember, few are testing/expecting these decks, and they still only show up in small numbers, and only in PTQ T8s. When a deck only puts up weak numbers with no hate against it, it’s time to move on.

Tier 1.5: The decks that are not quite there.

Deck Name: MadTog (Madtog2020, Madness-tog, etc.)
Tier: 2 (Maybe 1.5)
Results: two PTQ wins, 19 PTQ top 8s
Thoughts: Madtog had a huge slip in the last wave of PTQs and has failed to make a GP splash. I suspect the falling was a combo of the fact that Madtog is inferior to other tog versions (except for Troll-a-tog) and the sudden drop by Mike Flores (He started to recommend heartbeat). However, it uncertain how much worse Madtog is than the competition, and it certainly is better than the Tier 2 decks mentioned above. Madtog is certainly playable, but if you wish to play it, I highly recommend doing some serious testing.
Controversial Deck Decisions: Some decks included 1 Grave Troll and 1 Brawn. I’m not sure how much more effective that is, seeing as Troll-a-tog is somewhat lacking in power. Personally I'd stay away from this, but I haven't really tested with the additions.

Tier 1: The best decks in the format.

Deck Name: Heartbeat Combo (both Heartbeat Desire and Heartbeat Unbound).
Tier: 1
Results: 2 PTQ wins (1 unbound and 1 desire), 18 PTQ T8s.
Thoughts: The rise in heartbeat decks over the past 2 weeks is not due to a change in the meta. Heartbeat always had the potential to be good. It just wasn't popular.

Enter Mike Flores.

Suddenly, the decks are more popular and the results show this. Of course, I've spent a good deal of time testing the Desire version of the deck and haveseen its great potential. With good matchups vs BDW and decent matchups vs tog and BDW, Heartbeat has the potential to have some great finishes. If CAL becomes more popular, a likely possibility, Heartbeat only stands to gain as it is faster than CAL and is unaffected by Solitary Confinement.
Controversial Deck Decisions: Do you play Heartbeat Desire or Heartbeat Unbound? Desire uses Mind's Desire while Ideas Unbound is used by Unbound. My testing shows Desire to be an excellent card, but PT player Ryan Cimera (BTape on the boards) swears by Unbound. Both decks seem to do well though, so if you want to play Heartbeat, you should test both. Here are the two decklists:

Heartbeat Unbound by Ryan Cimera AKA BTapeMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
13 Forest
10 Island
3 Rampant Growth
3 Early Harvest
1 Revive
3 Moment's Peace
3 Deep Analysis
4 Nostalgic Dreams
4 Cunning Wish
1 Brain Freeze
3 Gifts Ungiven
3 Heartbeat of Spring
4 Ideas Unbound
1 Recollect
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder

Heartbeat Desire by Star wars kidMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
12 Forest
10 Island

4 Sakura-Tribe Elder

4 Mind's Desire
4 Gifts Ungiven
4 Cunning Wish
4 Heartbeat of Spring
4 Nostalgic Dreams
3 Early Harvest
3 Fact or Fiction
2 Rampant Growth
2 Moment's Peace
1 Deep Analysis
1 Revive
1 Brain Freeze
1 Echoing Truth

Deck Name: Affinity
Tier: 1/1.5 (depends on the meta, but primarily tier 1)
Results: 8 GP T8s, 32 PTQ T8s, 2 PTQ wins
Thoughts: Affinity as mentioned before capitalizes on a lack of hate. Unfortunately for it, its quick regaining of power is probably soon at an end. BDW may have become less popular than anticipated (of course, probably since Flores hasn’t been touting it, grrr), but the Affinity monster's strength is clearly a field dominated by tog decks. Of course, Affinity isnt completely dominant over tog, so the matchup isn’t one sided. On the other hand, CAL, BDW, and NO-Stick have good matchups with you and heartbeat can race you. And my bet is that Flores will hype CAL in this week’s column now that it’s won two GPs in a row. So Affinity probably recedes back to tier 1.5. But still, don't forget to test against it, cause if you don't, Affinity can come back to bite you.
Controversial Deck Decisions: Affinity doesn’t really have many controversies, but there are a few. First there's the Erayo or No argument. From the results, neither of the two seems to have a clear edge. But still, in the later PTQs and GPs, Erayo seems to have lost favor now that Olivier has abandoned the deck. Personally, I think Erayo is unnecessary, but once again, this is something you should test.

The only other interesting deck decision is Terrarion vs Chromatic Sphere. Some decks run one or the other, whilesome run both. If you're going to run one, run Terrarion, which is far superior. The ability to feed it to a Ravager or Atog and still draw a card is a small edge, but it is an edge that outweighs the slightly higher mana requirements for an activation.

Olivier Ruel's Erayo Affinity from GP CopenhagenMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
2 Underground River
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Vault of Whispers

4 Erayo, Soratami Ascendant
4 Ornithopter
2 Myr Enforcer
4 Frogmite
4 Arcbound Worker
3 Arcbound Ravager

2 Scale of Chiss-Goria
4 Thoughtcast
2 Cabal Therapy
4 Cranial Plating
3 Pithing Needle
3 Talisman of Dominance
3 Chromatic Sphere

Affinity without Erayo by Rogier Maaten at GP BilbaoMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Arcbound Worker
3 Atog
4 Frogmite
4 Myr Enforcer
3 Ornithopter

4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Cranial Plating
2 Pithing Needle
2 Shrapnel Blast
3 Terrarion
3 Thoughtcast

1 Ancient Den
3 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Great Furnace
4 Seat of the Synod
3 Sulfurous Springs
1 Tree of Tales
4 Vault of Whispers

Deck Name: Aggro Rock
Tier: 1
Results: 4 GP T8s, 20 PTQ T8s, 2 PTQ wins
Thoughts: Of all the Tier 1 decks, Aggro Rock is the most unstable, as each build seems to have something different. Yet all seem to maintain the same principle, a strong quick offense combined with hand disruption and graveyard disruption. Withered Wretch in particular is a nightmare for certain decks, while the hand disruption manages to hurt the control decks' chances to fight back. Dark Confidant seems to be growing in popularity in the deck, as it provides the Rock player with quick card advantage that can deal damage as well. Aggro Rock doesn't really excel at any matchup as far as I know, though to be fair I haven't actually tested the deck thoroughly. On the other hand, the deck provides a good matchup against most decks, though BDW and NO-Stick can be a pain.
Controversial Deck Decisions: As said before, Aggro Rock is in fact quite instable in terms of decklists. The only real controversy seems to be Hypnotic Specter or not. Recent lists suggest the powerful old creature is not needed, as Geoffrey Siron proved with a T4 finish at Bilbao.
Note: Non-aggro rock decks are far less consistent, and are advised strongly against by the author of this article.
Aggro Rock by Geoffrey Siron at GP BilbaoMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
6 Forest
4 Llanowar Wastes
4 Overgrown Tomb
5 Swamp

3 Birds of Paradise
4 Dark Confidant
1 Elves of Deep Shadow
2 Llanowar Elves
4 Troll Ascetic
3 Wild Mongrel
4 Withered Wretch

4 Cabal Therapy
2 Call of the Herd
1 Chrome Mox
4 Duress
4 Putrefy
2 Sword of Fire and Ice
3 Umezawa's Jitte

Deck Name: Boros Deck Wins
Tier: 1
Results: 6 GP T8s, 29 PTQ T8s, 1 PTQ win.
Thoughts: Well, BDW quickly picked up momentum on the PTQ circuit, and seems to have done well in the GPs as well. One interesting thing of note is that despite being pioneered by Tsuyoshi Fujita, it is less popular in the Asian tournaments. BDW has a good matchup v Aggro Rock and can annihilate affinity. The deck's trouble with Tog has kept it from being more dominant that it has been in the GPs. Of course, with Tog not losing popularity any time soon, this is a bit of a problem. More concerning to BDW players though, is the rise of CAL, another bad matchup.

Disclaimer: The author is about to make a suggestion. It might seem absurd, but it might not be! Test the advice! It might be as foolish as it seems, or it might not.

BDW needs to quickly adapt to a changing metagame. My recommendation would be the use of one of two graveyard hosers Mudhole (yes, I said Mudhole), or Morningtide. Mudhole will hose the dredge decks and CAL for a short time, while Morningtide will be more effective against almost all decks, and fits better in the curve. Morningtide manages to really hurt Tog if it resolves, but will hurt you a little if you have a lot of flashbacking cards in your graveyard.

Anyhow, going back to analysis, BDW faces only one real nightmarish matchup that the SB has a hard time fixing: The Lightning Helix version of NO-Stick (More on that later.) It still is Tier 1, but will have to adapt to meet the changing metagame head on.

Controversial Deck Choices: Jacob Arias Garcia added Suppression Field to his sideboard. I highly recommend this addition. Even though it hoses a few of your cards, it'll slow down the decks with bad matchups so that you can have more time to finish them off. Furthermore, with a casting cost of 2, the deck can play the field quick enough so that opposing countermagic can't keep it off the board.

BDW by Marcio Cavralho at GP BilbaoMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Eiganjo Castle
4 Mountain
1 Plains
4 Sacred Foundry
1 Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
2 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills

4 Goblin Legionnaire
4 Grim Lavamancer
3 Isamaru, Hound of Konda
3 Kataki, War's Wage
3 Savannah Lions
3 Silver Knight

1 Char
4 Firebolt
3 Lava Dart
4 Lightning Helix
3 Molten Rain
4 Pillage

Deck Name: UB Psychatog (Including Burning Tog)
Tier: 1
Results: 5 GP T8s, 1 Gp Win, 19 PTQ T8s, 2 PTQ wins
Thoughts: Ah UB Psychatog, how could we forget you? Despite not being touted like Dredgatog due to its old-school appearance, and thus being less popular than other tog variants, UB Tog boasts impressive results. The Deck has fairly good matchups and despite the lack of a certain uncounterable land-based card drawing engine, still manages to be effective. Mental Note and Fact or Fiction help draw cards and fill the grave at the same time, threatening a relatively early tog kill. At the same time, counters and removal keeps opposing forces off the board. UB Tog is a good deck that certainly should continue to place strong in the metagame, though CAL isn't the best of matchups.

Controversial Deck Decisions: A few decks have eschewed the Mental Note strategy that Antoine Ruel used at L.A., but the deck doesn't seem to slow down too much without the note. Some old timers seem to continue to suggest the use of Upheaval. I disagree with this suggestion in most cases, with the exception coming from a new version of the deck: Burning Tog. This version uses a Burning Wish fueled toolbox sideboard, and this deck can fit in one Upheaval in emergency situations.

Burning Tog is a new deck and requires testing. I'm unsure how much better it is than classic UB Tog.

Burning Tog by Jonathen Rispal at GP BilbaoMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
3 Bloodstained Mire
3 Flooded Strand
7 Island
1 Mountain
1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
1 Sacred Foundry
2 Shivan Reef
1 Sulfurous Springs
2 Swamp
3 Watery Grave

3 Flametongue Kavu
1 Meloku the Clouded Mirror
4 Nightscape Familiar
3 Psychatog

3 Burning Wish
3 Counterspell
1 Deep Analysis
4 Fact or Fiction
4 Fire//Ice
4 Memory Lapse
4 Remand
2 Repulse

UB Tog by James Zhang at GP MelbourneMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
2 Cephalid Coliseum
5 Island
1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
4 Polluted Delta
3 Seat of the Synod
2 Stalking Stones
1 Swamp
2 Vault of Whispers
3 Watery Grave

4 Psychatog
1 Wonder

2 Boomerang
4 Circular Logic
4 Counterspell
1 Deep Analysis
3 Fact or Fiction
4 Force Spike
1 Gifts Ungiven
2 Mana Leak
4 Mental Note
3 Smother
4 Thirst for Knowledge

Deck Name: Dredg-a-tog
Tier: 1
Results: 6 GP T8s, 1 GP Win, 29 PTQ T8s, 9 PTQ wins
Thoughts: Helped along by the "new deck factor", Dredgatog quickly gained popularity on the PTQ circuit. Of course, unlike goblins, the deck is no slouch in this format, which explains its stellar performance (Seriously, NINE PTQ wins, wow). This version of tog is actually better vs affinity, due to Green's innate ability to hate anything in the form of machines. Well, that and Pernicious Deed. Still, the deck doesn’t have that great a matchup with CAL (See Kenji v Olivier in Beijing for more details), which should be more common at PTQs in the coming weeks.
Controversial Deck Decisions: Dredgatog doesn't really have many controversial deck decisions, but it has a few random card choices that are debated. First, the lone Stinkweed Imp used by Nujiten in Copenhagen seems to have become popular in PTQs, as it feeds the graveyard and holds back aggro. Less debated is the use of Haunting Echoes in the sideboard, a move which is pretty much accepted as useful these days.

Kenji Tsumura's Dredgatog from GP BeijingMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
5 Island
1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
2 Lonely Sandbar
2 Swamp
1 Barren Moor
4 Polluted Delta
2 Bloodstained Mire
3 Watery Grave
2 Overgrown Tomb
2 Yavimaya Coast
1 Cephalid Coliseum

4 Psychatog
1 Wonder
1 Meloku the Clouded Mirror
1 Genesis

3 Force Spike
1 Darkblast
4 Counterspell
2 Mana Leak
4 Smother
1 Life from the Loam
3 Circular Logic
1 Nightmare Void
1 Putrefy
3 Pernicious Deed
4 Gifts Ungiven

Deck Name: NO Stick (Scepter-Chant)
Tier: 1
Results: 5 GP T8s, 1 GP win, 13 PTQ T8s, 2 PTQ wins
Thoughts: American Magic players are a bit more afraid of control decks, especially those that are more in the standard of UW control. As such, NO-Stick has never been popular over here. In Asia, it’s another story. Of course, those who have played NO-Stick here have not been disappointed. The deck has pretty good matchups across the field, and has no real bad matchups. On the other hand, NO-Stick is a deck that does not forgive your mistakes, unlike some of the other Tier 1 decks. As such, play errors can be costly for a NO-Stick player and the deck requires great skill to play. NO-Stick is a great choice as a deck for a tournament and can easily adapt to the metagame, a great ability.

Controversial Deck Decisions: Lightning Helix or Fire/Ice? This seems to be the main argument on the PTQ circuit, and both have merit. Fire/Ice players incidentally, always seem to have a single Helix in their SB for Cunning Wish use. So why not put it MD? Personally, all the GP results seem to favor the Helix in the SB with Fire/Ice main, and these results come from the Japanese players such as Morita and Oiso. Thus, I'd probably run that type of build. Still, if you're going to play no-stick, helix may be a good choice, especially with CAL going to rise in popularity.

A new option in the latest PTQs has been Telling Time instead of Thirst for Knowledge. This hasn't quite caught on, but could be something to test.

Fire/Ice NO-Stick from GP Beijing by Masashi OisoMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
3 Adarkar Wastes
6 Island
2 Plains
4 Flooded Strand
2 Sacred Foundry
1 Seat of the Synod
1 Shivan Reef
1 Minamo, School at Water's Edge
1 Skycloud Expanse
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea

1 Eternal Dragon
2 Exalted Angel

3 Fire // Ice
4 Counterspell
4 Isochron Scepter
4 Thirst for Knowledge
3 Chrome Mox
3 Mana Leak
3 Cunning Wish
3 Fact or Fiction
3 Wrath of God
2 Absorb
2 Decree of Justice
1 Ivory Mask

Helix NO-Stick including Telling Time by Gabe Schwartz, PTQ winnerMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
1 Adarkar Wastes
2 Shivan Reef
2 Sacred Foundry
4 Flooded Strand
6 Plains
10 Island

2 Exalted Angel

4 Lightning Helix
3 Force Spike
3 Telling Time
3 Cunning Wish
2 Absorb
2 Decree of Justice
3 Fact or Fiction
4 Counterspell
3 Wrath of God
2 Orim's Chant
4 Isochron Scepter

Deck Name: CAL (Confinement Assault Life)
Tier: 1
Results: 4 GP T8s (All within T4 actually), 2 GP Wins
How the Deck Works: Since CAL is a new deck, I'll explain how it works. CAL is a Solitary Confinement deck in the new format. Using Life from the loam and cycling lands, You can keep drawing cards even after confinement, and keep regaining useless fetchlands from the graveyard (only 8 basic lands MD) in order to give to the confinement. The deck also uses Seismic Assault to great effect. Combined with Life From the Loam, It can spell a quick end for an opponent or his creatures. CAL was created by Makihito Mihara and has since been refined by Olivier Ruel and Zhong Dong.

Thoughts: And so we come to CAL, the only deck that has won 2 GPs (though I guess UB Tog won a GP and a PT). CAL is an evolving deck, though its evolution has slowed down. The deck's disruption can kill Tog and NO-Stick, and has enough threats that it is hard for Tog to counter them all. The burning wish sideboard only increases CAL's utility, as it can get something for almost any circumstance. Meanwhile, the deck has good matchups vs BDW (very good actually), Affinity and other aggro decks (Cough Goblins Cough) and is very good choice in the metagame. The only bad matchup it has is Heartbeat decks, but other than that, CAL can beat almost any other deck. Look for Mike Flores to start praising this deck soon, and once he does it’ll be a force on the PTQ circuit.

Controversial Deck Choices: CAL doesn't really have any controversial choices yet, just new options keep being discovered. Zombie Infestation was originally included in the deck, but has been dropped in newer versions for being rather inferior to Seismic Assault and far less useful than originally thought. Dark Confidant was added to the deck by Olivier Ruel and has been used to great effect. Recently, Genesis was included in Beijing's winner's deck, a card that dramatically helps with matchups like NO-Stick. This card should end up being a staple in CAL decks to come.
The author of this article, who has tested CAL, wonders whether Haunting Echoes should take a place in the Sideboard, due to its use in the mirror match and against other decks like Tog and NO-Stick.

CAL by Zhong Dong at GP Beijing, 1st placeMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
1 Plains
4 Forgotten Cave
4 Tranquil Thicket
4 Barren Moor
2 Wooded Foothills
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Overgrown Tomb
2 Forest
2 Mountain
1 Swamp
1 Windswept Heath

3 Dark Confidant
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
3 Eternal Witness
1 Genesis

2 Sensei's Divining Top
2 Duress
2 Cabal Therapy
3 Life from the Loam
3 Solitary Confinement
4 Burning Wish
2 Seismic Assault

Part 3: Recap and Predictions:

If I had to guess the metagame for next week, I would tell you to expect to see a lot of CAL, especially if Flores predictably hypes it up a little.

Of course, if Flores concentrates on Worlds instead, and the PTQ results from last week show another absence of the deck, I suggest the opposite may very well occur. In this case, I'd think CAL would probably be the best choice to play at PTQs. Be warned though, this deck is very skill intensive and should be tested extensively before being played.

If Flores does hype the deck, like he should, I'd recommend NO-Stick. It has a solid matchup against everything and can beat CAL roughly 60% of the time. This would make the deck a great choice to beat the metagame, but once again remember that NO-Stick is unforgiving. One little mistake can cost you the game, so don't choose the deck if you're the type of player who has trouble avoiding sloppy play. If you are that player, I'd recommend Aggro Rock as it is the best deck which requires little thought, even better than Affinity, especially with CAL running around.

Thanks for reading and I hope you all enjoyed my analysis!

The great Editors at MTGS for putting up with such a long article
Mike Flores for making the metagame easier to predict
All the makers of the decks listed above.
Mike Flores for being a tyrant when it comes to controlling the metagame


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