Hello and welcome back to Metagame Mentor, the weekly column in which I highlight the decks to beat and the latest Constructed developments on the path to the Pro Tour. Today, as an independent writer who has no influence on ban lists, I'll analyze the impact of the October 10 Banned and Restricted announcement. What will Standard look like without
Last Weekend's Biggest Events
But as always in this article series, first I will start by summarizing last weekend's biggest events across all formats.
With yet another MOCS victory, Nathan Steuer cemented himself as the end boss of Magic Online. Piloting Izzet Phoenix in Pioneer, he defeated Kiran "Cherryxman" Dhokia's Green Devotion in the finals. Decklists have been published, and both players earned an invitation to the 2023 World Championship.
As Nathan Steuer explained to Corbin Hosler last week: "I have a rivalry with buddy Sam Rolph, who just won the Arena Championship and qualified for [the World Championship], so my goal is to shut him up ... and join him there." Success!
Over at SCG CON Dallas, the 314-player Modern main event was won by Tommy Harding, playing
Standard Without The Meathook Massacre
The last time I provided an in-depth Standard metagame roundup was right after the release of Dominaria United. Back then, black midrange decks were dominant, and this hasn't really changed. Using similar methodology, now based on Magic Online events and large MTG Melee events over the past three weeks, the following picture emerges for best-of-three Standard right before the ban.
|Archetype||Record-Weighted Metagame Share|
|1. The Meathook Massacre decks||77.3%|
|2. Jeskai Control||2.6%|
|2. Boros Reanimator||2.6%|
|2. Izzet Control||2.6%|
|5. Naya Enchantments||2.4%|
|6. Mono-White Midrange||2.0%|
|7. Domain Control||1.7%|
|8. Mono-Blue Tempo||1.5%|
|9. Selesnya Enchantments||1.1%|
|10. Naya Humans||0.9%|
|11. Azorius Control||0.7%|
|12. Jund Midrange||0.6%|
|12. Rakdos Midrange||0.6%|
|12. Bant Festival||0.6%|
|12. Gruul Modified||0.6%|
|12. Mono-Red Aggro||0.6%|
|12. Azorius Midrange||0.6%|
|12. Azorius Flash||0.6%|
|20. Rakdos Aggro||0.4%|
|20. Bant Enchantments||0.4%|
Well over three-quarters of the winner's metagame had
The set of
Out of these, Mono-Black Midrange and Rakdos Sacrifice are hit the hardest. They ran 2.8 main deck copies of
Grixis Midrange, Jund Midrange, and Rakdos Midrange ran approximately 1.9 main deck copies of
The black midrange archetypes that are affected the least are Esper Midrange, which ran 1.3 main deck copies of
Esper Decks Without The Meathook Massacre
Although the metagame gets better balanced and new angles open up, I believe that the ban of
Out of the black midrange decks, I expect that Esper will take the role as the "Deck To Beat", for two reasons. First, Esper players ran the lowest main deck number of
There are two main ways to build Esper.
This is the aggregate Esper Midrange deck over the past three weeks, with two main deck copies of
Esper Midrange retains powerful cards, efficient sideboard options, and an excellent mana curve. It looks perfectly serviceable, even without
This list is identical to the one that Magic Online player bless_von took to a 5th place at a Standard Challenge on October 8, except with two sideboard copies of
What I like about Esper Legends is how it exploits
Standard Decks That Get Better
The main benefactors of
This deck, which placed 11th at the September 24 Standard Challenge, aims to cast
Since many cards in the deck create small creature tokens, it has always struggled against
Naya Humans, which placed 16th at the September 24 Standard Challenge, is fueled by
Mono-White Aggro shares a lot of cards with Naya Humans, and it'll get better too.
This list, which placed 25th at the September 24 Standard Challenge, features the hasty creatures and burn spells that one might expect in Mono-Red Aggro. It'll also get better positioned after
Since most of the red two-mana creatures have 1 toughness,
Modern Without Yorion
The last time I provided an in-depth Modern metagame roundup was two weeks ago. Back then, I mainly focused on the impact of
|Archetype||Record-Weighted Metagame Share|
|1. Indomitable Creativity||11.4%|
|2. Yorion, Sky Nomad decks||9.7%|
|3. Hammer Time||8.9%|
|4. Izzet Murktide||7.6%|
|5. Rakdos Undying||5.7%|
|8. Amulet Titan||4.7%|
|9. Jeskai Breach||4.6%|
|10. Living End||4.3%|
|11. Azorius Control||4.3%|
|14. Temur Scapeshift||1.8%|
|15. Domain Zoo||1.7%|
|18. Mono-Green Tron||1.3%|
|19. Grixis Shadow||1.3%|
|20. Rakdos Midrange||1.3%|
|22. Hardened Scales||1.0%|
|23. Eldrazi Tron||1.0%|
|24. Jund Midrange||0.7%|
|25. Rakdos Shadow||0.7%|
|27. Glimpse of Tomorrow||0.5%|
|28. Bring to Light Scapeshift||0.5%|
|29. Gruul Breach||0.5%|
Less than ten percent of the winner's metagame had
For all of these archetypes, a 60-card variant exists, and a natural solution is to shave 20 cards. Since Yorion decks were not an enormous part of the field in the first place, I believe that the ban won't have a major effect on the Modern metagame.
Four-Color Decks Without Yorion
Let's take a look at how the most-played Yorion archetypes, Four-Color Omnath and Rhinos, might look like without the 80-card companion.
This decklist, which Magic Online player Kaijimmy took to a 24th-place finish in the October 9 Modern Challenge, features
The lack of
More controlling builds with
Rhinos players will also move away from 80-card builds. The list shown above, which Magic Online player Kaijimmy took to a 6th-place finish in the October 1 Modern Challenge, is an example.
I am not sure why this 60-card list runs
Should You Run 60?
Although the sample Four-Color Omnath and Rhinos lists contain 60 cards, this need not be the optimal deck size. As I mathematically showed two weeks ago when comparing an 80-card Rhinos build to a 60-card Rhinos build, the larger deck has better mana. When building a four-color deck with
When mana base considerations already incentivize you to add cards for this reason, it was typical to go up to 80 cards and get Yorion for free. The reason to go up to exactly 80 is now gone, but the rationale for a larger deck size is still there.
There are precedents to increasing your deck size to support fetch-land mana bases, set by some of the best players all-time. From the top of my head, I can think of three instances where Hall of Famers made a Grand Prix Top 8 with a larger-than-normal deck. A classic is Hall of Famer William "Huey" Jensen's
More relevant to my premise of land ratios, Hall of Famer Makihito Mihara made Top 8 at Grand Prix Kobe 2011 with a 64-card Scapeshift deck. It was the only way to have at least 7 Mountains for Scapeshift while retaining a sufficient ratio of blue-producing sources for
When moving to a post-Yorion world, we should learn from these examples. Don't get stuck in the mindset that you must run 60 cards. Even though a larger deck size means that you draw your best cards less often, it can improve your consistency of assembling domain. For some
Modern Decks That Get Better
Although I do not expect that Modern will look vastly different after the Yorion ban, I would like to highlight two archetypes that may get slightly better.
There's an additional reason red midrange decks may improve: Nowadays, both Izzet Murktide and Rakdos Undying run main deck
The reason why I showcased Rakdos Undying over Izzet Murktide is that it's a black deck featuring multiple turn-one discard spells. It's easy to tear the opponent's hand apart with
You know who hated 80-card decks the most? Mill players! Musical celebrations following the Yorion ban have already started. 🦀🦀🦀
By combining several
This weekend, October 15-16, there is the Magic Showdown in Warsaw, where both the Grand Open Qualifier and the Classic Qualifier feature the Pioneer format. There will be live streaming coverage on both days with an excellent team of casters.
Next weekend, October 22-23, there is the NRG Series Trial Weekend in Newark, OH, featuring a $10K Pioneer/Modern/Legacy team event and a $5K Modern event. Coverage of this event will also be broadcast on Twitch.
And later in the month, we of course have Magic 30 and the Magic World Championship XXVIII coming up. On October 28–30, you'll be able to watch the best in the world battling live in Dominaria United Booster Draft, Standard, and Explorer for their chance to be crowned the next Magic World Champion!