Hey everyone. Today’s article is a bittersweet one as I am saying goodbye to the Master of Magics team – it has been a pleasure to write for Master of Magics for the past 4 months and to be able to meet some awesome people along the way. I would like to thank the entire Master of Magics team for being so welcoming and helpful and to Abbie for allowing me the chance to write here.
As of today I will be joining Team Axion Now and will be representing the Yellow and Purple that is often seen around not only UK events but at European GPs (Magic Fests) as well.
I thought I should make my last article here a bit different to my previous ones and go over how to interpret week one results in a brand new format.
Ravnica Allegiance has just come out and there is already so much data to absorb, between the Star City Games event in Indianapolis, the Magic Online Mythic Championship Qualifier and the handful of Magic Online decklist dumps, there is a tonne of information to try and go over as people scramble to figure out what the best strategies will be going forward. I for one am a big fan of trawling through all this information like its an early birthday present. There are, however, a few important things to keep in mind as you peruse this cursory look at the new format.
Rule number 1
Don’t assume that the winning decklists will be the best decklists going forward.
In the case of Ravnica Allegiance standard, Hydroid Krasis is everywhere. The giant Jellyfish Hydra Beast has been the breakout card from week one of standard and it is easy to see why. The card has a good stat line, being a 2/2 Flying Trample for 4 is not a bad rate to start with – but when you factor in the cast ability – allowing you to draw cards and gain life – it really accelerates the card’s power level, especially when cast for upwards of six mana.
I think that the reason that the Flying Jellyfish has proven to be so dominant in week one, winning the SCG Open and the Magic Online MCQ, is that it slots into some already powerful and well-defined archetypes. The decks that won the Open and the MCQ were both Sultai Midrange decks with the Open list looking the most familiar. Anthony Devarti decided to turn up to the event with the shell of the dominant Golgari Midrange deck from pre-Ravnica Allegiance and add in a trio of the most powerful new mythics alongside an improved mana base and some sideboard counterspells.
One of the main reasons that the Sultai decks did well is that Golgari has already proven itself to be a strong choice for any tournament, and the addition of Hydroid Krasis doesn’t change the deck too much, meaning that it will continue to grind people out in a long game with Vivien Reid and Find//Finality while still being able to fight aggressive decks with Wildgrowth Walker and various explore cards.
The Magic Online decklist strays away from this a bit more by including some other new cards such as Growth-Chamber Guardian, Incubation Druid, and Zegana, Utopian Speaker, but it still sits on the same principles as above – it can still grind you out with the combination of Vivien Reid and Find//Finality while having an improved late game with the flexibility of the Krasis.
The main takeaway from this is that you have to consider that cards will slot into pre-existing archetypes and perform very well in week one but might not be the best going forward.
Rule Number 2
Don’t forget about the underperformers.
What happened to Mono Red? What happened to Nexus of Fate?
Although these decks didn’t perform on week one, you shouldn’t be too quick to ignore these decks. These 2 decks were the ones gaining the most popularity leading into the weekend and yet didn’t put up the numbers to support the hype, so what went wrong? With these decks being target number 1 and 2 going into these tournaments, people would build their decks with that in mind meaning that there would be extra disruption spells and extra lifegain spells in almost every deck that you would play against.
The 2 main winning decklists (Open and MCQ) contained a combined 7 Duress and a large number of Moment of Craving and Cry of the Carnarium, some of the best cards available against these particular strategies.
Now I’m not saying that Mono Red or Nexus of Fate will be the best in the format going forward – nobody knows how the format will develop – but I would certainly keep these decks on your radar for now. Both are powerful enough that either deck could pop up one weekend and take down an event.
Rule Number 3
Don’t be scared to innovate.
You might be looking at the list of decks that did well at the week one events, hoping to see the deck that you have been working on and be able to compare decklists to someone that has a similar list. You keep looking and sadness washes over you when you get to the bottom of the list and your deck is nowhere to be seen.
This does not mean that your deck is never going to be good enough and that you should put it aside for whatever won the SCG Open. Week one is for the old guard to rule and the newbies to challenge for the throne. Continue to innovate and work on your decklist. Quite a lot of the good decks in previous standard formats have come out of the woodwork a few weeks into the format.
With all of that said, the week one decklists do warp how the format develops and I suspect that we will continue to see the dominance of Hydroid Krasis for at least a few weeks before decklists become more refined.
Well that’s it for my time at Master of Magics. I would like to thank everyone for reading my content for the past 4 months. If you ever see me at a Grand Prix/Magic Fest, feel free to say hello! I’m always down to talk Magic.
Follow me on Twitter over at @MattBrown_MTG.
Thank you for reading my content and good luck at your next event!