The Mid-Season has arrived in CPDC and with it some clarity has emerged in the current metagame. The top threats have become clear, now players must adjust. CPDC 8.7 & 8.8 may serve as either a signal of the second half or a clue to change the course. Reading more will help you decide where you want to take things..
Writers Note: If I happen to talk about your deck and you want to clarify something about how it works or its classification, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and explain. Also, if you want your deck to be discussed then you have to post it in the event thread (note: this doesn’t guarantee I’m going to) I can’t really talk about a deck if I don’t know what’s in it.
on another small note: i am currently having a problem uploading images to my articles so I apologize for the blandness currently. I am working to figure it out and hope to solve the probelm soon.
What’s Been Happening?:
Event – Classic PDC 8.07, 8.08
Format – Classic, Matches
Reaching the top of the hump that is mid-season in CPDC we have a wrap-up this week of the last two Saturday tournaments. In my mind, the winning decks of the past two weeks clearly show players what they need to think of when preparing for their deck choice for CPDC. This does not mean that the two winners are the only choices mind you, but if you are going to play on Saturday right now, it would be wise to spend a good bit of time trying to beat:
Mono Red Burn
MUC took home the trophy in 8.7 and Burn took it in 8.8. They are both powerful from different ends of the spectrum and can’t be ignored. I have discussed Red decks a number of times this season. A number of varieties can be played, but I feel the strongest option and most dangerous is the Mono Red Burn Archtype. This type plays a very low number of lands and largely ignores the attack phase (or has only temporary creatures that are really Burn spells) and goes straight to the face dealing 20 as fast as possible. Successful weapons against this strategy are limited because of its relative speed. It is able to hit fast enough to overcome most all Aggro decks without lifegain in them and it can do well versus Black Control before their Drain spells are available (or usable in the case of Tendrils of Corruption with no targets). As a result it seems there has been a condensation of the deck pool in CPDC currently because many options lack viability with Red so prominent. This then flows into the continued success of MUC this season. As there are fewer viable Aggro decks or less variety that are currently being played on Saturdays, MUC can have an easier time dealing with a shrunken field to focus on (especially with less other Control decks to deal with). So that leaves it to players to address this problem through their deck choice. Some variety of Life Gain appears to be needed to win consistently vs. Red and this must be combined with a strategy that is also effective versus Blue Control. A few decks can fall into this category. Orzhov Blink, Grand Entrance, and Cloak decks may be answers. Cloak based strategies have been tried most frequently this season in CPDC and have put up solid results overall. If you choose to drive on that road however, your choice of build will be very important because you need to keep in mind what will win vs. MUC as well.
CPDC’s 8.7 & 8.8 had more balanced fields than typical this season. With 14 players in 8.7 there were 6 Aggro, 4 AC-MR, 3 Control, and 1 Combo. 8.8 was made up of 5 Aggro, 3 AC-MR, 4 Control, and 1 AggCombo in a field of 14, a full breakdown appears below:
Aggro: 6 = GW Cloak, GRw Beats, GR Beats, Mono R Burn W/ Storm, Burn Range, GU Aggro
AC-MR: 4 = RG Thresher, G/B AC, BWU AC, Mono Black AC
Control: 3 = MUC, MBC, Bg Control
Combo: 1 = Warrens Combo
Aggro: 5 = Mono Red Burn (2), Mono U Beats, GW Cloak, Burn Range,
AC-MR: 3 = Grand Entrance, Orzhov Blink, RB AC
Control: 4 = MUC, Bu Control, Ur Control, UW Control
Agg/Com: 1 = Dredge/Misery
This shift away form Aggro has not had a major impact as yet. Typically you will see less Black control played in response, but they were already in small numbers. An important factor to look at in the coming weeks will be the specific AC-MR decks that are being played and how much lifegain they pack.
Top 4 Analyses:
The Top 4 of 8.7 was comprised of MUC, GW Cloak, Mono Red Burn w/ Storm, and Black Aggro Control. All three made it through the Swiss rounds at 3-1. Looking at head to heads and matchups, GW Cloak and MUC faced off twice and split. The Black AC deck faced four Green based decks (3 Aggro & 1 AC-MR) in the Swiss rounds. I think I would have to see how it performs versus a wider variety of decks before running it. Not surprisingly, the Mono Red Burn w/ Storm deck lost to the two decks it faced with strong lifegain components and won the rest of its matchups. In the Semis, GW Cloak defeated the Red Deck and MUC defeated the Black AC deck. In the Final, MUC was able to defeat GW Cloak for the trophy. Mono Blue has typically been able to defeat the slower GW Cloak builds in the past. If Cloak is to be played in this form, an adjustment must be made towards beating Blue.
In 8.08 the event broke down to Ur Control, Mono Red Burn, Grand Entrance, and MUC. The Ur Control deck is interesting (albeit untuned). It is basically Blue Control with Red for 4 Izzet Chronarch and 4 Karvek’s Torches main and Swirling Sandstorm in the side. I feel the build can certainly be improved upon (although not needing drastic adjustments), but it is may be a good option for Control players. That being said, the deck only faced two Aggro decks on the day and split those matches (losing to Burn) so it remains a bit unproven. Grand Entrance, Mono Red & MUC all came through the Swiss at 3-1. Grand Entrance dropped a match to MUC in the Swiss but beat it in the Semis. In the Final, GE lost to Mono Red Burn. In reviewing the GE build, it happened to run a lower than typical level of Life Gain (3 Riftwatchers, no Sunbeam Spellbomb). Most times if added these spells would be able to swing the Red matchup. Finally notable is that in the Swiss rounds, MUC did defeat Mono Red Burn Head to Head. Importantly, Blue has fared well in these matches this season.
The Field Analysis:
Notable in the remaining field of 8.7 were GRw Beats, G-U Aggro, and R/G Thresher. GRw Beats has a win from earlier this season. In the Swiss it lost to MUC and GW Cloak. The MUC matchup in particular is one that will need to be shored up for its future success. R/G Thresher played to a 2-0 Drop so it was doing well. It has been a top deck in TPDC this season, so I wonder if players will begin to port it to Saturdays different Metagame for the same results.
On the outside looking here were Bu Control, Orzhov Blink, and GW Cloak. All solid deck choices. The Bu deck faced 3 Red decks in the Swiss and defeated two, so it is possible Black decks can survive in Red fields. However, I think there is tuning to be done in this deck to gain a consistent upper hand in these matchups. The other Bu Control deck’s match was one that should have been won, but due to atrocious play combined with click lag on 3.0 there were some difficulties in that one. Of note, one of the O-Blink losses in the Swiss was to GW Cloak. I have always felt that the biggest problem for O-Blink rests in dealing with Green Aggro. If you play B/W make sure you think of this.
Season Tracking & Head to Heads:
As we have moved through week 8 I have continued to accumulate season stats. Here are Times Played, Overall Records, and Head to Heads for the Season thus far.
Mono Red Burn – 11
MUC – 7
GW Cloak – 6
Burn Range – 5
Grand Entrance – 5
MUC – 24-8
GW Cloak – 18-9
Mono Red Burn – 22-17
Deep Dog – 12-5
Burn Range – 9-10
Grand Entrance – 8-10
Head to Heads:
vs GW Cloak 1-1
vs Mono Red Burn 1-0
GW Cloak -
vs MUC 1-1
vs Mono Red Burn 2-0
Mono Red Burn -
vs MUC 0-1
vs GW Cloak 0-2
The continued success of Mono Blue and Mono Red will as usual hinge largely on the players adjustments. If more life gain is played then Red will be squeezed out. With that, normal attacking Aggro may re-emerge and thus more Control as a response to that. The other direction (that has not typically been successful) would be for a different deck to be played that consistently beats MUC. This would likewise shift things away from the big two at the moment. I suppose in a couple of days we will see what players have brought to 8.9
Hope you enjoyed reading.