Looks like its time for another TPDC wrap up. When last I covered the event, we were at 8.7. Now three more events have gone in the books. Steady is the theme of TPDC right now with the same decks doing well each week. This can be a large group as the large Classic pool lends itself to diversity, but overall we are seeing consistent fields and leaders each week.
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.
What’s Been Happening?:
Event – TPDC 8.08, 8.09, 8.10
Format – Classic, Matches
So, we go up and over the TPDC halfway point in the last three weeks and many of the same powers remain from the early season events. The last three victors have been GW Cloak, RG Thresher, and Grand Entrance. All three of these decks have been doing well this season in TPDC so it is not a real surprise to see them at the top. It is somewhat interesting that all three of these decks can walk the line between Aggro and AC-Midrange strategy and if you look at the elimination rounds of TPDC this season, this is a style that has done consistently well (GW Cloak is a bit different from the other two, but it tends to put out a slightly slower attack than the faster Aggro decks and dips into more of a Midrange approach). These decks also all feature the ability to gain life when need be and with the current Classic presence of hyper aggressive red decks this is very important. For the most part, the Red decks have been kept down in TPDC and this is likely due to the large number of decks that are capable of answering their onslaught. Control decks continue to appear in small numbers in TPDC along with Combo. This has given the tournament a field largely divided into Aggro versus AC-Midrange in most weeks. Overall, 78% of the decks in the past three weeks fall into these groups. This leads me to the impression that the better deck choices in TPDC right now are either Aggro decks with a strategic ability to present a long game or strong reach (i.e. RG Beats or GRw Aggro) and Aggro Control strategies that are able to dip into card advantage engines and disruption to battle them (i.e. RG Thresher or Grand Entrance).
Looking into the specific events, 8.8 started off with a fair split of Aggro versus AC-Midrange with a smattering of Control. In all, 19 players were present at the event and 17 Archetypes were played. The meta breakdown was as follows:
Aggro: 8 – GW Cloak (3), Mono Black Aggro, GRw Aggro, WW, Rebel Stompy, GWB Aggro
AC-Midrange: 8 – Mono U AC, GUr Trinket Threshold, URW AC, WB AC, UWB AC, Thresher (2), UR AC Ping
Control: 2 – UGr Threshold Control, Ur Control
Combo: 1 – Freed
With so many AC-MR and Aggro decks around (having access to Enchantment Removal) in this event, it seems somewhat risky to run a Cloak based strategy. This isn’t to say that Cloak decks would be impossible to win with, clearly that isn’t the case as the victor ran a build, but I think by doing so you lean more on playskill and fortunate pairings than strategy superiority. I continue to be surprised by the lack of Black removal decks in the field. So many creatures to kill and few MUC or Mono Red appearances seem tailor made for this strategy.
Coming next, 8.9 had 18 players large with the following breakdown:
Aggro: 9 – GW Cloak (2), Saps (2), BG Zombie Rites, Mono Black Aggro, Kithkin, GU Aggro, UR Dragonaughts
AC-Midrange: 8 – UWB AC, Thresher (2), O-Blink, GB Rock Husk, RB Husk, Grand Entrance, UB Ninjas,
Control: 1 – WGUB Teachings
Here we have only one Aggro deck making the Top 8 and at that it is a deck (Saps) with a reasonable long game. Otherwise, six AC-MR decks filled out the elimination rounds with the field’s single Control deck as well. With such a strong showing in one style, it then comes down to which particular slant is able to overcome the others. Typically in this regard I look to which decks have the strongest disruption elements to throw the other decks off their game. In the Top 8 we had several AC-MR decks with black tools (and Thresher’s Stone Rain gameplan). I’m not slightly surprised to see this result.
Finally, TPDC 8.10 had a smaller field of 12 Players in the following groups:
Aggro: 4 – Saps, RG Beats (2), Mono R Burn w Storm
AC-Midrange: 3 – GU AC, Grand Entrance (2)
Control: 4- WGUB Teachings, MUC, Bu Control, RnR
Combo: 1 – Freed
Here we see a balanced strategic field. In the end result, Grand Entrance came out on top of RG Beats. I was surprised to see one of the GR decks defeat the two removal decks. It employed an Arcane theme in its structure and this may be something to look at if a Control shift occurs in TPDC.
It is good to see the attendance figure rising again in TPDC and even though the players have increased the Meta breakdown has maintained a consistent balance between Aggro and AC-MR with a few Control decks scattered in.
Top 4 Analysis:
With higher attendance numbers, 8.8 scaled to a Top 8 following the Swiss. GRw Aggro, RG Thresher, and UWB AC topped the qualifiers with three wins each. Also making the cut were 2 GW Cloak decks, UR AC, Ur Control, and GUr Trinket Threshhold. The Top 4 then cut to GW Cloak, Ur Control, GRw Aggro, and UBW AC. All four of these are solid strategies with past success. While most times I would favor GRw over GW Cloak, the opposite result occurred in the Final Four. Much of GW Cloak’s success can hinge on the creature selection therein. This particular winning build casts aside the often automatic Mongrel/Rootwalla duo in favor of 8 Phantoms, Ledgewalker, and GOTG along with Nantuko Vigilante main for mirrors. These creatures may be secondary in power, but they are much harder to kill (especially for Red removal). Through the elimination matchups the GW Cloak deck faced Red removal three times and in each match it was the victor.
In 8.9 the event also cut down to a Top 8 bracket. This one featured heavy AC-MR representation. With three wins in the Swiss, Saps and Orzhov Blink came through with the top seeds. Following after them were GB Rock Husk, UR AC, RG Thresher, RB Husk, and WUBG Teachings. GW Saps is an interesting option to consider in a Metagame devoid of black removal or heavy Red. Without those decks sweeping spells present it poses a strong attack and solid long game. Unfortunately it happened to run into RB Husk in the Top 8 toting strong removal and Crypt Rats and its day came to an end. Moving to the Top 4 were O-Blink taking on UR AC and RG Thresher matching up vs RB Husk. Coming out of these pairings were O-Blink and RG Thresher. In the final, RG Thresher (a more aggressive version than usual) vas victorious over O-Blink.
This past week in 8.10 we had a smaller crowd of 12. As a result the event scaled to a Top 4 of GR Beats, MUC, Grand Entrance, and WUGB Teachings. The Grand Entrance and MUC representatives came out of the Swiss with 9 points each and the other two came in with 6 points a piece. In the Semis Grand Entrance defeated WUGB Teachings and GR Beats defeated MUC. RG Beats is not played that often these days with faster Mono Red and more resilient GW Cloak. However, its overall power via burn and Green’s creatures should not be ignored. It is also able to tap into the Artifact/Enchantment removal of the color combo. In the Final, Grand Entrance came through as the winner over RG Beats ending the old school beater’s day.
The Field Analysis:
In 8.8 one deck failed to make the cut on tie breakers. Rebel Stompy: a white green Cloak deck based around the Rebel mechanic for a draw engine was left out in the cold. This build of Cloak Aggro has some positive elements going for it, but I think there will have to be a meta shift to more removal before it reaches it optimum value. Several other decks managed a win a piece on the day.
No decks were left out by tiebreakers in 8.9. UB Ninjas, Black Aggro, and Kithkin simply strike me as suboptimal choices right now, lacking either the speed or CA engines to get it done.
In 8.10 two decks were kept out of the elimination round on tiebreakers. Both Freed Combo and GR Beats (Arcane focused) won two matches a piece, but failed to make the cut. Freed continues to show up here and there in TPDC events and must always be prepared for given its ability to catch opponents with their pants down. As mentioned above the GR deck did surprisingly well versus Removal control in the event.
Season Tracking & Head to Heads:
Now that we have gotten to week 10 there are enough numbers to give us a complete look at head to heads in addition to our other stats.
GW Cloak – 10
RG Thresher – 9
Mono U AC – 8
O-Blink – 8
Mono Red Burn- 6
RG Thresher – 28-9
Mono U AC – 21-11
Grand Entrance – 15-4
GW Cloak 19-16
MUC – 14-6
O-Blink – 15-11
Mono R Burn – 9-7
Head to Heads: (i have to input some data yet so I’m posting this now and will fill this section tomorrow)
RG Thresher vs
Mono U AC 3-1
O Blink 4-0
GW Cloak 2-2
Grand Entrance 2-0
Mono U AC vs
RG Thresher 1-3
O Blink 0-2
GW Cloak 1-1
Grand Entrance 0-1
O Blink vs
Mono U AC 2-0
RG Thresher 0-4
GW Cloak DNP
Grand Entrance DNP
GW Cloak vs
Mono U AC 1-1
O Blink DNP
RG Thresher 0-4
Grand Entrance 0-3
Grand Entrance vs
Mono U AC 1-0
O Blink DNP
GW Cloak 3-0
RG Thresher 0-2
As the weeks roll on in TPDC things have remained fairly steady. While the overall winners each week may be different, the greater makeup of the fields has been the same for the most part and the most successful decks this season have maintained a high level of success. Even splits between Aggro and AC-MR have continued and for the most part I don’t see any signs of a shift right now. Instead we are seeing more adjustments and posturing within the top decks rather than wholesale strategic shifts.
Hope you enjoyed reading.