4.24.03 Meta-Peasants – The Top 4 (as I see them now)
Well, I am in the first stages of working up to the summer PEZ tournaments at Origins and Gen Con (and praying I can get the money to go). Decks are being built from the sane to the insane and I am starting to examine the meta game that may evolve.
Because PEZ currently only has two major showings each year, and tournaments are otherwise scattered and irregular, it is hard to develop any real sense of the meta game. Each year it is just like the first Pro Tour event after a new set becomes legal – no one has any clue what will happen and decks come out of nowhere.
In the first year of PEZ, none of the decks were finely tuned as even the basic rules structure for deck building was yet to fully solidify. In this environment, creature decks ruled and there was little or no control to be seen. A year latter and the tournament was ruled by control, combo, and Burn. High Tides went unbeaten while Mono Black Control (MBC) was the single most played deck followed by Burn. Basically, almost any deck that could avoid the battle in the trenches won.
Now we are coming up to a new year and it is time to take a look around. Even as I write this, the Council is deciding on a last minute banned and restricted list. While I can’t tell you exactly what will be in and what will be gone, since not even the Council knows yet, what I can tell you is that it won’t make any sweeping changes. Basically there are a handful of cards, like Library of Alexandria and Strip Mine, which the Council will deal with and it will keep a close eye on the decks this year to see what additional steps need to be taken.
What do I see in my cardboard ball? I think that last year’s meta game will continue. Burn and MBC will be the most played decks and the decks to beat. High Tides will also be a deck to beat but it seems like a lack of interest, and weakness in the Burn match-up, will keep High Tides from being popular. Of course, assuming that others read the format the same way, White Weenie will also make a large come back because of favorable pairings with MBC and Burn.
How do the match-ups look for these top 4 decks?
Burn is amazingly strong vs. High Tides if played correctly. Main deck it can disrupt the combo or, if Tides is a turn or two off its pace, can burn out the Tides player in response to the final Prosperity. After the first game, it can sideboard in the Red Elemental Blast and Pyroblast.
Against MBC, Burn is also strong. Without any targets for either Vicious Hunger or Spinning Darkness MBC loses some life gain critical to the match. MBC loses Pestilence as a win condition as well. This is by no means an automatic win for Burn. MBC can still disrupt Burn in the early game with discard and strong land draws, with Cabal Coffers, will allow big enough Drains for the win.
Versus White Weenie it all comes down to damage prevention. If WW can draw early CoP’s or Prismatic Strands, and keep its own creatures alive, it stands a good chance of taking the win. It is difficult for Burn to race an early Empyrial Armor, especially on a Pro. Red creature. Even so, this is by no means a loss for Burn. Unless the White Weenie deck is geared toward Red hate the decks simply race to the finish and Burn also has Flaring Pain to offset White’s damage prevention. Many Burn decks also devote 1 or 2 Uncommon slots to Anarchy as well.
In the Burn mirror, there is little that can be done to modify the deck. The addition of a few creatures is helpful as these present permanent threats that can deal damage over a few turns. Unfortunately, except in the SB, Bloodfire Dwarf and Mogg Fanatic are the only great choices here since most creatures cause Burn to lose its advantages vs. MBC.
MBC, on the other hand, is much weaker vs. High Tides. It has a limited amount of discard because it must give such a high premium to creature destruction main deck. It is also slower, with damage coming mid/late game rather than starting early like Burn. Tutors allow it to run a Tormod’s Crypt in the sideboard but this is a fragile solution. It has a chance but High Tides should win this match-up most of the time.
Against White Weenie, MBC is really fairly strong. The amount of removal is intimidating and White remains susceptible to most of the removal spells. Mass removal in the form of Stench of Decay and Pestilence simply improve the untargeted removal of Diabolic Edict and Innocent Blood. On the other hand, MBC also has a hard time racing Empyrial Armor and has only one answer to CoP – Brush with Death. This pairing is a race with WW searching for an Armor or CoP before MBC can exert control. If WW can’t keep multiple creatures on the board, MBC wins.
The MBC mirror is interesting. Simply put, the deck with more discard effects and search wins. The mirror here is all about who draws best and disrupting your opponent before he disrupts you. Because the creature removal and possibly also the Cemetery Gate will be sided out, Mishra’s Factory and Chimeric Idol/Chimeric Sphere can be a powerful surprise.
While the other decks can slug it out with High Tides and stand a decent chance, the same is not true of White Weenie. It has some limited ability to disrupt Tides early through Mother of Runes and cards like Cho-Manno’s Blessing. Builds with Enlightened Tutor instead of Mother of Runes can also pack a Tormod’s Crypt or two in the sideboard but, overall, White loses to Tides.
In the White Mirror, Enchantment destruction is the critical factor. The deck that can remove the CoP and Empyrial Armor wins. You will notice that throughout this article I have assumed that White Weenie plays Empyrial Armor. While most White Weenie decks have ditched the Armor in favor of instant speed pump, such as Army of Allah, I think that this is a mistake. With ready access to evasion creatures and damage prevention, Empyrial Armor produces a stronger more reliable clock. On the other hand, non-Armor builds are less susceptible to Enchantment removal and thus a little stronger in the mirror. Incidentally, the pump cards that also provide additional Toughness are also stronger against MBC.
While these decks are far from perfect (except for High Tides which varies only by a card or two in most builds), they serve as good examples of the types of builds you will encounter for these four decks. Use these decks as templates for your own builds or for your testing regimen. Because I believe something may happen to Strip Mine (ban, restrict, make uncommon) I won’t include it in any of these decks:
Cloud of Faeries
Force of Will (Uncommon)
3 Mogg Fanatic
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