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IBC:  It’s Not Just Root Beer Any More

     Well, it’s time to jump onto the PTQ train again.  Sorry about my extended hiatus; there’s been a lot of other things I’ve had to do over the last month or so, and it’s all been very prohibitive of my writing.  Nevertheless, there’s work to be done, so let’s get right down to it, shall we?

     IBC is perhaps the most entertaining, most versatile block environment that we have yet encountered in Magic.  Because of the different lands and mana-fixers available, the number of playable cards is simply greater in this block than in previous, and hence allows for a wide range of decks to be built.  Quite simply, archetypes will exist, but they will simply be less clearly defined than previously, because of the expanded usable card pool.  There are so many good cards, the entire environment has the capability of looking dramatically different on a week-by-week basis, and everyone is going to be continually scrambling to keep up.

     That’s not to say that there aren’t distinct blueprints for certain decks in existence.  X-Mar is what I’m calling the variety of decks that run Swamps, Islands, and Plains, and spells in those colors.  There are so many different subdivisions of this genre, it’s difficult to sort them out:  Desolation Angel control, NoMar, Solution, GoMar, Familiar.dec, and more!  And they all play very differently, using a very similar mana-base, with a wide range of available spells, from Dromar’s Charm, to Repulse to Vindicate, Absorb, and Undermine, and so on.  There are literally too many choices for this deck to make, so many cards to choose from, that we’ve ended up with a mess of different designs, with different mixes of creatures and spells, that all operate under different principles.  I think I’ll take an entire article to discuss this later.

     Right now, different regions of the country are exhibiting vastly different metagames, enough to say that there is NO unified metagame across the country.  In Masques-block, we had weekends where I would say a majority of the players in the COUNTRY played black-green of some sort, or a variant of Skies.  Here, there is no consistent performer, no consensus on which deck is preferred in the environment.  Examining top 8 decks, we seem to have continual evolution of current archetypes, and more new archetypes are still popping up; the Obliterate deck from GenCon and Brian Kowal’s Deed-Go deck are already seeing success, and variants of these decks are already making appearances in top 8’s.

     Personally, I have been leaning towards what is still a very solid archetype:  the red-green beatdown deck, still intact since Tokyo, though undergoing some modifications.  In my opinion, Ghitu Fire can make it way out of the deck, as well as the Raging Kavus, with Scorching Lava and Yavimaya Barbarian as very purposeful replacements for these cards.  The Barbarians help to further foil decks that rely on any bounce to control tempo, while the Scorching Lava helps to take care of those damn pesky Spectral Lynx.  This is not mentioning the growing popularity of Fire/Ice in the environment, and how much people just love to get a little card advantage by Firing a Kavu and Familiar.  This isn’t the only older archetype seeing some serious play: more people are rediscovering the power of red-black and blue-black, along with the reality that the Dodecapod isn’t nearly the menace that so many people have thought it would be.  I’ve been moderately successful with the deck, but not enough to qualify for New Orleans yet, which is obviously my goal here:  it’s home, after all.

     So what does all this say?  We’re dealing with an open environment, with a series of very powerful and solid decks, and a lot of room for creativity.  This environment rewards good play, as it seems that there is not a great deal of room for error.  The power of the cards does not allow for a great deal of mistakes, as an opponent can very quickly turn that mistake into a fantastic opportunity for him/herself.  If you can build a deck based around a foundation of solid and powerful cards, and make yourself sufficiently comfortable with it, you are putting yourself into a prime position to succeed.  You can build a deck of just about any three-color combination, and find a sufficiently powerful mix of cards to win a tournament with.  But how you play and build your deck will take you very far.

     That’s all for now.  Next week, I’m going to do an in-depth analysis on a couple of the major archetypes, and look into why some people are winning these events.  I’m also going to attempt to actually have a lot more to say to everyone; I’ve been rather fragmented for weeks, so I’m going to take some time to further collect my thought(s).  Hopefully, I’ll have a more positive result from my own events here to report back to you.  Until then, feel free to ask any questions you might have, or if you would like suggestions on block decks.  Take care, everyone!

-Jonathan Pechon