The metagame of the rotated Extended(T1.x)

Written by derflippi on November 08, 2010

1. What is this ?
2. Why Extended(T1.x) ?
3. How do I analyze ?
4. Conclusions
5. The moral of the story

1. What is this ?

Players always want to figure out a good way to win. One important choice on the way there is what deck you chose. The deckchoice however cannot be done in a vacuum. The optimal deckchoice depends on the metagame. It's a bad idea to chose Scissors, when everyone else choses Rock.

I don't claim myself to be a great player; I make "play mistakes" like incorrect blocks or attacks all the time, but I believe I have a good understanding of greater Magic strategy.

2. Why Extended (T1.x) ?

With GP Atlanta in reach, Extended (T1.x) is a format to think about at the moment, as there were no remarkable events since the format rotated in October. Since October 1st, the cards from Timespiral Block, Tenth Edition and Coldnsap are no longer legal in Extended (T1.x). This means all decks have lost goodies like Tarmogoyf, Dark Depths, Ancestral Visions, Grove of the Burnwillows and Sword of the Meek.

During the past Extended (T1.x) season, the best decks played  at least one of the cards mentioned. Although Hypergenesis and Sword of the Meek got banned in the end, I remember the format to be a format full of combos: Thopter Foundry + Sword of the Meek, Cascade spells + Hypergenesis, Grove of the Burnwillows + Punishing Fire and Vampire Hexmage + Dark Depths.

All this is no longer. The format renovated. My idea is to bring some light to Extended (T1.x). What are the 'decks to beat' ?
What decks should one avoid playing ?

3. How do I analyze ?

Until my new job (army) had me stop this column, I monthly analyzed a format throughly. You can find examples of those articles here or here.

In this article, I do the same thing. I counted ALL decks played on Magic-League and noted their records in an Excel table. Based on this data, I draw conclusion about the decks strengths and the format. For people who want to make their own ide, I simply release the stats. Older releases of this kind looked like this overcomplex table
I do not repeat such a table.
For the following table, I collected all magic-league tournament data from October 1st until Nov 8th. In comparison to the previous tables, i provide only the core data:

So what does this table say about the current Extended (T1.x) ?
The metagame has a wide range of decks that are played. One example: In the old Standard (T2), only three decks were played by more than five per cent. This time, 8 decks appear that often.
During the time, I developed one quota that quantifies a decks overall strenght in the metagame it was played in.

With the data on relative won tournaments and relative proportion in the complete field, I calculated a so called conversion rate for the decks. A comprehensive explanation of why this conversion rate is meaningful, and how it's formed can be found in my December analysis.
In short, the conversion rate tells if a deck has good or bad matchups against the metagame on average. A deck with a conversion rate of exactly "One" won exactly 50% of its matches.
This conversion rate is listed in the last column of the table. The better a deck performed, the higher is its conversion rate. Keep in mind that the more often a deck was played, the more exact is this rate. A deck that was played only once and sweeped that tournament 7-0 might've been lucky that day. Therefore, trust the rates more as a deck was played a lot.

4. Conclusions

The old Faeries deck lost only Ancestral Visions. So it's no wonder it still sees alot of play. Reveillark, Jund, Merfolk and the Valakut or Ramp decks come from the Standard (T2) formats during Lorwyn season, or of today. The amount of red decks has been constant in any of the recent T2 or T1.x formats. It's because "directly to your head" has always worked. To summarize the metagame appearances of decks. No real innovations were done. The only deck that can't be found in a recent Standard (T2) format is Shamans:

Main Deck Sideboard
6 Mountain
5 Forest
3 Mutavault
3 Reflecting Pool
4 Copperline Gorge
4 Fire-Lit Thicket
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
4 Spikeshot Elder
4 Wolf-Skull Shaman
4 Tattermunge Witch
4 Leaf-Crowned Elder
4 Flamekin Harbinger
4 Bosk Banneret
4 Rage Forger
2 Inner-Flame Acolyte
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Vexing Shusher
2 Burst Lightning
3 Magma Spray
3 Mul Daya Channelers
2 Vithian Renegades
1 Volcanic Fallout
2 Combust
1 Chameleon Colossus

I can think of a few reasons why this deck is played. It mainly has Spikeshot Elder. Spikeshot Elder probably beats 13,44% of the field: the Faeries. It also puts alot of creatures on the board which is usually hard to handle for Faeries. At the same time, it has huge creatures which serve as walls against other agressive decks.

Metal Aggro refers to decks abusing the artifact types of creatures with Tempered Steel, Grand Architect and Master Etherium. It's new! Everyone wants to try it out.

As stated earlier, the higher the conversion rate of a deck, the better it performs on average. Reveillark, Big Red, WW, RDW and GW Ramp all prove they're worth the amount of times they're played. Jund seems to not be the big deal it used to be in Standard (T2). It lost more matches than it won. That's a bad sign. Take my advice, and don't play Jund! The same can be applied quickly to 5c Control decks, Doran and Metal Aggro and, to some amount Pyromancer Ascension.

But what about Faeries ?

It's not too obvious.

It is the most played deck. Yet, it loses more than it wins. Some people will claim that the record is corrupted by mirror matches (which one Faerie deck always loses). On the other hand, the average amount in the most popular tournament type: the 8-max tournaments of Faerie decks is one. When there's only one Faeries deck in the whole tournament, it's obviously impossible for it to face the mirror match. Seeing that the chance of the Faeries mirror match is pretty low, I can ignore the effect of mirror matches on the conversion rate. I didn't want to simply accept the bad rate of Faeries. But as I cleared up, it is indeed not a very good deck. So my advice ? Stop playing it! Immediatly.

One deck deck that I didn't cover yet is Merfolk. It is played by only 5% of the field, yet won almost 10% of all matches played. This is enormous. Its rate of 2.79 means an average score of 3-1, or 6-2, which ensures a day 2 appearance at GPs.

Merfolk by BarneyStinso
Main Deck Sideboard
8 Island
4 Wanderwine Hub
4 Mutavault
4 Glacial Fortress
2 Mystic Gate
1 Celestial Colonnade
1 Adarkar Wastes
4 Coralhelm Commander
4 Cursecatcher
4 Meddling Mage
2 Merfolk Sovereign
4 Merrow Reejerey
4 Silvergill Adept
2 Sygg, River Guide
4 Cryptic Command
4 Mana Leak
4 Path to Exile
3 Sleep
2 Reveillark
1 Sower of Temptation
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
2 Ratchet Bomb
1 Ranger of Eos
3 Burrenton Forge-Tender
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Relic of Progenitus

As I created this list, I was neutral towards all archetypes. The overall statistic says Merfolk is the best deck. The master of this Sunday showed it in a live test of the idea. Merfolk is indeed the best deck in the current metagame.

What makes it so good ? That's up to you to find out. It's strenghts might be extended, ..or its weaknesses be abused. Maybe Firespout becomes a tournament staple again.

5. The moral of the story
Todays Extended(T1.x) is basically the Standard(T2) of yesterday. So far, Merfolk is the dominating force. The most played deck on the other hand: Faeries is actually pretty bad. It's worse than half of the field. So it's probably a better idea to put Faeries aside at the moment.

I'm always happy to work with feedback I get on my articles. Send an email to with any suggestions or questions about my analysis.

Until next time, there will be a next time, become a better player, by playing on, the home of tomorrow's mtg-stars.

Back to Magic: the Gathering Articles

by EatsMortals on 2010-11-09 00:14 CET

:(. But I liked constantly facing fearies!

by EatsMortals on 2010-11-09 02:49 CET

dont play adarkar wastes, it isnt legal :p

by Blad01 on 2010-11-09 03:05 CET

Did you count Grixis Control in 5cc or "other deck" ?

by mishimakaz on 2010-11-09 04:46 CET

Faeries is a good deck.
Problem is that most people are bad at playing magic.

by whateverdude on 2010-11-09 07:51 CET

This is a very small sample size and is only good for showing what is the current ML meta and nothing more. No way in hell can you draw conclusions on how good a deck performs based on such a sample size, factors like the skill of the players that chose a certain deck or how lucky they got in their matches are too big when we are dealing with such a small sample size.

In case I havent said it enough...Sample size is too small to draw any conclusions from.

by RiQuSP on 2010-11-09 10:26 CET

'So far, Merfolk is the dominating force. The most played deck on the other hand: Faeries is actually pretty bad. It's worse than half of the field. So it's probably a better idea to put Faeries aside at the moment.'

Jajajajajajaja, lies, not a lot of people in here know how to play faeries.. Going 6-0-1 on a master doesn't rly show me not to play them )

by Taodd on 2010-11-09 11:22 CET

Happy to see my shamans list on there, and it's the more recent version too. :D Still needs some tweaking probably, especially the sideboard. I keep changing it trying to keep up with the metagame but it's shifted a lot as I've been playing the deck so I keep running into stuff I don't have any sideboard for. Especially need something more powerful vs merfolk now.

Shamans have the ability to explode into major damage with rage forger at times and it has a lot of subtle card advantage. Some games your opponent has a primeval titan to block with and is at 21 life and you still swing for lethal (it happened) and sometimes you grind out card advantage with wolf-skulls and leaf-crowneds and spikeshot. I think it still needs a better answer to damage sweepers than mul daya channelers as they're obviously not consistent in that regard.

Currently fulminator mage and chameleon colossus need more testing and I'll likely drop the vithian renegades from the side cause they're pretty much for Metal Aggro decks so yeah not much need there.

by RiQuSP on 2010-11-09 12:04 CET

I don't see that shaman list beating faeries =/
Especially after sideboarding..

by EatsMortals on 2010-11-09 12:55 CET

I agree. Shamans could never beat fearies

by EatsMortals on 2010-11-09 12:55 CET

I agree. Shamans could never beat fearies

by derflippi on 2010-11-09 16:13 CET

This article wasn't meant to break the meatagame. It was meant to give a rough overview of the new Extended. This worked well. So far, Faeries is indeed not good.

by RiQuSP on 2010-11-09 16:26 CET

Without being cocky, it depends on the player imo...

by derflippi on 2010-11-09 16:28 CET

Yes it always does.

by RiQuSP on 2010-11-09 16:31 CET

From personal experience, friends around me (when faeries was still T2) always blamed me for picking 'the easy deck, cuz u just go turn 2 blossom win'. I'm sure that people in here think like that and pick it up for that reason.

by mishimakaz on 2010-11-09 17:28 CET

Faeries is good. But as I say again, most magic players are bad.

And I am not joking.

by Eldariel on 2010-11-09 18:52 CET

...most players are bad? Really? Is this supposed to be some kind of news? Of course most players are bad and due to that, the best performing decks tend to be those that pilot themselves like Jund.

That said, fact is that this Extended has way more powerful decks than Lorwyn Standard while Faeries are actually a tad worse due to lacking access to Ancestral Visions; it contends with way stronger metagame and with all the hatecards that wrecked it in that T2. That hardly bodes well for the pile.

by FLOCKA on 2010-11-10 16:33 CET

As someone who's recently got back into magic, I tend to stay away from extended (t2 only) but I actually enjoyed this article quite a bit. Thanks Flippi!

by Taodd on 2010-11-10 17:54 CET

I've only played against it like 4-5 times but so far I've only lost to faeries once with shamans, and I lost 1-2. And that was with my older crappy sideboard. Faeries hate an active spikeshot elder, and they tend to get beat hard by tattermunge witch. The real key those is that most of my guys are cheap to play.

by RiQuSP on 2010-11-11 12:45 CET

I've played 2 matches, lost 1 of them where I was mana screwed/flooded all 3 games but managed to win 1. I lost 1 game in the 2nd match for the same reason and spikeshot is not really annoying. I'm more afraid of turn 2 fauna shaman with no removal or anything against it.

by on 2010-11-16 17:56 CET

I still believe it's quite early in the season to pick a winner over every other deck. I see no timeseive list and am curious if some of these players may not have had an idea of how to play fearies. I would also like to point out that the shaman deck started to make an apperance at states when it was block format the deck did some play while not as much as fearies. You must also consider the fact that red deck holds many threats to fea and is very highly played a breakdown of how the deck does against the rest of the field would be needed to say it's not competitive. If it lost 20 games to red decks than the deck is much better than ever considered just don't get the red match up and you'll be fine.

by infernuz on 2010-11-23 04:02 CET

I love Reveillark Deck :D

by on 2010-11-28 20:39 CET

Faeries is more playable than ever with Mimic Vat... the only thing you need to do is know how to play with a counter/discard/destroy deck instead of getting the battlefield full of creatures and then attack (my 2 year old brother knows how to do this)

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