The metagame of Standard(T2) without Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Written by derflippi on July 05, 2011

With the July 1st restrictions, the old CawBlade deck featuring both, Stoneforge Mystic and Jace, the Mindsculptor does not exist anymore.
The brokennes of the format became clear in every latest Top8.
No deck constantly beat CawBlade, so everyone either joined the club or tried to defeat it.
This created a field of two decks: Jace-decks and Jace-less decks.

Now everthing becomes different.

The bans directly affect more than 50% of all decks. I am interested in how the new metagame looks like after its first two weeks of competitive play. Although theDCI bans are effective just since July 1st, Magic-League adopted the bans immediatly. With 100 tournaments, almost 1000 players and their decklists in the books, Magic-League is able to serve as excellent pool of information to picture the new metagame.

This article can be structured into two halves.
First, I display the decks in the metagame itself; which option is chosen how often, is there a new deck?, what is left of UW CawBlade?
This gives information, without valueing how a deck archetype performs. Which deck became more popular, which deck is steady?

The next step is a quality analysis of the decks. This consists of winning percentages and results in a ranking of decks of the current metagame.
Again a look at the old numbers is done to see which decks profited most from the Jace and SFM bans.

This structure is favoured by me since it allows individual analysis of the reader while still providing strategic value for everyone.

The metagame
In May, the metagame looked as displayed in the following table

Deck Played Meta
UW Caw-go 159 12,55
MonoRed Aggro 128 10,1
UGR Control 117 9,23
Gr Valakut 113 8,92
UB Control 101 7,97
Vampires 81 6,39
Landfall Aggro 56 4,42
UB Infect 55 4,34
Dark Caw-Go 41 3,24
Green Eldrazi 34 2,68
Other 382 30,16

Now, the metagame, in detail is not too different. Boros and RUG Control almost completely disappeared, while UW Control is still a noticeable force.

Of corse, UW Control looks different to the old Caw Blade decks. Generally, one can divide the UW Control decks into two strategies: CawGo, similar as in the pre-SFM era and decks using Blade Splicer, Sun Titan and more carddraw.

UW CawGo by straca3
Main Deck Sideboard
4 Celestial Colonnade
4 Glacial Fortress
5 Island
5 Plains
4 Seachrome Coast
4 Tectonic Edge
4 Squadron Hawk
1 Wurmcoil Engine
4 Preordain
3 Spreading Seas
1 Journey to Nowhere
2 Dismember
2 Stoic Rebuttal
3 Spell Pierce
4 Day of Judgment
2 Mana Leak
3 Jace Beleren
2 Gideon Jura
2 Elspeth Tirel
1 Deprive
1 Spreading Seas
1 Journey to Nowhere
3 Celestial Purge
2 Condemn
2 Flashfreeze
4 Leyline of Sanctity
2 Luminarch Ascension

UB Control replaced UW as the most played decks. All other decks kept the order of most played decks in the metagame.

UB Control by Blad01
Main Deck Sideboard
4 Preordain
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Duress
1 Black Sun's Zenith
4 Go for the Throat
1 Into the Roil
4 Spreading Seas
4 Jace Beleren
2 Liliana Vess
2 Abyssal Persecutor
1 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Consecrated Sphinx
6 Island
4 Tectonic Edge
4 Swamp
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Darkslick Shores
4 Creeping Tar Pit
1 Life's Finale
1 Sphinx of Jwar Isle
1 Ratchet Bomb
2 Peace Strider
2 Despise
4 Disfigure
1 Black Sun's Zenith
1 Into the Roil
1 Volition Reins

New decks are decks featuring the combo of Splinter Twin and Deceiver exarch in different variations (here: UR Twin, Dark Twin, Green Twin, Pyro Twin) and more combolike or controldecks at the area of 3-2% of the metagame.

A not so worrying number is the number of decks with Jace, the Mind Sculptor in the current metagame. I drew the following sketch to demonstrate change to the new metagame.

To analyze how well a deck performs, I use two basic approaches. First, the most intuitive way to analyze a deck's performance is to check the number of matches it has won against the number of matches it has lost. A deck with a quota of exactly 1 has 50:50 matchups on average. The other idea is to have a look at the conversion rate of the deck from the metagame percentage to the percentage of won matches: MetaGamePercentage/(WonMatchesByDeckA/AllWonMatches). This values won matches in later rounds a bit higher and discourages drops.

Obviously, variance applies, so I don't give too much on the decks barely being played. Also, comparing a deck that got played by 10% of the metagame with a deck that got played by only 4% is difficult, which is why I split the deck analysis into two parts.

Metagame in numbers
Deck          Played          %Meta
UB Control 107 13,29
Mono Red Aggro 89 11,06
Valakut Ramp 75 9,32
UW Control 73 9,07
Green Eldrazi 51 6,34
UR Twin 39 4,84
Vampires 35 4,35
MBC 27 3,35
WW Steel 24 2,98
URB Control 21 2,61
Birthing Pod 20 2,48
Infect Aggro 19 2,36
Elves 19 2,36
MRC 17 2,11
WW 17 2,11
Soul Sisters 12 1,49
Green Twin 11 1,37
Dark Twin 10 1,24
GW Aggro 10 1,24
WUB Puresteel 10 1,24
Kiln Fiend 8 0,99
Pyro Twin 8 0,99
Other 103 12,8

Deck P W L %Meta %WinMeta %WtoL %Convervion
UB Control 107 90 89 13,29 12,89 50,28 0,97
Mono Red Aggro 89 74 71 11,06 10,6 51,03 0,96
Valakut Ramp 75 81 60 9,32 11,6 57,45 1,25
UW Control 73 80 55 9,07 11,46 59,26 1,26
Green Eldrazi 51 49 39 6,34 7,02 55,68 1,11

A look at the most played, the Tier1 decks.
As expected, each of the Top5 played decks: UB Control, Mono Red Aggro, Valakut Ramp, UW Control and Green Eldrazi Ramp, is better than average. They win more matches than they lose.4t Therefore playing one of the decks is not a bad idea. The optimal idea is to play Valakut Ramp or UW Control: Comparing their conversion rates with UB Control and Monored for instance brings a difference of 1/4th. Uw Control won 60% of its matches, while UB Control has only 50%. The Green Eldrazi deck is in the middle of the Top decks. It's worse than Valakut Ramp and UW Control, but better than UB Control and Monored.

With Jace, the Mindsculptor and Stoneforge Mystic absent, many new decks spread from the bottom. Most of them are not finetuned too well yet. They still have more losses than wins against the rest of the field: UR Twin, MonoBlackControl, WW Steel, UBR Control, Birthing Pod or Infect Aggro.

Deck Played Won Lost Metagame WinMeta win/loss conversion
UR Twin 39 32 32 4,84 4,58 50 0,95
Vampires 35 38 26 4,35 5,44 59,38 1,25
MBC 27 22 22 3,35 3,15 50 0,94
WW Steel 24 18 19 2,98 2,58 48,65 0,86
URB Control 21 16 15 2,61 2,29 51,61 0,88
Birthing Pod 20 15 15 2,48 2,15 50 0,86
Infect Aggro 19 9 18 2,36 1,29 33,33 0,55
Elves 19 12 15 2,36 1,72 44,44 0,73
MRC 17 16 14 2,11 2,29 53,33 1,09
WW 17 12 12 2,11 1,72 50 0,81
Soul Sisters 12 9 11 1,49 1,29 45 0,86
Green Twin 11 10 10 1,37 1,43 50 1,05
Dark Twin 10 16 7 1,24 2,29 69,57 1,85
GW Aggro 10 11 8 1,24 1,58 57,89 1,27
WUB Puresteel 10 14 5 1,24 2,01 73,68 1,61
Kiln Fiend 8 4 8 0,99 0,57 33,33 0,58
Pyro Twin 8 8 6 0,99 1,15 57,14 1,15
Other 103 62 88 12,8 8,88 41,33 0,69

Only two decks among all other analyzed decks had remarkably positive results:
Vampires has a similar winning ratio as Valakut and UW Control. With Jace, the Mindsculptor gone, Vampires try MonoBlack versions more often, recently, Phyrexian Obliterator as addition.

The last deck of my analysis, the last remaining good deck was not played by more than 2% of the metagame, yet impressed me by its results. I see it on the top again and again and it's not similar to any other archetype of the current metagame.

WUB Puresteel & Tezzeret by tecktonicboy
Main Deck Sideboard
4 Celestial Colonnade
2 Glacial Fortress
4 Seachrome Coast
4 Marsh Flats
4 Inkmoth Nexus
1 Swamp
2 Island
3 Plains
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
4 Puresteel Paladin
4 Blade Splicer
2 Trinket Mage
1 Sun Titan
1 Consecrated Sphinx
3 Mana Leak
4 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
2 Prophetic Prism
1 Mox Opal
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Batterskull
1 Sword of War and Peace
3 Mortarpod
1 Flayer Husk
1 Basilisk Collar
3 Dispatch
1 Accorder's Shield
1 Sword of Body and Mind
1 Dispatch
2 Flashfreeze
3 Kor Firewalker
1 Memoricide
1 Hex Parasite
1 Sylvok Lifestaff
3 Luminarch Ascension
3 Day of Judgment

Unfortunately, the amount of data about this deck is still vulnerable to variance, so the next weeks will show if it's really as strong as the numbers say: From all decks analyzed, this had the best winning percentage.

The banning of Jace, the Mindsculptor and Stoneforge Mystic removed the brokenness off Standard(T2). Decks don't have to be able to compete with only one major force of the metagame anymore. Instead, they have to be designed against a diversity of threats. This creates a lot of space in the metagame and allows creativity in the deckbuilding process again.

With UB Control, Monored, Valakut Ramp, UW Control, Vampires and the Deceiver Twin decks, there exist several constants already. As one can see with WUB Puresteel Tezzeret, creative ideas are also quite viable.
I expect this metagame to stay healthy, at least until Innistrad, the set after M12.
Right now, the statistically best decks are UW Control, Vampires and Valakut, but I am sure they won't stay alone at the peak for very long.

That much about my thoughts and analysis, I hope I could give something to you; Until next time, become a better player, by playing on!

Back to Magic: the Gathering Articles

by GenesisTimer on 2011-07-05 18:22 CET

First! :D

by GreenBear on 2011-07-05 19:14 CET

That Ven Diagram should be in the Louvre.

by AppleofEris on 2011-07-05 19:20 CET

Didn't the last article you wrote say that Jace and Stoneforge weren't broken in type 2 and shouldn't be banned?

by tecktonicboy on 2011-07-05 19:29 CET

Obv cause i play it, btw UWb pladin tezz Barney Stinso pass me the first list.

by Incontroll on 2011-07-05 19:40 CET

Sick drawing skills.

by cabof on 2011-07-05 19:42 CET

Gotta love the drawings

by Strid3r on 2011-07-05 21:10 CET

what are the two brown things at the top of the drawing?

by BarneyStinso on 2011-07-05 21:29 CET

tecktonicboy is bad player =P, he won cause my deck is good =P

BarneyStinso: Como ves mi tezz-paladin morrin??
tecktonicboy: Para la basura...........
2 semanas despues: 2nd tecktonicboy 1984......LOL xD

by tecktonicboy on 2011-07-05 21:57 CET

Hubiera ganado el master pero tu dios me dropeo

by BarneyStinso on 2011-07-05 22:00 CET

jajaja 2 mach lost LOL

by Counterlife on 2011-07-05 22:54 CET

"The metagame of Standard(T2) without Jace, the Mind Sculptor"
is better. Just admit it, and blast the article that said they werent broken. Im all good with powerful, proven strats, but a meta where any new deck made has to ask itself if adding Jace will make it better is not a meta I, and obviously alot of other people, wanna play. Now some decks can drop creatures without worrying about -1 power games blowing you out.

by Conkisstador on 2011-07-06 01:48 CET

can you email me you decklist code? I like that format best of all sites on all internet.

by Ashmatan on 2011-07-06 03:14 CET

does jace have the word "cunt" across his chest?? lmfao

by Terri on 2011-07-06 05:34 CET

yea he does. nice to know that someone else figured it out.

by Mykrob56 on 2011-07-06 09:40 CET

I have no idea what any of the cards in that circle are supposed to be. With that, it's amazing.

Nice article too, btw. I think the reason that UB control is putting up (basically) even numbers, is because everyone's playing it, and lets be honest, not everyone is good enough to play it, or there versions are shit.

by derflippi on 2011-07-06 15:55 CET

Venser, Soujourner; Duress; Bloodghast, Primeval Titan; Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle; Goblin Guide; Deceiver Exarch and Deceiver Exarch - Jace, the Mind Sculptor; Stoneforge Mystic.

by Djinn on 2011-07-06 22:38 CET

awesome pic is awesome

by DeVoursneyNR on 2011-07-07 01:57 CET

you don't know how bad i want to set that as my background

by Diogenes5 on 2011-07-07 20:10 CET

UB control is mediocre. It puts up bad numbers because it doesn't have any card advantage mechanisms other than Jace (and maybe a lilianna or karn). It has the best answers to combo and valakuut with discard and library removal but you usually have to 2 for 1 yourself in order to do that so you need to draw generally a baby Jace to get ahead again.

UW control still has a bunch of card advantage mechanisms (venser comboing for one) and a much better matchup against aggro.

Overall, the format seems to be a rock paper scissors matchup which is the way wizards wants it I guess for sales.

It's still sodding annoying to have a retarded little kid netdeck an all-in poison deck and top 3 every frigging FNM though.

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