Digesting Worlds by Cyrus Bales

Digesting Worlds by Cyrus Bales

With the 2010 magic world championships now behind us, we have lots of information to look over and take in.

Below is the breakdown of the top 36 decks of day one, the standard portion. These are the lists that went 5-1 or better, in brackets are what percentage of the whole field each archetype made up.

Valakut: 12 (32.39%)
UB Control:  7 (14.49%)
UW Control:  5 (16.76%)
Boros:  3 (4.26%)
BUG Control:  2 (1.70%)
RB Vamps:  2 (7.95%)
RUG Control:  2 (6.25%)
Elves:  1 (0.85%)
GW Quest:  1 (5.11%)
RDW:  1 (2.56%)

As we can see, Valakut, the molten pinnacle is extraordinarily popular and powerful, whilst it did make up a large percentage of the field, it managed to show itself well at the top of the standings, making up nearly a third of the metagame, and representing itself as exactly a third of the top decks. I think this clearly shows the strength of the Valakut strategy, it’s ability to largely ignore it’s opponent’s actions and it’s speed, this shows it’s average win percentage against the field to be well situated.

Whilst UB control slightly overachieved in relation to it’s numbers present, and UW control marginally underachieved, their results are what we’d expect from the two premiere control decks. Other decks featuring Jace The Mind Sculptor put up about the numbers we’d expect, roughly matching their percentage contributions to the metagame.

Boros and Elves are the real winners though, making up only tiny portions of the metagame, they excelled themselves when it came to their percentages in the top decks respectively, however only one elf deck to analyse doesn’t give us as much reliable data as we’d like.

This data suggests that whilst Valakut and Jace Based control decks are fine choices in terms of their success ratio, Boros and Elves are the more likely decks to net you positive results, whilst the rest of the field are poor underachievers best left on the shelf. A lot of this does not come as a surprise, I have not considered decks such as Quest for the holy relic or Mono Green Eldrazi as powerful for quite some time, if ever.

To gain more insight though, we must look behind the numbers, pretty much everyone expected the field to be made up of Valakut and Jace based control decks, this includes the players piloting those archetypes. What this means, is that most decks leaned towards combating those decks, leaving themselves exposed to decks like Elves and Boros, which goes some way to explaining their results. This of course doesn’t mean that these decks were just lucky, quite the opposite in fact, they were chosen as strong metagame options that took advantage of a predictable field.

Whilst these results are the more important ones in terms of number crunching in standard, many players will look at the top 8 lists from the whole tournament, which doesn’t give you that much information since those players spent most of the weekend gaining points through other formats. Of course, many will just take lists from the top 8 and play them. This is already having an obvious effect, since five of the top 8 were UB control many players have begun playing this deck, making it the most popular deck on MTGO. This effect will of course extend to paper magic, so expect a wash of UB control wherever you go.

In conclusion to this breakdown of information, what can we learn?

1) Valakut and Jace based control decks will represent it’s numbers in a top 8.

2) Boros is a solid deck for the current format, and should be able to put up positive numbers for now.

3) This format is very predictable, perfect for the creative deck builder to ‘beat’ the metagame.
What does this mean for me? The third conclusion is what I enjoy most.
The mono black deck, Sadistic Solution, that I have been piloting lately seems like an excellent choice still, since it’s main deck match ups against Valakut and Jace based control are high. But, it will need to make a concession for the abundance of Grave Titan, I’m tinkering around with a few copies of Corrupt as an answer that can also destroy planeswalkers and grant you reach if needed.

However I’d like to talk about a different deck today. I have a love for RW control, and this season I have been working on a RW control list that has gone through various stages of change, but it’s current incarnation is rather happy with the information from worlds:


4 Wall of Omens
4 Tunnel Ignus

3 Day of Judgment
4 Survival Cache

4 Lightning Bolt
1 Burst Lightning

4 Luminarch Ascension

3 Chandra Nalaar
3 Gideon Jura
2 Koth of the Hammer
3 Elspeth Tirel

4 Arid Mesa
2 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Kabira Crossroads
4 Plains
8 Mountain
3 Tectonic Edge


1 Day of Judgment
2 Revoke Existence
3 Leyline of Sanctity
3 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
3 Ajani’s Pridemate
2 Comet Storm
1 Mimic vat

I’ll quickly talk you through the deck. It’s set up with early problem cards for all the deck types. Wall of Omens for aggro decks, Tunnel Ignus for ramp decks, and Luminarch Ascension for the control decks. Tunnel Ignus has really been pulling it’s weight much more than Leonin Arbiter in my testing, as the Valakut player will be taking heavy damage if this guy stays on the board, his use against control decks is nice too, since it forces them to use fetches on your turn for risk of free damage to their Jace The Mind Sculptor. Wall of Omens is a tried and tested blocker against aggro decks, and at worst, will cantrip you into another card. Luminarch Ascneion is quite simply ridiculous, the removal in the deck means even against aggro it comes online, but against control decks, it’s virtually two mana to win the game if you drop it early, and a lot of decks don’t even play ways to kill it from their sideboard, Brian Kibler’s “Caw Go” for example.

The rest of the deck is quite straightforward, five early burn spells to slow down aggro, Day of Judgment to wipe their board, it also kills Grave Titans and all their tokens. The Planeswalkers are all problematic if they resolve for most decks, often giving you removal as well as win conditions, this flexibility and card advantage makes the deck run smoothly. With no strong answers to planeswalkers seeing much play, they run rampant and win you a lot of games.

The Survival Cache is a very underrated draw spell, sure you need to have a deck built to use it, but four Kabira Crossroads along with your walls and removal certainly get you there, Elspeth Tirel can help you net card advantage from it also. Furthermore, it works well with the Ajani’s Pridemate from the sideboard, a massively underrated card indeed.

The sideboard itself is pretty basic, instant damage for control and aggro decks, Mimic Vat against aggro decks as well as ramp, Leyline of Sanctity is a massive pain for Valakut decks, whilst Ajani Pridemate is there for extra pressure in the control match, forcing them to deal with your threat gives you more windows to play game breaking spells like planeswalkers.

This deck is pretty balanced, with the ability to win most match ups with the main deck, the sideboard allows for shoring it all up, letting you replace the specific cards related to certain match ups with much stronger ones. I’ve been playing variations of this deck for weeks now, and with the metagame as it is post worlds, this build has never looked better.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing.

Cyrus Bales

Please let us know what you think below...

Visit our Manaleak online store for the latest Magic: the Gathering singles, spoilers, exclusive reader offers, sales, freebies and more!

Magic The Gatherig Freebies Giveaways