Crucible of Words – The Last World Championship by Cyrus Bales

Crucible of Words – How do you solve a problem like a Mindsculptor? By Cyrus Bales

As I’m sure you are aware, this weekend is the MTG World championship, the biggest and best event of the Magic calendar. However recent changes in the competitive world of Magic mean that this great event will be the last of its kind, instead replaced by a 16 man tournament. As you can tell, I (along with just about every other Magic player) am pretty unhappy with these changes, but rather than dwell on that, I think it’s important we enjoy this last great tournament. Today I’ll be looking at the various constructed formats and decks we can expect to see.

Worlds is broken into two parts, Individual and Team. The teams play Modern, Standard and Legacy to determine the team championship, each member of the three man team playing a different format. The individual world champion is determined by rounds of Standard, Modern and Booster draft.

So, what can we expect?

The big card of the weekend in my mind is obvious, Snapcaster Mage. This little powerhouse will be ruling tables in every constructed format, it’s already regarded as one of the best cards legal in all three constructed formats (four if you include vintage, and no-one includes extended since they destroyed it); but this weekend it’ll really shine and I expect it’s high value to soar further.


The standard portion is a big attraction, since it’s the most popular constructed format out there with millions playing it every week. It evolves far faster than any other format and that keeps it relatively fresh. But what do we hope to see deck wise? Obviously Kessig Wolf-Run decks are going to played a lot since they have posted decent results and are quite a solid “go to” deck that you can pick up and play relatively easily. There are many subtle variants though, from the Robots build featuring Copper Myr, Solemn Simulacrum and Sphere of the Suns, Dungrove Elder builds and classic RG ramp strategies. This deck is very powerful, but is far from unbeatable.

White based aggro, whether it’s GW humans curving into Planeswalkers or UW Illusions curving into Angelic Destiny, the early beatdown front is certainly a viable one. These decks vary a lot, but the general theme is the same, Mirran Crusader is a potent tool and can be supported well, whether you accelerate it out with Birds of Paradise or pump it with Honor of the Pure, the card is a powerhouse.

So what about control? UB control has become popular, but seems to be flagging in results just recently. Solar Flare decks are beginning to abandon their clunky plans and form into Esper control variants, running mainly at instant speed and having good ol’ Snapcaster Mage to add extra value. Anyone who uses this site regularly will know that we’ve all been working on a Grixis Control deck that seems to be rather potent, and in my eyes at least, it’s definitely top tier. The fixing is so good that you don’t need to just play two colours when a third gets you lots of value. Either way, a control deck running Snapcaster Mage, Forbidden Alchemy, Think Twice, and control spells seems like a very strong bet.

I have seen something interesting recently though, a Wolf Run list that was somewhere between Wolf Run and GW Tokens, effectively splashing red for the Wolf Run. I feel a list like this that can toolbox up powerful lands like Kessig Wolf-Run and Gavony Township with Primeval Titan might be a very good direction. Personally I prefer it to the classic token or ramp approach since it seems to take the best of both deck; if someone can fine tune the list, I would not be surprised to see a deck like that sweep the standard portion. Some kind of curve involving Birds of Paradise, Viridian Emissary, Mirran Crusader, Blade Splicer, Garruk Relentless, Elspeth Tirrel and Gideon Jura, then building up to Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and White Sun’s Zenith using Primeval Titan perhaps?


Whilst only for the team portion of the event, I have a great love of Legacy and enjoy talking about it. The big word on everyone’s lips with this format at the moment is Delver, as in Delver of Secrets. A humble creature who has enjoyed time beating in the air for three on top tables for the low price of one mana, in a format with the clearly overpowered Brainstorm, it just gets better. Unlike in standard where you have to pair it with Ponder but without shuffle effects in your deck, it actually rewards you for things you are doing anyway in Legacy, making it a staple powerhouse alongside the obvious king of flashback that is Snapcaster Mage. The RUG build seems like the best shell for this combination at the moment, playing much like the Tempo Thresh decks of old, since they are basically the same deck, but with a lot of upgrades.

However there are so many other decks that are good, Dredge (forever underestimated and misplayed), TEPS (punishment for the underprepared), Reanimator (the “go to” combo deck at the moment), Bant Maverick (a solid midrange deck that can play beatdown or aggro well), Team America (one of the best control decks in the field), UW Blade (the other control deck in the field) as well as Goblins, Elves and all sorts. The great thing about Legacy, is that you can see just about anything at the top tables. And different parts of the world tend to have different metagames in a big way, Maverick decks for example are huge in Europe, but less so in the states, so this portion of the competition should be thoroughly interesting and captivating.

What do I like for this format? Those who know me will understand my current view on dredge, there are enough decks that beat the other combo decks out there, that this can really shine through. However, there is a cost, since MD graveyard hate is crucial in a world of Snapcaster mage, so if I were playing in the team section of worlds, I’d probably play a RUG deck with main deck Scavenging Ooze.


This is the big question mark of the tournament for sure. Modern in its first incarnation was a failure, the format in Philadelphia was poorly controlled and needed more bannings, however now we have those, the format is relatively undefined. The big decks from what we’ve seen so far tend to be Zoo variants, Rock variants, UR Splinter Twin, Next Level Blue, and Affinity. The obvious one here is affinity, which escaped the bannings from Phily without a scratch and the deck was good enough then, so it should be even better in this format where its competitors are weaker. The blue decks are supported heavily by Vendilion Clique and, you’ve guessed it, Snapcaster Mage, usually splashing for Tarmogoyf since it’s so strong. Splinter Twin is much the same, just with less card filtering, running Shrine of Piercing Vision much like its standard counterpart last season in standard.

Without any big tournament in modern since Phily, this is really where the innovation can reward players, since there is pretty open field in terms of what is possible, but there already seems to be a combo/control/aggro balance, making it perfect for an under the radar deck to sweep it up. This is especially important since the next PTQ season will indeed be Modern, making the whole world pay close attention to this section of the tournament.

In my eyes, I really don’t know what I’d play here. There are some nice engines available, Grove of the BurnwillowsPunishing Fire is one of my favourites, but Ad NauseumAngel’s Grace could be a combo worth a look since it was a real deck when extended was shortened a while back. Melira, Sylvok Outcast combo is still available, and with Birthing Pod and Reveillark to support it, this could be worth a look, even Necrotic Ooze is waiting to recapture its brief time in the sun it had in extended. It truly is an open format, but without testing and tuning, the best pick up and go deck is probably Affinity, as long as you dodge the hate, you should be golden.

So there we have it, a brief look at the constructed portions of worlds. I hope you all get time to watch as much of the coverage you can and support this amazing event, it may be the last time we get a real MTG World Championship, but it looks to be a great one that we should all enjoy.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing.



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