Patriot Games

Monday, 20 August 2012

You meta, you meta, you bet.

So the inaugural Magic World Cup is over and Chinese Taipei are the champions - Well done guys and congratulations on a great weekend of Magic.  It occurred to me that the method of selection for the team members in each country actually favours a smaller player base - the less people you have to contend for the slots the more likely you are to have your best players in the team.  Having said that, Luis Scott Vagas (LSV for short) is one of the greatest players in the world and he managed to win into the US team.

LSV - warning this guy is really good!

Do you remember Points of View?  This is a strange question as a revamped version of the show apparently aired in 2012, but when I say do you remember Points of View?  I refer to the series of yesteryear rather than any recently revisited versions.  Barry Took was the man behind the letters when I started watching the series and it was a staple which people watched back then along with "That's Life".  For those of you who have no idea what the hell "Points of View" is or was let me enlighten you.  Points of View was a TV programme that people wrote letters too (no e-mail, twitter or Facebook back then) which were read out while the presenter commented on the content of the letters.  The show was parodied by the likes of Monty Python and Not the Nine O'clock News because if was felt to be too biased towards the BBC.

What in the blue hell does this have to do with Magic the Gathering or the winners of the Magic World Cup?  The World Magic Cup is a big competition - with 71 countries competing for the title, with an initial 284 players on day one you need to be pretty good at Magic to make it into the top 32 nations let alone win the competition.  Points of View had thousands of letters sent to it expressing peoples feeling with regard to television programmes and what was good/bad about them.  The members of team Chinese Taipei will have looked at thousands of cards and deck ideas before deciding on the decks they eventually played.  Points of View dealt in opinions and these are important in Magic, but we have something else to guide us which is more accurate although still opinion led, and that thing is something called the meta game.

Snapcaster is a powerful card "in the meta"...

When I first started to play Magic the thing I didn't get at all was the meta game that they kept going on about.  Most games allow for some form of metagaming.  Playing Monopoly against your family in the knowledge that your brother is the best player and he always buys Mayfair and Park Lane so you make a concerted effort to obtain these properties and ruin his strategy - that is metagaming, taking knowledge from outside the game environment and using it to inform how you will play and quite often the cards you put in your deck to begin with.  The Magic World Cup had 3 constructed formats in the competition; standard, Modern and block constructed.  The full winning team deck lists can be found here.

Messenger is a powerful part of the Zombie meta...

I don't want to go through each of these decks in detail but I want to look at the meta game around them and what you would do to stop these cards.  Lets take our friend Geralf's Messenger above.  He is really good in an aggressive deck.  He comes in and deals 2 damage.  Next turn he swings and either does a further 3 damage or he kills a creature and comes back in from undying and still deals 2 damage to the opponent.  Pillar of flame is seeing play because of this card and other undying creatures like strangelroot geist.  Pillar of flame is a meta game card - if you are expecting to face down zombies and G/R Aggro you will be packing these.  If you are unsure if those decks will be around you would put this in your sideboard.  Yu Min Yang had 2 of these in his sideboard for the mirror match.

When death is too good for them- also they have a nasty habit of coming back!

At the moment with the inclusion of Rancor in standard/modern there is a new wave of infect decks around.  There is a very good meta card against infect in the form of Melira, Sylvok Outcast.  Melira prevents you and your creatures form getting poison/-1-1 counters and puts you back at 20 life instead of 10.  The trick is to stop Melira from dying to removal or a copy effect as she is Legendary.

Ha ha no poison for you.

The modern and block decks from the team have multiple ways of dealing with their opponents.  Including the ever popular Geist of St Traft.  The problem with Geist is that you can't target him to kill him.  Popular cards for his destruction include Phantasmal Image to copy him and subsequently Legend rule him or removal that doesn't specifically target like Day of Judgement, Slag Storm and Black Sun's Zenith.

Indiscriminate slaughter can be the way to go.

Tung-Yi Cheng's deck had 4 colours to it and this gave him tremendous flexibility as well as giving him access to pretty much all the good cards in the format.  Restoration Angel and Huntmaster gives you a combo which flips your Huntmaster when it gets exiled and then gives you 2 life and another wolf token as it comes back in.

Saving creatures butts and getting extra value out of cards since 2012...

Understanding the local meta takes a bit of work.  You need to know what people are playing and if there are any answers to their decks you really need to have access to.  The side board of your deck is the place where meta cards can be seen the most.  Bad match-ups for your deck can be totally changed after you side board in the meta cards which beat your opponent's deck.

Making counter spells that little bit worse.

So next time you play against someone don't just think about the game in hand, think about what their deck does and how it does it.  Then think of cards you could have in your deck or sideboard that could ruin their day and look to build your decks in future with those ideas as part of your strategy.  The meta game is very fluid and quite often depends upon your point of view for how you see it developing.

Before I say farewell until Thursday I have a bit more information to share with you in regards to the Sheffield PTQ in November 2012.  Firstly I would like to show you the city suite where the PTQ is taking place:

As you can see there is plenty of room - and in case you missed it the room has its own dedicated bar.  As PTQ locations go I think you will agree that this looks pretty sweet.  The format for the PTQ is sealed with your deck being made from 6 boosters of Return to Ravnica and as many lands as you wish to add.  The cost for this will be £30 (a very fair price when considering that you get £21 of boosters for that included, and that's without considering the additional boosters in prize support).  There will also be side events, the full schedule of which will be available over the coming weeks, but to start you off I can tell you that we will be having some Return to Ravnica drafts at a mere £10 each - this will include our usual prize support structure of 1 booster per participant put in for prizes.

So the room looks pretty good right?  Well there is a whole hotel here and just to wet your appetite here is the "Pre event area" where you can chill if you finish your match real quick

This kind of reminds me of GP Manchester, but it is more like the rooms we didn't get to use instead of the one we were in!

That's all from me for today.  I'll be back on Thursday with a look at my 2 headed giant deck and more meanderings about the world of Magic the Gathering.  See you there...

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