First, I’d like to say that I have come up with an official name for my weekly blog articles. Drumroll please! *Ehem* Drumroll?? No? Whatever, I am calling my weekly article “Act of Reason.” Catchy huh? Anyway, in this week’s Act of Reason, I’m going to talk about choosing the right deck for your store’s meta.
There is only so much you can do by checking the top decks from tournaments on starcitygames.com each week for choosing which deck you want to play. What was good for that tournament’s meta might not be good for your store’s meta. You really need to sit back, look at your store, see who’s winning, and with what. You also need to look at your own matches and see what you faced. The week before last I faced 3 Jund decks, as the meta was flooded with it. There were zero control decks at our store. That made my decision for FNM pretty simple – play U/W control. Boy did I pick right! I went 3-1 and finished in the Top 4 on the night. The only deck that gave me trouble was a Runeflare Combo deck. Against U/W, Runeflare pretty much dominates. In fact, that Runeflare Combo deck was even more appropriate for our store’s meta than my selection of U/W Control! This completely goes to show you why choosing the right deck is so important.
So you might be asking, “Ok Bob, how do I know what to play?” The answer is not quite so simple and it requires a lot of research on your part. You should indeed research which decks are winning tournaments near and far, but more importantly you need to study their meta. Is Jund cleaning up? Likely the field is running aggro without control. Is Super Friends at the top? You’re likely facing a control dominated meta. At our shop, we see a heavy dose of Naya, Jund, and Vampires. In this aggro heavy field U/W Control was a perfect fit. Being that I was likely to face a lot of removal, I added the element of shroud in my deck to combat the large amount of removal. There were many games where I had dropped a Wall of Denial and my opponent could only shake their head in disgust. I didn’t just randomly decide that Wall of Denial would be “fun” for my deck, no, I needed something that was going to Fend Off an early assault by my opponents without getting Terminated while I dropped Elspeth, Jace and Gideon on the board. This wasn’t exactly where knowing what to play stops however, the other half of this is your sideboard.
I can say from my own experience, I am notoriously bad at both creating a sideboard and actually sideboarding during games. It is very important to once again, not only study the big tournament sideboards, but to study your own store’s meta. This week I got it right for once…erm well, mostly. I was really wishing I had a Mindbreak Trap in my sideboard against that Runeflare Combo deck. But other than that, I can’t say enough about running Hindering Light in U/W Control. Let’s look at all of the cards that this card stops at my store’s meta. It stops Doom Blade, Terminate, Blightning, Maelstrom Pulse, Lightning Bolt, Flame Slash, Runeflare Trap, Consuming Vapors, Path to Exile, and it also cantrips! Let’s bear in mind however that Hindering Light will counter Bituminous Blast but it won’t counter the cascade, so pick and choose carefully on this one. I also threw Deprive into my sideboard as kind of a catch all counter if I faced the mirror; I used it once to counter a Jace Beleren. The rest of my sideboard consisted of extra planeswalkers, one more Martial Coup and an Iona. I only sided in Iona against the Vampire deck I faced. The game dragged out to the point where I had the mana to hard cast her but I never drew her. Overall, I give my sideboard, for last week, a grade of B. There was room for improvement, but it shined mostly where it needed to. This week, if I bring the same deck, the sideboard will be slightly changed. Another quick sideboard tidbit for you is to know what cards you’re siding out and in with your sideboard for which match ups. I was able to side out all of my walls against the Runeflare Trap deck and side in some counter magic. Against Vampires, I was able to drop a land and some Spreading Seas. It’s important to know what you’re siding in and out and against what matchups because, in my experience, siding in something is only half the battle; knowing what to take out is key. The other issue I see a lot with myself is siding in cards that I don’t truly need in a match up. Why do I need to side in X card if I handled the deck fine game 1 and don’t Foresee anything crazy coming in from their board for game 2?
In the end, like I had already talked about, I went 3-1 and finished in the top 4 with my only loss from the Runeflare Combo deck. I was successful, mainly because this week, I picked the right deck to pilot for the store’s meta. So this weekend, when I sleeve up a deck, I need to think about two things 1) What decks are going to make an appearance and 2) what decks are going to be tweaked to beat mine? After all of this thought I’m likely going to give this deck a whirl again. It still feels like one of the best decks to run at the store and I think if I can get things right on the sideboard, I’ll be in even better shape this week.
So what did we learn this week? Meta is very important and you need to have keen observation skills at your store. You likely only play 4 or 5 people at your FNM each week, so you really need to pay attention to what is being played and by who so you can be prepared for the following week. Try to keep in mind what worked for you, what didn’t, what can I do to make things play out to my advantage, what sideboard should I bring, etc? These are all questions that are pertinent each week, but more importantly, they’re only good if you answer them based on your meta.
Oh yeah, I cracked a Gideon Jura out of my prize packs…