Most magic players heading to Grand Prix Providence this weekend are going to have access to pretty much the same recent results, articles, and decklists as everyone else, which greatly influences what people decide to sleeve up. Everybody is looking at roughly the same set of data, and most players could be expected to draw roughly similar conclusions. So, in trying to anticipate the metagame for this weekend, it makes sense to start with the basics: looking straightforwardly at the results of the Pro Tour.
This past weekend, there were six-and-a-half distinct archetypes in the Pro Tour top 8. That’s a fairly diverse mix and might appear to make the prospect of proffering predictions unpalatable. The finals saw two different takes on blue-based control decks square off, while various builds of red-based aggro and combo-like decks built around Aetherworks Marvel and Dynavolt Tower rounded things out.
But, if you dig a bit below the surface, as most players likely have by now, you will see a whole bunch of W/U Midrange- or Flash-style decks. There were four decks that went 9-1 in the Standard portion of the tournament, and all four of them were either W/U Midrange or W/U Flash, including the build Joey Manner took to the quarterfinals. I don’t know what could more loudly scream, “here is a hidden gem,” except, perhaps, a moonshine-drunk prospector.
While W/U might have simply been especially well-suited to combat the Aetherworks Marvel-heavy metagame of the PT, I think those numbers will likely prove too strong for most players to ignore in Providence. If you plan on attending the Grand Prix, I think it is reasonable to expect a healthy portion of players to be on this deck, and it would serve you well to have a plan for it.
So what else? Let’s continue digging through the best performing decks from the Swiss. Here is the complete list of archetypes (as defined by the Wizards coverage team) that posted eight wins or better:
- U/W Midrange: 3
- Jeskai Control: 3
- Grixis Control: 2
- B/G Delirium: 2
- U/W Flash: 2
- R/W Tokens: 1
- U/W Control: 1
- B/R Madness: 1
- B/R Aggro: 1
- U/R Spells: 1
- R/W Vehicles: 1
- Bant Midrange: 1
- R/G Energy: 1
- Temur Aetheworks: 1
- 4-Color Vehicles: 1
- Sultai Midrange: 1
- Mardu Vehicles: 1
Jeskai Control was another archetype that was quite well-represented, and made it all the way to the finals of the PT where it squared off against Grixis Control—itself another archetype that put multiple pilots into the ranks of the best Standard performers. It stands to reason that Torrential Gearhulk is poised to rain down on Rhode Island as well.
Where do we go from here? One option could be to try to get aggressive and go underneath the expected, expensive, Gearhulk-heavy meta. Since the coverage team counted various flavors of Vehicles and other red-based decks as different archetypes, it may not be immediately apparent how strong a showing they put up as well. Altogether, B/R Aggro, Mardu Vehicles, R/W Vehicles, and R/W Tokens put five copies among the top Standard performers.
These decks are not your creature-based aggro decks of old and have card advantage and selection, as well as a number of recursive threats. Veteran Motorist and Depala, Pilot Exemplar both help the deck keep cards flowing, and Scrapheap Scrounger can provide a recurrent form of pressure. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is, as always, an all-star in pressuring control decks.
Vehicles might have a tougher time, though, if U/W Spell Queller decks prove as popular as I would expect. U/W can itself put on quite a bit of pressure, and Spell Queller can keep the aggression coming while providing simultaneous disruption. Not to mention that Selfless Spirit and Archangel Avacyn can make combat quite tricky for their opponents.
Another option to consider, and the first thing I’d be interested in testing for Providence, is Metalwork Colossus. While the deck did not have the strongest showing—with only two copies at X-3 or better—this was, I think, respectable, given that there were only 10 total copies on day 2.
While Colossus might not be the best choice against Aetherworks Marvel given its dearth of disruption, I think it could be much better positioned if Marvel dips in popularity as anticipated. Colossus strategies are certainly vulnerable to being run over by Vehicles, but are also highly customizable and with an improved mixture of removal spells should be able to improve the match-up from where it stood in week 1 of the format. There are a plethora of options such as Spatial Contortion, playing red for Galvanic Bombardment or Harnessed Lightning, or white for Blessed Alliance and Fumigate (as one of the PT lists opted to do). I like some mixture of Contortion and red-based removal.
Colossus does seem like it ought to have strong match-up against both control strategies and U/W. Metalwork Colossus and Elder Deep-Fiend are invulnerable to Spell Queller, and the smaller eggs-type cards like Prophetic Prism and Metalspinner’s Puzzleknot are so abundant and interchangeable that losing one of those to the flash Spirit is generally not a huge deal. The ability to recur Colossi while playing a bevy of card drawing in the form or Prisms, Puzzleknots and Hedron Archive, as well as utility lands such Spawning Bed, ought to also help ensure a healthy ability to out-grind more removal-based control decks.
I haven’t yet had the chance to test this deck, so take this is with a grain (or heavy shake) of salt, but I would start my testing for Providence with something like this list that 5-0’ed a Standard league. I’d be keeping a close eye on that Haunted Cloak and lose that Combustible Gearhulk and would like to find space for a few more removal spells in the main, but this is roughly where I would begin.
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