How to Beat the Metagame Like a Pro Tour Champion
December 12, 2013 | Posted by Dee
Two weeks ago, it was pretty clear which decks were the best in Standard. You just had Grand Prix Albuquerque. The top eight of the tournament had four Mono Black Devotion and three Mono Blue Devotion decks.
With this dominant showing, the message was loud and clear to the MTG community: Blue and Black Devotion are head and shoulders above the rest.
Stanislav Cifka saw this as an opportunity.
Cifka is mostly known for winning Pro Tour Return to Ravnica last year with a Eggs, or Second Breakfast, a combo deck that was perfectly designed to destroy the metagame. Over 19 rounds, he only lost one match.
In the weekend after Grand Prix Albuquerque, he demonstrated that his metagaming skill was not a fluke by capturing a top eight finish at Grand Prix Vienna. His deck of choice was a modified U/W Control deck that preyed on the blue and black devotion decks. Check out his decklist below.
Here’s what he said about the deck in his top eight profile when asked why he played it:
The only bad matchups are other Sphinx’s Revelation decks, and they are less popular than they should be at the moment.
When asked about the most important card in the deck, he replied, “Last Breath.”
Sometimes all it takes is one card to drastically change the matchups versus the top decks. Until Cifka showed the world how good Last Breath was in U/W Control, it was rarely played in the main deck of the archetype. Some decks didn’t even play it in the sideboard. But Cifka played the full four copies in his main deck and it proved to be the most important card.
Last Breath was the crucial card because it dealt with multiple creatures in Blue and Black Devotion. For only two mana, you can exile all the creatures in Blue Devotion except Thassa. Against Black Devotion, you can exile Nightveil Specter, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, and an early Pack Rat.
Also, Last Breath is an instant so it’s great at removing Mutavault when your opponent attacks with it on his turn.
The white Theros removal spell only requires one white mana so it is very easy to cast. It allows you to play a more consistent control deck than Esper. U/W has better mana because it’s only two colors. You can easily play a few Mutavaults and still play some scry lands.
Last Breath has multiple targets against creature decks like White Weenie and G/r Nykthos Ramp so it’s often a solid card even if you don’t play against Blue or Black Devotion. But those two decks were the ones Cifka was definitely trying to beat.
Blue and Black Devotion did so well at the previous Grand Prix so they warped the metagame. People are naturally drawn to recent success so more players decided to play one of those decks. This move left them wide open to a metagame deck like Cifka’s.
Here’s the simple takeaway from his metagame strategy. Whenever you have a two deck metagame, try to find an underrated card that deals with multiple cards in both decks.
Because of Cifka’s success, Last Breath is now a fixture in the metagame. Last weekend, there were two major Standard tournaments, a Grand Prix and an SCG Open. U/W Control earned five top 16 finishes between both tournaments. Three of the decks had three or more Last Breath in the main deck. The other two had 3 Last Breath in the sideboard.
You can see Cifka’s strategy also at work in my last article about W/b Aggro. By choosing black over red as the secondary color, White Weenie players get to play Orzhov Charm instead of Boros Charm.
The black/white charm plays the same role as Last Breath, extra removal to weaken the devotion strategy. Orzhov Charm even kills more creatures than Last Breath. It can take out Desecration Demon. You don’t mind the life loss from the spell in most situations because you’re playing a blisteringly fast deck.
Deck Price Tag ($433.85)
Click the links below to buy the cards on eBay.
|QTY||Card Name||Avg Price||Total Price|
|3||Elspeth, Sun’s Champion||$19.95||$59.85|
|4||Jace, Architect of Thought||$19.71||$78.84|
|2||Temple of Silence||$4.99||$9.98|
|2||Temple of Deceit||$4.24||$8.48|
|3||Soldier of the Pantheon||$2.49||$7.47|
|2||Archangel of Thune||$15.78||$31.56|
|Total Deck Price:||$433.85|