Today’s guest post is written by Stefan Guttenberger from Germany. As usual, you are welcome to discuss the article in the international Premodern Facebook group. Enjoy! / Martin
How many players do you need to play a Magic the Gathering match? Two, of course. But how many players do you need to create a versatile Premodern meta with a dozen different decks and lots of interesting matchups? Well, if you are really into Premodern like my buddy Lomir Wintersturm and me, two people can do that as well.
Each of us built six different decks, ranging from aggro to control and combo, only omitting a few archetypes that we considered too expensive (like the all artifacts deck aka MUD or Mono Brown) or too boring (like Trix). The plan was to have every deck play against each other to find the best Premodern deck out there. That means 12 decks x 11 matches / 2 = 66 matches, which we played between 31 May and 26 August 2018. I’ll cut right to it and present you the final results:
- Mono Red Sligh 10-1
- UW Landstill 9-2
- Full English Breakfast 7-4
- WWWW 6-5
- BG Veteran Rock 6-5
- Mono Red Burn 5-5-1
- 5C Control 5-6
- Dragon Reanimator 5-6
- Mono Red Goblins 4-6-1
- Greener Smoke 3-8
- Mono Black Aggro 3-8
- Zombies 2-9
Since we played on the kitchen table, there was no time limit. The one draw actually resulted from a Flame Rift that devoured both players at once. And here’s the winning deck:
With a little less luck and more combo decks to play against, Mono Red Sligh might not be able to defend the pole position, but it is always a force to reckon with.
While some of the decks don’t need further explanation (like Mono Red Burn or the classic blue and white Landstill which can be found in the decks gallery of this site with minor deviations), others are what you might call “homebrews”.
WWWW might look like a doctor’s signature, but is actually the acronym for Weathered Wayfarer White Weenie, a creature based white aggro deck revolving around Weathered Wayfarer whose single mission is to fetch Kjeldoran Outpost, which is amazing in long control matchups and profits a lot from Crusade and Glorious Anthem. The surprisingly good result of this rather simple deck, however, is due to the many black and red aggro decks in the field that just couldn’t deal with these sticky Silver Knight and White Knight.
Greener Smoke, another one of many mono colored decks, is pure land destruction. It relies on Llanowar Elves or Fyndhorn Elves on turn one to play one of the ten green land destruction spells for three mana the next turn, followed ideally by Smokestack and Greener Pastures (hence the name Greener Smoke). Oh, and Blastoderms of course. Blastoderm is just one of the most underrated green creatures in Premodern.
One of the few comboesque decks and my absolute favourite is Full English Breakfast:
This deck combines some of the weirdest fatties like Phyrexian Dreadnought, Phage the Untouchable, Akroma, Angel of Wrath and Hypnox, which all unleash their power while being the top card in your graveyard and having a Volrath’s Shapeshifter in play. With Survival of the Fittest and enough green mana, you can then pull off crazy tricks that would fill a whole article themselves, to eventually kill with an attacking Shapeshifter-as-Akroma, turning into a lethal Phage the Untouchable after not being blocked.
Or, if you are afraid of graveyard hate, you can just put out a 12/12 trample on turn two with Stifle and Phyrexian Dreadnought. Against beatdown decks, Spore Frog + Genesis might just be enough to sit back and relax. Against control, Hypnox in the graveyard seals the deal if you are able to then hardcast Volrath’s Shapeshifter. The options are endless, as is the thinking time you need when you are new to this deck.
I had to google for rules explanations several times during the matches. Example: Can you discard more than one card with Psychatog in the grave and Volrath’s Shapeshifter in play to pump the Psychatog without passing priority? Answer: You can not. But you can discard a Phyrexian Dreadnought for pump and attack with a 13/13 trample which once gave me the—extremely satisfying—match win and dealt the tournament champion Sligh its only loss.
Dragon Reanimator is Lomir’s black and red attempt on the Reanimator archetype and his favourite deck. Although it is, of course, not as cool as my Full English Breakfast, I have to admit that he found an amazing build that trumps over every other Reanimator deck I have seen in Premodern.
First of all, it does not rely on a single fattie on the board (because that would make it vulnerable to Swords to Plowshares and Diabolic Edict), but revolves around Buried Alive (or Putrid Imp or Zombie Infestation) to fill your graveyard with Bladewing the Risen, Dragon Mage and Bladewing’s Thrall or Anger. A single Reanimation spell on Bladewing the Risen would then threaten the opponent with two or more creatures at once.
To fill up your hand again and create lots of tokens for Zombie Infestation, it just needs an attack with an angered, hasty Dragon Mage. And with the right draw, that attack often happens on turn two!
Zombie Infestation, the hidden gem in this deck, not only helps filling your grave, create pressure and tokens for Recurring Nightmare, it was also a strong answer to aggro decks. In fact, Dragon Reanimator beat Goblins despite having to face a first turn Goblin Lackey in every one of the three games!
With one aggro deck, one control deck and one combo deck in the top 3, we found our “meta” to be quite versatile and a lot of fun. However, not all of the decks were as convincing and some of them (i.e. Zombies and 5 Color Control which is similar to the 4C Control deck on the /decks page plus a splash of black for Vindicate and Pernicious Deed) will most likely be replaced by decks that are more fun to play. We were thinking about Enchantress, RG Survival or UBG Control.
What do you think? Which decks did we forget that enrich the Premodern meta?