Metagame: The First week of Innistrad Midnight Hunt

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Metagame: The First week of Innistrad Midnight Hunt

This week, we see which decks came up in the first post-rotation week, plus Delver's appearance on Pioneer, Jeskai Phoenix on Modern, new Affinity on Pauper, and a look at The Legacy Pit.

By Romeu, 09/24/21, translated by Romeu, with help from our readers

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We're back with another Metagame, where we conduct our weekly analysis of events in competitive formats! And today, we'll be reviewing the results of the first week of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, which came out last Wednesday on Magic Online and Magic Arena!

Standard

Starting with Standard, Saturday's Challenge finished with the following Top 32: 7 Gruul Magda 6 Gruul Werewolves 5 Izzet Dragons 2 Mono-Green Aggro 2 Azorius Control 2 Mono-White Aggro 2 Selesnya Ramp 1 Grixis Dragons 1 Mono-Black Zombies

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1 Orzhov Zombies 1 Dimir Zombies 1 Naya Magda 1 Jund Magda And its Top 8 was: 4 Gruul Magda 1 Mono-Green Aggro 1 Orzhov Zombies 1 Azorius Control 1 Dimir Zombies On Sunday, the event finished with the following Top 32: 6 Mono-White Aggro 5 Gruul Werewolves 4 Mono-Green Aggro 4 Selesnya Ramp 4 Izzet Dragons 2 Gruul Magda 1 Dimir Control 1 Orzhov Control 1 Boros Aggro 1 Izzet Control 1 Rakdos Aggro 1 Naya Magda 1 Dimir Zombies And its Top 8 was: 3 Mono-Green Aggro 2 Gruul Werewolves 2 Gruul Magda 1 Rakdos Aggro. This weekend, we also had the Hooglandia Open, with 98 players, and its Top 32 was: 5 Gruul Werewolves 2 Gruul Aggro 2 Izzet Dragons 2 Selesnya Ramp 2 Boros Aggro 1 Izzet Delver 1 Temur Ramp 1 Mono-Green Aggro 1 Mono-Blue Delver 1 Simic Midrange 1 Bant Ramp 1 Orzhov Midrange 1 Mardu Sacrifice 1 Jund Midrange 1 Naya Legends 1 Jund Treasures 1 Naya Werewolves 1 Jund Planeswalkers 1 Rakdos Vampires 1 Azorius Control 1 Dimir Control 1 Bant Midrange And its Top 8 had the following decks: 1 Selesnya Ramp 1 Orzhov Midrange 1 Mono-Green Aggro 1 Jund Midrange 1 Mardu Sacrifice 1 Izzet Dragons 1 Simic Midrange 1 Gruul Aggro With Standard's first post-rotation week, it was to be expected that many new features would appear in the format!
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Starting with a deck that was already considered promising for its past results, we had Gruul Magda, who despite losing super powerful cards like Bonecrusher Giant, received huge additions with the new set, which includes Reckless Stormseeker, a card that allows the deck to raise its aggressive curve, Briarbridge Tracker as a high-powered threat that โ€œreplacesโ€ itself into its controller's hand with a Clue token, and Play With Fire as a low-cost removal with an added benefit and Wrenn and Seven, which has proven to be a powerful game-winning staple.
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Mono-Green Aggro, a deck with high potential during Standard 2022, received Briarbridge Tracker and Primal Adversary, and some lists also use Wrenn and Seven.
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In the aggressive decks' category, we also had Gruul Werewolves, which did a great result over the weekend, replacing the well-known interaction between Magda, Brazen Outlaw and Jaspera Sentinel in favor of synergies between werewolves, including cards that are naturally powerful outside their Day/Night transformations, such as Arlinn, the Pack's Hope, Reckless Stormseeker and Kessig Naturalist, a mighty metacall against one of the most powerful cards this on this season's start: Esika's Chariot.
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We also had Gruul Legends, which tries to abuse Bard Class to reduce the cost of legendary permanents, ranging from Arlinn, the Pack's Hope to Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider.
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Another deck that gained prominence this week was Selesnya Ramp, which accelerates mana in the first turns to use powerful bombs such as the aforementioned Wrenn and Seven, Emeria's Call and, above all, Storm the Festival, which operates on this deck as a pumped-up and extremely explosive version of Collected Company. The highlight of the list is the composition of cards that allow the deck to reach five and six mana quickly, in particular Murasa Rootgrazer, which operates as an efficient blocker against aggressive decks and a respectable clock against Controls, and Yasharn, Implacable Earth, a Historic staple that finally finds its way into Standard.
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We also had Jund Midrange, which uses the combination of Magda, Brazen Outlaw with Jaspera Sentinel to perform plays similar to Gruul's, but including powerful black cards like Immersturm Predator and Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor.

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Outside the green decks, we also had other colors standing out this weekend: Rakdos Aggro/Midrange above reached the Top 1 of the Standard Challenge, betting on a progressively aggressive and value-added creatures curve, while using efficient removals to deal with the opponent's threats.
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Sacrifice Decks were also present this weekend, like this Rakdos Sacrifice that uses a light white splash for last season's staple, Showdown of Skalds, and using cards like Lolth, Spider Queen to take advantage of the sacrifice effects, and also use another card that had strong post-rotation potential: Orcus, Prince of Undeath.
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The Izzet decks were also well present in the format last weekend, all using the base of the already known Izzet Dragons, but we can categorize it among the lists that only use dragons, with some variants using Smoldering Egg and others running Moonveil Regent, and versions that run Delver of Secrets.
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Apparently, the combination of Delver of Secrets with Spectral Adversary and Smoldering Egg has some potential in the format, but it will also depend on how much it will change in the coming weeks and how much Delver of Secrets will make a difference in these lists.
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And speaking of decks that most nostalgic players want to make work, Zombies appeared in both Standard Challenges this weekend, in Orzhov and Dimir versions.
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In the Control category, we had results from decks like Dimir Control, and Orzhov Control, both decks that also showed results in the Standard 2022, and Mono-White Control that relies on The Book of Exalted Deeds and Faceless Haven combo. What can we conclude this week? Green decks are at the forefront of the format in this first period, where decks that need more refinement, such as Control decks, have not yet managed to adapt to the Metagame, something natural given that we are in the first week of the new Standard. Cards that stand out are staples that were already at the top last season and Standard 2022, such as Esika's Chariot, Alrund's Epiphany, Jaspera Sentinel, Magda, Brazen Outlaw and Goldspan Dragon, but new cards are showing that they can keep up with the power level of previous sets or even be above them, such as Briarbridge Tracker and, especially, Wrenn and Seven.
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Wrenn and Seven is Card Advantage, Ramp, Threat, and Finisher on a single card, and the fact that its token grows exponentially over the course of a game makes the card a perfect five-drop, competing and even beating Goldspan Dragon in this category, as your token is more threatening on an empty board and blocks the Dragon easily. I'll be watching Standard's moves in the coming weeks and reporting in this series, but particularly this next season looks promising!

Pioneer

Saturday's Pioneer Challenge had the following Top 32: 6 Azorius Control 4 Vampires 4 Izzet Phoenix 3 Ni-to-Light 3 Bant Spirits 3 Rakdos Pyromancer 2 Boros Burn 2 Jund Sacrifice 2 Four-Color Ultimatum 1 Izzet Delver 1 Gruul Aggro 1 Mono-Red Aggro And it had the following Top 8: 1 Niv-to-Light 1 Bant Spirits 1 Gruul Aggro 1 Boros Burn 1 Jund Sacrifice 1 Rakdos 1 Izzet Phoenix 1 Mono-Red Aggro On Sunday, the event finished with the following decks on Top 32: 5 Vampires 4 Izzet Phoenix 4 Jund Sacrifice 4 Boros Burn 2 Azorius Control 1 Azorius Spirits 1 Bant Spirits 1 Lotus Combo

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1 Niv-to-Light 1 Rakdos Pyromancer 1 Naya Winota 1 Gruul Aggro 1 Mono-Green Walkers 1 Rakdos Burn 1 Orzhov Auras 1 Izzet Delver 1 Four-Color Ultimatum And its Top 8 was: 2 Izzet Phoenix 1 Azorius Control 1 Azorius Spirits 1 Gruul Aggro 1 Jund Sacrifice 1 Mono-Green Walkers 1 Vampires
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Despite the obvious inclusion of Consider in decks like Izzet Phoenix, it was Azorius Control that stood out this week by taking advantage of the card to open up faster interactions with Dig Through Time, and the archetype also has received other powerful additions with Innistrad Midnight Hunt, such as Fateful Absence, allowing it to remove creatures and planeswalkers for a low cost and at Instant-Speed, and Sunset Revelry to hold back aggressive decks.
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The Four-Color Ultimatum, a ramp deck that tries to abuse Landfall interactions of Lotus Cobra and Omnath, Locus of Creation to play Genesis Ultimatum quickly, has reappeared this week using the new Standard staple, Wrenn and Seven, which serves as a Ramp, a means of enabling multiple Landfall triggers and threat on a single card. While the deck didn't deliver impressive results this weekend, I wouldn't overlook the potential that decks like this have to break formats when built the right way and with few new additions.
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We've also had the first variants of Delver decks popping up in Pioneer, including very well-known cards in eternal formats like Dreadhorde Arcanist and Young Pyromancer. Unfortunately, the archetype didn't make an impressive result, and its best place was in the 17th position, but we may see new variants emerging in the coming weeks, and possibly making better results.

Modern

Saturday's Modern Challenge had the following Top 32: 5 Burn 5 Hammer Time 4 Elementals 4 Azorius Control 3 Living End 2 Izzet Tempo 2 Temur Cascade 1 Golgari Yawgmoth 1 Amulet Titan 1 Gifts Storm 1 Jund 1 Azorius Spirits 1 Mono-Red Eldrazi 1 Belcher And its Top 8 was: 1 Elementals 1 Mono-Red Eldrazi 1 Izzet Tempo 1 Golgari Yawgmoth 1 Azorius Control 1 Amulet Titan 1 Living End 1 Burn On Sunday, the Modern Challenge had the following Top 32: 6 Azorius Control 3 Burn 3 Hammer Time 2 Izzet Tempo 2 Elementals 1 Living End 1 Mono-Green Scales 1 Jund 1 Golgari Yawgmoth 1 Izzet Blitz 1 Grixis Lurrus 1 Dredge 1 Eldrazi Tron 1 Tron 1 Temur Cascade 1 Four-Color Creativity 1 Gruul Ponza 1 Jund Company 1 Esper Reanimator 1 Jeskai Phoenix And its Top 8 had: 3 Azorius Control 1 Living End 1 Izzet Tempo 1 Elementals 1 Esper Reanimator 1 Jeskai Phoenix
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Faithless Looting has been banned from Modern for two years now, and although this essentially killed the Izzet Phoenix archetype, the deck again attempts to rise from the ashes (pun intended) in this new Jeskai version, running the new looting: Faithful Mending. Adding white allows the deck to also play Prismatic Ending, a commonly used removal in the current format, which can handle any problematic permanents, from Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer to Colossus Hmmer, passing through Rhino tokens from Crashing Footfalls, and white also enables it to have Path to Exile to handle Murktide Regent and Wear // Tear to handle troublesome enchantments like Rest in Peace. The creature base features Demilich, a card that players repeatedly try to match with Arclight Phoenix as both creatures interact well with multiple spells being cast in a single turn and looting effects as both can be used from the graveyard. Given the increase in cards that throw things into the graveyard, with sixteen cards that use this effect among the aforementioned Faithful Mending, plus Faithless Salvaging, Thought Scour, and Consider, the deck seems to have the relevantly necessary means to attempt a return to Modern, and it's something its most loyal fans will relentlessly try to accomplish with each new addition it receives.

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Pauper

On Saturday, Pauper Challenge had the following Top 32: 7 Dimir Faeries 4 Izzet Faeries 4 Mono-Blue Faeries 3 Bogles 2 Elves 2 Gruul Cascade 1 Affinity 1 Moggwarts 1 Walls 1 Tron 1 Orzhov Pestilence 1 Jeskai Ephemerate 1 Burn 1 Rakdos Affinity 1 Mardu Ephemerate 1 Mono-White Heroic And its Top 8 had: 2 Dimir Faeries 2 Izzet Faeries 1 Affinity 1 Rakdos Affinity 1 Walls 1 Tron On Sunday, the Pauper Challenge had the following decks on Top 32: 6 Dimir Faeries 6 Elves 3 Mono Blue Faeries 2 Affinity 2 Orzhov Pestilence 2 Moggwarts 1 Rakdos Affinity 1 Stompy 1 Azorius Ephemerate 1 Izzet Serpentine 1 Burn 1 Boros Bully 1 Izzet Faeries 1 Gruul Cascade 1 Mono-Black Devotion And its Top 8 was: 2 Dimir Faeries 2 Orzhov Pestilence 1 Affinity 1 Mono-Black Devotion 1 Moggwarts 1 Stompy This weekend, we also had the Pauper Showcase, with the following Metagame: 33 Dimir Faeries 27 Affinity 12 Izzet Faeries 11 Bogles 7 Tron 5 Boros Bully 5 Jund Cascade 5 Gruul Cascade 4 Moggwarts 3 Mono-Black Control 3 Dimir Delver 3 Burn 3 Walls 2 Jeskai Ephemerate 2 Azorius Familiars 2 Mono Blue Delver 2 Elves 2 Boros Monarch And its top 16 had: 4 Dimir Faeries 3 Affinity 2 Izzet Faeries 2 Moggwarts 1 Jeskai Ephemerate 1 Bogles 1 Azorius Familiars 1 Boros Bully 1 Mono Blue Delver And the event finished with: 4 Dimir Faeries 1 Jeskai Ephemerate 1 Bogles 1 Affinity 1 Moggwarts
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I won't mention Dimir Faeries or any Faeries variant in this article, basically because I've already mentioned everything I think about the archetype in Pauper in this article, where I explain how Faeries will almost always be Pauper's best deck. Instead, let's give due attention to decks that stood out this weekend.
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Starting with the new Midnight Hunt addition, Ardent Elementalist was present in the Top 8 of the Pauper Showcase, on Jeskai Ephemerate, and it was to be expected this card would be present as it is a more accessible Archaeomancer version in mana, with a body that makes a more relevant clock on an empty board and in a color that doesn't make it an easy target for the format's main sideboard, Pyroblast.
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Another list that has emerged in recent weeks is Rakdos Affinity, a version that bets even deeper on the deck's sacrifice interactions, commonly created by Deadly Dispute, Atog, and Makeshift Munitions to create a punishing clock for the opponent with Disciple of the Vault, similar to what we usually see in Sacrifice decks in other formats, without giving up the aggressiveness that cards like Myr Enforcer have, and the combo -kill, Atog + Fling.
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Another deck that stood out this week was the return of Moggwarts at the Pauper Showcase, with a significantly good conversion compared to the other decks, as two of the four players who used the list were in the Top 16, one in the Top 8. The inclusion of Deadly Dispute gave the deck new synergies with cards like Ichor Wellspring, which also allows the archetype to include Makeshift Munitions for plays that manages to make 2-for-1 or even 3-for-1 exchanges.

Legacy

This week's Legacy Challenge had the following Top 32: 4 Jeskai Tempo 3 Izzet Tempo 3 Izzet Delver 3 Reanimator 3 Lands 2 Jeskai Landsrill 2 Sneak and Show 1 Elves 1 Death and Taxes 1 Selesnya Depths 1 Esper Vial 1 All Spells 1 Mono-Black Curses 1 Bomberman 1 Four-Color Uro 1 High Tide 1 Azorius Urza 1 Bant Zenith 1 Mono-Red Stompy And its Top 8 was: 2 Izzet Delver 2 Izzet Tempo 1 Jeskai Tempo

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1 Reanimator 1 Jeskai Standstill 1 Elves This weekend we also had the Legacy Pit, a large in-person event with over 350 players. For the sake of my sanity, I'm not going to name all the archetypes present at the tournament, instead I'll try to focus on the Top 16. 4 Izzet Delver 2 Izzet Tempo 1 Jeskai Tempo 1 Jeskai Delver 1 Aluren 1 Lands 1 Affinity 1 Bant Control 1 Death and Taxes 1 Esper Vial 1 The Epic Storm 1 Bomberman And the following Top 8: 2 Izzet Delver 1 Jeskai Tempo 1 Aluren 1 Izzet Saga 1 Lands 1 Affinity 1 Bant Control Some important numbers can be analyzed about an event of this size: Izzet Delver was the most played deck, with 42 copies (about 12% of the Metagame), followed by Bant Control, with 39 copies (11.1%), Death and Taxes, with 27 copies (7.7%), and Lands, with 21 copies (6% each). Tempo decks that include Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer made up about 23% of the event's total Metagame. Of the top 16 decks, eight decks runsRagavan, Nimble Pilferer + Dragon's Rage Channeler + Murktide Regent. Although Izzet Delver is the most present deck in the Top 16, Blue-Based Tempo seem to be gradually abandoning it in favor of the cards mentioned above due to the added value they offer while extra slots allow them to use some more useful options and/or that allow the deck to play better attrition games against Bant Control and other archetypes that try to prolong the game (where Delver decks tend to run out of steam and be at a disadvantage).
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Take The Legacy Pit's winning list, for example: it has all the elements necessary to create an aggressive game plan with Dragon's Rage Channeler and Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and protect them very well if necessary, but also bets on slower, more impactful cards like Teferi, Time Raveler and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, while still using staples from Delver decks like Daze and Expressive Iteration.
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Another option of these decks has been to use the core of Jeskai Standstill, but abandoning white and Standstill itself in favor of a more stable manabase that can better use its colors, making it less vulnerable to Wasteland, while being able to use their own copies of the card alongside the other colorless land, Urza's Saga.
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Other versions still bet on the classic Delver of Secrets, even when their other choices seem much more favorable to using Dragon's Rage Channeler, as seen with this Jeskai Delver, which mixes Izzet Delver's core with the Stoneforge Mystic package.
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The Izzet Delver list with the best result was in sixth place, and it bet on a more interactive and less Ragavan-focused game plan, an apparently wise choice at a time when many decks are focused to play with or against the albino monkey.
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But Legacy doesn't only live from Tempo decks, and Azorius Affinity was the most interesting deck in The Legacy Pit's Top 8, including powerful cards against decks that try to play multiple spells or that try to keep the curve low, like Esper Sentinel and Ethersworn Canonist, plus copies of Phyrexian Revoker to deal with certain permanents, Walking Ballista, which serves as a machine gun against low toughness creatures, especially when used along Modular creatures, and Stonecoil Serpent as an evasive threat that can grow quickly.

Conclusion

That was this week's metagame review, which includes the first week of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. The new set has the necessary elements to shake up competitive formats and enable the rise, return or innovation in archetypes on most of them.

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In the coming weeks, we'll be looking at what other innovations are emerging in tournaments, which cards are most likely to have a permanent impact on the game, and which cards will become staples. Thanks for reading!
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Romeu

Writer and translator for Cards Realm. Plays virtually Magic: The Gathering competitive formats. Pauper Masters' Organizer.

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