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Best Perfoming Decks of PT Kaladesh

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Jasper Grimmer
Jasper Grimmer

About Jasper Grimmer

Jasper is a player from Germany who can be found at almost every European Grand Prix and prepares a lot for them. Being on the GP circuit since 2011, he has had a number of good finishes: 

  • Top 8 GP Malmö 2012
  • Top 8 GP Paris 2015 
  • Top 4 Team GP Florence 2015 (with Amit Cohen & Robin Steinborn)

Best Perfoming Decks of PT Kaladesh

Aloha!

The Pro Tour is over, long live the Pro Tour. Once again, we got us some nice results in the deck list department. If you take a look at the Top 8, there were at least five different archetypes and you could easily make the case for them actually being eight different ones, so after having to endure an era of Collected Company and also the fear of everyone that we would now live in a Smuggler's Copter's world, this seems to not be the case. We finally got diversity.

Today I am going to talk about the new metagame and what to expect at the upcoming Grand Prix in Warsaw and Santiago. While I will go over some decklists, I won't type them all down once again, so if you want to check them out (though you probably already did), you can take a look at the Top 8 decklists and also at the best performing decklists from the Standard portion of the Pro Tour.

Depala, Pilot Exemplar
Versions:
Kaladesh (Foil)

R/W Aggro

Let's start with the helicopter in the room. Smuggler's Copter was everywhere leading up to the Pro Tour and in the end - although not as dominant as before - it still did deliver. There were two vehicles decks in the Top 8 and another R/W Aggro without any other automobile but still with the flying loot-machine. Although it was almost clear that the frontrunner from the SCG Open series was not the best deck, albeit a solid choice, there were still a lot of players who would choose the vehicle deck as their weapon to battle with, so it is no surprise that some of them managed to get into the Top 8. The new twist, and probably the more popular one going forward, comes from no other than master deckbuilder Tomoharu Saito himself. He and Lee Shi Tian decided that, with the new fastlands, the mana base would be so good that they could include two more colors, giving them a powerful recursive 2-drop as well as the very important sideboard option of Ceremonious Rejection. Sure, sometimes you can outrace an Aetherworks Marvel, but maybe the opponent was on the play, or they got it online right on turn four. Or they want to actually interact with you via Kozilek's Return, which Rejection conveniently targets as well. Also, I like having more artifacts to be able to play the additional 1-drop in Nerd Ape. This does also make you more Wrath proof, not that that was actually a problem this deck had to begin with, but I still take it.

Going forward: As I mentioned above, I expect the four-color version to be more popular, because it is faster, more resilient and has access to counterspells in the board. Of course it is a little bit less consistent even with Cultivator's Caravan due to its manabase, but the results (sending three players to an 8-2 record) speak for themselves.

Dynavolt Tower
Versions:
Kaladesh (Foil)

U/R Spells

Now that the cat is out of the bag, I don't think the sideboard plan involving a lot of creatures will fool anyone. Pierre Dagen was the only player from his team - all playing the Dynavolt Tower deck - to post a respectable record and he even said himself that the main deck was probably just not good to begin with. Having Thing in the Ice alongside Nibilis of Frost when the opponent sided out all of their removal is really spicy though, so I give them that. Maybe with this information being public now, you actually want to remove this plan altogether and have something else cooking for the sideboard games, though at that point you will run into the problem of just having a bad main deck. What will this change? Probably not much, but people will still pick this up because it is a fun deck to play and some players like this style of deck.

Going forward: Analyzing the results, I would not be shocked to have this being only a fringe player in the metagame. Sure, some Johnnys and Jennys out there will take it for a spin but besides that, it has a hard time defending its place.

U/W Flash

Ah, the deck everyone is now talking about. When we take a look at the decks that finished at 24-27 points, all of the 9-1 decks are U/W. And there are four of them! With Joey Manner, its only representant in the Top 8 being eliminated in the quarters, but from the results, this is the true winner of Pro Tour Kaladesh. The core is basically a Gideon / Avacyn deck with the support of both Azorius 3-drops, which provide enough of a tempo boost to be ahead on board when deploying these two powerhouses. Sure, Smuggler's Copter improved this deck a lot - in fact, it is the only card in the main deck coming out out Kaladesh - and its card filtering aspect is one of the key aspects of the deck but make no mistake: This is an Avacyn / Gideon deck through and through. Almost all the power comes from these two cards and they are always the way you will close out a game. That's what it is even more baffling to me how two of these 9-1 players decided to put three of their Gideons in their Sideboard. I guess Gisela is a pretty good 4-drop as well and maybe this is the solution to this deck's problem with fast aggro decks like R/W Vehicles.

Going forward: This has to be one of the frontrunners of the new Standard world. It has just good cards all around, got a lot of players excited, articles about this deck are popping up everywhere and it even got the results to back it up. It has to fix its matchup against R/W, because Fumigate will not cut it, but it is not that terrible either and it has game against basically everything, great sideboard options and a lot of tools to play with. If you get paired against a Port Town opening, you still don't know their whole list and that's what makes this even better. Are they playing with Rattlechains or with Thalia?

Temur Aetherworks

This Channelfireball creation was probably aimed at a very Vehicles and Midrange heavy metagame and it is crushing in that kind of field. But when people actually start countering your payoff cards, it looks a lot less exciting. Against pure control, you can still stall out and hardcast your Eldrazi, but when the opponent is beating down with Spell Quellers, it is a mean world you are living in. I am not so sure how to improve this deck for the upcoming season. It is a tall order to defend against early aggression and making the deck as fast as possible while not conceding to one counterspell.

Going forward: It is an exciting deck to play, so I guess some people will pick it up. If the metagame shows more control players than before though, this will fade and be a niche player just like the U/R spells deck will be.

Control

Both Jeskai and Grixis control were maybe not the most played decks in the room, but they certainly made up for that by sending multiple players to an 8-2 record and also putting Yasooka and Romao into the finals. As far as the results go, they seem pretty tied, although Yasooka beat Romao heads up, so I think it is just a matter of taste of players, which will be a more dominant player in the new metagame. I would guess that players like Grixis a bit more, and I would pick the dark version myself just by the looks of the list. Also, if these decks become more prominent - as they certainly will after having an all out control mirror in the finals of the PT - having access to Painful Truths in addition to Glimmer of Genius is a nice touch. You lose Fumigate, but as I stated above, the aggro decks are pretty resilient with all the vehicles and recursive threats coming back from the dead, so Fumigate does not seem to be in a very good spot anyway. Thing in the Ice, however, is really confusing for the opponent. Do you have to keep in removal against the pure Control deck?

Going forward: Control will be a major player in the upcoming season, just as on the other side of the spectrum Aggro is. Midrange and Tempo will have a hard time building their decks to deal with both ends of said spectrum, but so has every deck. What will be more prominent, Grixis or Jeskai, remains to be seen.

Grim Flayer
Versions:
Eldritch Moon (Foil)

G/B Midrange

Flying a bit under the radar is the deck once called Delirium. Yeah, there are still Traverse the Ulvenwald and Grim Flayers in it, but getting to Delirium seems more of a bonus than a goal. Eric Froehlich managed to 8-2 with his deck while Kyle Boggemes got the same record with a more midrange version, actually aiming for a delirious Promised End. So there is no consensus of how to build the green black decks yet and if Liliana even has a place in it, but here we got ourselves the grindy deck of the format. There is nothing that can indicate in which direction these builds will go, but they are proof that G/B is still a viable strategy. When you are playing against this deck you have to quickly figure out if they are trying to cast Ishkanah or Verdurous Gearhulk and adapt to that. Clues that give this away are whether or not they are playing Vessel of Nascency and Grapple with the Past or Blossoming Defense.

Going forward: Both these decks look good and quite a few players will try their hands on them. I would first try and see which version you actually want to play, because what you are expecting to see will dictate if you need to close out the game very fast with Gearhulk's power or if you need to grind through a lot of removal against various Control decks. I would not be shocked if one of the two versions ends up being inferior to the other one based on how the metagame evolves.

So what metagame can we expect now? From talking to a lot of players and also playing some leagues and PTQs online, I would say there is still no clear winner percentage-wise. There are a ton of viable options and very different ones at that as well, so everybody gets to choose the deck depending on the play style they like. I think preparing for a very open field is likely the correct choice and knowing the own deck well is the best one can do.

That's it for today. Next time, I will take the results from the mentioned Grand Prixs and see if we can predict the metagame a bit more accurately for the tournaments to come.

Until then,

Jasper

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