Another Pro Tour is in the books and boy was it a doozy. There were comebacks, unfortunate punts, complex turns with multiple decision trees, and LOTS of red cards. Like, seriously, all the red. Ramunap Red in the hands of Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa took down the tournament in impressive fashion by winning in the mirror match twice and beating a supposedly bad match up in BG Constrictor. Besides being thoroughly entertained, what else can we take away from this tournament?
Ramunap Red looked impressive. Very, very impressive. However it also strikes me as a deck that is beatable once people figure out how to combat it. While like any red aggro deck there will be some games that just cause you to die, we as a community need to remember that happens often with other decks as well. Heck, it often happens with the Constrictor decks! What makes a deck a tier one contender is their ability to still win games when draws are not lining up as ideally as one would like. That is where Ramunap Red really shines in my opinion. Aggressive red decks often have issues when they draw too many lands or after their opponent is able to stabilize the board. With Earthshaker Khenra, Ramunap Ruins, and Hazoret the Fervent those issues are mitigated greatly. This also allows the deck to transform into a Big Red deck easily post sideboard. Good news is, while this deck is fast, it’s not blistering fast that other decks can compete. Some early interaction and a creature with four or more toughness will slow them down, and if you have a way to gain some life the reach their lands and mythic rares provide seem less good. This is a red deck that I believe will not completely trounce the meta and may even find themselves losing games to well prepared control decks. Ramunap Red isn’t going anywhere, and you better be prepared for it, but I would be surprised if it made up more than 25-33% of the meta.
With a strong aggro deck being present, that means the good ol’ “rock-paper-scissors” meta may be right around the corner. Aggro decks prove their strength, so midrange becomes a good deck to answer it. After that, control/ramp beats midrange, and then aggro comes in to beat control/ramp. This cycle will form the base of the meta and most of the decks that prove to be tier one will fall somewhere on that cycle. The best metas in history usually begin with this idea of rock-paper-scissors, and making sure the aggro deck is a proven commodity is an excellent start.
Abrade New World
Abrade is here and Abrade does not seem to be going anywhere. Of the standard decks with six wins or more, Abrade was the highest played card by a lot with 304 copies. The next closest card was Fatal Push with 202 (Thanks MTGGoldfish for the data). Sure, all the red decks would skew this data, but there is something we should still take note from this: DO NOT PLAY A DECK THAT FOCUSES ON STICKING A SINGLE ARTIFACT!
I love the God-Pharaoh’s Gift and Oketra’s Monument decks a lot because they are super sweet, but when the most played card in the format has a mode that says “Destroy target artifact” and it only costs two mana while these artifacts cost seven and three respectively then you are signing up for a rough tournament. If you plan on playing these decks anyway, You better be packing some Dispel in your sideboard. Personally, I say play something else until the meta adapts, but even then the efficiency of Abrade suggests that it isn’t going anywhere. Prepare accordingly.
Life in the Fast Lane
For the “no crap” statement of the day, I give you this: With aggro being good, having a way to gain life during a game will be important. Creatures with lifelink, Aethersphere Harvester, and removal with life gain attached such as Essence Extraction and Desert’s Hold may begin to take up more of our sideboards. Desert’s Hold may be an interesting one because it also shuts down eternalize and the activated ability of Hazoret, the Fervent. I’m not sure if we want full on life gain cards such as Life Goes On yet, but if red becomes more burn based we may.
A Brew to Close With
Here’s a deck I put together after seeing the Pro Tour results. It’s very unproven so far, but I will be charging into a league with it soon.
I won’t go too deep on the deck because I would rather talk about how it did, but if the few matches I’ve played it seems promising. The plan is to play some early artifacts and interaction and then when with an indestructible Syndicate Trafficker, accelerated out Herald of Anguish, or Tezzeret the Schemer taking over the game. Battle at the Bridge can deal with anything in the format while gaining us life and turning on revolt for Fatal Push is pretty easy in this deck as well. Even sweepers have been kinda whatever against this deck since you can rebuild so easily. If you decide to test it yourself, I highly suggest casting Trafficker after turn two so you can protect them.
That’s all I got this week. If you have any questions reach out @CloudRunner172 or contact me through the MTGDeckTechs email. Good luck out there!