49 decks to beat

If one would argue that I have been lazy updating the Decks to Beat page, one would have merit. Of course, I have a sack filled with excuses to for that very purpose.
I was busy hunting Fungusaurs.
But excuses is not why we're here. We're here for tech, and I've sorted the top decks from Ivory Cup 2, Scandinavian Championships, Alphaspelen 3, The Horrible Horse Gathering, Fishliver Oil Cup Ed. 1, and BSK 2017. Three lists are still missing, but nonetheless we have 49 new Decks to Beat collected.
Kalle Nord's Parfait.
Ivory Cup 2 Top8
35 participants, photos of 7/8 decks.
The second edition of Stockholm's annual Ivory Cup was a smashing gathering. The attendance had risen since last year, as had the powerful cards. Erhnam Djinns faced of each others in the finals, leaving strategys like Atog Burn, The Deck and Dead Guy in their trail.

Scandinavian Championship Top8
48 participants, photos of 6/8 decks.
The first edition of Scandinavian Championship in Arvika was hosted in the familiar area we know from the Arvika Festival. As always when visiting that community, great ambiance and good people were aplenty. Jimmie's mono Red Atog Burn took down the championship, with Parfait, Disaster, Power Monolith, and different variants of Zoo and control also showing up in the top8.

Alphaspelen 3 Top4
12 participants, photos of 4/4 decks.
Alphaspelen is one of the more local tournaments in Stockholm. This gathering was home to some creative tech in the top4, including a new take on White Zoo with Personal Incarnations, CandleFactory, and some sort of ErhnamBurn'em midrange with Sedge Trolls.

The Horrible Horse Gathering Top8
27 participants, photos of 8/8 decks.
The Horrible Horse Gathering pitted Norwegian spell slingers in the largest 93/94 gathering in Oslo yet. The final was battled out with Lions and Efreets on both sides, leaving Troll Ponza, Athopher, Titania's Song Control, Juzam Smash and other sweet tech in the elimiation rounds.

Fishliver Oil Cup Ed. 1 Top16
86 participants, photos of 16/16 decks.
One of the major European gatherings, the Fishliver Oil Cup has quickly become home to some of the best that the format has to offer. The people, the atmosphere and the brews truly puts a smile on your face. Rather than having a top8, Lorenzo and Megu opted to go for a top16 in the elimination rounds for this one; with 14 different archetypes among the 16 decks.

BSK 2017 Top8
38 participants, photos of 8/8 decks.
BSK is the second oldest annual tournament in the format, and one of the most revered by the "old school old school" players. This was the eight annual Halloween gathering in Borås, bringing foogies from different corners of Sweden to dust of their old cards in chance of winning a The Fallen. Once again, Master of Magic Cards Olle Råde claimed the trophy, using his URb Burn to defeat MirrorBall in the finals. Combo had good showing here, and the top8 also included e.g. TwiddleVault and PowerMonolith.
Giacomo Zorzan's Erhnam Burn'em. Love this strategy, and haven't seen it played for many years.
Is there something we can see here? Piles and piles of awesome cards! But I guess some people are interested in the top-tier meta trends as well. We see an impressive number of different archetypes at the top tables. Aggro, Midrange, Control and Combo are all well represented, along with a handful prison decks and some sweet weird pet decks. Seems like unrestricting Maze of Ith didn't kill the format after all ;)

Perhaps we don't need to analyze the meta. It looks healthy and fun, so delving might be unnecessary. But I guess it could be worth noting that The Deck's presence in elimination rounds of mid-size to large tournament has declined further since last year. In the 49 top decks here, variants of The Deck has dropped slightly from around 18% to 16% (down to around 14.5% if we don't look at the 9-16th place finishes in the Fishliver Oil cup). That's like, very low for a supposed boogie man. There's also a fairly low number of pure UR Burn strategies this time. Many aggro decks seem more inclined to combine their Serendib Efreets with Savannah Lions than with Chain Lightnings at the moment.

Teching with the aggro angle is not that strange. Though I believe the URb version that Olle won BSK with is still one of the most powerful decks in 93/94, trying out new attacks are very much in the spirit of the format and I don't believe the shifting meta is "solved". It seems like a lot of players got their eyes on the power of Savannah Lions around the same time; much like many of us sleeved up Flying Men a year or two ago. But the continuous decline of control seem a little odd. I mean, The Deck, the supposed end boss of the format, hasn't won a tournament in Sweden or Norway in over a year at this point. It averages around one The Deck per top8, where we a couple of years back had two or three. There were a total of 34 Jayemdae Tomes in the deck lists above, which is less than the number of Savannah Lions (36). And far less than the number of Su-Chis, which clocks in at an impressive 52 copies (about the same number as Serendib Efreet).
I'm not saying we necessarily need more The Decks in our tournaments, but it could be interesting to try and find out why control keeps falling out of favor and Su-Chi has become a far more popular 4-drop artifact than the book. Are the control players suddenly more interested in different strategies, have we all learned how to play better against it, or are we as a community cowing people out playing control as some deem it "unfun"? Any The Deck players out there, current or former, are very welcome to give their take on the situation :)

If any other tournaments across the continents would like to add their decks to the decks to beat here, please go ahead and email me a list and a short description and I'd be happy to add them.

Next time we'll check out another guest report from Gathering the Knights of Thorn 3 in the Netherlands. Really impressive community down there :)


  1. I love me some hard numbers, I really do. This is all very interesting. Personally, because I've been playing far more tournaments this year than before, I've taken the chance to branch out more. From now on, I won't be playing The Deck when there's no shark on the line, and I'll also never play the same archetype twice until my bucket list runs out or I just can't find the cards for what I want to play. As much fun as it is to draw a card at the end of your turn, there are more things to enjoy in this fine format of ours. The view of the community isn't the reason, although it subconsciously might be a small influence. More important is the desire to finishing rounds faster, the pleasure of actually dealing some quick damage once in a while.

    That The Deck would be worse now than it used to be, I don't believe for one second.

    I agree with the meta being quite fun now. I'm especially delighted with the relative success of combo decks at BSK. It's an exciting time to be an old school player.

  2. Thanks for your input Svante :) Yeah, I agree that trying new archeypes really has its charm.

    SOmewhat on that note, I have been considering whether restricting the Tome would have a good overall impact on control strategies, even at this decline. It makes it much less obvious on how to gain card advantage, and The Deck would be even more dependant on a strong player rather than being more of a machine drawing all the restricted cards. Might make it a more interesting deck?

    Btw, OldSchoolRon posted a very nice reply to this post on his blog, I encourage people to check it out Thanks Ron :)


  3. If The Deck was truly dominant, I think restricting the Tome would make some amount of sense. It is one of the better candidates to hit that doesn't hurt many other decks (I could also see restricting Fellwar Stone, partially because we have this precedent of hitting mana producing artifacts, but not really Counterspell, Tundra, Swords to Plowshares or Mishra's Factory as that would hurt other decks too much). However, when the deck is far from dominant, I don't feel the need to do anything. I wouldn't restrict anything lightly; I see it as a last resort to helping a damaged format, and that is not where we are right now, in my opinion. The restricted list should be kept to a minimum. I would rather unrestrict something that would help other decks, if only slightly, where Workshop comes to mind (along with Recall, of course, which doesn't really help The Deck in any significant way). The restricted list has become pleasingly minimal in recent years. Let's keep it that way. :D

  4. I think a reason to stop playing The Deck is the constant whining from other players if you play The Deck.

  5. My $0.02 - ironically The Deck in my opinion isn't a deck as such - it's a pile of the best responsive actions in the game combined with the means to facilitate those responses (draw). Lacking a strategy of its own (apart from wearing out opponent) - if can focus the majority of its slots to feed on whatever the opponent's playing. And one of the main reasons it's so strong is because it's so generally applicable against almost any other strategy as it will simply counterdestruct anything it faces. I guess it's like Svante states: that can be fun for a while, but as the format's matured, tournaments aplenty and fun's (fortunately) still the main driver for peeps to spend $Ks on their decks, I guess even hardcore The Deck players now and then scratch their chins and imagine the taste of beating someone to death with a resurrected 26-18 Berserker Atog or similar instead of endlessly countering, dissing and ploughing before winning on Mishra - again. Sure most of the time bloody Atog gets tazered but one in 10 coming through is more than rewarding enough :) Irregardless of the 'constant whining from others', I just don't think The Deck's fun to play WITH - especially if you've been playing with it for a while - and maybe that realisation is catching up. Few years ago, most people's 93/94 decks were far from complete but now most people seem to have gotten themselves organised and have been playing their decks for a little while. Maybe it's just pilot boredom that's entered the equation. Getting back to my point, there's a perverse primeval attraction to slaying with Juzam that beats slow standardised destruction of another's board.. I believe the biggest satisfaction is in winning hard by playing for yourself as your strategy pans out, instead of winning by kicking another's shins until they finally fall over. If you own all these beautiful awesomely powerful cards that thanks to Magnus and the entire Scandinavian oldschool scene (sincere gratitude) have risen back to life (and like 500% in price...) you'd want to play with them yourself instead of murdering your opponent's! Pardon the rant - burn me for it. Respect to all. Besides - who wouldn't play those awesome Su-Chi's you posted..?

  6. WOW!!! Are those "Summer Magic" versions of Contol Magic, Tranquility, and Shatter in Kalle's deck? Awesome. Black border vanity is one thing, but that is beautiful. Oh yeah, my wife, daughters and I play old-school with my old cards (power is only unlimited). We fixed the format by not letting Mishras Factories target themselves for the +1/+1 bonus. Balances the power very nicely. Just saying... thank you for the great blog, keep up the great work. Greetings from California

    1. Thanks! And yes, they are all Summer Magic :) It is a pretty crazy blinged out deck. Speaking of Factories for example, those Foglio altered Factories in his deck are among the rarest alters in the game ;)

  7. I still believe the deck to be the strongest deck out there, not close. I like not playing it though since it feels kind of like cheating (yes, I believe it to be that good).
    If you were to restrict the book however, I’d love to play it again. Hopefully without the guilt.

  8. I am one of those the deck player you are talking about, that got people whining on me for playing a unfun deck and and started playing abyssaggro but people kept on whining. Actually that made me thinking of stop playing because of that.
    But after reading rons article i will keep on being freddie kruger on the tournaments and be the nightmare you dont want to meet and the end of the tournament when you think you are safe!
    Restrict the book sounds okey but not fellwar its the poor mans mox even if its sometimes better than a mox. Restricting The book will just make us play a mix of copy artifact and more counters...

    Anyway thats my random opinion!
    and remember that when theres a shark on the line You will hear:
    One two The deck is coming for you...

    Be safe and have a great 2018!


Skicka en kommentar