Here is a summary of the metagame, and my experience at the event!
Ever since Oko, A-call, and Time Walk gained points, the Adelaide metagame has been incredibly diverse. A lot of previously rare archetypes like Affinity, Tolarian Academy ramp, and unpowered Aggro and Midrange decks have finally had their chance to shine. In this event we had a very broad range of decks in the Top 8, spanning the whole gamut of Combo, Aggro, Midrange, and Control! Whilst there were Tempo and Ramp decks in the room none made the top 8 cut.
It is also a joy to see the Top 8 all representing unique deck styles (see below), with game plans that differentiate between ‘go tall’ aggro vs. ‘go wide’ aggro, ‘pure control’ vs. ‘control with a combo finish’, and so on. The format is far from solved, and both heavily metagamed decks as well as personal brews are able to perform well at events, which is great to see!
Of important note are the 2 Ancestral Recalls in the Top 8. Despite the 5th point (more if you count control cards to recur it), player confidence in the card is high, and we can expect to continue to see the occasional Power pop up in local meta. The SProwess deck that won sleeves up A-call with very little intention to recur the powerhouse draw spell (the occasional Noxious Revival), paying the full 5 Points to simply spike it in some portion of games and overwhelm the opponent with an explosive pile of damage and/or free interaction.
What did I play?
I came 2nd in this event with the revival of ANNIHILATOR SIX. I lost to Russell; it turns out Worldspine Wurm can’t block shadow, and my backup Lightning Bolt was countered by their Mental Misstep. Nevertheless I had an absolute blast returning to one of my old decks and giving it a facelift. The deck’s game plan is the same but slightly heavier on the Combo-side as a metagame choice for Adelaide (if your local isn’t full of Midrange then you can simply trim one ‘fatty’ and one ‘cheaty’ spell, then play 2 more pieces of interaction; Remand and Abrade are good choices in an open meta).
From my experience, I find that Hybrid decks always rise to the top in the SA meta, which is convenient because it is my favourite playstyle! As expected Oath-nihilator Six did what I wanted, which is to recognize the role in the matchup and pivot to the Control role or Combo role accordingly. Playing Beckett in round 1 was great as we had a chance to debrief about the matchup. He reminisced about being so confident that he was going to win a particularly one-sided game, and then out of nowhere (once I had built up enough mana sources) I cast Sneak Attack and it was simply game over!
For anyone thinking of playing the deck, I’d like to point out a few key cards that look mediocre (or some strange choices), but are actually absolutely critical either for the local metagame or the deck in general. Here is some bonus information that arose from my testing and then insights from the event itself too:
Deck Tech / Learning Lessons from today
Discussion #1: Field of Ruin & Back to Basics ‘non-bo’; 2x non-legend creatures; Stifle, and to some extent Misdirection.
All but the last are absolutely critical when your opponent plays a Karakas. Sure there are times you Field your opponent’s creature-land and then draw Back to Basics. But remember, the majority of ways you actually win a game is via Combo (Controlling the game helps you get there when you don’t turbo out Oath/Show and Tell, but when playing Control you still ‘finish’ with the combo when your opponent is down and out). Karakas hurts 50% of your win-cons! Now Misdirection and Stifle add to your suite of 0-1 mana interaction when you activate Griselbrand and need to protect him from removal. However they are also incredibly good at proactively protecting the combo itself! So many of Midrange’s ways of dealing with Oath are trigger-based, and Stifle counters Qasali Pridemade, Knight of Autumn, Rec Sage, the new changeling, Seal of Primordium, and so on. Misdirection does an excellent job of redirecting their Abrupt Decays to a Skull Clamp too!
Discussion #2: Lutri and Vedalken Shackles.
The latter has seen very little play ever since the plethora of maindeck artifact hate cards were printed. However we can’t play critters to stall the board due to having Oath in the deck. Don’t be afraid to pitch Shackles to Dack, Izzet Charm, etc. when it isn’t relevant (and side it out aggressively), but when the card is relevant it dominates the game just like it always has since 2004! You rarely win games by actually beating down with their creature, it moreso operates as a wrath on a stick, allowing you to trade off your opponent’s creatures or threaten to do so, stalling out the game, whilst you do the real work in setting up your combo.
Lutri also looks like a non-bo because we don’t want creatures in the deck. Yes, the ‘Reminisce’ you get from discarding Emrakul to re-fill your library with gas after delving lands to Magmatic Sinkhole is the dream… just remember you have a 20% chance to whiff off Oath later in the game! Originally Lutri was Mystic Sanctuary which is absolutely the 8th point we want to sleeve up. However as a 22 land ‘combo’ deck I find that we do get to points in the game where we have access to more mana than we need, especially when the Control plan failed and we can’t benefit off mana flood. Lutri is a built-in mana sink, and is insanely good in decks with Mana Drain to boot. Most of the time I’m not even casting for value, it’s either to get a critter out when the game stalled and play a Tempo sub-game whilst building up resources again, or it’s just to trade with a 3/3 aggro creature and slow down the clock. There are often times I will spend 6 mana on a Sweltering Suns and just wrath the board (when firmly in the control role). Whilst I don’t need to preach the virtues of a ‘free’ card, I thought it worth mentioning why Lutri is still good in what should be a ‘creatureless’ deck, moreso when you get to store that creature outside your 60 so that Oath works properly. Further, don’t forget that with Sneak Attack out, Lutri represents a 1-mana Fork, and the relevance of this cost-reduction comes up more often than you think!
Discussion #3: Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
There is a lot of vitriol toward the once-best planeswalker, and I too have been quite disappointed and felt the 1 Point was better spent on other cards… in other decks. In Oath-nihilator Six, JtMS pulls his weight and then some! There are a couple of reasons why I will never cut Jace from this deck, and in fact feel it is the best role-player point in the 75:
- By virtue of being a ‘two-card combo’ deck, you actively want to play as many Brainstorms as possible to find and shuffle away halves of the combo when needed. Most importantly you are a hybrid deck, so you need to maximise the chances of seeing the right half of your deck.
- Unlike a pure control deck, casting Jace to brainstorm and gain 3 life when they kill him next turn is not a bad play, in fact you often sculpt the perfect subsequent turn and the opponent focuses their, say, Pyroblast on removing the Jace ASAP, allowing you to resolve Show and Tell the next turn, etc.
- Because we so often want to protect our combo, we have a mass of cheap if not free counterspells, making resolving the Jace and protecting it from removal incredibly consistent, so untapping with active Jace is a very common scenario.
- You play Mana Drain, so can consistently jam Jace on turn 3 with counter backup.
Overall, I was incredibly impressed with Jace in this deck in specific, which showed me when the 1-Point card is ‘at its best’. Of course there will be other more hard-control or control-midrange decks that will find this 4 mana walker lackluster, but that is pretty typical of the average 1-Point card anyway.
Discussion #4: Storm’s Wrath, and a large number of ‘sweepers.
This is a concession to the Adelaide meta, so if you have more combo and less midrange and aggro in your local you can trim maindeck Storm’s Wrath for Remand instead (Remand is an excellent card but as you’ll note it is absent in my list as a conscious decision… it’s terrible in an Aggro and black-green based Midrange meta!). Likewise trim one of the Sideboard sweepers to bring in Sylvan Library, which again is a concession to the board-pressure-centric SA meta.
However I’m sure Storm’s Wrath looks like a weird choice given that I need to rely on Planeswalkers since I’m an Oath deck, so I’d rather play a similar effect that doesn’t damage walkers. You will note that the walkers of choice are all out of Storm’s Wrath range the turn after (i.e. untap, the walker you played last turn can go up to 5+ loyalty immediately / get your second use out of Narset, then sweep the board). However I’ve found that keeping a walker around is largely academic – you often play it, use the ability, pass and they spend the whole turn attacking the walker AND committing to the board in order to keep pressuring it, then you either untap and get a final activation, or the walker died, you ‘gained’ life, forced them to overcommit, and then wrath the whole board. In short, I’ve found that Storm’s Wrath has been excellent, and the benefit of killing your opponent’s walkers far outweighs any downside to you.
Discussion #5: No basic Forest.
The initial list had Prismatic Vista and a Basic forest, as well as Blood Moon in the board. The more I played the deck, the less I wanted Green at all. Between Triome and two untapped green duals that are fetchable by all 9 fetch-lands, and Astrolabe, there was ample green to support the often single green card you’ll draw the entire game. Post board you are often at most bringing in a single green card (and often boarding Veil out vs Midrange and Aggro anyway), so you can easily support an entire Moon plan if desired. I decided to trim on Blood Moon personally as a meta choice, but if you have a lot of 4c decks and Midrange that is focused primarily on value-generation over aggression, then you can bring in Blood Moon over one of the sweepers.
Anyway, in terms of Basic Forest it was always clunky, and by cutting that and Vista for the 5th and 6th basic islands I was pretty safe against opposing decks trying to get out a Magus of the Moon game one, etc. Whilst I don’t bring in Back to Basics often, when I do it is incredibly powerful, and you honestly don’t care if you had to tap your only green source to cast Veil to protect it… there’s only two more green cards in the deck and you can always fetch one of the other sources of green to cast them because they are ‘worth’ it (haymakers).
Hope you enjoyed getting a little insight into the deck, and if you liked the old ANNIHILATOR SIX playstyle but want to soup it up for the modern metagame then this is the list I’d recommend!
|Player’s Standing||Player’s Name||Player’s Deck List Link|
|1st||Russell Cutting||“SProwess” (RUG Combo-Aggro)|
|2nd||Sarven McLinton||“Oath-nihilator SIX” (RUg Combo-Control)|
|3rd||Beckett Wolfe||“Junk” (GWB Midrange)|
|4th||Daniel Tyler||“Fringey Bros.” (WUR Aggro)|
|5th||Robert Lark||“Kess Pile” (UBR Control)|
|6th||Socrates Stavropoulos||“Cephalid Brunch” (WUBG Combo)|
|7th||James Arthur||“Affinity” (C Aggro)|
|8th||Liam Whelan||“Jund” (BRG Midrange), list incoming|