Lately, I’ve been a little down on GW’s chances in the new metagame. You may have noticed that recent results show mono-blue and mono-black winning almost ever tournament. Neither of these matchups are great and sometimes these decks can have hands where you just lose. I love GW Scion too much to just quit, however. I need to determine if the deck is still good enough against the changing metagame. Does GW Aggro still have a place?
What is the 20-Game Challenge?
The 20-Game Challenge is how I evaluate whether a deck is still good enough. Lately, Standard is an ever-changing and unfamiliar place. Decks are constantly changing and adapting, and because of this, your Standard deck from two months ago may not be good anymore. For example, mono-black used to be a very good match up against my GW Scion deck. GW could just keep jamming creatures that mono-black would have to deal with. Nightveil Specter was only a 2/3 and Desecration Demon would never untap. Then the deck adapted four Pack Rat in the main, turning a good matchup into a very close one.
In situations like these, I like to is study the metagame and make small changes to the deck I am working on. These small changes don’t affect the deck’s overall goal—you should already be familiar with the way your deck plays. What this does is let you try out new cards and see how your deck does against the shifting card choices from other decks. Twenty games is not enough testing to completely understand all the matchups. Don’t just replace your normal testing with this method. What it does do is determine if your deck is still good enough and whether you should continue to test.
You could theoretically complete 20 games wherever, but because of my lack of time, I like to play in MTGO two-man events. This lets you play quickly against lots of different people and deck types. Make sure you choose a place where your results are going to mean something. It’s much easier to think your deck is awesome when you play all your games in the practice room.
Below is the deck that I ran for 20 games straight. I will conclude with observations and changes.
I kept a list of the decks I played against, my record, and occasional notes about something that happened during the game.
GW W 2-0
Rw Devotion W 2-0
Bant Midrange W 2-0
Esper Midrange Splashing Red W 2-1
Green Devotion Splashing Blue W 2-1 (Mulled to five in game three)
Black Devotion Splashing White W 2-1 (Turn-two Pack Rat all three games)
RB Aggro L 1-2
Esper Midrange W 2-0
Black devotion L 1-2 (Mulled to five then flooded against Desecration Demon)
GW Chronicler W 2-1 (Games were won based on keeping Ajani, Caller of the Pride alive)
UWR Aggro W 2-1 (All his X/1s died to Polukranos)
Black Devotion W 2-0
GU Something W 2-0 (He was not so good)
BW Aggro L 1-2 (Mulled to five and six cards in my two losses)
Bant Evolve (GW Splash U) W 2-1 (Scion goes the distance)
Mono-Black Devotion W 2-0
GW SCG Deck W 2-1
RBW Control L 1-2
GR Monsters W 2-1
Overall match record: 15-5.
- There were a lot of different decks that were represented and the GW deck did well against all types.
- GW lost to some of aggro decks, which surprised me. A lot of the new aggro decks have a lot of reach to close out games. Brave the Elements, Boros Charm, and Fanatic of Mogis can all end games very quickly. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are safe. Because of this, it is very important to decide when to switch roles and attack. Too early or too late can often spell disaster.
- Mono-black was not as difficult as I previously thought it would be, even with main deck Pack Rat. I ended up winning three of four games against the format’s most popular deck. I also ended up noticing something else very strange: GW can beat a turn-two Pack Rat. You have to race it. Always attack even if it means that you will trade because when you make opposing rats smaller, you are basically setting your opponent back a turn. Oftentimes they won’t block, which just equals more damage you’re getting through.
Times I beat turn-two Pack Rat: 4
Times I lost to turn-two Pack Rat: 2
- I am the king of the GW mirror. Scion helps a lot with that.
- Mono-Green Devotion used to be a very difficult matchup. Ajani fixes this problem. Oftentimes, they will play nothing but ramp the first few turns. This gives you the time to set up a few blockers plus Ajani. Each turn, you can plus Ajani and your opponent will not be able to break through. Ultimate FTW. Experiment One does not care where the counters came from to regenerate. This makes it a nice wall to protect Ajani. The green devotion that splashes blue does not fall to this tactic because they play Cyclonic Rift.\
Times I won with Ajani: 6
- The new Esper Midrange deck that took America by storm seems like a solid matchup for GW. The creatures are annoying, but we have the answers. Scion’s birds can block the 3/1 flier. Polukranos can kill basically every oposing X/1 creature—and you have Selesnya Charm for Obzedat.
Ajani, Caller of the Pride is the bees knees. This is a card I have been hesitant to play because it is not actually a creature, but let me tell you—I was wrong. This card is the Swiss army knife the deck was needing. Against control, he turns your creatures into must-kill threats by pumping them every turn, then threatening to deal double damage. Against aggro, he makes all your creatures bigger . On turn two, I like to EOT make a knight with Selesnya Charm then play Ajani on turn three. Plussing Ajani to make a 3/3 vigilant knight that attacks and blocks is pretty good against aggro. Against midrange, he is a must-answer card that can ultimate to win the game or just combine with Advent of the Wurm to give us a 5/5 flying, double striking, trampling wurm. Ajani breaks stalemates, makes your creatures bigger, and can win the game on his own. Play this card.
What Should Be Changed?
To be honest, the deck has been running well. I’m not sure if the correct number of Ajani is two or three, but I like the current number. The deck has been skewed towards green so that it can beat a Blood Baron of Vizkopa, but Boon Satyr has been less than stellar for me, since he can’t block against aggro decks. I would probably reduce the number by one. I would also cut a Fleecemane Lion. It’s very good, but oftentimes I draw it only to be stopped by a 2/1 with protection from multicolored. It has also been the target of a Detention Sphere when there is more than one copy on the battlefield, and Sphere seems to be one the rise.
So what would I add in? As much as I hate it, I think the deck needs to maindeck more Banisher Priests. The card is just so good at its job. You need to kill Pack Rat, Master of Waves, and a surprisingly high number of times, you need to kill a god. All your cards can be blocked by every god, so you need a good way to break through.
This week I want to start a new segment entitled “What do you think of this GW card, Ryan?”
What Do You Think of This GW Card, Ryan?
With spoiler season upon us, I want to jump to the very top. The card we have all been waiting for. The reason to be playing all these green and white mana symbols. The one, the only, the green white god!
What the hell is this?
You mean to tell me that red-green gets to make creatures hasty and big…and we get to…put a land into play? Hold on, I have to reread this. No, that’s what it says. Well, needless to say, this card sucks for competitive Magic. I would not play this at five mana. I would not play this at three mana. Ramping on turn six is not what any deck is looking to do right now. Some cards might come along that make that ability mean something, but for now, just don’t play this. So much for those Trostanis people have been speculating on.
Next time, I will take a look at what cards from the new set might make a way into the future GW Scion. Hint hint—it’s Brimaz. That card is bonkers.
Have a card you want me to review on “What do you think of this GW card, Ryan?” Throw it out in the comments or on Twitter. Yeah, I started using it. So follow me at @FyanArcherMTG. Thanks for reading!