Meta Snapshot: Core Set 2019 - August 5th

The last two weeks of Standard have quite honestly been the most exciting and fun I’ve seen in MTG: Arena thus far. The Core Set 2019, which I’ve personally had zero expectations from, has shaken up the meta, de-polarized it and turned it into a magic christmas land where anything goes and no deck dominates supreme.

There has been a lot of movement and changes in meta share of different decks, and for the first time since we’ve started releasing the Meta Snapshot, Mono-Red aggro has been dethroned (by a dirty red deck, but still, a girl can dream). Green continues to gain ground as it’s Core 2019 additions prove to be highly effective against other popular decks, opening the way for the other midrange decks as well. God-Pharaoh’s Gift decks, both in the standard Azorious and the various Supplier variants have made a showing but their popularity has decreased slightly due to the abundance of main-deck Abrades.

A deck that’s slowly been appearing on the ladder, but hasn’t quite broken into the top 10 yet, is Bant Turbofog. We’ve decided to give it a special mention due to its performance and popularity at this weekend’s Pro Tour.

This is David Williams’ Pro Tour version of Bant Turbofog, one of the oldest recurring control types. The deck relies on Root Snare and Haze of Pollen as Fog effects (which the deck is named after), until they manage to lock down their opponent by taking near infinite turns and finally killing them with Karn’s tokens.

The deck is rather powerful against aggro and midrange and will almost certainly find its way into the metagame and should that happen, inevitably earn the title of the most hated deck in standard.


Sideboard (15)
4 Negate
2 Jace's Defeat
2 Baral, Chief of Compliance
4 Manglehorn
2 Cleansing Nova
1 Nezahal, Primal Tide

: 6     : 31     : 16     : 10    





Meta Snapshot


The meta has far from settled and continues to evolve. New archetypes and variants of old ones appear on nearly daily basis, and a lot of lists are just waiting to be refined and make a break for the top. Here are the ten most popular archetypes with their respective sample lists.

The chosen lists have been tested at high gold/diamond and have been piloted to a 5-x finish in competitive constructed.

As we've predicted in the last Snapshot, Rakdos aggro has not only regained its popularity, but found its way to the very front of the pack. Due to its resilience, tenacity and incredible early and mid game, this aggressive midrange deck is now finally the most popualr archetype in both, Arena and paper Magic.

The deck itself remains more or less exactly what it was before the Core Set. A somewhat slower Hazored trading a bit of its speed and consistency for the incredible black sideboard options and Scrapheap Scrounger.


Sideboard (15)
2 The Eldest Reborn
3 Chandra's Defeat
2 Magma Spray
1 Rekindling Phoenix
3 Duress
1 Doomfall
2 Cut /// Ribbons
1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance

: 12     : 28     : 16     : 5    



Stompy is probably the old archetype that has gained the most with Core Set 2019. Both directly through cards, and indirectly in terms of meta shift that allowed them to break back into it in full force.

Green or Green-black stompy aims to overwhelm the opponent quickly by deploying highly efficient creatures quickly, often breaking the mana curve and requiring an immediate answer from the opponent. Ghalta, Primal Hunger, Greenbelt Rampager and Steel Leaf Champion make up the core of the deck, assisted by Llanowar Elves, vehicles and insanely powerful green-black sideboard options.

Thorn Lieutenant and Vine Mare are both incredible Core Set 2019 additions to the deck. Each card in its own way extends a middle finger to the 1-for-1 trading control generally aims for, while simultaneously smoothing out the curve and increasing the speed and consistency of the archetype.


Sideboard (15)
2 Fatal Push
2 Vraska's Contempt
1 Heroic Intervention
2 Aethersphere Harvester
2 Thrashing Brontodon
3 Duress
1 Lifecrafter's Bestiary
2 Nissa, Vital Force

: 9     : 28     : 19     : 7    



Esper control remains largely unchanged. By far the most popular variants are essentially a Dimir control list splashing white for Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, with an occasional splash for another white card. There has been a slight increase in the popularity of a “full” esper control that commonly includes Settle the Wreckage, Fumigate and sometimes even Approach of the Second Sun, but they are still vastly less popular than their alternatives.

Esper control relies on early 1-for-1 trades before stabilizing through the use of Teferi, Torrential Gearhulk and sometimes The Scarab God. Chromium, the Mutable provides the archetype with another excellent sideboard option against control mirrors, and some are even utilizing the somewhat controversial Nexus of Fate.


Sideboard (15)
1 The Eldest Reborn
2 Negate
1 Syncopate
1 The Scarab God
3 Duress
1 Chromium, the Mutable
1 Doomfall
1 Essence Scatter
2 Cast Down
2 Forsake the Worldly

: 10     : 32     : 19     : 8    



Grixis has made quite an entrance with Core Set 2019. On the wings of Nicol Bolas, the Ravager, this tricolor combination is rising to be the most popular one in MTG: Arena, and it’s hardly surprising. Grixis has access to some of the best cards in the Standard pool as a whole, which allows its sideboard options to transition between aggressive midrange and grindy control without breaking a sweat.

The archetype is extremely diverse as players created different variants (Rb aggro, UB Midrange, Grixis goodstuff...), but at its core are The Scarab God and Nicol Bolas, the Ravager, aided by Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, Vraska’s Contempt and a combination of removal/disruption spells. The main difference between archetypes seem to be their focus in game one, where it will target either control or aggro, and then sideboards for the opposite matchup.

A full blown dragon, control and even aggro variants of Grixis are showing on the ladder but various midrange lists are the most popular right now. It will be interesting to see how the archetype develops in the coming weeks.


Sideboard (15)
1 Abrade
4 Negate
2 Jace's Defeat
1 Angrath, the Flame-Chained
3 Duress
2 Banefire
2 Arguel's Blood Fast

: 13     : 38     : 13     : 7    



Mono-red aggro derives its power from an explosive and consistent early game that transitions seamlessly into mid and sometimes even late game. Currently, the two most popular lists on the ladder are the original Hazored list and the, previously less popular, Flame of Keld list. The Hazored version uses hasty, evasive creatures in the early game and Hazoret, Rekindling Phoenix and Chandra, Torch of Defiance to seal the game.

Currently the more popular of the two, Flame of Keld is a glass-cannon list that packs burn and small creatures to unload their hand as fast as possible and refill it using Bomat Courier and Flame of Keld, the latter doubling down as finisher.


Sideboard (15)
3 Abrade
3 Guttersnipe
3 Aethersphere Harvester
3 Chandra's Defeat
3 Banefire

: 0     : 21     : 20     : 12    



UW control is based around stalling the opponent through use of counterspells and removal, eventually stabilizing with a board wipe (either Fumigate or Settle the Wreckage) and locking the opponent down with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. The deck’s win condition is generally Approach of the Second Sun or some form of beatdown ( Lyra Dawnbringer, History of Benalia or Torrential Gearhulks).

UW Control gained back some of the popularity the archetype lost in the first weeks of the new standard meta. It's ability to clear the opponents board and not simply rely on 1-for-1 removal allows it to be tter deal with hexproof and otherwise hard-to-deal-with creatures.


Sideboard (15)
3 Lyra Dawnbringer
2 Negate
2 Torrential Gearhulk
1 Jace's Defeat
2 Sorcerous Spyglass
3 Walking Ballista
1 Glimmer of Genius
1 Forsake the Worldly

: 8     : 33     : 15     : 5    



One could say there are as many GPG variants as there are colors of the pie, and they’d be quite on point. While each individual combination wouldn’t quite make the list, the most popular 3 combined (UBx, BGx and UW) compile a very significant portion of the metagame.

The best way to break down GPG lists however is not by color, but rather by the means of cheating this powerful reanimation engine into the game. Refurbish was by far the most common option, relying on a relatively small number of creatures and a ton of spells like Strategic Planning and Chart a Course to fill its graveyard. The list works as a pseudo-control list and hasn’t changed at all with the Core Set addition. You can find a guide and a deck list variant here.

A teeny weeny zombie called Stitcher’s Supplier has made it incredibly easy to cheat GPG into the game via Gate to the Afterlife and single handedly weaving a horde of different lists utilizing it to build a more aggro/midrange variant of the archetype. Golgari, Dimir, Sultai and even Abzan have all made quite an impression and will hopefully refine into beautiful new reanimation decks before the rotation.


Sideboard (15)
2 Vraska's Contempt
3 Wildgrowth Walker
2 Thrashing Brontodon
3 Duress
2 Lifecrafter's Bestiary
2 Nissa, Vital Force
1 Liliana, Death's Majesty

: 7     : 22     : 27     : 7    



The little snake that could, Winding Constrictor, has had some good times but has really suffered in Dominaria meta. It’s strategy built around counters has a significant counter-synergy with the oh-so-popular Soul-Scar Mage and Goblin Chainwhirler combination and is rather sensitive to board wipes.


Sideboard (15)
2 Vraska's Contempt
3 Fatal Push
2 Aethersphere Harvester
4 Duress
2 Doomfall
1 Lifecrafter's Bestiary
1 Vraska, Relic Seeker

: 5     : 29     : 19     : 12    



Dimir midrange is probably the most surprising list that made the top 12 to me personally. It’s popularity fluctuated in the Dominaria standard and the deck really only made it top in Arena towards the end, its popularity prompted by its success in paper GPs. Nevertheless, UB Midrange lists are quite popular, and albeit some of them splash red for the baby Nicol, their core remains unchanged.

Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, Champion of Wits, The Scarab God and premium black removal are the bread and butter of UB Midrange lists, sometimes complemented with an odd counter spell here and there. The real power of the list (as with most black ones) comes from the hand disruption and reactive options available in games 2 and 3.


Sideboard (15)
2 The Eldest Reborn
4 Negate
2 Jace's Defeat
3 Duress
1 Essence Extraction
3 Gifted Aetherborn

: 8     : 25     : 25     : 5    



Historically a mono-white strategy revolving around a flood of low cost, small bodied creatures, anthem effects and synergies revolving around those. The strategy’s been more or less soft-banned from Dominaria Standard due to prevalence of Goblin Chainwhirler, but is slowly making a come back with Core 2019.

A new Weenie archetype that's emerged in the last week or so, is a Knight tribal that curves into mid-game angels.


Sideboard (15)
2 Sorcerous Spyglass
2 Authority of the Consuls
2 Aethersphere Harvester
2 Karn, Scion of Urza
2 Forsake the Worldly
3 Baffling End
1 Skywhaler's Shot
1 Thopter Arrest

: 18     : 17     : 14     : 2    






Archives:

Title Category Published Patch
Meta Snapshot: Core Set 2019 Meta Snapshot II August 05, 2018 v786_640159
Meta Snapshot: Core Set 2019 Meta Snapshot July 22, 2018 v786_640159
Preliminary Meta Snapshot: Core Set 19 Preliminary Snapshot July 12, 2018 v786_640159
Meta Snapshot: Kaladesh Snapshot II July 01, 2018 v744_635428
Meta Snapshot: Kaladesh Snapshot I June 17, 2018 v727_633495
Preliminary Snapshot: Kaladesh Preliminary Snapshot June 07, 2018 v727_633495
Snapshot - Dominaria III Snapshot III June 03, 2018 v667_618725
Snapshot - Dominaria II Snapshot II May 20, 2018 v667_618725
Snapshot - Dominaria I Snapshot I May 06, 2018 v667_618725
Preliminary Snapshot - Dominaria Preliminary Snapshot April 26, 2018 v667_618725
Meta-Snapshot II Snapshot II April 16, 2018 v607_607936
Preliminary Meta-Snapshot Preliminary/Snapshot April 01, 2018 v607_604597

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