Snapshot: Dominaria III - June 3rd

We were talking long and hard about whether to prepare a Snapshot this week, as we are but a few days away from the expected Kaladesh update that will finally sync MTG: Arena with the real standard. In the end we’ve decided it would be nice to archive one last meta state and talk about if it briefly.

We’ve managed to collect nearly two thousand games this time, the slight majority of which was collected in ranked. The meta distribution in both modes is surprisingly similar, and the order of deck popularity is the same, albeit more polarized in QC. There are a few noticeable trends that can be recognised in the data:

- Popularity of midrange decks decreased in favor of Aggro and Control
- Popularity of RDW decreased slightly in favor of other Aggro Decks
- Popularity of UW and UB Control decreased slightly in favor of mono-black, Esper and Grixis control decks

No significant new archetype made its waves in the final stretches of pre-Kala metagame, but there were three that saw a significant jump in popularity; Sultai Reanimator, Mono-U Aggro and Izzet Wizards all clocked in just slightly under the 3% metagame share that granted UW Tokens the spot at the tail of the Top 10.

Meta Distribution - Top 10

All decklists chosen have been played with success at Master Tier level and have completed Quick Constructed event at 7-x. Some of the card choices are influenced by the meta or the personal preference of the deckbuilder and might not be perceived as optimal by everyone.

Mono Red Aggro continues to dominate the Bo1 bracket of Quick Constructed and Ranked ladder. Nearly unbeatable on the play, this hyper-efficient aggro decks combines it’s hasty, evasive creatures with a plethora of burn spells and curves out with either Hazoret or Rekindling Phoenix. The list remains largely unchanged with the addition of Dominaria, though some players are opting for Goblin Chainwhirler over Rampaging Ferocidon

: 4     : 14     : 12     : 8    
Lands (24)
20 Mountain
4 Ramunap Ruins

Instants (8)
4 Lightning Strike
4 Magma Spray

Creatures (28)
4 Ahn-Crop Crasher
2 Dire Fleet Daredevil
4 Earthshaker Khenra
4 Fanatical Firebrand
4 Goblin Chainwhirler
4 Hazoret the Fervent
2 Rampaging Ferocidon
4 Soul-Scar Mage

Approach of the Second Sun decks are likely the biggest winners of the Dominaria changes in MTG Arena. With a plethora of new toys to play with, UW control shot rapidly in popularity from the bottom of the snapshot to the very top. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, new counterspells and most importantly Seal Away have put this deck, and the entire UW color combination at the front of the pack. Some lists have started moving away from Approach of the Second Sun as the wincon as it's relatively weak, but the majority of players stick by it due to the sheer conveniance of ending the games early.

: 6     : 20     : 21     : 0    
Lands (26)
1 Arch of Orazca
1 Field of Ruin
4 Glacial Fortress
1 Ipnu Rivulet
4 Irrigated Farmland
6 Island
1 Memorial to Genius
7 Plains
1 Scavenger Grounds

Spells (34)
2 Admiral's Order
3 Approach of the Second Sun
3 Cast Out
2 Censor
3 Hieroglyphic Illumination
4 Seal Away
2 Search for Azcanta
3 Settle the Wreckage
3 Supreme Will
3 Syncopate

Planeswalker (6)
2 Gideon of the Trials
4 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

The merry fish-folk of Ixalan continues to sail the meta even without the support of Dominaria cards other archetypes have received. An extremely important addition to the Merfolk decks people often tend to overlook is the Hinterland Harbor. In a swarm deck such as this a single tapped mana or color screw can be the difference between victory and defeat. The merfolk have continued to gain in poplarity in the last two weeks, and have made their way to the most popular three.

A very peculiar variant of Merfolk that omits the Deeproot Elites
and focuses on evasion has seen quite some play in QC and Ranked ladder this past two weeks, as it's incredible in a best-of-one grind.

: 3     : 6     : 24     : 10    
Lands (23)
8 Forest
9 Island
2 Hinterland Harbor
4 Hashep Oasis

Spells (12)
2 Spell Pierce
2 Unsummon
4 Shapers' Sanctuary
2 Curious Obsession
2 River Heralds' Boon

Creatures (25)
3 Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca
4 Kumena's Speaker
2 Merfolk Branchwalker
4 Merfolk Mistbinder
4 Merfolk Trickster
4 Mist-Cloaked Herald
4 Silvergill Adept

Gruul and Naya midrange decks were held back mostly by it’s insane rare/mythic count. As our collections grew, so did the meta share Monsters took. With the introduction of real money purchases to the Arena, the popularity of these aggressive, creature based decks soared in the first two weeks of the Dominaria.

Unfortunately the midrange decks are just too slow compared to its aggressive mono-red/green counterparts, and very vulnerable to control. Nevertheless, GR Midrange regained some popularity in the last two weeks and ended up right below the most popualr three decks of the format.

: 9     : 22     : 10     : 7    

Lands (24)
2 Hashep Oasis
8 Mountain
6 Forest
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Sheltered Thicket

Instants (7)
1 Abrade
3 Magma Spray
3 Struggle // Survive

Creatures (29)
3 Carnage Tyrant
4 Earthshaker Khenra
4 Glorybringer
4 Jadelight Ranger
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Rekindling Phoenix
2 Resilient Khenra
2 Rhonas the Indomitable
2 Thrashing Brontodon

Vampires are one of the decks that’s dropped in popularity with the introduction of Dominaria, in part due to their matchups against the UW control, and in part due to the novelty of new decks such as White Weenie. They have seen a treemendous resurgence in the last two weeks, as their strength against the mono red deck, and the early pressure versus control keep them relevant in the best of one. The most important new card for the Vampires is the Isolated Chapel, allowing the deck a more reliable early aggression, and efficient new removal in Seal Away and Cast Down. The creature core hasn’t changed due to its tribal nature and remains Ixalan focused.

: 0     : 20     : 26     : 7    

Lands (24)
1 Arch of Orazca
2 Ifnir Deadlands
4 Isolated Chapel
4 Plains
4 Shefet Dunes
5 Swamp
4 Unclaimed Territory

Spells (18)
4 Call to the Feast
2 Cast Down
3 Legion's Landing
3 Queen's Commission
4 Radiant Destiny
2 Vraska's Contempt

Creatures (18)
2 Champion of Dusk
4 Dusk Legion Zealot
4 Legion Lieutenant
2 Martyr of Dusk
2 Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle
2 Sanctum Seeker
2 Skymarcher Aspirant

UB control is one of the decks struggling heavily in the Bo1 format. With the rise in popularity of UW control decks with Approach of the Second Sun, ongoing popularity of RDW and the onset of new, efficient aggro decks, UB control is an even worse spot than before Dominaria has landed, yet that doesn’t reflect in its popularity. In the last week we've seen a more aggressive, midrange variant stir the pot with Duress, Doomfall and more aggressive gameplan that can disrupt the UW control and midrange decks alike. Either way, the popularity of UB continues to decline, dropping whooping 5% of meta-share since the last snapshot.

: 5     : 20     : 18     : 2    
Lands (26)
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Fetid Pools
3 Field of Ruin
5 Island
10 Swamp

Spells (15)
4 Cast Down
3 Doomfall
2 Duress
2 Liliana, Death's Majesty
4 Vraska's Contempt

Creatures (19)
4 Champion of Wits
2 Josu Vess, Lich Knight
4 Kitesail Freebooter
2 Nimble Obstructionist
4 Ravenous Chupacabra
3 The Scarab God

Knights are a pseudo-tribe we haven’t seen in quite a while. With Knight of Grace and Knight of Malice, new versions of Black and White Knight, Dominaria has shown some love to them. Aided by the History of Benalia and Lyra Dawnbringer, these 2 mana 3/2 first strikers, each hexproof to one of the two most powerful removal colors can efficiently trade upwards and put immediate pressure on control opponents, while being able to hold back the onslaught of most aggressive decks.

While almost compeltely dropping off the grid in after the first week, Orzhov aggro gained a lot of popularity in MTG: Arena as its full standard variant clocked in excellent tournament results.

: 7     : 10     : 27     : 0    
Lands (22)
14 Plains
2 Swamp
4 Isolated Chapel
2 Forsaken Sanctuary

Spells (13)
2 Legion's Landing
2 Seal Away
4 History of Benalia
2 Pride of Conquerors
3 Cast Down

Creatures (25)
4 Knight of Grace
4 Benalish Marshal
4 Dauntless Bodyguard
3 Lyra Dawnbringer
4 Knight of Malice
4 Skymarcher Aspirant
2 Adanto Vanguard

Llanowar Elves and Steel Leaf Champion were a clear sign that mono green aggro be a contender in the post-Dominaria meta. The deck is rather draw dependant, but a t4-5 Ghalta, Primal Hunger or Carnage Tyrant are often too much for other decks to handle.

: 7     : 12     : 15     : 7    

Lands (23)
18 Forest
4 Hashep Oasis
1 Scavenger Grounds

Spells (5)
3 Adventurous Impulse
2 Savage Stomp

Creatures (32)
4 Carnage Tyrant
3 Ghalta, Primal Hunger
4 Merfolk Branchwalker
2 Ranging Raptors
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Resilient Khenra
3 Rhonas the Indomitable
1 Ripjaw Raptor
4 Steel Leaf Champion
3 Thrashing Brontodon

Mono-black is a very peculiar deck. It abuses Cabal Stronghold to produce unholy amounts of mana (pun very much intended) and dump it into one of it’s potential mana sinks; Josu Vess, Lich Knight, Torment or Dread Shade. It’s supported by some of the best non-white removal and card drawing engines like Karn and Twilight Prophet. The deck is in a weird spot due to its weak matchup against UW control and some trouble dealing with hyper-aggressive decks on the draw. It's seen a jump in popularity alongside it's full standard cousin, and due to sheer fun one can have playing it.

: 6     : 15     : 17     : 2    

Lands (25)
20 Swamp
2 Cabal Stronghold
1 Memorial to Folly
2 Ifnir Deadlands

Spells (21)
2 Duress
2 Phyrexian Scriptures
2 Arguel's Blood Fast
4 Cast Down
2 Doomfall
3 Vraska's Contempt
2 The Eldest Reborn
2 Never /// Return
2 Torment of Hailfire

Creatures (10)
4 Dread Shade
3 Kitesail Freebooter
3 Ravenous Chupacabra

Planeswalkers (4)
2 Liliana, Death's Majesty
2 Karn, Scion of Urza

Much like UW approach, the tokens received a ton of new tools to tinker with. The lists often opt to include Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and History of Benalia, which introduced a new way for the deck to pressure the opponent early, or finish them off in the late game. The addition of Seal Away helps the deck stabilize against aggressive opponents, and the planeswalkers help out in the grindy midrange stalls.

Unfortunatly the last two weeks have shown that Seal Away, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Goblin Chainwhirler in nearly every other deck on the ladder just hurt the tokens too much, landing them as the last deck with a greater than 3% meta share for the second snapshot in a row.

: 6     : 16     : 15     : 8    

Lands (25)
2 Field of Ruin
4 Glacial Fortress
1 Ipnu Rivulet
6 Island
9 Plains
1 Scavenger Grounds
2 Shefet Dunes

Spells (14)
4 Anointed Procession
2 Cast Out
4 History of Benalia
2 Legion's Landing
2 Seal Away
1 River's Rebuke

Planeswalkers (2)
2 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Creatures (18)
4 Anointer Priest
4 Champion of Wits
4 Sacred Cat
2 Sunscourge Champion
4 Vizier of the Anointed

Compleat's Tier List

We've included all the archetypes that have encountered in more than a 2% of our matchups, so if you can't find a specific list tiered, it's most likely too rare to warrant a spot. Decks within each tier are not ordered by strength. There are decks grouped together that differ in strength, and RDW could warrant a tier of its own while we're stuck with a Best of One format.

Tier 0:

Mono-Red Aggro remains the absolute top dog of the format. In a Bo1 where players don't get to sideboard and have to take a wild guess on mulligan whether they are sitting across with an aggro or control deck, there are few decks that can beat it reliably. The deck is powerful and oppresive enough to warrant a tier of its own. The fact they run two standard-illegal cards just pushes them over the top.

Tier 1:
These are the best decks/decks to beat in the meta. They have very few if any bad matchups, and can reliably compete against the metagame. UW Control is similar in a way. Approach of the Second Sun is a card that requires specific answers, and as most decks are heavily teched against aggro decks, this creature-less archetype renders a ton of enemy's cards useless and neutralizes the others with efficient use of the best removal and countermagic in the format.

Tier 2:
These decks are solid and coherently built. They are often tuned to target one or multiple tier one decks but have significantly unfavorable matchups against a decent share of the meta pool. The second meta tier essentially consists of aggro and aggressive midrange decks that can put the UW control under enough pressure to take games off of them, and survive the ridiculous onslaught of mono-red aggro. It's worth noting Esper Control is most commonly jsut UB Control splashing White for Teferi, Hero of Dominaria.

Tier 3:
Decks that can take games off tier 1 and 2 decks, but are either not consistent enough or have a very bad matchup against a significant share of the meta. Although the lowest tier seemingly suggests otherwise, these are not bad decks. In large these are decks that are missing certain cards from Kaladesh, or are not consistently aggressive enough to warrant a spot in tier 2.


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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