Meta-setters


Posted: March 28, 2018


It’s been almost a week since we’ve received the Amonkhet update for MTGA, and it’s time for us to look at each edition and declare, which one we think will leave the most significant impact on the metagame before the addition of Kaladesh and Dominaria.

Amonkhet


Amonkhet is a stacked edition, full of powerful and highly sought-after cards. Forged in the trials of the gods, Glorybringer is an amazing addition to the aggressive red decks, and Liliana, Death’s majesty is an incredible control/midrange card. Yet, they are not the ones we think will be defining the meta-game in the coming weeks.


The god of Zeal is likely to be the one card from Amonkhet that will partake in shaping the meta the most. Although she is missing her little robotic helper of Kaladesh, Red Aggro decks have no problem unloading their hands and curving out perfectly into Hazoret, a turn 4, indestructible 5/4 that is incredibly hard to deal with. Albeit both, white and black have multiple ways of exiling her, the Ixalan rare lands are rather hard to come by in this economy, and control/midrange players often find themselves land/color locked out of an answer. Vraska’s Contempt at rare is rather difficult to acquire a playset off as well. Her ability to seal games outside of combat, not unlike Ramunap Ruins, will allow the aggressive Red players to cut through UB decks for weeks to come.

Runner-up: Approach of the Second Sun


Although UW control is slowly losing its presence in Standard, we believe Approach of the Second Sun will be the second most dominant card of this MTGA meta-game. As players are currently prioritising other rares, mostly in Black and Blue to support the Scarab God, we believe UW control is going to usurper the UB moving forward. With the lack of aggressive black minions from Kaladesh to support aggressive Midrange UB archetype, Fatal Push and Torrential Gearhulk, Scarab currently lacks solid early-game presence and early removal, and the ability to stabilize through Gearhulk, while white has a lot better options to do so. Furthermore, resolving the second AotSS is a lot easier than sticking Scarab God long enough to take the game in mirrors..

Hour of Devastation


Hour of Devastation was the easiest of the 4 editions to choose from. Although packed full of strong and interesting cards, the most meta defining one is another forgotten god of the Amonkhet Pantheon.

Winner: Scarab God


This 3UB Beast is very well know to everyone in the current beta, and I have written about him in my Budget UB guide. A 5/5 body at 5cmc is solid to begin with, but his abilities are incredibly powerful when left unchecked. His ability to fix your draw, fill your board and reuse both your opponent’s and your creatures while simultaneously denying the same to them makes it absolutely insane addition to the decks. The possibly most infuriating ability Scarab God possesses is that not unlike other bugs, he is incredibly hard to get rid of. Finally, his ability to return to hand if killed makes him difficult target to remove. UB is currently the most popular color combination in MTGA, and it’s largely due to this skittering giant bug.

Runner-up: Ramunap Ruins


Banned in Standard, Ramunap Ruins are one of the strongest cards in the current pool. This land provides players with colorless mana (Red for the price of measly 1 life), but its real strength comes from its secondary ability: For the price of RR2, once can tap the ruins and sacrifice any desert to deal 2 damage to each opponent. As Ramunap Ruins generally find home in red aggressive decks that leave people barely alive after 3 or 4 turns, Ramunap is the perfect way to seal otherwise unwinnable games, and offers very little counterplay to the opponent. Ramunap Ruins are getting banned when Kaladesh gets added, but until then they will spread death and despair amongst the control players.

Ixalan


Ixalan, not unlike Amonkhet, is full of incredible cards with great design. Although its viability is somewhat limited by the tribal nature of the set, there are several cards we were very excited to discuss amongst the merfolk and vampires of Ixalan.

Winner: Search for Azcanta


Although it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever see people running full playsets of this incredible enchantments, Search for Azcanta is a card that will decide many a game. As the current most popular deck is UB control with a lack of enchantment removal, and Field of Ruins often limited to one as players will likely prioritize other rares, it will often come down to who resolves and transforms Search for Azcanta first. This card not only fixes our early game draws and provides card advantage in the late game, it helps us search for the exact answers we need and is as such one of the most important tools of UX/x control of the format.

Runner-up: Vraska's Contempt


In a format dominated by indestructible gods or clingy gods, units that come back stronger once you kill them and a plethora of players that just want to see you dead as soon as possible, exile and healing are two things that are highly sought after, and this 2BB instant speed removal is packing both. While I am sure there are a lot of puny red minions that deserve Vraska’s Contempt, this card looks down on gods, planeswalkers and giant monsters alike, making it the 2nd best control tool in Ixalan.

Rivals of Ixalan


Last and very much the least, the Rivals of Ixalan are the one edition that will hardly leave a permanent mark on Magic’s history, as we believe it will barely make a show in current, very limited card pool.

Winner: Rekindling Phoenix


The winner however, Rekindling Phoenix is an incredibly powerful creature that is as elusive as it’s hard to kill. This 2RR mythic is going to be an integral part of Gruul Monsters deck once players acquire enough cards for the archetype to work. It’s also a great addition to aggressive RDW and might partially replace Hazoret if her hand size condition proves to be too risky to run more than one/two-of.

Runner-up: Ravenous Chupacabra


Ravenous Chupacabra is a weird card. It’s a solid 2/2 stick with a no-condition creature removal on attached, yet we don’t think it’s quite as meta defining as it would be in any other format. Why is that? The fact of the matter is destroying creatures was never quite as lackluster before as it is now. Everything that makes Vraska’s Contempt such an amazing card is why Chupacabra, albeit an incredible card, doesn’t quite make the mark it would in almost any other set. Nevertheless, our bloodsucking canine friend is one of the strongest cards in Rivals, and one we will be seeing a lot of as the meta develops.


While these are all predictions, and the metagame might develop in a different way (since it’s evolution is hindered by the slow economy and collection growth that doesn’t allow space for experimentations), these should give you an idea on what to expect in the next few weeks. In the follow up article we will take a closer look at the first week metagame of MTG Arena, sample decklists and more predictions for the future.


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