Four Internet Protips for Metagaming
I used to dream of normal things: flying high above Boston, gazing down at the Charles River; walking into my classroom realizing I forgot to wear pants; drowning in a swimming pool of nacho cheese as three bats circled me, chanting my name, summoning Satan himself; you know, normal stuff like that. But more recently, my dreams have become stranger. Last night, for example, I was in the woods being pursued by a snake. Not too crazy. But then a huge, huge (but technically not infinite) army of cats started pursuing me, led by a mysterious Indian woman. Trapped between them, I panicked and climbed up a tree, then a giant boat in the sky started bombing me…? Oh, and there were definitely giant robots as well.
I don’t remember what got me in the end, whether it was cats, The Snake, or advanced military technology, but I definitely died in that dream. To be fair, I was pretty sick, which might explain why my fevered visions were so confusing. Hey, you know what else is confusing? The Standard metagame!
Seriously, what’s up with it? I heard from very good sources ON THE INTERNET that Standard was BROKE because of Saheeli/Felidar Guardian combo. But then the Pro Tour got run over by a bunch of cars, with the Cats doing horribly. I’ve always been more of a dog person, so this didn’t unduly upset me. But then, there I was in Pittsburgh the next weekend with my new motorcycle and they wouldn’t let me into the Convention Center! They said I could only come in if I had the kind of Vehicles allowed in Magic: the Gathering, and upon checking decklists, all the good ones fly. I couldn’t afford an airplane, so no GP for me. Wouldn’t have mattered though, because that GP got all tangled up in BG decks. This was again confusing for me because my reliable friend, the Internet, had promised me that Standard was over because Mardu Vehicles was just too oppressive. And then, the very next week, after promising me that BG decks were utterly, unfairly dominant, all these 4C Saheeli decks started popping up and stomping on those.
All this got me thinking: maybe I can do better than the internet! Maybe, if I add in some small contribution to the cesspool of misinformation, I can make it just a smidgeon better! So, folks, here we go! These are Ryan’s Four Internet Protips for Metagaming.
1. Ignore it
Guys, metagaming is really hard (Reid Duke told me that). The best way to solve this problem, like so many of life’s conundrums, is to simply avoid it! When my wife complains that our bills are stacking up on the dining room table, what do I do? I burn them! Problem solved/avoided! Like so many real-life lessons, you can apply this to a children’s card game. Instead of wondering what decks other people are playing, just worry about what deck you are playing. For example, the Big 3 right now are Mardu Vehicles, BG Snake, and Copy Cat/Crazy Cat Lady/don’t-get-mad-at-me-internet-for-calling-it-the-name-you-don’t-prefer. The metagame shares of these three decks seem to fluctuate weekly, so if you just pick one and stick to it, you’ll eventually have the perfect deck for the metagame! As my dad used to say, “A broken clock is right twice as often as you are, Ryan. I hate you.” (My dad’s actually a super-nice guy; I love you, Dad! :D)
2. Metagame SUPER HARD
Quit your job. No, really, do it. If you’d rather get fired in order to receive benefits that you wouldn’t get if you quit, then just get yourself fired. Lots of good ways to do that. I just googled it, and there are entire articles on how to earn the boot if you need to.
Why am I asking you to forgo your livelihood? Because you’re about to become Metagame Guy. Every day, wake up, first thing you do is check MTGGoldfish for the latest metagame breakdowns. Hit refresh. Keep doing this until the daily League results are posted. Incorporate that into your spreadsheet. Sure, you have no statistical training or mathematical background, but you’re qualified to analyze large data sets in order to predict the behavior of thousands of people at the next Grand Prix. Why?
Because you’re Metagame Guy.
You live metagame. You breathe metagame. All you do is metagame. You go to a PPTQ packing UW Spirits because it is the ideal deck for your expected metagame. You see, with the preponderance of 4C Saheeli preying on BG, you expect a resurgence of Mardu Vehicles, which means that people are going to go under Mardu Vehicles and BG Snake with WR Humans. But, of course, WR Humans doesn’t run enough interaction to race all-in Aetherworks Marvel, which you’ve determined to be the true endgame of the format. And what beats Aetherworks Marvel? Spell Queller, bitches!
Five rounds later, you’re 0-5, but hey, that’s cool - variance happens. You got paired against BG Snek, Mardu Vehicles, and 4C Saheeli repeatedly, but you’re sure that was only because Marvel put them all in the losers’ bracket. After all, it’s impossible that your metagame call was wrong.
Because you’re mother-effing Metagame Guy.
3. Go rogue. Really rogue.
Who hasn’t dreamed of breaking the format wide-open? Playing around with spoilers from the latest set, finding something really busted, and then just wrecking week one. Sure, you’ve never done it, no one you know has ever done it, and the pros rarely do it, but Pro Tour really stands for Promotional Tour anyways, amirite? Can’t rely on those guys for anything, they all just fall in line. If you want something done rogue, you’ve gotta do it yourself.
Here’s how you really go rogue. Go to MTGGoldfish.com and scroll to the bottom. To truly be off people’s radars, you need to play a deck that only has one result. That way, you know it’s legit (it’s on the internet, after all!), but people won’t be expecting it. Close your eyes, spin around seven times, and then point to a decklist on the screen. One of your friends will build the deck for you and give it to you at the beginning of the next PPTQ. After receiving it, have your friend remove ten non-lands from the deck, and then give him ten of your favorite Standard cards (at least one from each color) to put in. Your friend fills out and submits the decklist, and voila! You’ve just Gone RogueTM.
Why the secrecy, you ask? Let’s be honest; can you ever really catch your opponent off-guard if you aren’t caught off-guard? Of course not! You need to have no idea what you’re playing! Of course, the best way to do this is without reading spoilers after a new set, but that’s Expert Difficulty; we’re starting off with Medium Rogueness.
That’s the deck selection piece, but the whole point of Going RogueTM is to catch your opponent off-guard and pick up free wins that way. Picking a rogue deck is the first part, but you as a person also need to catch them off-guard. If you really want to dress in a radical way, confusing and befuddling the opponents you will face in the basement of your local game store, there’s only one set of attire you can wear: suit and tie/wedding gown/whatever fancy garb you prefer, fully showered, and wearing deodorant. People won’t even recognize you as a Magic player. They’ll get up and leave because they think their opponent hasn’t shown up, expecting the win themselves, only to discover at the end of the round that the dapper, nice-smelling young lad or lass sitting across from them was their opponent all along.
And that, my friends, is how to truly go rogue in the Magic community: pick a deck at random, screw it up, then dress like you’re going to your high school prom. No one will see it coming. Why do you think Todd Stevens wins so much? That man looks hawt!
4. Play a control deck. Complain about it
The final method, folks, is to play a control deck. After all, an established metagame is a control player’s dream! You know that absurd nightmare sequence at the beginning of this article? Control players’ fantasies are nothing like that. (To be fair, if you derive pleasure from violent slaughter, you might want to get that checked out.) They have dreams of people sitting in rows at tables, playing decks in perfect proportion to the expected metagame. Then, for each opponent who sits down across from you, just saying, “No,” signing the match slip, and grabbing some delightfully healthy options from the salad bar before the next round.
Well, that’s what we would do if control didn’t suck! Thanks, Obama WOTC, for taking all of blue’s stuff and giving it to green! Best card advantage right now? Is it in blue? Hell no! Tireless Tracker, Ob Nixilis, Lifecrafter’s Bestiary, Duskwatch Recruiter, Collected Company, and what does blue get?! What does blue get?! Glimmer of Genius?!?! A card that you added into the set at the last minute because you thought maybe control was just a tad too weak? A tad? Seriously?
You know what, it’s not just control, it’s all of Standard, nay, all of Magic that’s terrible! Rather than trying to metagame, not metagame, or go rogue to crush the metagame, you should just share your opinions on how terrible everything is about this card game that you’ve spent probably thousands of dollars on. You should share it in comments on Starcitygames and Channelfireball, you should #rageonreddit, you should #screamatMaro, you should #makeahashtag to express your discontent! Let loose all your primal unhappiness on the internet at the sorry state of Standard! And if you get bored, or if people get tired of hearing about it, don’t worry - Amonkhet will be here soon.
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