It’s good to be back! While the weekend of August 2 and 3 have seemingly been lost to gremlins in the code, we have our first look at the impact of Double Masters and the downshifts it brings – Abrade and Cast Down being chief amongst them. Before diving into the “start” of this season, let’s take a look at how the post-ban world of Core 2021 shook out.
There is not a ton of data to work with, but this is what the top of the metagame looked like in the four challenges post the ban of Expedition Map and Mystic Sanctuary. As discussed previously Tron remained a major player. Old standbys were solid if unexciting in the short span of time between the bans and the latest set. Simply put, there is not a lot to pull from this suite of information since it draws from a small sample size. That being said, Tron decks looked to be just fine and Stompy appeared to be a serious force.
Now what happens when you add two fantastic removal spells?
Despite not winning an event, Flicker Tron variants took down four Top 8 slots across the two tournaments. Seven total decks across both Top 8s ran either Cast Down or Abrade. Stompy managedd two Top 8 finishes. Hobble made an appearance, as did Bone Picker. There were also four Spellstutter Sprite decks across both sets of elimination rounds.
I do not want to do too much divining from one weekend, but it seems clear that more than before, aggressive decks are going to struggle. It isn’t just the new removal spells or the adopting of old ones, it’s also Bone Picker. Bone Picker is a removal spell that has the advantage of coming in for extra damage later in the game. While fragile, Bone Picker also promotes players trying to double spell in the early game, helping them to get ahead on board.
Normally the best way to fight this would be to go slightly slower and play more resilient threats – Mother Bear anyone? – but that runs the risk of letting the window of opportunity against Tron slam shut. I think the best course of action might be to look for supplemental damage engines a la deluxeicoff in Sunday’s Top 8. Sideboard Harsh Sustenance is something we first saw out of Elves but it could be key to closing games in the next few weeks.