Last week I talked about the threat of a “Combo Spring” and this week I wish I was clever enough to come up with a good Groundhog Day joke because it seems like my prediction came six weeks too early. The May 1 and May 2 had their fair share of combo decks but the real story was the power of sideboard cards.
I had underestimated the ability of Hydroblast as a way to combat First Day of Class combo. The Goblin Combo deck struggles when the field is full of cheap interaction. It follows that we saw a resurgence of blue based tempo and control decks – 9 of the decks to make Top 8 this past weekend had access to Hydroblast or Blue Elemental Blast. The fact that these cards also have utility against some key players – Boarding Party and Fiery Cannonade – doesn’t hurt.
The deck that benefited the most from the metagame shift is Grixis Affinity. Eschewing green and Carapace Forger, Grixis Affinity is more reliant on Atog as a way to end games in concert with Disciple of the Vault. The result is midrange deck that can attack from multiple angles and is strung together with powerful card draw and selection (Thoughtcast, Night’s Whisper, Witching Well). Perhaps the most important addition as of late is Makeshift Munitions, which can give the strategy some much needed reach and board control elements.
Why did Grixis Affinity surge? Looking at the results it appears that folks valued the ability to Snuff Out more than the chance to run Gorilla Shaman. That meant the Counterspell decks of the weekend were paired with black rather than red, which reduced the amount of powerful artifact hate. The result is a weekend that catapulted Grixis Affinity up the power rankings.
So what does that mean for next week? I would definitely stay off of Grixis Affinity next week, or any Artifact Land based deck. I’d also do my best to avoid running blue or red as I would like to avoid getting ‘Blasted out of the tournament.