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Metagame Madness with Frank Karsten

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Hall of Famer Frank Karsten is famous for many things. There is his impressive Pro resume, his writing, and his decks. But most uniquely, Frank is famous for teaching the Pro Tour how to analyze things correctly. He was the player who taught us how to build our Ravnica mana bases correctly. He introduced the concept of the "aggregate" deck based on hours poring over data from Magic Online, a method he used to Top 8 the 2008 World Championships in Memphis.

Metagame master and Hall of Famer Frank Karsten, seen here looking smart.

Given all that, I was not surprised when Frank, a friend and honorary Belgian, sent me and Pro Tour historian Brian David-Marshall an email prior to the Pro Tour. It read simply, "Before leaving for San Juan, I made an analysis of the Block Constructed metagame in Magic Online tournaments and calculated some average decklists; see the enclosed file."

The enclosed attachment was filled with data, and I'm pleased to present it to you here courtesy of Frank.

Metagame Analysis

Archetype Aggregate Metagame Actual Metagame Difference
Green-Blue-Black Landfall 1.00% 1.01% 0.01%
Green-Blue Control 1.00% 0.76% -0.24%
Summoning Trap 1.50% 5.06% 3.56%
Mono-Red 1.50% 0.51% -0.99%
Vampires 11.30% 5.82% -5.48%
Devastating Red 15.70% 14.43% -1.27%
Valakut 2.00% 0.51% -1.49%
Allies 2.00% 0.25% -1.75
Green-White-Blue Control 3.90% 4.30% 0.40%
White-Blue Control 38.20% 24.05% -14.15%
Blue-Red-Green Comet Storm 4.90% 4.56% -0.34%
Koros 6.40% 7.09% 0.69%
Monument Green 6.90% 10.89% 3.99%

Frank's data came from the Zendikar Block Daily Events on Magic Online. Each 4-0 archetype received a four points of value, while each 3-1 archetype got two points. That gave the Dutch pro a starting point to estimate what archetypes would be present at the Pro Tour. So how did the numbers turn out? Magic Online missed a few archetypes that showed up at the Pro Tour itself, and when compared to the metagame analysis by Rashad Miller posted on Saturday, the stats range from wildly off (by almost 15% on the most played archetype, White-Blue) to almost dead on (.01% off on the Green-Blue-Black Control archetype).

The truly interesting data from Frank, however, are his aggregate deck lists. He averaged all of the cards from each deck that received a point weighting in his data set, the 4-0 and 3-1 lists from the Magic Online Daily Events, and came up with the "perfect" number of each copy of each card for the major archetypes. Those decks look like nothing you've ever seen before. (We actually had to check to see if the deck engine on DailyMTG.com could even handle them.)

Karsten's Aggregate White-Blue Control

Main Deck

59.90000000000003 cards

1.08  Arid Mesa
4.0  Celestial Colonnade
0.09  Evolving Wilds
2.66  Halimar Depths
4.78  Island
0.14  Kabira Crossroads
0.49  Marsh Flats
0.43  Misty Rainforest
4.91  Plains
0.61  Scalding Tarn
3.93  Sejiri Refuge
2.59  Tectonic Edge

25.71 lands

0.05  Emeria Angel
0.28  Iona, Shield of Emeria
0.04  Kozilek, ButcherofTruth
0.05  Pilgrims Eye
0.03  Sea Gate Oracle
0.34  Sphinx of Jwar Isle
2.96  Sphinx of Lost Truths
0.05  Sphinx of Magosi
3.89  Wall of Omens

7.6899999999999995 creatures

0.24  All Is Dust
3.46  Cancel
3.85  Day of Judgment
2.01  Deprive
2.51  Everflowing Chalice
1.43  Into the Roil
3.91  Journey to Nowhere
0.09  Luminarch Ascension
0.08  Oust
0.19  Rite of Replication
0.43  See Beyond
0.38  Spell Pierce
1.14  Spreading Seas
0.65  Treasure Hunt

20.369999999999997 other spells

2.27  Gideon Jura
3.86  Jace, the Mind Sculptor

6.13 planeswalkers





Karsten's Aggregator Eldrazi Ramp

Main Deck

60.00999999999995 cards

4.0  Eldrazi Temple
2.93  Eye of Ugin
12.14  Forest
3.21  Khalni Garden
0.29  Misty Rainforest
3.57  Tectonic Edge

26.14 lands

0.14  Avenger of Zendikar
1.0  Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
2.0  Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
1.29  Ondu Giant
0.29  Oracle of Mul Daya
0.29  Overgrown Battlement
0.43  Pelakka Wurm
2.86  Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

8.299999999999999 creatures

3.71  All Is Dust
3.71  Ancient Stirrings
0.29  Awakening Zone
0.07  Dreamstone Hedron
3.71  Everflowing Chalice
3.36  Expedition Map
4.0  Explore
3.93  Growth Spasm
2.36  Skittering Invasion
0.43  Summoning Trap

25.57 other spells

Sideboard
0.07  All Is Dust
0.07  Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
3.14  Living Destiny
3.07  Lodestone Golem
3.43  Mold Shambler
0.21  Naturalize
0.14  Oracle of Mul Daya
0.29  Oran-Rief Survivalist
0.07  Pathrazer of Ulamog
1.07  Pelakka Wurm
0.21  Tajuru Preserver
3.07  Tanglesap
0.14  Tectonic Edge

14.980000000000004 sideboard cards



Karsten's Aggregator Koros

Main Deck

60.00999999999998 cards

4.0  Arid Mesa
1.64  Evolving Wilds
4.0  Marsh Flats
4.21  Mountain
5.79  Plains
4.0  Scalding Tarn
0.57  Tectonic Edge

24.21 lands

3.29  Burst Lightning
3.86  Cunning Sparkmage
0.36  Emeria Angel
0.36  Goblin Bushwhacker
0.43  Goblin Guide
2.93  Kor Duelist
2.5  Kor Skyfisher
3.93  Plated Geopede
3.93  Steppe Lynx
3.64  Stoneforge Mystic
2.29  Student of Warfare

27.52 creatures

2.36  Adventuring Gear
1.0  Basilisk Collar
0.29  Devastating Summons
0.14  Emerge Unscathed
0.07  Flame Slash
0.29  Oust
0.71  Punishing Fire
2.71  Staggershock
0.71  Trusty Machete

8.280000000000001 other spells

Sideboard
0.21  Basilisk Collar
0.43  Blazing Torch
0.07  Brave the Elements
0.14  Burst Lightning
0.43  Day of Judgment
1.79  Devout Lightcaster
1.0  Flame Slash
2.64  Goblin Ruinblaster
1.07  Journey to Nowhere
2.71  Kor Firewalker
1.5  Kor Sanctifiers
0.21  Kor Skyfisher
0.71  Luminarch Ascension
0.14  Oust
0.07  Plains
1.71  Refraction Trap
0.14  Stoneforge Mystic

14.970000000000002 sideboard cards



Karsten's Aggregator Blue-Red-Green Comet Storm

Main Deck

59.999999999999986 cards

0.89  Evolving Wilds
3.11  Forest
3.22  Halimar Depths
3.11  Island
1.78  Kazandu Refuge
4.0  Misty Rainforest
3.89  Mountain
3.67  Raging Ravine
3.78  Scalding Tarn
0.44  Tectonic Edge

27.89 lands

1.33  Avenger of Zendikar
0.11  Cunning Sparkmage
0.67  Lotus Cobra
3.11  Oracle of Mul Daya
0.89  Overgrown Battlement
0.11  Pilgrims Eye
2.33  Sphinx of Lost Truths
0.22  Sphinx of Magosi

8.77 creatures

3.56  Burst Lightning
4.0  Comet Storm
0.56  Deprive
4.0  Explore
1.11  Growth Spasm
0.33  Into the Roil
0.33  Prophetic Prism
0.67  Searing Blaze
0.22  See Beyond
2.67  Spreading Seas
2.0  Staggershock

19.449999999999995 other spells

3.89  Jace, the Mind Sculptor

3.89 planeswalkers

Sideboard
0.22  All Is Dust
0.11  Basilisk Collar
0.33  Cancel
0.44  Chain Reaction
1.56  Cunning Sparkmage
0.22  Deprive
1.33  Dispel
0.78  Flame Slash
3.78  Goblin Ruinblaster
0.44  Guard Gomazoa
1.44  Lotus Cobra
0.67  Mold Shambler
0.44  Narcolepsy
1.44  Rampaging Baloths
0.22  Recurring Insight
0.11  Relic Crush
0.11  Rite of Replication
1.33  Spell Pierce

14.969999999999997 sideboard cards



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