Over the course of our 2018 season, we’ve posted every decklist after each event. In addition, I’ve been logging the decks in a spreadsheet, which I’ve occasionally shared chunks of to give players an idea of what the meta looks like. Now that the season’s finished, I wanted to share a more thorough analysis of what decks got played, and how they performed.

Before we go any further, I should clarify: I am not a statistician! While everything I’ve laid out here is pretty basic, readers still might consider taking any of my analysis or conclusions with a grain of salt. If you’re a skeptic, however, the basic breakdown of percentages is absolutely accurate, so you can at least use what I’ve presented to draw your own conclusions.

I hope that our players find some value in what I’ve put together, and that it informs their choices this coming season. After a year of running events, I feel that the Austin Vintage scene has grown more sophisticated and more competitive. Given that increase in skill and familiarity with the format, I expect that the players who will perform best in the 2019 season are those who can interpret the field and prepare for it. Hopefully, these numbers help them do just that.

Notes on Deck Classification

  • Xerox: Delver, Pyromancer, and Mentor strategies
  • Paradoxical Outcome: Both Mentor and Storm variants
  • Misc Combo: Anything off the beaten path. Includes things like Flash Rector, Saturn Combo, Dark Depths, and Belcher
  • Oath: Both Controlling and Combo builds
  • Blue Control: Landstill, Planeswalker Control, and Blue Moon
  • Eldrazi: Primarily White Eldrazi, though we had a few Colorless builds
  • Hatebears: 5C Humans and White Trash
  • Ritual Combo: Primarily DPS, though I’ve lumped Doomsday in here as well
  • Survival: Bant and BUG
  • Big Blue: Tezzeret, Thieves

Season 1 Metagame

Archetype Appearances Percentage  
Xerox   22 13%
Ravager Shops 18 11%  
Paradoxical 16 10%  
Misc Combo 15 9%  
Oath 15 9%  
BUGx Pile 12 8%  
Blue Control 9 5%  
Eldrazi 7 4%  
Hatebears 7 4%  
Ritual Combo 7 4%  
Dredge 6 4%  
Moon Stompy 5 3%  
Survival 5 3%  
Merfolk 4 2.5%  
Burn 4 2.5%  
Big Blue 3 2%  
Lands 3 2%  
Two Card Monte 2 1%  

Metagame Notes

  • This season, we had exactly 160 players/decks between our 7 Vintage events.
  • Xerox was our most popular strategy, at nearly 14% of the meta. Shops and PO put up the next highest numbers, at 11% and 10% respectively. None of this should surprise anyone who follows Vintage.
  • “Miscellaneous Combo” is, obviously, a very broad category. Lumped together, it represents one of the biggest chunks of our meta. However, its 15 appearances represent 9 different decks, so any given one is a pretty insubstantial presence in the overall field.
  • Despite waning in strength in the larger national metagame, Oath was a consistent presence throughout the season at 9%. Oath here contains both the Combo and Control builds. Aficionados might disagree with this classification.
  • Clocking in at 7.5% of the meta, BUGx Pile decks were a much more popular archetype than they tend to be online or in larger paper events.
  • Hatebears, Eldrazi, and Moon Stompy were all fixtures throughout the season. I don’t believe it’d be correct to lump them together as something like “Non-Workshop Taxing,” but if you were to do so, they’d represent the second most popular archetype.
  • Survival’s presence followed pretty closely its development as a deck: it was completely nonexistent for the first 2/3 of the year, then started showing up at the end of the season. I suspect we’ll see a much larger metagame share for Survival next year.
  • Some archetypes at the bottom end, such as Burn or Lands, reflect the fact that this is a local series. If a single player shows up with the same brew or rogue deck 4 times, that ends up representing a not-insignificant data point.
  • On a similar note, I suspect some of these numbers are inflated by the loaner decks I make available at each tournament. My loaner box includes Merfolk, Moon Stompy, and 5C Humans; these are fairly niche archetypes, but anecdotally I notice they’re some of the most frequently requested Loaners. If players were absolutely required to bring their own decks, it’s possible we’d see less of these archetypes.
  • I’ve broken Two-Card Monte out from Miscellaneous Combo for reasons that will be apparent when we get to Top 4 discussion momentarily. In addition to its performance, I also felt that Two-Card Monte, while still rogue, is a more established archetype than the other combos in our Miscellaneous Combo umbrella.

Top 4s

Archetype Appearances Percentage
Ravager Shops 4 14%
Paradoxical 4 14%
Dredge 3 11%
Oath 3 11%
Ritual Combo 3 11%
Two Card Monte 2 7%
Xerox 2 7%
Blue Control 2 7%
Eldrazi 2 7%
Misc Combo 1 4%
Survival 1 4%
BUGx Pile 1 4%

Top 4 Notes

  • Shops and Paradoxical had the largest share of Top 4s, at 14% each. With that, both decks outperformed their overall meta share by a few percentage points, from 11% to 14% and 10% to 14%, respectively.
  • Dredge is a huge success story. Despite making up less than 4% of our meta, it represented 11% of Top 4s.
  • Eldrazi and Ritual Combo were just behind Dredge in their conversion rates, going from just over 4% of the meta to an 11% share of Top 4s.
  • Oath and Blue Control also saw slightly positive conversion rates.
  • Two Card Monte only had 2 appearances all season, and in both instances it Top 4’d. It significantly outperformed its meta share and the other Misc Combo decks, so I’ve broken it out as an interesting data point. If I included Two Card in the Misc Combo, then Combo would have essentially performed as-expected given its meta share. Separated out, we see the rogue combo decks underperforming, while Two Card overperformed.
  • Xerox and BUGx strategies strike me as the season’s big losers, going from 13.75% and 7.5% of the meta to only 7% and 4% of Top 4s, respectively. It might be interesting to tease out the decks housed in those supertypes and see, for instance, how Mentor performed in comparison to Pyromancer or Delver, but that’s a job for another day.

Parting Thoughts

  • If anyone’s interested, I’d recommend looking at each individual event to see how the metagame has evolved over the course of 2018. I wasn’t sure how to quantify that, so it’s not really reflected here. But anecdotally, I felt that we saw our meta growing more sophisticated as the season progressed (in some early events, we’d have things like 0 Shops!). With that, I also felt like the level of competition got steeper. Anyone hoping to Top 4, or win, one of our events in 2019 is going to have their work cut out for them!
  • As mentioned earlier, I suspect my Loaner Box contents were slightly skewing our results. For the 2019 season I’m going to be slimming down and rebuilding my Loaner selection, which will entail cutting out the more niche decks.

2018 Result Links

Date Player Count Location Link
January 13 24 Players 4th Tap [LINK]
February 24 17 Players Austin Beer Works [LINK]
April 14 27 Players 4th Tap [LINK]
May 27 24 Players 4th Tap [LINK]
August 25 23 Players Hopfields [LINK]
September 29 18 Players Growlers USA [LINK]
November 17 27 Players 4th Tap [LINK]