Boy, did John Finkel ever throw us for a loop.
For the last couple of years, and especially this year, netdecks have dominated the tournament scene. And they tend to be janky, combostible, bland, and rare-heavy. In the last couple of tournaments, though I’ve seen a trend that I appreciate. I’m talking to you, of course, about the rise of the casual decks, a topic that I could go on for hours about, but won’t.
I think that after seeing how the WTOC high council handled Trix, many people out there are converting to more straightforward decks. Either because they’re effective and underused, or maybe because if any more combo decks spring up, WOTC will banish giant growth too… Two perfect examples of this are Red Wins 2000, which made an amazing splash at the UK nationals (a significantly smaller one here) and John Finkel. Playing black control and sweeping through the US Nationals like a hot knife through butter.
Even the newest and most trendy deck types, trinity green, for example, shows signs that the era of replenish winners and decks that use cards that begin with “Yawgmoth” is over. It’s a new ballgame. Look at the winners, my friends. Replenish is the only combo deck left alive, and it’s not winning nearly as often as it used to be. Instead of making decks to combo on turn 5 or less, more and more people are turning to effective anti-combo’s as a method of keeping alive. And winning, too.
So, when John Finkel won with black control, I saw my opening! Finally, someone shows us that we CAN deal with replenish, without becoming combo-esque ourselves! Black Control, a deck that almost nobody thought would get high into any tournament scene, which didn’t even show up in the ranks of the UK nationals, which was not nearly as much of a netdeck as replenish, not only placed, but won! I admit that, in return, Red Wins 2000 was a failure at the US nationals, but even so, as long as one of the decks makes it, it’s a good start.
Despite how this may appear, I like netdecks. Really, I do! I LOVED Zvi’s early decks, which I never even saw played, only saw on the net. I still idly construct variants of Trix and Blackjack on my computer, and play them solitaire, just to relish the 4rth turn kill that can be made. But surprise is a key element of every battle. It pays to have a deck nobody expects. It can even win you the tournament.
So, when it comes right down to it, netdecks have become, in their popularity, obsolete. They have reached too many people and too many people are now expecting them. The best way, in fact, to win, may now be to think of your own decks, and playtest them among friends, or people who won’t share your secret weapon with the world. Up until Finkel won the nationals, I still thought of the Dojo as alive. Even the huge fall from dominance hurt it not so much as this. Now, my friends, the age of the dojo has ended.