Category: Tournament Preparation

Tournament Preparation – Analyzing the Meta

Tourny Prep

Tourny Prep

Hello Kaijudo players and welcome to part one of my tournament preparation guide! I’ll be using my experience preparing for the Kaijudo Summer Championships ’13 as a baseline and example. This first installment is where I stumbled when preparing for Seattle! Lets dive right in.

Step One: See The Meta


The very first thing you need to do before even trying to decide on what you want to play is to see what your meta is going to look like. Sometimes this is very easy. You may be playing in your locals religiously and you know exactly how many Rush, Control, Dragon, and Mid-Range decks you can expect to see. Other times it might be extremely difficult. You could be traveling out of state to compete in a KMC or even for the Championships! The first step is simply trying to come up with the most reasonable list of things you can expect to find. While preparing for Seattle I knew I could expect Control, Greed, Rush and Megabugs. So the first thing I did was sit down and list the possibilities and tried to gauge what percent of the field I felt would pilot each style of deck. Here’s what I came up with.

  • Control 50%
  • Greed 20%
  • Megabugs 20%
  • Rush 4%
  • Brews 6%

So given what I had seen during the KMC season I figured Control would still see a lot of play. I knew Greed was still a strong deck and many people would be leaning on Bottle of Wishes to give them the edge they needed against the faster decks, but didn’t see people really wanting to trust in the variance of Bottle. Megabugs was a deck that didn’t really break out until the final week or KMCs. I knew it was strong based on how well it did in tournament, but I had never piloted it. I knew Rush could just win sometimes and who doesn’t like winning? I figured a lot of players would be hesitant to throw the dice with the Rush lists we saw running around during the KMC season. Last but not least, Brews, I expected there to be a few innovations here or there based off of existing strategies, but wasn’t banking on worrying about preparing for that much of an unknown factor.

Step Two: Become your Meta


This step sounds a bit odd just thrown out there, but I cannot stress enough how important this step of the process is. Becoming your meta starts by building your own personal Gauntlet. Your goal is to proxy/build everything you listed in step one. Take a look at your most recent set of KMC’s or locals and pick out the builds that seem most common or strong. Then you pilot each list at least 5-10 times against everything else. I proxied CVH’s LWDn Control, Team SBK’s 53(?) Greed, Earthp0w3r’s Megabugs, and your stock Mono-Red Rush. I then shuffled up every deck and played multiple matches against everything, using everything. I got to the point where I knew exactly what every deck wanted to do and not do in any given match-up. After I felt I had a sufficient grasp of what the meta “felt” like, I re-analyzed my list from step one and adjusted my percentages.

  • Control 20%
  • Greed 25%
  • Megabugs 40%
  • Rush 3%
  •  Brew 12%

Mega bugs was sooooo good.  Control was not testing very well against the hot nasty speed and tempo of Bugs. Greed was better at dealing with bugs because of its consistency shield blasting and counter threatening with Herald of Infernus. Rush…well, it didn’t do so hot. It wasn’t un-winnable, but man did Bugs play some quality creatures. I didn’t really have any brews at this point, but I knew that anyone who was doing their testing was getting a lot of the same results I would be getting and would be brewing something up. I knew I needed something that had game against Bugs, but didn’t absolutely fold to everything else in the meta.

Step 3: Break your Meta!


Now…you Brew, Innovate or Tech. You take your assessment of the meta and try to do one of three things

  1. Come way out of left field with a brew and shake things up
  2. Innovate an existing Deck
  3. Add tech to an existing strategy to push it in a better position in the meta.

A fine example of a brew came from Nathan Bond with his Mono-Light Rush. A solid example of innovation would be the addition of Water to Mega Bugs. Originally Mega Bugs relied on Steam Tank Kryon to fuel Hive Queen Shenanigans. Fast Attacking free creatures was great, but adding blue for tempo was absurdly better. An example of adding tech would be the addition of King Coral in LWD control that won Bobby Brake the Summer Championships.

Remember to always be aware of your meta analysis! If your deck has great game against a deck then make sure it isn’t something you expect to see very little of. An excellent rule of thumb that my good friend Steven Ferry uses is 60/40 (You win 60% of games and lose 40% of games). You want to be at least 60/40 against a majority of the meta game. You can afford to have one terrible match-up, because you’re not always going to get paired against that style of deck. So you try to make your worst match up be against the most under represented deck in your meta. Slight disclaimer here: if you anticipate your meta is going to shift because the most under-represented strategy is actually very good but not being used, then choose your own list accordingly.

So applying all of those things to my tournament prepping experience we see where I went wrong. I severely over anticipated Mega Bugs and under anticipated Control/Greed. Both of which ended being over 90% of the field! Using my assumption that Mega Bugs would be the deck to beat I opted to Brew.

I’m going to skip over the actual deck construction for my tournament preparation articles. Deck construction is an extremely involved process, especially when you’re building from the ground up. If you haven’t already read Robby Stewart’s latest article on Deck Building then you should definitely check it out.

In my next article I’ll go into what actually constitutes “Good” play testing, which is your next step after you’ve Brewed, Innovated or Tech’d. Until next time, always play the Nutter Butters.


Introducing: Tournament Prep Work

Hello, I’m Jerah Doxtator and this is the written side of Kaijudo 24/7.  I’ll be primarily running the site from behind the scenes, but I felt there was space to explore in tournament prepping. So here I am, but first a bit about my background.

There and Back Again: A TCG Tale

   I started my TCG career in Pokemon. I watched the TV show, movies and video games until finally convincing my parents to buy me Zap!. For those of you who weren’t cool enough to play back then, that was the pre-constructed deck with Pikachu and Mewtwo!! I played super casually until transitioning into YuGiOh. I played that pretty casually as well until finally moving into Magic: The Gathering.  I spent my first two years of Magic playing around a lunch table in high school before losing touch with the game until mid-2009. The local scene where I picked the game up again was heavy into EDH (Commander) and Legacy. So I jumped headfirst into Legacy. After a bumpy start I found a game that I could play well but also had a blast playing. I played competitively until mid-2011. I manage to put up a single top 32 finish at a Starcity Games Legacy Open in that time span. I never really invested heavily in the game and was having issues competing against the super expensive decks. I finally decided that I couldn’t possibly commit enough time or money to break into the Magic scene and sold everything except 1 Modern, 1 Legacy and 2 EDH decks.

  A Challenger Appears: Kaijudo!!!

   I was doing just dandy sticking to EDH and playing in the occasional Modern or Legacy tournament until my good friend Steven Ferry introduced me to Kaijudo. He had been demo’d the game in Madison and came back to our local super buzzed about the game. After that first game I was hooked! The parallels between Magic and Kaijudo made it feel familiar, but the differences made the game new and exciting.  I saw the game had only been out for almost a year and decided I would go all in on Kaijudo. We played pretty casually for about a week…then they announced KMCs. Steve, myself and another teammate started brewing and playing non-stop in preparation for the KMCs. We knew we’d only have two shots and we had to make them count. The 2 weeks before KMC Milwaukee were the most intense learning experiences I’ve ever had in my TCG career.  Our preparation payed off and I earned my invite. I prepped for Seattle and did as well as I could.  Our process for Seattle preparation was just as intense as what we went through for Milwaukee. But we made a few missteps and I ended up miscalling the meta-game!

The Lessons Learned!

  My experiences in Magic and the triumphs and missteps from my first season of KMCs have taught me tons! I want to pass on all that information to you guys. I’ll be writing a mini-series of tournament preparation articles. They will cover everything from play-testing to packing your supplies right before the event. I’ll try to be as entertaining as possible, but tournament preparation can be very exhausting. Until next time, always play the Nutter Butters.