Getting to Mythic on Arena is not easy; it’s a journey that takes time, energy, and preparation.
The Nexus of Fate ban in best-of-one Standard has just gone live, and while I will address what this means for the format, I won’t delve into whether or not the changes were justified or if it should have been different; this is not an article about that.
It is important to note that Arena is still in Open Beta and I would anticipate rapid changes to happen without much warning.
Laddering is different to playing in a tournament with a set number of rounds. Instead of the goal being to win FNM or get the week’s promo, the goal is to be optimal; and going optimal requires a mix between time taken to play games and the win percentage of a deck.
Going optimal changes based on the rank that you are at and your own individual win rate on a particular deck. The important thing to remember is that you must be going at a rate greater than 50% for most of the ladder climb. To be precise, this is the minimum win percentage required for climbing on the ranked ladder:
Bronze – The easiest tier, greater than 0%, anybody can get through Bronze with a little bit of time.
Silver – Requires a win rate greater than 33%.
Gold – Diamond – Requires a win rate greater than 50%.
Mythic tier uses a Glicko ranking system
The Glicko system is a measurement of a player’s rank using an initial score and what is called an Ratings Deviation, or 'RD'. RD is equal to one standard deviation – it allows for a little flexibility between player ranks and is auto-correcting. RD is twice the initial number on both sides of the displayed rank.
When considering what rank one is, it shows the in-game rank and it will have an invisible RD. For example, a player with a rating of 500 in-game and an RD of 25, will be 50 (25x2) on either side of 500 and this is considered their ‘real strength’. This player is considered to be 500 currently, with a leeway of 450 – 550. Read more about this here.
Due to the time taken to complete games with a deck type, (Aggro, Control, etc.), a Mono-Red Aggro deck that you have a personal win rate of 55% will take you to Mythic faster than an Esper Control deck that you have a 57% win rate, while climbing.
Climbing is also a matter of knowing when to change decks due to all the tiers having their own internal metagame.
Bronze and Silver will contain any deck, from an intro deck to a fully-fleshed control deck, however, expect more random and unrefined decks.
Gold Tier 2 and 1 is where these decks start to disappear and more refined decks will appear, most of them being proactive, meaning initiative-taking (usually aggressive decks).
Platinum and Diamond are quite similar to each other and the meta evolves to closely represent the paper and MTGO metagame; unless you are playing best-of-one, where a disproportionate amount of aggressive decks exist.
Laddering in best-of-one and best-of-three are quite different. Best of one has no sideboards, therefore benefiting linear strategies that are easiest to counter post-sideboard because such counter-measures do not exist.
This was a big reasoning behind the Nexus of Fate ban in best-of-one and not best-of-three. Briefly, I predict the Nexus of Fate ban will create a meta that can angle itself to fight aggressive decks and not be stretched between two points, Aggro and Combo. I don’t think it will have huge implications for the format itself – it will just make more games enjoyable and remove a linear deck from the format.
Aggressive decks are therefore going to be the norm and will be plentiful in the best-of-one format. If you want to play this format, prepare for Mono-Red Aggro decks, yet still be ready to face the creatureless control decks that exist.
Best-of-three closely resembles paper and MTGO metagames. This is to be expected due to the near exact identical legality of cards across all platforms, (note that Arena has cards that are standard playable introduced in the tutorial and welcome decks that have never existed before, however, most of them are quite unplayable in constructed).
Sideboards exist and as such linear decks, like the Mono-Red Aggro deck, decrease in popularity. Expect lots of Sultai Midrange, Esper Midrange/Control decks, some Nexus of Fate decks and Azorious Aggro decks.
All of these decks have something in common; they are customisable post-sideboard and are flexible, or inherently powerful enough to win game 1 and be able to squeak out a win in one of the other two games.
I personally have been playing lots of best-of-three because I prefer more interactive Magic, however, I would not fault anybody for preferring best-of-one.
Frank Karsten calculated how many games it would take to reach Mythic and tier up through ranks and best-of-three was slightly better value at higher rankings. It all comes back to being optimal and getting maximum value.
Magic is in a great place. Arena is in the stage of making a big impact. Already, the top 8 of the Constructed Ladder will receive invites to the Mythic Invitational in Cleveland, a 1-million-dollar prize pool split played between 64 players.
Wizards are experimenting with new boundaries and technology and it will be exciting to see where it leads. It is a change for the game that has been around for 26 years now, so as players, we must be able to adapt and react and make the best possible decisions.
This is an exciting new frontier and hopefully it will enhance our Magic experience. All the best for climbing at the end of Preseason 2 and for the coming seasons!
May your Magic experience be the best yet!