Grand Prix Brisbane is just around the corner and the Modern format has never had a more vibrant and healthy meta. Variety is the spice of life, but it makes it difficult to predict what decks you’ll face over the course of the tournament. Often, high level players will engage in what’s known as “scouting” to gather information on their opponents ahead of time. Presented here are 5 tips for those new to scouting that will let you mulligan with confidence in game one!
1. Do the maths
Everyone knows that MTGGoldfish’s metagame prediction is literally perfect. The morning of the tournament, note down the metagame percentage for each deck – you want this to be as current as possible. At the start of each round, check which deck has the highest percentage – you are probably facing that deck. After each round, using your knowledge of how many rounds you’ll play, you can adjust the percentages ready for the next round.
This can be a bit confusing, so I’ll give an example: as of writing, Affinity has the largest slice of the metagame pie at 8.17%, so you should expect to play against Affinity round one. After the round, if you knew you were going the full distance, you’d reduce the odds of playing Affinity again by 5.56% (100% / 18 rounds) to 2.61%. However, if you’re like me and plan to bomb hard and drop at the end of round 5, you’d reduce the odds by 20% instead (100% / 5 rounds) to -11.83%. Either way, round two you’ll most likely face Junk at 5.89%.
2. Analyse your opponent’s accessories
A number of journal articles have come out recently analysing the link between a magic player’s accessories and their deck choice. Personally, I’ve found the most reliable tell to be my opponent’s sleeves. Red and green mages are the simplest; their decks will usually be sleeved in their chosen colour. White and black mages are a bit craftier, and will try to confound you. However, they hate each other so much that when thinking about what colour to disguise their deck in, their mind will immediately go to their sworn foe. Unfortunately, blue mages are the unpredictable exception to the rule, and will sleeve their decks in anything but blue. If you do face someone with blue sleeves however, WATCH OUT! They’re likely a trick-deck-piloting vagabond.
3. Ask your opponent to fill out a “Which Guild Are You?” quiz
Before the match, print out the quiz (really any of them will do, they’re all accurate to within 5%) and ask your opponent to fill it out. Dress it up as a bit of fun to throw them off the scouting scent. If they ask which guild you’re from, lie and tell them Selesnya, so that your opponent thinks you’re a soft-hearted treehugger (this will make them overconfident). Once they’ve finished the quiz, add up their score to work out which Ravnica: City of Guilds Theme Deck they’ve brought with them to the GP!
4. Check table 135
It’s a little known fact that you (specifically YOU, dear reader) will always be paired against one of the players from table 135. So whenever you finish your round, rush over to table 135. If you’re quick enough, you’ll be able to see what your potential opponents are playing. If you lost the round, you’ll most likely be playing the loser, or the winner if you won. If either you or they draw, it gets a little trickier. Take a quick peek outside, and if the swallows are flying towards the sun, you’ll be playing the person sitting on the Eastern side of the table. If they’re flying away, your opponent is to the West.
5. Seal a pact with the crone outside the venue
If all else fails, you can always offer the withered hag outside the venue a drop of youthful blood in return for a day of preternatural foresight. She might be a little bit scary at first, but she’s really quite lovely once she warms up to you. Best part is, it doesn’t even have to be your blood! Keep in mind that if you take this route, you’ll want to keep it quiet; despite the name of the game, real magic is actually banned under competitive REL.
I hope this has been an informative insight into scouting practises at large events! Feel free to come find me at the GP and let me know how the tips worked out for you – unless of course I’m playing at table 135.