Leap Day Team Trios Meta Analysis

Leap day only happens once every four years, which means it’s a once in a four year opportunity to play in a Team Trios event. Though this event happened just over a week ago, we’ve been busy at the shop getting last minute preparations in for us to obtain Premium status from Wizards of the Coast, but we’re here now with a meta analysis!

In total, we had 23 teams. That’s 69 people that came out for this team event, which is wild to me. A lot of people were joking that the hardest part was finding a standard player, but alas, 23 of the suckers were found, and the event was an incredible success. 

One thing that I noticed while rifling through the deck sheets is how difficult it was to differentiate the different formats. There are an insane amount of newer cards being played in Modern and Pioneer right now. Just an interesting thought I had, and something to keep in mind when we’re looking at some deck lists. First, let’s talk about standard.

The Standard meta for this event was not the most diverse. With Mono Red and Azorius Control taking up almost half of the decks, and various variations of control and aggro going the rest of the way down the line, standard seemed all around quite exciting. There was a single midrange deck that showed up in Sultai Uro, and two depending on how you classify Jeskai Superfriends. Control and aggro are definitely dominating this meta however.

Pioneer had quite a bit more diversity. Sultai Delirium, Dimir Inverter, and Bant Spirits all at the top, with various variations of jank the rest of the way down. There were some really cool brews that actually performed fairly well, though not well enough to make the cut to the top four.

The most diverse format of the day was Modern, of the 23 registered deck lists, there were 19 unique decks. This is some next level diversity, and it’s quite interesting to see these numbers with yesterday banned and restricted announcement in mind. Granted, a free team trios 1K is not the greatest way to gather data on meta analysis, but it’s still cool.

With the meta breakdown out of the way, I want to focus on two teams in particular that performed well. Both of these teams, ‘Monkey Birds’ and ‘_______________’, were 4-0 going into the fifth round and intentionally drew into the top four, technically being the only two undefeated teams of the day.


Whipple Walter, Skyler Stewart, Brenner Remund

When I asked what Brenner’s team name was going to be, he responded, “Hit underscore fifteen times.” So I did. The reason for his madness is widely unknown, a secret that only the truly clever can figure out. Alternatively, Brenner is just weird like that. Who’s to say? The point is this team won a lot, so we’re here to talk about their decks.

[Standard] Golgari Aristocats

Whipple Walter

[Pioneer] Boros Aggro

Skyler Stewart

[Modern] Niv to Light

Brenner Remund

Because of how the team event reporting system works, we unfortunately don’t know what decks won what games in what matches, however we can still discuss the decks. Golgari Aristocats is another take on the Cauldron Familiar and Witch’s Oven combo, a synergy that I’m quite glad is good enough for standard play. It appears the green splash is just for Assassin’s Trophy and Return to Nature in the sideboard.

I read an interesting thread recently explaining the two major problems with black in standard right now. The first is the lack of an impactful two-drop. The second is the lack of enchantment removal. Splashing green for Assassin’s Trophy and Return to Nature doesn’t give you the most impactful card on turn two, but they definitely answer enchantments. I’m not surprised this deck performed well.

Skyler Stewart appeared to take a similar path, playing Boro Aggro, splashing white for a play set of Chained to the Rocks in the sideboard. This seems cool, and it apparently worked very well for him. I’ve always loved Chained to the Rocks, and I’m glad to see it being played. I think it’s a cool piece of removal that’s under-played right now.

Looking at his mainboard actually makes me want to play mono red. Between Abbot of Keral Keep, Rimrock Knight, and Light up the Stage, there’s enough card advantage to let the deck keep rolling until you inevitably count to 20. I’m both disgusted and intrigued at the same time with how grindy mono red is getting.

Brenner affectionately named his deck “Greedy Pile o’ $h*te” but I can’t very well put it in giant bold text uncensored, can I? So he brought Niv to Light, and, well, I’ll try my best to talk about this deck without sounding like a moron. I don’t know why this deck is good, I can’t explain how this deck is actually a thing, but five years ago, if you told me that Jund would be replaced with five color Niv to Light as the best midrange deck in the format, I would lose my mind.

The deck is just able to generate an insane amount of card advantage, and it was fine before Modern Horizons gave us Arcum’s Astrolabe, Kaya’s Guile, and Wrenn and Six. I’ve had some crazy games go down against this deck, and this is actually the only deck that has ever taken me to time while piloting Scapeshift. That’s all I have to say about that.

‘Monkey Birds’

Kyle Hogan, Josh Nelson, Veasana Sok

I have nothing interesting to say about this team name, other than my first thought was monkey, and my second thought was bird.

[Standard] Esper Stax

Kyle Hogan

[Pioneer] Bant Spirits

Josh Nelson

[Modern] Four Color Indomitable

Veasana Sok

Esper Stax is another take on Azorius Control, but with some cute aristocrat synergies thrown in. The two eggs, Golden Egg and Guild Globe help to keep the ball rolling while forcing both players to sacrifice permanents. My favorite synergy here though is by far Ashiok, Nightmare Muse and Kaya, Orzhov Enforcer. I feel as of recently, they’ve been pushing the ‘exile matters’ mechanic more and more, ever since Battle for Zendikar when Ingest was first introduced.

Ingest was an excellent idea, albeit very poorly executed. If they had made it trigger upon attackers declared rather than the creature connecting, it would have been better. If there were varying amounts of cards that they could ingest, as in a creature with ‘Ingest 3’ exiled three cards whenever it attacked, the mechanic may have even been playable. But at last, they seem to have hit a sweet spot, and the excellent engine created by these two planeswalkers is always awesome to see at work.

Bant Spirits is still putting up results, currently the best performing tribal deck in the format. It’s resilience and ability to play aggro, tempo, or control at any given time is what gives it strength. This is one of the decks that tripped me up, having to read the entire deck list, then having to read V’s deck list to make sure there was a modern deck before I labeled this one as the Pioneer of the team.

Another deck that I can describe to you only as a pile, Four Color Indomitable is another modern deck that shouldn’t be good, but is. At the very least, it’s super sweet. The idea is to make a token via Dwarven Mine, and then either Polymorph or Indomitable Creativity the token to get an Emrakul. Magic the way Richard Garfield intended. V’s playing eight time restricting spells in Teferi, Time Raveler, and Silence, eleven if you count the Veil of Summers in the sideboard.

V also brought the Through the Breach package in the sideboard, which seems good, but I’m not quite sure  why that wasn’t just in the main deck. I think it would gain more consistency without losing out on much, though the deck may become a bit more of a glass cannon. Either way, I’m glad both undefeated modern players were playing 4+ colors.


We had an awesome turn out for this event, though I supposed that should be expected when you’re giving out a thousand dollars in prize support for an event with no entry fee. A good time was had by all, and we got an interesting taste into what happens when people have to suddenly think of team names on the spot. Here are the final honorary mentions for most creative team names;


  • ‘Do We Have To?’ ~Clinton Burnell, Josh Snow, Aaron Leete
  • It’s Not Up To Me’ ~David Wadley, Brent Hiramoto, Ryker Adamson
  • ‘Um, Uh, I had It’ ~Thad Murdock, Ayden Clark, Jaryn Taylor
  • ‘Those Guys’ ~Michael Senay, Stephen Senay, Craig Kohler
  • ‘The Other Those Guys’ ~Tim Wallet, Alex Ruggles, Stockton Llewelyn
  • ‘Team Boat’ ~Carter Whitaker, Tanner Johstoneaux, Preston Argyle

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