Magic The Gathering is not a static game. Every time you sit down at the table to play a game of EDH factors are always changing. Who you play, the decks you bring, as well as the decks they bring will affect the outcome. Though you have identified the meta that you play in. Identification is not enough. You need to understand that the meta is ever changing.
Let’s Talk about Dave
To illustrate this, let’s talk about a friend of mine, Dave. Dave played casually dabbled in standard and played a lot of limited formats. Early on he just borrowed decks from his friends and family to play EDH around the dinner table. He did not build his own decks.
During this time indestructable creatures began to sneak into the commander decks. Kruphix good stuff was a favorite choice and a monowhite Avacyn, Angel of Hope deck was built. Avacyn, while not yet optimized, focused on making everything on it;s side of the board indestructible and then attempted to board wipe away his opponents and swing in for the victory. Dave was not happy that indestructible creatures were creeping into the meta as they were difficult to deal with for a standard array of cards The god effects were out there for the entire game and indestructible creatures are indeed just hard to deal with. With a smaller games of two or three players Avacyn opponents drawing and finding the cards to remove her was a challenge.
In response Dave built his own commander deck. It paired Ravos, Soultender and Thrasios, Triton Hero with lots of exile and sacrifice effects and several ways to generate infinite mana. It also buildt of Cabal Coffers and Urborg Tomb of Yawgmoth. He included Vesuva to copy Cabal Coffers threw in several take extra turn cards and a mana sink in Thrasios assured he had more cards to play and eventually could draw into a win while shutting down any creature based strategies. It was a solid control deck that could combo for a win out of nowhere and put you on a clock to stop him once the mid game arrived. It was creative and if you were to look for something like it on EDHREC you would not find it.
The Consequences of Strength
The deck was very strong in the meta. It won a larger percentage than most decks. People began adapting their decks for this new challenger. A meta is not a closed environment. What happened next illustrates this.
The Kruphix Deck he was playing against changed it’s commander to Thrasios to keep up with ramp and card draw. It also added more counter spells to stop key cards in Dave’s deck. It also began to work in more ways to cheat in the good stuff. The Avacyn deck included more ramp cards. Players chose other decks like Zombie Swarm or Edger Markov instead of Avacyn. These new decks contained cheap tokens to sacrifice. Pieces of infinite mana combos were pointed out so that they could be stopped. The meta was changing because of this deck. Also during this time the playgroup moved form playing out of a home to a local game shop. This also increased a number of decks in the meta.
Even after a change aMeta is still not static. In return Dave’s deck underwent more changes. Dave took out a combo here and there. He would add in cards and taking out cards on a weekly basis tweaking it to what he envisioned the deck as he saw it play more and how people played against it.
His play style changed. He started to use the pieces of combos to bait out counterspells or other hate so that he could dig for Torment of Hailfire or other mass damage spells for the win. All the while Dave stalled the game and generating large mana to ramp and draw cards with Thrasios. He would take multiple extra turns in a game sometimes in a row multiplying his mana generation for a cycle around the game table to explode card draw or mana ramp. He would search quickly for the Cabal Coffers Urborg combo and it became a mix of control and value archetypes. It was still very effective. He found he could play the deck twice win twice and then needed to borrow another deck so that the other players would not gang up on him.
A Meta is Never Finite
A meta is never finite. With infinite combos less of a worry people began holding up counterspells for the win conditions of the deck. Cabal Coffers became viewed as a part of a little value engine that could. You could kill Thrasios but his cheap casting cost and insane mana generation did not slow the deck down. So the meta began to target Cabal Coffers instead with Strip Mine. Tempting discovery which was a preferred mana ramp card could bring the mine out to kill the coffers. Jhoira of the Ghitu entered the meta but rarely played. It had the ability to blow up all lands as a threat to insane land based generation. Vesuva was hard to find at the local game shops and Thespian Stage became a cheap substitute to copy Cabal Coffers for decks not playing black to try and keep up.
Just as the meta adapted to the deck again,. This forced the deck to evolve more. Hour Of Promise replaced Tempt with Discovery. It did not have as large of a payoff as Tempt With Discovery, but it did let you search for Any two lands. With Cabal Coffers being a target he started not searching for it right away so that it would not be the target of Strip Mine. The deck shifted focus to mana doublers. MIrari’s Wake and Zendikar Resurgent became prefered mana production to fuel the little engine that could.
Unfortunately, work caused Dave to drop out of the current meta about six months ago. I hope to see him return at some point. It is important to recognize how a deck can affect the meta. One deck has caused several changes to the meta and several more decks have appeared which have impacted the meta as well. The next key piece to improve your commander game is to understand although you have identified your meta and can exploit what your meta is. It does not remain the same. People build new decks they add cards and take them out. If you have something successful they will adjust. You will have to adjust as well.
Due to the ever changing meta, a deck is never truly done being built. About ninety five cards in a commander deck are set. This leaves about five cards or so that will be flexible and will change according to what your opponents are doing. So always watch the current meta with a critical eye while having fun at commander night. You might find you need to tweak your deck a bit. Or build a new deck to play from time to time to capitalize on a meta weakness.