Reaching the top of ladder + Eternal’s skill cap

The easiest way to reach #1 on ladder is to play very early on in the season where there is little competition.  I did just that and reached #1 with monojustice.  Later on in the season, reaching the top becomes more difficult as there is more competition (by then, more high-level people have played and have ranked).  I have since peaked at #2, stopped playing ladder, and currently sit at #4.

One of the issues with ladder is that ladder rankings are highly sensitive to short-term winning and losing streaks.  It is common to move 15+ positions in a day of play.  Because of this, reaching the very top of Masters ladder has a huge luck component.  The very top of the ladder has more to do with luck (as well as not playing once you’re at the top) than being the very best.

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Haunting Scream – Reanimator build

This is a follow-up to my previous post on Haunting Scream.

The reanimator build revolves around Whispering Wind and Grasping at Shadows.

grasping20at20shadowswhispering20wind

When Whispering Wind attacks, you can discard a card to draw a higher-cost card from your deck.  If you discard a 3-cost card, you will get either Grasping at Shadows or Vara.  We specifically do not run Monuments since they turn into mediocre 5-cost cards.

I’m not actually sure if this is a good idea since this is a “win-more” build.  If you can attack multiple times with Whispering Wind and have time to setup this elaborate combo, then you were probably going to win the game anyways.  Also, you don’t actually need to reanimate Vara since you’re not far off from hard-casting her given the conditions where this will work.

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Haunting Scream is decent now

Haunting Scream is a goofy deck based on getting Gorgon Fanatic and Direwood Beastcaller into your void/graveyard.  Once either of those units are in there, you can Haunting Scream to bring that unit back with charge and flying.  Those abilities are permanent, so you can then cast Dark Return to continue the shenanigans.

Thanks to the recent patch, Gorgon Fanatic was buffed so that it gives you (the player, not the unit) +3 health if the infiltrate ability connects.  Here is the decklist that I have been messing around with…

gorgon20fanaticdirewood20beastcaller

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Combrei mirrors: 12-unit denial

This is a follow-up to Neon’s excellent article on Combrei mirrors, an extremely skill-intensive matchup that I punt often.

One of the nuances of the mirror is the 12-unit limit.  If an opponent’s board already has 12 units, that opponent cannot use Siraf’s ultimate.  So what you do is this… the opponent will likely figure out that they need to make bad attacks to free up room for Siraf’s ultimate.  You can deny them a spin of the wheel by making non-lethal blocks, or no blocks at all.

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Tier 1 and 2 decks (October 13 2016)

In this post, I am going to break down the most competitive decks that I would play if I were to really try-hard the ladder and aim for #1.  Because all decks have good and bad matchups, the best deck will depend on what other people are playing.  Right now, Xenan killers has shot up in popularity because it is fun and new.  Combrei midrange and greedy Combrei have fallen in popularity (even though they are probably the best deck right now).

Anyways, here are the most competitive decks at the moment (in no particular order).

The three pillars of aggro are:

Non-aggro decks:

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Weiseguy’s Rakano (Burn/fire oriented)

Weiseguy is a top-ranked Masters player (currently #2) who made a Rakano-flavored version of the monofire deck.  This is an aggressive deck that attacks opponents from multiple angles- cheap creatures, relic weapons, and scalable burn spells.  While the gameplan is diverse, this deck just works.  In most cases, the cheap creatures will get in a decent amount of damage.  Then, burn spells finish the job.  The 4 Sword of Icarias are very strong against equipment/aegis decks as well as unit-light control decks.

The power of this deck is very matchup-dependent.  It is strong against armory, durdle-ey midrange decks like Stonescar Weapons/Stash, my Rakano “goodstuff” armory deck, and Feln.  It is weak against Bandit Queen, many Combrei variants, and Stronghold’s Visage control decks.  I believe it is slightly unfavored versus Rakano Pants.

This is a very competitive deck that is quite viable in the upper portion of Masters-ranked ladder.  I do not have winrate statistics on this deck.

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Rakano ‘Goodstuff’ Armory

The core idea is that relic weapons are very difficult to interact with if you run lots of removal to kill units.  Burn spells are very flexible because they can contribute to the relic weapon gameplan (by protecting the relic weapon).  Burn spells can also be directed at the opponent’s face to win games.

Compared to traditional armory, I don’t think that Armorsmith or Rakano Artisan are very good.  Instead, I run cards to deal with aggro matchups (Auric Sentry and Assembly Line).

For whatever it’s worth, I went from #10 to #3 on the ladder with this.  The strength of this deck is highly dependent on the metagame.  It is very strong against Rakano, monojustice splashing shadow, many control Decks, and Armory.  It is a little soft to Bandit Queen and Combrei variants.

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Rakano Melting Pot

The core of this deck is relic weapons backed up by removal.  Several relic weapons are pretty strong against aegis-abusing decks, equipment decks, and control decks.

Because the deck has a lot of removal, games tend to go longer.  There is a burn angle to the deck with 2X Flame Blast and 4X Obliterate.  A good chunk of games end with this deck burning out the opponent.

The 1 drops are there for value and to put opponents within burn range.  Hopefully Oni Ronin can stack some Warcrys to buff weapons (although there is a good chance that they will stack onto units, which is not ideal).  The 1 drops will also trade versus aggro decks.

Assembly Line is purely to answer aggro.  Because it is a spell, it does not rob Warcry stacks from Relic Weapons and other units.  Valkyrie Enforcer is there to trade against aggro, to pressure control decks, and to silence problematic abilities.

There is a Rise to the Challenge toolbox for answers and finishers.

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Unstable Armory: Strangely effective

Unstable Form might very well be a constructed playable card in a Tier 1 or 2 deck.  In armory, the idea is to run 1 or 2 of these to “silence” and de-buff units into relic weapon range.  Most of the time (but not all the time), the new unit created via unstable form is worse than the original unit.

  • Unstable Form gets rid of stat boosts from Warcry, so you don’t need to worry as much about opponents’ Warcry triggers.
  • Most units created via Unstable Form aren’t constructed playable.
  • Most units are synergistic and are bad without synergies.  Because the new unit is almost always outside of its home, Unstable Form deals with Dawnwalkers and other creatures with great abilities.
  • Many units are only good due to their Summon abilities, which don’t trigger via Unstable Form.

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