The best decks in the post-wipe metagame

Currently, Stonescar Burn variants have emerged as the most popular deck with the rest of the meta warping around it.  Other Tier 1 decks seem to be Rakano pants/warcry, Elysian Shimmerpack, and aggressive (Obelisk) Combrei.  Those are the decks currently being played by the majority of players in top 10 ladder.

However, popularity does not tell the whole story.  Unearthly’s data suggests that his Rakano build with Righteous Fury is slightly better than the Stonescar Burn variants.

righteousfury

His winrate with Rakano was 65.7% (44-23) versus 63.9% (46-26) for Stonescar Burn / Big Burn.  The most popular deck on high-ranked ladder, while being a strong deck, may not actually have the highest winrate at the moment.

How popular was Stonescar Burn?  According to Unearthly’s data since Nov 25, 24% of opponents either played Stonescar Burn (“Big Burn”) or Burn Queen.  The metagame was also extremely aggro-oriented if you consider the slower version of Stonescar Burn to be aggro:

  • Aggro (including all Stonescar Burn variants) – 54.30%
  • Midrange – 18.9%
  • Control – 15.%
  • Combo (Shimmerpack, Haunting Scream) – 11.34%

Post-wipe ‘Burnscar’

There are three main versions of Stonescar burn on Eternal ladder:

  1. The version that runs Bandit Queen, which I refer to as Burn Queen.
  2. The slower version without Bandit Queen, which I refer to as Big Burn.  Big Burn has fewer Rapid Shots and 1-drops.  It instead runs Umbren Reapers, Soulfire Drakes, and more Impending Dooms.  There is more removal such as 1 or 2 copies of Deathstrike.
  3. The budget no-legendary version of Big Burn without Soulfire Drakes.

Comparing Unearthly’s data to mine, it looks like the Big Burn variant is the stronger variant for the post-wipe season (there are winrate statistics later in this article).

Because the common core of cards is the same, it can be difficult to tell these decks apart.  The strategy of playing against them is fairly similar.

Due to the prevalence of Stonescar burn variants on ladder, the burn decks have teched for the mirror:

  • Players quickly figured out that 4 Vara’s Favors was good in the mirror against the 1-drops that the decks run.
  • Umbren Reapers are above-average in the mirror.
  • Dark Return, while it currently does not see a lot of play in Big Burn, could gain some popularity. It is above average against decks that play lots of removal other than Permafrost.

Some Big Burn deck lists

Unearthly’s deck list:

4 Flame Blast (Set1 #2)
4 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
3 Pyroknight (Set1 #16)
2 Suffocate (Set1 #251)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Argenport Instigator (Set1 #268)
3 Kaleb’s Favor (Set0 #3)
4 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
2 Cabal Countess (Set1 #506)
4 Champion of Chaos (Set1 #402)
2 Deathstrike (Set1 #290)
4 Impending Doom (Set1 #286)
4 Obliterate (Set1 #48)
2 Soulfire Drake (Set1 #47)
4 Umbren Reaper (Set1 #299)
9 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
8 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Seat of Chaos (Set0 #60)
4 Stonescar Banner (Set1 #419)

Jaypeg’s list from ETS:

3 Flame Blast (Set1 #2)
3 Dark Return (Set1 #250)
4 Pyroknight (Set1 #16)
3 Suffocate (Set1 #251)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Argenport Instigator (Set1 #268)
2 Kaleb’s Favor (Set0 #3)
4 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
2 Cabal Countess (Set1 #506)
4 Champion of Chaos (Set1 #402)
3 Deathstrike (Set1 #290)
4 Impending Doom (Set1 #286)
4 Obliterate (Set1 #48)
2 Soulfire Drake (Set1 #47)
4 Umbren Reaper (Set1 #299)
6 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
6 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)
1 Granite Monument (Set1 #423)
4 Seat of Chaos (Set0 #60)
4 Stonescar Banner (Set1 #419)

Some tweaks include:

  • Less burn.  1 less Flame Blast.
  • Fewer 1 drops due to every Shadow deck running Vara’s Favor.  In this particular version, Pyroknight was likely chosen over Oni Ronin due to the Dark Return synergy- a Pyroknight can be ultimated twice.
  • Suffocate: the third copy may be tech for the tournament meta, which is more likely to include Steward of the Past, Statuary Maiden, etc.
  • Granite Monument: Big Burn doesn’t really need more than 5 power (except for Pyroknight).

Rakano aggro

Many people such as myself thought that Rakano aggro would fall to Tier 2 due to the Gilded Glaive nerf.  However, Unearthly has been piloting Rakano with success on ladder.  He has been posting his Rakano deck lists on Discord (invite link) with an interesting piece of tech:

righteousfury

This fast spell is both a combat trick (with quickdraw units) and a tempo swing.  The lifegain against burn decks can be back-breaking.

Rakano pilots have found other adjustments for the current metagame:

  1. Rakano Outlaw is back due to her synergies with Righteous Fury, equipment, and very little Lightning Storm in the meta.
  2. Champion of Glory is back as a 4-of.  This is due to 8-silence Combrei seeing very little play.
  3. Soulfire Drake as an evasive beatstick.  This card was buffed during the wipe.

Sample deck list from Unearthly

4 Inspire (Set1 #129)
4 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Champion of Glory (Set1 #314)
4 Crownwatch Paladin (Set1 #139)
4 Rakano Outlaw (Set1 #20)
3 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
2 Auric Sentry (Set1 #146)
4 Sword of Icaria (Set1 #315)
4 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)
2 Auric Runehammer (Set1 #166)
4 Hammer of Might (Set1 #170)
3 Righteous Fury (Set1 #322)
3 Soulfire Drake (Set1 #47)
7 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
7 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
3 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)
1 Emerald Monument (Set1 #422)
4 Rakano Banner (Set1 #427)
4 Seat of Glory (Set0 #56)

Cards that could see some tuning are:

  • Auric Sentry:  One of the weakest units in the deck.  Unearthly is currently trying Shogun’s Scepter as a replacement.
  • Deepforged Plate:  Unearthly was playing this powerful piece of equipment earlier in the season.  It is very strong against decks that play Permafrost because (A) the Endurance from plate nullifies Permafrost and (B) Permafrost decks tend to be slower, giving the Rakano player time to draw power to play plate.
  • Pyroknight:  While Vara’s Favor is rampant in the current meta, this flexible 1-drop may still be worth playing.  It is good in the early and late game.
  • Relic weapons: These are meta dependent.  Rakano decks in the past have played fewer relic weapons.
  • Protect: This is a piece of tech against burn spells and sweepers.  However, it competes with the powerful equipment available to Rakano and requires the Rakano player to have open power on an opponent’s turn.
  • Ornate Katana: Another viable equipment choice.  It has some synergy with Righteous Fury and quickdraw units.

Elysian Shimmerpack

Finkel has been piloting Elysian Shimmerpack to great success on ladder.  The Shimmerpack deck can be thought of as a combo deck involving unit spam and one of the following combo pieces:

  1. 2 copies of Shimmerpack, which buffs the entire army and debuffs problematic units in the opponent’s army.
  2. 4 copies of Xenan Obelisk, which buffs the entire army.  Obelisk tends to be a value engine once 8 power is achieved.
  3. Crystalline Chalice as a draw engine to find one of the other combo pieces.

The alternative win condition is Sandstorm Titan.  The mulligan takes skill and experience.  It is difficult for this deck to win without the combo pieces (or Sandstorm Titan).

I would argue that part of Finkel’s success has been identifying strong decks that others are undervaluing.  Because very few people play his deck, his winrate is not watered down by the mirror match.  As well, the metagame is unlikely to tech heavily against less popular decks.

In previous seasons, Finkel played Elysian midrange when it was considered a Tier 2 deck in RNG’s September 09 Tier List.  He was playing 4-faction control back when it was considered Tier 3 in the September 22 Tier List.  Currently:

  1. Shimmerpack made up 5.1% of the meta according to Unearthly’s data.
  2. Unlike Big Burn or Rakano mirrors, the Shimmerpack mirror is significantly more skill-intensive.

Decklist – the ‘Finkel Shimmy’

Here is a list that Finkel posted on November 28:

4 Initiate of the Sands (Set1 #74)
4 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
1 Sanctuary Priest (Set1 #73)
1 Ephemeral Wisp (Set1 #84)
4 Storm Lynx (Set1 #353)
3 Talir’s Favored (Set0 #11)
4 Temple Scribe (Set1 #502)
1 Amaran Camel (Set1 #357)
4 Amber Acolyte (Set1 #93)
1 Polymorph (Set1 #211)
4 Scorpion Wasp (Set1 #96)
2 Crystalline Chalice (Set1 #359)
1 Marisen’s Disciple (Set1 #104)
4 Sandstorm Titan (Set1 #99)
4 Xenan Obelisk (Set1 #103)
1 Lumen Shepherd (Set1 #117)
1 Predatory Carnosaur (Set1 #118)
4 Scouting Party (Set1 #488)
2 Shimmerpack (Set1 #365)
5 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
8 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
4 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)
4 Elysian Banner (Set1 #421)
4 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)

Dec 5 decklist from Finkel

4 Initiate of the Sands (Set1 #74)
4 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
1 Sanctuary Priest (Set1 #73)
1 Backlash (Set1 #200)
4 Storm Lynx (Set1 #353)
3 Talir’s Favored (Set0 #11)
4 Temple Scribe (Set1 #502)
4 Amber Acolyte (Set1 #93)
2 Polymorph (Set1 #211)
4 Scorpion Wasp (Set1 #96)
3 Praxis Displacer (Set1 #100)
4 Sandstorm Titan (Set1 #99)
4 Xenan Obelisk (Set1 #103)
1 Lumen Shepherd (Set1 #117)
1 Predatory Carnosaur (Set1 #118)
4 Scouting Party (Set1 #488)
2 Shimmerpack (Set1 #365)
5 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
8 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
4 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)
4 Elysian Banner (Set1 #421)
4 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)

This is one of the more skill-intensive decks at the moment.

Aggressive Obelisk Combrei

MoistVL, another top player high on Master ladder, has posted this list for aggressive Combrei:

4 Initiate of the Sands (Set1 #74)
4 Awakened Student (Set1 #331)
4 Desert Marshal (Set1 #332)
4 Temple Scribe (Set1 #502)
4 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
3 Amber Acolyte (Set1 #93)
4 Combrei Healer (Set1 #333)
4 Knight-Chancellor Siraf (Set1 #335)
3 Stand Together (Set1 #334)
4 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)
3 Marisen’s Disciple (Set1 #104)
4 Sandstorm Titan (Set1 #99)
4 Xenan Obelisk (Set1 #103)
1 Predatory Carnosaur (Set1 #118)
8 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
8 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
1 Amber Monument (Set1 #420)
4 Combrei Banner (Set1 #424)
4 Seat of Progress (Set0 #58)

Unfortunately I do not have data on aggressive Combrei.  How good is it?  I don’t know.

Some winrate statistics

Unearthly’s data from Nov 25 to Dec 4:

  1. “Righteous Inspiration” Rakano with Inspire65.7% (44-23)
  2. Righteous Fury Rakano v2 (no Inspire) – 64.5% (69-38)
  3. Stonescar Burn (his term for Big Burn) – 63.9% (46-26)

His data suggests that Rakano builds were a hair better than Stonescar burn.  Note that an increase in Rakano’s popularity would likely lower the deck’s winrate.

Here is my own winrate data for the post-wipe season:

  1. Burn Queen: 62.0% (62-38)
  2. Finkel Shimmy: 60.7% (17-11)  *low sample size, low experience on my part
  3. Whispering Echosauruses: 57.15% (24-18)
  4. Big Burn: 56.3% (9-7)  *low sample size, bad piloting on my part, and I only had 1 Soulfire Drake
  5. Other + bad brews: 50.4% (64-63)

Unfortunately I do not have good statistics on aggressive Obelisk Combrei and Shimmerpack, so I don’t know how they stack up against Rakano and Stonescar Burn variants.  My very limited data suggests that Shimmerpack piloted by a mediocre pilot lags behind Unearthly’s Rakano build.

Previously, my winrate with Burn Queen was 70% (126-55).  Popularity of Stonescar Burn and metagame changes have dropped my success with the deck from 70% to 62%.  Dominating performance did not happen again this season due to the mirror, absence of certain favorable matchups (e.g. Big Combrei, Clockroaches), and because most decks teched against the popular Stonescar Burn variants.  In the pre-wipe season, Weiseguy played a deck similar to Burn Queen (with Impending Dooms and Umbren Reapers) and took the #1 spot while I took #2.

Reaching the top of ladder- what currently matters

Currently, the skill that sets top players apart is deck construction.

  1. Identifying which decks are good in the current metagame.  (Or, creating a new deck that is strong in the current meta.)
  2. Tuning the deck with tech cards for the current meta.

Figuring out the “best” deck can be particularly difficult.  Many top players’ theories about what decks “ought” to be good turn out to be wrong.  Playing 30+ or so games with a deck and recording the winrate offers some more insight into the strength of a deck.  However, this requires shiftstone and time- most top players do not have full collections and the time to test every deck out there.  A shortcut method is to look at what the players at the very top of ladder have been successful with.

Beating the metagame

The metagame that top players face is currently diverse and will include less competitive decks.  Suppose that you define tier 1 as decks being played by top 10 ladder players.  Elysian midrange, (Stonescar) Jito Queen, Icaria Blue, and Feln control would not be considered tier 1 by that definition.  According to Unearthly’s data, only 46.4% of the players that he faced were playing tier 1 decks.

So, a deck’s winrate is roughly split between:

  1. Being able to achieve parity or better with other Tier 1 decks.
  2. Being able to beat up lesser decks.

While the “best” overall deck might depend on its strength versus other Tier 1 decks, the best deck for ladder depends a lot on the deck’s ability to prey on lesser decks.

As ladder placement has a large luck component, a slightly inferior winrate means that the second, third, or fourth best deck in a meta can still achieve top 10 placement on ladder.

Unfortunately, it is currently difficult to get good winrate statistics on top decks.  Until these statistics exist, I think it’s reasonable to define tier 1 as the decks that consistently achieve top 10 placement on ladder.

Where the Eternal metagame might be headed

It looks like high-level play in Eternal will likely be headed in the direction of collecting actual data on deck performance.  While the manual data collection is currently a tedious process, it will likely increase the level of understanding.  Instead of relying on intuition, we will have a more accurate understanding as to what decks are actually the best.

As far as new decks being developed, it took a surprisingly long time for the Stonescar Burn variants to be discovered.  The deck was possible since the Party Hour nerf.  I don’t know if a new metagame-warping deck will be discovered with the current card set.  It seems unlikely given that the Stonescar Burn variants:

  1. Now attack from different angles, aided by the addition of Cabal Countess.
  2. End the game somewhat fast, though it is not as hyperaggressive as Rakano with Elder’s Feather or Jito Queen.
  3. Have inevitability against durdle decks.
  4. Are fairly resilient against hate.  While Steward of the Past is a narrow and powerful hate card against Haunting Scream, no such card exists for Stonescar burn variants.

There is likely still some amount of deck tuning left for Stonescar Burn.  Big Burn may get slightly more efficient with some number of Dark Return.  The best Rakano list is still being figured out.

I would expect the next set of nerfs to hit Stonescar Burn in some way.  As well, the new multi-faction cards will eventually be released.  Hopefully future changes will shake up the metagame and we’ll see a new set of Tier 1 decks.

 

 

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “The best decks in the post-wipe metagame

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s