Congratulations to Batteriez for piloting his “Combrei Plate” brew to #1 on ladder. (ManuS and Batteriez, both top players, have worked together on developing this deck.) Combrei Plate basically plays the good aggressive units in the Combrano (FTJ) factions combined with Deepforged Plate as a finisher (alongside Jekk, the Bounty Hunter).
Having messed around with that deck, there is an interesting combo between Deepforged Plate and Righteous Fury. Played on a 5-power unit, the combo can deal 20 Overwhelm Lifesteal damage in one hit. It’s quite amusing.
There is also synergy between Jekk and Deepforged Plate. Jekk with Quickdraw and Plate is very difficult to block. He is also multi-faction (for resiliency against Annihilate) and helps you beat down opponents while silencing units.
I’m really excited about this deck as it should be very healthy for the meta as a Tier 1 deck:
It’s interesting to pilot.
It’s interesting to play against, unlike Big Burn and Armory.
It can be tuned to have good matchups against Big Burn and Armory.
You might be surprised to know that you don’t need that much skill to make it to the top of constructed ladder.
By far, the most important thing to do is to identify and play a Tier 1 deck. (Sorry Icaria Blue fans.)
Skill matters, but only up to a point. You have to be good but you don’t have to be amazing at this game. Some have reached the top of ladder with only a few weeks of experience- jaypeg did it when open Beta began.
Get a win streak and stop playing once you’ve secured a high position. Sunyveil held the #1 spot on ladder for a long time because he went on vacation.
Many people confuse complexity with depth. For example, take a look at sweeper cards like Lightning Storm and Harsh Rule.
Both cards have very little text on them. New players don’t have to read a novel to understand these cards. At the same time, they offer a lot of gameplay depth. If you are the control player, sometimes it makes sense to wait another turn before casting it (especially when playing the old Jito Queen decks). When playing against Lightning Storm, you have to be careful not to overextend or underextend (as I discussed in my patient Bandit Queen article).
From a game design perspective, good card designs lead to interesting gameplay and have low apparent complexity to new players.
You might think that a Top 10 ladder ranking is solely about a player’s skill, but that has never been the case and still isn’t.
I’ll give my thoughts on what worked on ladder since the Party Hour metagame when I started playing. Overall, earlier seasons really rewarded skillful piloting as Party Hour and Big Combrei had skill intensive mirrors. It also rewarded you for abusing the matchmaking system- you would often be matched against the same player a few to several times in a row, so picking a deck that is good against their deck was a good strategy. Or, you would simply stop playing for a bit so that you would get matched with a different opponent. Part of the reason why Unearthly is a good player is because he picked up on that.
Since then, high level play has become less skill intensive as Tier 1 matchups have fewer opportunities for players to make good/bad plays. There has also been more try-harding as fewer high-level players would play fun decks like Sunyveil’s Dark Clockroaches, partly because jank is less viable and partly because DWD introduced a badge beside a player’s name for previous’ season ranks.
However, I suspect that the current ranking system creates advantages for players who play at certain times of day. Due to win streaks, some normal players will achieve an ELO/MMR rating that exceeds their skill level. I suspect that playing during certain times will increase the number of matchups against such players. There is some phenomenon going on where the game’s highest-skilled pilots like Finkel are ranking lower on ladder than lesser-skilled pilots.
Patch 1.18 definitely nerfs Champion of Chaos as she now dies easily to relic weapons. She will also trade with many units in combat, making her easier to block. She is no longer the hyper-efficient unit that could repeatedly get in damage. This also makes Dark Return less powerful because you would previously run Dark Return to bring back Champion of Chaos, essentially playing more copies of Champion. Now, 0-1 copies of Dark Return is likely correct.
The current list that I am playing is a fire heavy build that aims for a more consistent influence base. It doesn’t need double/triple shadow other than 1 copy of Cabal Countess and 4 copies of Champ. With many decks playing unit spam and Temple Scribe, Cabal Countess is weaker.