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.
This deck revolves around a few win conditions:
- Cloudsnake saddle. This will put a 5-7 turn clock on the opponent.
- Beastcaller’s amulet. 6/5 worth of stats for 3 mana… pretty efficient.
- Recurring nightmare. It’s a little slow but good against control decks. This is plan B.
- Impending doom. This is plan C.
While this is not a tryhard deck, it is definitely competitive jank. You get to play weird cards like Cloudsnake Saddle, Beastcaller’s Amulet, Recurring Nightmare, and Unstable Form.
While I’ve written about this deck before, this deck is playable again in the current V1.18 metagame because decks have slowed down and there isn’t too much Combrei around.
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.
On the surface, the post-wipe metagame might seem reasonably diverse. However, many tier 1 decks are simply aggro decks in different factions: rakano, aggressive combrei, and stonescar burn are proactive decks that play out mostly the same. Slower reactive decks (“control”) are in a bad place due to how strong Stonescar burn is against slower decks.
Because the metagame is fairly fast, very janky decks like reanimator and Clockroaches curently see close to zero play (unlike the pre-wipe meta).
Click on this link and make your own copy of the spreadsheet via File → Make a Copy.
If you brew decks, keeping stats can help you get a better idea about the good and bad matchups.
JayNite currently sits at #4 on ladder with his armory deck. While armory was previously considered a Tier 2 deck, perhaps there is a reason to revisit this classic. The wipe changes nerfed everything else and gave this deck a buff in the form of Scheme:
Scheme allows the deck to dig for the correct answers to counter and punish opposing strategies. Against aggro, this deck looks to trade relic weapons with units to stop the aggression. Then it will dig for the correct answer cards (e.g. Harsh Rule, Auric Runehammer) or Icaria as a finisher. Against control, this deck will look to beat down with relic weapons since control decks tend to be bad against relic weapons.
Lifedrinker is an interesting addition that helps the deck combat an aggro-heavy meta.
Here’s a competitive deck that’s also interesting to play and pilot, unlike the current bogeyman of the metagame- Stonescar Burn. My winrate with the deck has been 64% (18-10). I currently sit at ~#8 on ladder.
This deck is very similar to Finkel’s Shimmerpack deck (discussed here), except that it runs Twinbrood Sauropod (“Echosaur”) as another win condition. Whispering Wind is a way to assemble the Shimmerpack combos. Levitate + big units shore up the deck’s weaknesses against flyers.
I’ll just say it: the wipe nerfed fun and deck diversity. Eternal used to be more fun and interesting than it is now. This is the least fun metagame I’ve faced since I’ve started playing Eternal.
Step 1 would be to un-nerf Clockroaches.
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.
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.
So the first challenge is to get into Master. That depends mostly on reading the meta and playing a Tier 1 or 2 deck that is good against the meta. Piloting skill isn’t that important.
Then the second challenge is to reach #1 on ladder.
Next, you realize that ladder is not a great test of what’s actually the best deck. So my current challenge is to figure out how good decks actually are and what the actual matchups are like. That involves collecting data in a spreadsheet, which you saw with my post on how dominating Burn Queen was pre-wipe.
And then the other challenge is to come up with other Tier 1 decks and have data to back it up.