Who has two thumbs and stupidly put a weekday in the title of their article even though Hex moved half its Bashes to Sunday? This guy! That said, the metagame has evolved in a predictably sweet direction this week: Diamond-Wild Momentum builds have evened the score with Mono-Blood, Ruby-Sapphire Sockets decks have returned as format police, and as a result a whole bunch of strategies that were relegated to “Bad Against Mono Blood” tier grew in popularity. The result? We got Mono-B down to 52% win rate, and other people got to come and play too! On to the metagame!
Metagames are Complicated
Designing TCGs is hard. Designing TCGs as nuanced as Hex is even harder. Hex’s design team has done, on the aggregate, an absolutely incredible job – in the year and change I’ve been playing, Hex’s standard formats have promoted interesting and interactive gameplay that involves a lot of decision making for almost all of them. That said, nerfing Haraza (and by extension, RS Sockets), was a mistake; I’m not sure this is a controversial opinion, as HexEnt undid the nerf after about a month. I want to talk about it a little, to highlight how complicated and fragile a given state of the game is.
At the time that Haraza was banned, the metagame was Lady Avalanche (RW Ramp), Haraza (RS Sockets), Cassia (RD Candles) and Adoni-Zeddek (BD Verdict). Only 6 Bardak Mono-Blood decks were registered. RS Sockets has a powerful matchup against Bardak, because of tough-to-deal-with artifacts like Altar of Nulzann and the ability to explode from hand.
Within 3 Bashes of the nerf (and RS’s disappearance from the metagame), Mono-Blood had pushed out RD, Candles was at an all-time low, and RW ramp decks had also disappeared. You could consider this obvious, but look at the other information they had: RW Ramp (one of the most popular decks) also had a great Mono-Blood matchup, and it was untouched. So why would we expect Mono-Blood to springboard to format-defining?
Well, it turns out that the main reason people were playing RW was because of its solid Sockets matchup (Arcing Rust is great); RW fell out of favor, and all of a sudden there were no decks to pick on Mono Blood and…the last few weeks happened. Surely an un-nerf would immediately fix things?
Not so fast – TCGs are expensive. Mono-Blood is a $250 deck, and Hex does not make switching decks easy. The world is slow to change. And so it took some time for the meta to rebalance itself. But look at this beauty:
Nobody’s selling out of Mono-Blood. It’s too late for that – people are going to continue to bring it to these tournaments in mass. But what we can see is that its win-rate is regressing to 50% as people tune decks like Candles, DW Momentum and RS Sockets to beat it.
My point here is that the metagame evolves in tough-to-predict ways, particularly once you consider the relative lack of ability for people to perfectly change decks. Viewed through the lens of microeconomics, in order for the metagame to stabilize optimally, you would need a lack of barriers to switching decks. But it looks like it’s converging to something pretty sweet.
Speaking of Sweet…
I think our European friends have sort of got it figured out, guys. This was their FiveShards Weekly.
This was the one held at an accessible time for USA players:
Notice anything? Like how the Euros took the Mono-B decks out to the woodshed? Mono-B won one match the whole tournament. The result was a glorious mess of a top 8: Three SW turns decks, 2 RS Sockets decks, DW Ramp, Candles and classic DS Control (piloted by Runecarver Darcon for sweet Runic Theorize value).
The USA top 8? Err. Not so great. 3 Mono-B decks and another basically Mono-B deck by Sotrup that splashes Ruby for access to its absolutely absurd major gems (galvanism in Quenchinator, twin-strike in Dark Heart of Nulzann). A 70% win-rate for Mono-blood. I just…you know…guys, I’m just gonna need everybody to play decks that are at least 50% against Mono Blood. Which you can find because…
Fred from HexPVPTools.net is a Golden God
So, Fred made available the pairwise matchup data from every tournament. If you haven’t seen this feature, it’s beautiful. You should shower Fred with whatever money you are not spending here at Battleshopper. Just:
- Go to any tournament you want. Like this one.
- Scroll down to “Archetypes Matchup”
- Select “B-Bardak the Butcher”, because that is the deck you need to beat
- Look at what decks it lost to, and ask if it lost to them a statistically significant amount of the time.
It’s that easy. You don’t even have to read these articles any more, you can just read them for me making fun of people’s deck choices. You can get a really quick snapshot of what’s going on, too – there’s a Rocks, Paper, Scissors game going on between RD Candles, RS Sockets, and Mono-Blood.
- Candles is amazing against Sockets – actually won 100% of matches in the bash.
- Sockets is great against Blood – won 63% of its matches.
- Blood is incredible against Candles – won 75% of its matches.
- Diamond-Wild Momentum is hanging out here winning 50% of its matches vs. everybody (and didn’t run into candles a lot).
It’s worth pointing out that none of this would be available without both HexEnt’s willingness to share data, and Fred’s insane dedication to gathering and displaying it for us. We’re lucky to have both of them.
Some brief self-congratulation: We talked about Sethanon and Destrozeitor’s Ruby-Wild Elk stuff last week. Mercier top-8’d the Bash with a very clean build. That did not play Snarling Brave. Just sayin’. Now let’s talk about decks.
Swigmonkey’s Might Makes Blood-Ruby Right
Sometimes a deck has a very clear plan. SW Turn wants to ramp and take extra turns. DW momentum wants to play giant dudes and smash. Swigmonkey’s plan is less clear, but I think I’ve sussed it out. Walk with me, for a moment, through the steaming swamp-jungle that is his dreams:
So Primordials are great. Good early, good late. Sabretooth is the best. Blood’s the best deck. So we’re Blood-Ruby now.
But sometimes, you really wanna play them now, and don’t wanna wait, but you have no resource acceleration in Blood or Ruby. So you need Might Makes Right, which lets you play cards off the top of your deck for free if you have the troop with the highest power.
So we play cards with high power, like Nameless Devourer. That’s a 5/5 for 2. Nobody knows we’re not even close to being a mill deck. Who would suspect?
And Emperor Nox is perfect here. He’s in our colors, and we probably have a bunch of copies from drafting, so that’s great. But he’s also a fatty (great to be on the top of our deck!) and he makes the power and toughness of our troops bigger (great to be on the board!) for Might Makes Right.
Add in Ruthless Destiny, because we definitely want to have more power and toughness on the board. And add in Replipopper, because if you ever get Emperor Nox on the board, your Replipopper army is killing them super fast.
Brilliant plan. Easy 4-1 in the FiveShards Weekly.
…I have so many questions:
- Is the point of Grish’kal the Profane legitimately just to troll the opponent into not selecting “Bury 10 cards” for Nameless Devourer? He only gives +power for the current turn…so unless I’m missing something, it doesn’t work with Might Makes Right. On the other hand, if you played Venoma of Nox, you definitely could pump creatures to trigger Might.
- I like the 3 Scars and 2 Massacres. This guy knows he needs to not die to Candles and Momentum. But lord did we have to put in Replipopper just to die horribly to these things?
- Did you consider different shells for this? Gladiator seems like an effect that Might Makes Right works well with. Plus, Wild has a bunch of fat troops that cost less than they should.
- I’m super curious as to why no Sting of the Scorpinox, even in the sideboard.
Basically, this brew is sweet. Brewing around Might Makes Right sounds awesome. I’m excited to see more stuff from this guy.
Grish’xal the Profane
2x Might Makes Right
1x Corners of the World
ZBounder’s Mono-Ruby Thakra
This deck sweet in a different way. It’s simple. It’s pure. It’s well-wrought. It plays 4 of the best of each card: Escape Goat, Righteous Outlaw, Frothfang Cackler, Matriarch of Flames and Mama Yeti. It plays intelligent maindeck options to be good against Mono-Blood: Ruby’s Favor kills the only things that don’t die to Fireball, and can also go to the dome. ZBounder 2-0’d every control deck he faced – only losing to draws from other aggressive decks.
Want to ladder up quickly, and punish greedy deckbuilding? Mono-Ruby is always great. Sideboard: 4 Disruptor Drone, 4 Burning Ire, 3 Crackling Magma. This deck is just super-clean.
Thakra the Ember
Think I’m wrong? Want to argue with people over standard decks? Want to convince people that your aggro deck can ruin Durdle Nirvana for everybody? Come talk in Battleshopper’s Discord channel!