Monday Morning Metagame (2/19)

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:

I’m pretty sure you get a platinum medal for beating Mono-Blood…if you know what I mean…

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.

Can you not buy Bride of the Damned in the EU?

This was the one held at an accessible time for USA players:

USA! USA! U…S…eh.

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:

  1. Go to any tournament you want. Like this one.
  2. Scroll down to “Archetypes Matchup”
  3. Select “B-Bardak the Butcher”, because that is the deck you need to beat
  4. Look at what decks it lost to, and ask if it lost to them a statistically significant amount of the time.
Here, I have helpfully highlighted decks for you!

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.

Neat Stuff

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:

Might Makes RightNameless DevourerRuthless Destiny

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.

Image result for this is sparta
Madness? THIS…IS…RUTHLESS DESTINY!!!!

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.

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.

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!

Monday Morning Metagame (2/12)

What a weekend!  Haraza got restored to its appropriate greatness, and … oh.  Mono-Blood still crushed everything.  Damnit.  But ASIDE from that, this metagame looks sweet.  While Mono-Blood was the most popular, had the highest win percentage, and also put 4 copies in the top 8 (and 6 in the top 10), there were a number of other decks that did reasonably.  Let’s hit the highlights.

We Bringin’ Aggro Back

With Haraza un-nerfed, Ruby-Diamond Candles, Ruby-Diamond Ardent and Ruby-Sapphire Sockets all put a copy in the top 8.  It’s worth noting that aggressive decks made up about a third of the tournament, and that Ruby-Diamond and Ruby-Sapphire decks won about 54% of their matches combined – very respectable.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like anybody’s quite unlocked the aggro deck that smashes Mono-Blood yet.

It doesn’t help, to some extent, that Haraza Decks tend to get bodied by Candles/Momentum decks (it’s tough to attack through all those giant troops), and Candles/Momentum decks in turn tend to get a bit bodied by blood decks.  We actually have the data to back this up, thanks to Fred at HexPVPTools.  Check it out:

Ruby-Sapphire won 61% of its matches vs. Mono-Blood…

…but Diamond-Wild won 74% of its matches vs. Ruby-Sapphire Sockets.  And Diamond-Ruby won 56%.

…unfortunately, Mono Blood bodies Ruby Diamond decks – it won 67% of matches.  It’s also favored, by a lesser amount, against Diamond-Wild – 55%.

And everybody beat the pants off of Diamond-Sapphire.  It makes me sad, so I’m not gonna talk about it.

What’s the point?  We have a rocks/paper/scissors metagame at the moment.  Mono-Blood beats DW and RD, DW and RD beat RS, and RS beats Mono-Blood.  The problem is that the numbers don’t line up evenly:  The Nash Equilibrium for these win-rates is 62% Mono-Blood, 26% DW and 12% RS.   Basically, all the matchups that Diamond-Ruby is good at, Diamond-Wild is better at.  Whee, data!

The Fantastic Four

There’s a clear clear top tier of champions in this metagame:  Bardak the Butcher, Haraza the Incinerator, Cassia Goldenlight and Lady Avalanche are played a ton more than the other champions.  182/288 decks featured one of these champions; Lady Avalanche (the least played of the four) was played nearly 3 times as much as the next-most-popular champion.

Of these, Cassia is maybe a bit overrated – she represents two distinct strategies (while most Avalanche decks are Wild-based Exalted Pathfinder ramp decks) in Diamond-Sapphire Turbo-PA and Ruby-Diamond Candles.  But the fact is that you have to go 29 places down, to Sethanon on Grandfather Elk, before you see a deck not playing one of these champs.

Death of Durdle

Aggro was back on the menu…and people who tried to run back the runebind decks of the past got run over.  Diamond-Sapphire and Sapphire-Wild posted mediocre 45% win-rates.  Other decks, however, adapted to include some anti-aggro deck: Diamond Wild decks were running a few copies of Eldurathan’s Glory to hold off Haraza’s hordes and also to get those pesky Brides of the Damned off the table.

Diamond-Sapphire players will have to evolve – and it’s a tough ask when Blood-based interaction is more powerful…and Blood has the better late game cards that also are more effective in the early game.  Psychic Ascension is a win con, but if it’s in your opening hand it’s dead for a long time.  Demented Whispers is fine early, and wins you the game late.  At the moment, it seems like Mono-Blood is better positioned against the aggressive field.

Reminder:  Mono  Blood.

Yeah.  We wrote about this last week.  We’re gonna hit it briefly again.  Dear Intrepid Hex Community:  Your non-Blood midrange and control splashes are not working.  Blood-Diamond, Blood-Sapphire and Blood-Wild won under 30% of their matches.  Bride of the Damned, Strangle, and Vampire Prince are still worth it.  Of the splashers, Blood-Ruby seemed to do the best, with variants including Quenchinator, Primordial Sabretooth and Runic Avalanche to try to get an edge in the mirror.

Sommeliers around the globe agree that the best pairing for blood…is more blood.

Neat Stuff

Guys.  This is dark times for Neat Stuff.  46 of the top 50 players played one of the Fantastic Four.  Nary a Yarna of the Lost Voices or a Balthasar the Elegist to be seen.  I assume that SlimHeavens just misclicked in champion selection and accidentally picked Renner instead of our boy Screaming Fox (Bardak).  So let’s salute those 3 players who were either determined to play something different or just didn’t want to buy new cards.

Sethanon and Destrozeitor’s Ruby-Wild Cards I Own

Could I have put URKADAR’s Ruby-Diamond Ardent deck here?  I sure could have.  I could have talked about how Threads of Life is cool sideboard tech to effectively get a second copy of a Herofall’d card.  How he was ready for sockets with 4 copies of arcing rust.  But he only played 1 copy of Righteous Outlaw, so he’s dead to me.  I can’t support this lack of Righteousness, even though it doesn’t attack well into Momentum’s blockers, and can be a little embarrassing vs. Bride of the Damned.

You know who are a pair of righteous dudes?  Sethanon and Destrozeitor.

You know who played 4 Righteous Outlaws each?  Sethanon and Destrozeitor.

You know who supplemented those 4  good cards with a bevy of cards I have only seen in limited?  Sethanon and Destrozeitor.

That’s right.  These guys were in to cast Communion of Wax and get nerds DEAD.  Get something with double damage, Grandfather Elk hero power it and crush ‘em.  Sethanon planned to cheat Coiling Nebulax, Surging Wildfire and Pulverazor into play.  Destrozeitor dreamed bigger:  He played two copies of Fire with Fire and Spontaneous Combustion to go with his giant troops for more damage to the face.

One bit of tech I particularly like is Sethanon’s Witch of the Wishing Well.  This deck really wants to have a good card to cheat into play with Communion of wax, and Witch not only helps to filter through your deck, it makes the card you find bigger.

Aside from the 1-of Snarling Brave (c’mon.  Get another Boltwing Phoenix), Sethanon’s deck seems to know what it’s doing.

Sethanons Ruby-Wild Elk

Champion: Grandfather Elk
Actions:
4x Communion of Wax – Gems: 4x Major Ruby of Twinstrike
Resources:
4x Well of Savagery
4x Ruby Shard
4x Shard of Savagery
5x Wild Shard
3x Ruby Ice
3x Wild Ice
Troops:
1x Locke of the Pack
4x Righteous Outlaw
2x Boltwing Phoenix
4x Pulverazor
3x Acolyte of Flame
4x Surging Wildfire
4x Fuelmaster
3x Quenchinator – Gems: 3x Major Ruby of Galvanism
2x Coiling Nebulax
4x Witch of the Wishing Well
1x Dreamweaver Ancient
1x Snarling Brave

Reserves:
2x Arcing Rust
2x Return to Cinder
3x Scars of War
3x Burning Ire
1x Nature Reigns
1x Boltwing Phoenix
3x Brosi-Buk, Mischief Master

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Yasi’s Blood-Sapphire Reanimator

His deckbuilding is so next level, he got DJ Dark Heart at level 96.

He once cast Absolute Power and drew 0 cards, because he already knew everything worth knowing.

He played a Five-shard deck in the Platinum Plunder that could only make two shards

Yasi is … the most interesting brewer in Hex.

Image result for most interesting man in the world
…I don’t always reanimate Blightwater Ferryman. But when I do, I prefer to cast Mirror, Mirror.

This deck is an awesome evolution of Yasi’s previous work.  First, it’s a Blood-Sapphire deck playing reanimation targets from Ruby, Diamond and Wild shards!  Second, it’s playing Mirror, Mirror, because Blightwater Ferryman will bring back 1 other troop, giving you two excellent targets to make giant clones of.  The sideboard is mostly assorted fatties to bring in, and of course the deck contains the Coralcove Witch/Crowbones/Sorcerous Sculting combo to make infinite speedy Crowbones.  But I’d wager this deck wins most of its matchups on the backs of giant reanimated troops smashing in.

Blightwater Ferryman
The only thing better than reanimating a fatty…
Mirror, Mirror
…is reanimating a second one, cloning the first, and getting another 6/3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s worth noting that this strategy is particularly well-suited to attack mono-blood decks.  Because it relies on reanimating troops from the graveyard and features a bunch of 1-ofs, this deck is relatively resilient to both Herofall and discard like Primordial Cockatwice.

Yasi Blood-Sapphire Reanimator

Champion: Blue Sparrow
Actions:
4x Theorize
4x Heart’s Whisper
2x Sorcerous Sculpting – Gems: 2x Major Sapphire of Sorcery
4x Change Course
Mirrors:
1x Mirror, Mirror
4x Runebind
4x Mordrom’s Gift – Gems: 4x Major Sapphire of Clarity
Resources:
4x Nameless Draught
4x Sapphire Shard
4x Blood Ice
4x Well of Cunning
4x Blightbark Reserve
4x Sapphire Ice
Troops:
1x Grove Warden
2x Blightwater Ferryman
1x Crowbones – Gems: 1x Minor Blood Orb of Frenzy
1x Primordial Sabretooth
3x Coralcove Witch
4x Eternal Seeker
1x Aegilus

Reserves:
2x Casualty of War
2x Into the Unknown
3x Primordial Cockatwice
1x Aegilus
3x Robogoyle
1x Primordial Sabretooth
1x Grove Warden
2x The Librarian

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Takeaways

  • Mono-Blood is the best deck by a good chunk. If there’s a card with the word “Ire” in it, you may want to consider putting it in your deck.
  • Ruby-Sapphire Sockets has a good Mono-Blood matchup. Diamond Wild is slightly unfavored.
  • If you can find a Diamond-Wild deck that you feel is genuinely favored vs. Mono-Blood, you’re looking at a sea of good to great matchups.  Could I recommend my friend Gargalith, good for protecting your troops and setting up unbeatable board states?
  • My beloved Diamond-Sapphire decks are floundering in a sea of discard and socketed aggression. Woe!

 

Monday Morning Metagame (2/5)

Burgle’s Bash Breakdown (2/4)

Super bowl?  Bash data released at 6:45 PM?  No problem – a Bash happened, and a fascinating one at that!  Also, with HexEnt’s announcement that the Haraza Nerf is getting undone, could this  be the last week of Durdle Nirvana?  I wouldn’t miss it for the world – time to break down all the events of the weekend.

Seize the Momentum

The big story of the weekend is Momentum: decks that play resources, make their troops bigger, and smash their opponent’s face.  I’m not sure how we all decided that the time of the durdlers was nigh, but 9 players suited up various Lady Avalanche shells, and they clocked in at a ridiculous 66.7% winrate.  Early in the format, cards like Clash of Steel, Dark Heart of Nulzann and Massacre made playing out one giant threat a turn a hilariously bad plan.

In order to durdle with the best of them, DS control variants only played 2 Dark Hearts, and many mono-blood decks were running only 2 maindeck Massacres.  Turns out, there is such a thing as too greedy:  The troop-growing champion and her army of Leprechauns won the most games of any deck archetype, and also won the bash in the hands of iwannabeEuropean.

These decks are basically another take on the Pathfinder Ramp deck.  We’ve seen these decks in Ruby-Wild, powering out Runic Avalanche, in Sapphire-Wild powering out Eyes of the Heart, and now also in Diamond-Wild to fill out the lower end of the curve.  Cards like Leprechaun Artist and Shamrock the Goldfather generate card advantage to help counteract discard and disruption effects like Primordial Cockatwice and Demented Whispers.  It goes without saying that in Durdle Nirvana, nobody’s playing Cheap Shot – there were only 2 in the entire Bash.

Ruby, Ruby!

Tunuploud and Escangalha both played mono-ruby decks and we owe them our thanks.  Not only did they take it to the fat cats in the top 8, they did it with trim decks coming in around 7 and 8 thousand platinum.  They went 10-4 in the swiss:  0-3 against Diamond-Sapphire Control and 10-1 against everything else.

Their different takes are pretty neat.  Escalangha eschewed the traditional Mama Yeti package for Quenchinators.  Combined with Angus’ hero power, each Quenchinator deals just over 2 damage to the opponent when it enters the battlefield.  That, plus Coiling Nebulax and Runic Avalanche to keep generating cards to play, gave Escalangha a lot of reach.  Tunuploud took a more traditional approach, with 4 Ayotachi Brutes.  Hats off to both of them – they scythed through blood-based decks – unfortunately, they both ran into DS Control in the top 8.  Total record against DS Control:  0-5.

It’s called MONO-Blood

Just a quick public service announcement, because I’m feeling community-oriented. You guys know that deck that’s been winning everything?  It’s called Mono Blood, or Blood Control, or Bride of the Damned and her Whacky Wallet Warriors.  It’s called that because the only shards it plays are Blood.  So it can reliably activate Bride of the Damned on turn 5, and cast Strangle and Vampire Prince on turn 2.  I just say this, because it seems like people didn’t get the memo.

Notice a certain strategy populating the can’t-win bracket?

6 Deck Archetypes, played by 31 players, won less than 50% of their games.  The ruby-headed stepchild of this format, Candles, obviously clocked in at 48.  Two bold souls played Mono-Sapphire.  And 23 people decided to combine Blood with some other color.  Maybe to beat the blood mirror?  Who can tell.  Guys:  Blood does everything better, and it gets to play Bride of the Damned.  Stop watering it down with your Plan B.

Neat Stuff

Goliathus’ Blood-Sapphire Bury

Yeah.  So maybe he only got 15th.  But he 5-2’d the swiss portion of the Bash with the Bury archetype, which makes him a national treasure.  0-2 against our friends Tunuploud and Escalangha from, who were so rude as to play mono-Ruby … and 5-0 against everybody else.  Bury is at tricky deck to handle when you’re trying to durdle as hard as everybody else was.  Goliathus came ready to attack the decks of a bunch of people who had no intention of attacking him…and he almost got to the top 8 with it.

Hats off to him.  Best finish from a bury deck in a while.  Some questions though:

  • I feel, emotionally, like we need a plan against aggressive decks. Void Star isn’t going to get it done.  Maybe a fourth massacre, and a casualty of war or two?
  • There’s no world in which you’ve cast enough actions to make Psychic Ascension castable and you somehow haven’t buried your opponent’s entire deck. Find another end-game card.
  • What, exactly, is Brink of Madness getting rid of, given that your maindeck removal is mostly Herofall? I understand that, flavorfully, it’s a mill card, but…let’s free up some side-deck slots and have a plan vs. aggressive decks!

Vestris’ Ruby-Wild Quik-e-Mart

I love this archetype so goddamn much.  I tried to make it work two months ago – it was too inconsistent for me, because I was building around Merry Caravan.  Now everybody and their mother is building around Merry Caravan, and Vestris decided to go faster.

The goal of this build is simple:  It’s going to play many, many resources every turn, triggering momentum 2 or 3 times every turn.  Its troops are going to get huge, and they’re going to smash you for all of your life.  It doesn’t have access to no fancy leprechauns.  And when you can’t wish for pots of lucky coins, YOU GO TO THE CHARK MART.  Sure, it’s budget, and it costs you 4 resources, and that’s not ideal, but you get resources, and you get to play them!  And that’s good enough!

Hatehollow WitchChark MartPippit Pal

These guys shop at Chark Mart.  When you play two a turn, you need discount resources!

Vestris plays 7 2-cost troops with Crush, so blocking his giant troops isn’t going to do much.  He plays 7 3-drop troops that let him play 2 resources per turn.  He plays Palm of Granite and Pathfinder.  And he plays Chark Mart.  He’s not going to draw a lot of cards like most of these wild decks, but he’s going to reliably make enormous troups and run roughshod over everybody.  This deck is a beauty – I hope it sticks around.

Questions:

  • Why not another Mightsinger? Crush troops and card advantage are the best possible thing this deck can have, and Mightsinger is both.
  • Is a 4th Hatehollow Witch better than a 4th Pippit Pal? Seems like the part where it attacks much better and offers the same effect might make it worthwhile.
  • How big was your biggest Burn to the Ground? I’m asking…for a friend.

Takeaways

  • If you’re gonna leave your Dark Hearts and Massacres at home, get ready to get run over by good aggressive decks. This week, we durdled a bit too much and got run over.  Beware the overdurdling.  Durdle with caution.
  • Momentum is a real deck. Notably, if your plan vs. Aggro is to ramp into Seeker, you’re going to have an awful time – it will both kill you too fast and also generally has troops of various costs.  Cheap Shot, Crackling Magma, Scars of War, Massacre are your friends here.
  • Haraza’s Banner is coming back. Pack your artifact hate.

Monday Morning Metagame (1/29)

Burgle’s Bash Breakdown: January 27th

We Live Here Now

So last week I told you the tale of the Dead of Winter standard:  4 weeks of frenzied durdling, an arrival of an aggro deck to keep those filthy durdlers in check, and the prompt nerfing of that aggro deck.  The result?  A 10 point gap between the performance of the best slow decks…and everybody else.

But Hex players are intrepid.

They are brave.

They are innovative.

This weekend, they took up the gauntlet that was thrown down by those dirty Blood, Diamond-Sapphire Control and Pathfinder Ramp players.  And they…durdled…HARDER.

17 players played Blood-based control decks.  16 players played Wild-based ramp decks.  And a Dirty Dozen (ish) players set out to punish these players with low curves, evasive troops, and reach.  They collected the best among us:  Cosmic Crown Showdown Champion Icecon, 6th-Greatest Hex Player Of All Time Metronomy, and a guy who just wanted to maindeck 4 Brosi-Buk.  And together they armed themselves with Underworld Crusaders and Mama Yetis and CHARGED!

Onward! Blitz the greedy decks, boys! For the honor of an honest curve!

…into the superior technology of the Durdle hordes, with predictable results.

Revyd really wonders why he was chosen by the gods to survive this slaughter. He finished 12th, and lived out the remainder of his years feeding pigeons in central park.

Metronomy 1-2’d.  Icecon 0-2’d.  Over the first 3 rounds, the aggressors won about 35% of their matches collectively.  Revyd managed to run back the 1-2 start into winning his next next 4.  The days of the aggro deck were behind us.

Neat Stuff

Despite the Aggropocalypse, there was some interesting innovations.  With respect to the interesting Verdict Control take by Vazrael, and SaigoNoBoss’s persistent work with The Aristocrats, let’s talk about:

 ThufirHawat’s Blood-Sapphire Aggro

I like ThufirHawat.  Every week, he asks himself a simple question:  what’s the best deck in the format, and why is the combination of Warpsteel Shardsworn and Consult the Talons the answer to it?

That said, if you think that mono-blood and ramp decks are going to be the most popular decks, this is a really interesting take.  It plays basically no cards that feel good to spend removal on, because almost every card produces 2+ bodies.  This also produces bodies for Consult the Talons (a way to grind card advantage).  Silver Talon Mandate and Commander Prompt end games against wild decks quickly, as those decks traditionally have a lot of trouble blocking evasive creatures.

There are some neat subtleties going on with this deck too: Runebind rebuys triggers from things like The Librarian and Silver Talon Mandate, and we here at Burgle Industries approve of the 3 casualties of war – Thufir’s paying close attention to curve and not just jamming 4 herofalls.

Questions:

  • The Librarian is nicely robust to removal, and attacks along a weird axis. But is it better to streamline with an Underworld Officer that would get bigger with every warpsteel and skittering cultivator, as well as being an unblockable 3/2 on attack by itself?  Can Rizzix be turned on?

YungDingo’s Sapphire-Wild Turns

I wrote about this deck last week.  I said it was good vs. blood, and a very well-positioned deck for the Durdle Nirvana we’re currently in.  YungDingo obviously agreed:  He looked at cards like Tilling the Soil and said “This card merely accelerates me.  It does not give me value and card advantage.” So he replaced it (and a Wildlife) with Mightsinger of the Ages and Eternal Bastion.

YungDingo @#$%ing gets it:  In a meta where you are wholly unafraid of people having the sheer poisonous gall to threaten your health total, this is phenomenally great idea.  Mightsinger, if you can reach the the 5W threshold, is a card that will kill your opponent if you get to take extra turns.  In the meanwhile, it works nicely with Palm of Granite and Balthazar’s power to help keep the hand full during Eyes of the Heart turns.  Eternal Bastion has a similar effect.

I have no questions.  This deck is perfect.  YungDingo is perfect.

 

(Editor’s note: And if you want the in depth dive from the YungDingo himself, check it out by clicking here!)

Takeaways

  • Diamond Sapphire Control didn’t show up. The best-performing non-blood deck last week, only 3 people played the Turbo-PA version, and only 3 people played the more classic version.  Turbo-PA took second.  Popular opinion might suggest that the wild decks are too threat dense and top-end heavy, but Diamond Sapphire keeps putting people in the top 8 even with few players.
  • We are still in Durdle Nirvana. Follow your heart.  Take all the turns.  1 and 2 CMC cards largely optional.  Have a plan for low-to-the-ground aggro decks, but also understand that their resources are a bit inconsistent, and they have very few ways to get rid of big blockers, or to push evasive damage past Wildlife/Merry Caravan.  There will come a day when the aggro decks will rise again…but today is not that day.
  • Blood and Ramp decks represent 50% of the metagame. If you are not playing Confounding Ire, Blinding Ire or Burning Ire and you have the option to… re-evaluate your life choices.

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!

 

Monday Morning Metagame (1/22)

Monday Morning Metagame (1/22)

So every weekend I love looking at Bash/5Shards Weekly results.  See what did well, see if anybody did anything neat.  Try to figure out what’s going to happen next week.  Maybe you gentlemen would like to come along for the ride – so I’ll try to make it a weekly thing.  A quick overview of what happened, what’s interesting, and where we are.

A Brief History of Dead of Winter Standard

For the first 3 weeks of the Standard, people hadn’t figured out the best aggro deck.  The best decks in the previous standard were all linear and strong; all used racial resources (Ardent – Human, Kagu – Shin’hare, Turbo-PA – Coyotle) to streamline their incredibly powerful resource base.  With those resources removed, all these decks got a little…clunkier.  And all of a sudden, doing your crazy thing before you got Massacred, or before Bride of the Damned got active, or before Dark Heart of Nulzann + Clash of Steel started to get really difficult.

The result was a short-lived durdling Nirvana.  From the end of November through mid-December, you could play whatever the hell you wanted, so long as it had plenty of value.  Just jam some powerful cards in a deck, preferably with a total of 60 cards (largely optional), and go to town – nobody else’s resource base was good enough to punish you.  Then people started building Ruby-Sapphire Sockets, a deck which could get on the board fast, runebind your basic-speed interaction, and kill you…while also playing a long game with cards like Altar of Nulzann.  So you had to interact with it early and often, and also have a plan for finishing the game.

RS Sockets became the aggro deck du jour in Hex, because it could compete with the basic-speed sweepers that control decks had.  Of course, it didn’t actually win everything – while Sockets was really good against Sapphire variants, Blood-based decks could still interact early and rely on Stalking Quarry and Massacre to catch up.  Sockets, of course, had a bad matchup against the basic-speed aggressive decks like Candles and Momentum (decks that were suppressed by all the board-wipe control decks of the Durdle Nirvana era).  So those decks got to see a bit more play, and mid-range/ramp decks like Ruby-Wild Lady Avalanche came into existence.

For a good snapshot of this, take at look at the January 6th Bash:  The most popular champions were Haraza (aggro), Cassia (mostly Candles, some Turbo-PA), Lady Avalanche (Ramp), Adoni Zeddek (split between aggro and control), with Bardak the Butcher (control) a distant 5th.  If you split Adoni-Zeddek and Cassia down by archetype, you end up with about 7 different decks competing for best deck in the format.

So then we nerfed Haraza…

On January 10th, Haraza’s burning banner was changed to no longer grant +1 attack to all troops. This immediately had two effects:  First, control decks only had to worry about slower decks like Candles and other control decks.  RS Sockets fell out of the meta – even before the nerf, it had only won 40% of its games in the last Bash, so it couldn’t take the hit.  And decks that were competitive because they preyed on RS sockets fell out.

And so it was that we returned to Durdle Nirvana.  Let’s check in with the Bash Results and see what happened!

Burgle’s Bash Breakdown:  January 20th

Overview

This week saw two things happening:  Some people chose to play late-game decks, and some people chose to lose.  Seriously:

Let’s appreciate the 44% win-rate of the best aggro deck here…

Out of the 78 players in this bash, we had about 16 bold souls who elected to play aggressive decks.  They clocked in at a 43% winrate.  The best-performing aggro deck won 44% of its games.  Meanwhile, all the high-performing decks were ramp or control.  What’s the takeaway?

We are in Durdle Nirvana.    You might go an entire Bash without seeing another aggro deck.  Just plan to play a deck that does powerful thing against other decks, eventually.  The best decks in the format are Mono-Blood, Diamond-Sapphire Control.  Dedicated ramp decks can also compete by using cards like Exalted Pathfinder to keep up in cards while accelerating into higher-end threats.

Demented Whispers is my master now.
…this one’s OK too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternatively, you could zig where everybody else is zagging and play the lowest-to-the-ground Angus deck you possibly can.  But I can’t say I’d recommend this – 4 cost Dark Heart of Nulzann, Herofall, incidental life gain from Vampire Prince, random 1/1s from Wax Sacrament, and Exalted Pathfinder making Mama Yeti look like Baby Yeti present a serious problem.

Instead, I suggest you strap up, ask yourself “Is 4x Withering Gaze, 4x Demented Whispers and 4x Primordial Cockatwice too much respect for aggressive decks?  Do I maybe need to put 4 Journey into Nightmare there too?”, and get to durdlingThis guy knows what’s up.

Neat Stuff

A couple decks jumped out from this Bash, which featured 3 Mono-Blood and 3 Diamond-Sapphire Control (2 Turbo-PA, 1 Classic) in the top 8.

Revyd’s Blood-Ruby Aggro

You might be inclined to think that Revyd’s Blood-Ruby Aggro deck, featuring Underworld Crusaders and Mama Yetis, was a good way to attack a greedy metagame.  Unfortunately, that archetype won 42% of its games.  Revyd, the best of them, was 1-2 against Diamond-Sapphire players and 2-1 against Blood-based control decks.  If I’m targeting the best decks, I want above a 50% winrate.

Questions:  Can we make the resource-base more consistent?  And can we find ways to reliably get early troops out of our way?

Blood-Ruby Aggro

Champion: Thakra the Ember
Resources:
4x Necropolis Coins
4x Well of Hatred
4x Blood Ice
12x Ruby Shard
Actions:
2x Gorge of the Gore God
Troops:
2x Primordial Sabretooth
1x Rustbucket Distractor
1x Scrios Forgefist – Gems: 1x Minor Ruby of the Arena
1x Blamsmith – Gems: 1x Minor Ruby of Zeal
1x Matriarch of Flames
4x Lazgar’s Bloodsworn
3x Righteous Outlaw
4x Boltwing Phoenix
1x Necropolis Garroter
1x Mortartrike Driver
1x Cryptcurse Knight – Gems: 1x Minor Ruby of Zeal
4x Underworld Crusader – Gems: 4x Minor Blood Orb of Frenzy
1x Pyresmoke Cabalist
1x Monsagi Deadeye
4x Mama Yeti
4x Baby Yeti

Reserves:
2x Reginald’s Riposte
2x Arcing Rust
3x Runic Avalanche
2x Primordial Sabretooth
4x Primordial Cockatwice
2x Blight Knight

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YungDingo’s Sapphire-Wild Turns

This is another deck that targets the control decks – everybody has limited ways to interact with Merry Caravan and Eyes of the Heart.  With Mono-Blood decks playing less dark hearts, there are very few ways they have to get rid of problematic constants.  YungDingo went 6-2 against blood-oriented decks.  Unfortunately, Diamond-Sapphire Control has Dark Heart of Nulzann and Clash of Steel to get rid of problematic board states.

Questions:  Can we shore up our Diamond-Sapphire Control matchup?  Is Balthasar significantly better than Lady Avalanche?  Are we certain that shard in our resource base shouldn’t be ice?

Sapphire-Wild Turns

Champion: Balthasar the Elegist
Resources:
8x Wild Shard
1x Shard of Instinct
4x Sapphire Ice
4x Sapphire Shard
3x Wild Ice
4x Well of Instinct
Constants:
4x Merry Caravan
Actions:
4x Runebind
3x Tilling the Soil
3x Wildlife
4x Eyes of the Heart
4x Palm of Granite
Troops:
4x Pippit Hustler
1x Pippit Pal
3x Acolyte of Shoku
4x Exalted Pathfinder
2x Eternal Seeker

Reserves:
2x Dread End
1x Grove Warden
2x Rotting Chompknight
3x Warpsteel Shardsworn
1x Eternal Seeker
3x Dark Heart of Nulzann
3x Brosi-Buk, Mischief Master

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Takeaways:

  1. This is Durdle Nirvana. Have a good late-game plan.
  2. Aim to beat Diamond-Sapphire Control and Mono-Blood.
  3. You might want to consider having a card or four that’s good against Candles or can block an early threat.  But it’s optional.