Monday Morning Metagame (4/16)

Monday Morning Metagame

Hey guys.  Bit of a weird column today, to follow a weird Bash.  Let’s review:

Pictured: Choices.

  • Apparently people got bored of playing the best deck, DW Momentum. Only 7 people registered it, as opposed to the 20 from last week.  Those 7 still performed about as well.
  • SW is the next best deck. It murders interactive decks by packing a lot of value as well as a combo kill.  Without DW to prey on it, it put 4 copies in the top 8 and won.
  • Interactive Decks with quality quick-speed removal like RS and Blood variants can beat DW. They can’t beat SW.  Without DW to keep SW down, they didn’t do particularly hot.
  • RD Candles has a puncher’s chance against anybody except DW, particularly if they didn’t show proper respect.

All in all, Doombringer has introduced the SW Rowdy archetype, and added in a couple of options for RS decks.  But big cards like Count Dragomir, Scribe of the Flayed Man, etc, have found an extremely limited home, and the metagame has changed relatively little since Week 1.

I think it’s tempting, in these circumstances, to blame DW Momentum.  It’s a good deck playing good cards that are good at everything with a good champion…you could say it’s a Good Plan.  The interactive decks posting good win-rates against it have glaring weaknesses against aggressive decks like candles and BR Refuel.

But, as it turns out, there are a number of good decks that have been introduced by the new season.  A lot of them have game against DW.  A lot of them are also freaking sweet.  Let me introduce you all to my baby, Sparrow Reanimator.

Scribe of the Flayed ManMordrom's GiftDoombringer Kha

We have many fair and balanced ways of winning the game.  Many.

My first experience with seeing somebody Mordrom’s Gift Doombringer Kha was on the ladder, when it didn’t even occur to me that doing 20 damage straight to my face thanks to Ruby Gem of Twinstrike was even a thing.  Later, MustacheMagic took it to a second place Bash finish (he did pretty well this week too).

  • It plays all the cards I love: Scribe of the Flayed Man, Voice of D’endrahh, Briny Ray, Primordial Sabretooth, Doombringer Kha, Scour the Archives
  • It does powerful things. It can grind.  It involves a ton of decisions.  It sees a lot of cards.
  • It’s great against DW Momentum – they often have no way to stop fliers, and their removal isn’t quick speed. Game 1 is easy, and the part where they can’t really spend their resources for fear of getting murdered lets you run them over.  Your removal (Primordial Sabretooth, Jouncing Carnage, Excruciate) lines up well with their big troops.  Amazingly, your cards are as good as their cards!
  • It’s one of my absolute favorite decks in any TCG I’ve played.
  • As of the writing of this article, it costs 34,167 Platinum to build.

In order to have an evolving metagame, and tuned decks, and brewing, people have to have access to the cards.  If you wanted to switch between DW Momentum, SW Rowdy, Candles, and this deck, you’d need to invest nearly 70,000 Platinum.  That’s an insane price tag to have access to the best decks in the metagame.  Doombringer, as a set, is incredibly sweet.  I’d bet there are sneaky-awesome decks out there with Rebirth, maybe discard-based control in Blood-Sapphire…there are all these mechanics that haven’t been explored.  Because nobody’s going to spend 15,000 platinum to try out a new idea.

The effect of prices on the metagame is tangible:  People are locked into decks, and so they play what’s best.  Battleshopper writer ThufirHawat is probably the most successful constructed player in Hex – he’s not brewing, he can’t afford it.  Plays DW Momentum because he has it.  If the best players can’t switch between decks, why should we expect the metagame to evolve?  This is a problem that needs to get dealt with if Hex is going to have a healthy competitive scene.

Neat Stuff

Felucius’ Shadow Fuel

We didn’t see a lot of the traditional Tork refuel decks this week.  What we did see was a lot of people asking “What could a third shard do for me?”  Felucius found a couple of things he wanted in Wild, so he put in Eternal Pathfinder and Palm of…oh, wait.  No.  He put in Pack Frenzy; a card I had to go look up, and played Shadow of Blightwood.

FuelmasterPack Frenzy

Who needs Lord Blightbark or Baroness Fiona, when you’ve got this bad boys?

Let’s take it from the top:  This is an anthem deck that creates a sticky board that’s difficult to remove, then boosts the power and toughness of its troops in one go to  create an overwhelming attack.  The anthems?  Shadow of Blightwood is one:  On turn 4, you can sacrifice one of your troops to give the rest +1/+1 permanently.  If you’re doing this using a Blightbush, a Corpse Lily, or something you just brought back from the crypt using Refuel (or Zomboyz), this is pure profit.  Fuelmaster is the second:  So long as its in play, all of your troops are entering with a permanent gladiator 1 bonus.

Finally, Pack Frenzy.  This is a a very neat twist, because it’s effectively an uber-anthem:  Every one of your troops gets +1/+1 (good)…and when socketed with Major Ruby of Pyromancy, summons a 3/1 to attack.  So basically, each of your troops adds 4 power to the board, and it’s insanely hard to block all that power.

The numbers in this deck look pretty good.  It’s playing 4 of its best cards (Fuelmaster, Zomboyz, Replipopper and Burster), 3 of the cards it can’t afford to draw more than one of (Pack Frenzy), or are bad (Corpse Lily).  I’d ask a couple of questions:

  • Is Scrios Forgefist better than Escape Goat? With the wild gem, it can attack for 3 on turn 2, but Escape Goat attacks for 1 on 1, and 2 more on 2.
  • Sideboard seems a bit slapdash. Deck’s natural weakness is going to be DW Momentum.  Pyre Strike is pretty resource-inefficient there.  Have you considered Primordial Sabretooth or Burning Ire?  I think I’d want more cards for this matchup.
  • Corners of the World is neat tech – it’s going to be a repeated mini-refuel for you. What matchups does it come in against?  Blood-based stuff?

JoeZimmers’ Diamond/Ruby/Sapphire Fog Control

“Fogs”, in TCG terms, are cards that prevent all the damage that a player would do in a given turn.  JoeZimmers top-8’d this week with a very cool tri-shard deck that leaned on Fractured Faith and Blinding Light to keep him alive long enough to get to his powerful late game.

Fractured FaithBlaze of GloryBlinding Light

This deck has a lot of ways to stay alive.

Fractured Faith is a hell of a card.  For X,  you can force X troops to attack you, and no other troops can.  So…if you choose X=0, for 0 resources you can’t be attacked that turn.  Control decks have plenty of cards; their problem isn’t how to have more cards than their opponent.  Their how to spend cards efficiently early to not die.  Fractured Faith, for no cost, buys you an entire turn to get to Sunlit Sentence or Annihilate.

This deck, in particular, has some elegant twists.  First, Obliteron Solis shuffles all your prismatic cards back into your deck.  So Fractured Faiths and Hawkward Turns and Blaze of Glories that have been used go back in.  Second, your opponent is under a fundamental pressure:  every turn, you’re holding resources up on their turn, bluffing that you have Fractured Faith or Blinding Light, and they need to attack in, in case you don’t actually have these things.  But if what you actually have was Sunlit Sentence, attacking in gets their board destroyed.

I like how Joe leaned hard into quick speed cards, and prismatic cards for Solis’ ability.  He’s not playing Silver Talon Adjudicator, because it doesn’t power out Psychic Ascension, nor is it quick speed.  Eventually, when he Ascends, the X-cost of Faith and Blaze of Glory will let him make Immaculate Mortruses to his heart’s content (It’s the only 6-cost RD troop).

I’m not going to ask about the resource base (I think it’s pretty clear that people don’t have genuine tri-shard resource bases figured out yet), but I will ask:  Joe, what would you change if you wanted to have a shot at beating SW Rowdy?  Because you were 4-0 vs. other decks, and 0-3 vs. SW.  I understand that value/combo decks like SW traditionally just maul control decks, but what would you change?

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