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
This week saw two things happening: Some people chose to play late-game decks, and some people chose to lose. Seriously:
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.
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 durdling. This guy knows what’s up.
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?
Champion: Thakra the Ember
4x Necropolis Coins
4x Well of Hatred
4x Blood Ice
12x Ruby Shard
2x Gorge of the Gore God
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
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?
Champion: Balthasar the Elegist
8x Wild Shard
1x Shard of Instinct
4x Sapphire Ice
4x Sapphire Shard
3x Wild Ice
4x Well of Instinct
4x Merry Caravan
3x Tilling the Soil
4x Eyes of the Heart
4x Palm of Granite
4x Pippit Hustler
1x Pippit Pal
3x Acolyte of Shoku
4x Exalted Pathfinder
2x Eternal Seeker
- This is Durdle Nirvana. Have a good late-game plan.
- Aim to beat Diamond-Sapphire Control and Mono-Blood.
- 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.