Best of Three (but it’s text [again] )

As part of the ongoing campaign by our team members to retire at inconvenient times, we’ve got a text version of Best of Three for you again this week. Hopefully you liked the last one! aReNGee has once again included an actual text interview with winner LightsOutAce, as well as simulated a back and forth with a guest host.

RNG: Hello, and welcome to the new normal! Text is the new video – no sound, no visual, no rush – read at your own pace! I’m aReNGee, and I’ve dropped rekenner from the cast in order to focus on our guest – Bradykin!

RNG: Now, Bradykin is not a man who many of you will be familiar with, given that all his waves were made back in 2017. By way of introduction, he was very nearly a worlds caliber player, and an Invitational regular until a regretful incident involving a bird.

Bradykin: When I agreed to do this, you promised me one thing: you wouldn’t bring up the bird. So… thanks for that.

RNG: By way of actual introduction, Brady was one of the biggest chalice proponents back in 2017, and he was actually good with it, too. He went all in on Temporal Control with the release of Dusk Road, and left the scene a broken man.

Bradykin: But I’m back now, if only because no one else will let RNG do this to them.

RNG: Speaking of doing this, let’s get down to business! We’re going to start with an overview of this week’s Top 8, move on to examining deck winrates over the second season, hit on the various point values that are finally updated this week, and finish off with an interview with this week’s winner. Let’s get to it!

Bradykin: Er… yeah. I don’t follow a lot of Eternal nowadays, but this week’s Top 8 looks pretty unusual. The finals was Scrappy Hour and… Rakano Control?

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LightsOutAce Scrappy Hour

RNG: Scrappy Hour of course being the name LightsOutAce gives to his Grenadins decks, which differentiate themselves from other versions by the inclusion of the card Witching Hour. That’s… pretty much the only difference, to be honest. He plays Witching Hour instead of a 2 drop Grenadin, and has adjusted the power base to match. Less early game Grenadin, more late game punch.

Bradykin: So it’s just a regular Grenadin’s deck with an extra haymaker?

RNG: The real Bradykin would never say haymaker. That aside, yeah. Grenadin’s already have inevitability against a lot of decks, and Witching Hour is really difficult to come back from. A single Gearcruncher also makes Hour nearly free all on its own, so it’s not unreasonable to play it as early as turn 8 and close out the game.

Bradykin: As long as they don’t die to something in the air, Grenadin’s were overtaxing Control’s removal spells anyways, and this just gives them another way to attack them.

RNG: Yeah, the deck has a solid core, and this late game build paid off this week. There’s not much more to discuss with this deck, beyond the core. Let’s move on to… hmm.

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BenBuford’s Rakano Control

Bradykin: Hmm.

RNG: Bradykin, you want this one?

Bradykin: I, er… no.

RNG: Just messing with you. As a special treat, rather than speculating, we’ve got a writeup from the deck creator himself explaining the thought process. We’ll toss it over to BenBuford, joining us by proxy from his private jet.

Editor note: All of the quotes attributed to BenBuford are actual text from the player. The rest of this article, minus the later interview, is fabricated by RNG.

BenBuford: Tuesday before the tournament, I noticed Lights Out Ace tweeting about his love for the Scrappy Hour deck and as I already thought grenadins were in a pretty good spot in the meta right now, I thought that others might be tempted to pick it up, as it’s a cool deck to play and a lot of eyes are on Lights Out Ace as one of the more popular streamers. Also he’s on of those teams that tend to gravitate towards a “team deck” some weeks. I was expecting it to be a big player in the metagame.

Ben: I contacted my buddy MoxSapphire (we’ve played Magic together forever and he’s way better than I am) and told him we had to find a good list to beat grenadins. We theorycrafted a bunch of stuff and initially thought we’d run Icaria Blue with Hailstorm and 1-2 Lightning Storm in addition.  We decided to throw in some Jotun Feast-Caller’s maindeck as they seemed to fit the strategy, shaving a couple of weapons as they are pretty useless against “go wide” decks. Our testing went completely horrendous as we got demolished over and over on ladder, by all kinds of random stuff. And we eventually abandoned that plan.

Ben: Then around friday, I tried to brew up all kinds of weird stuff with the expected metagame in mind. I didn’t end up finding anything I really liked, so by the end of friday I still didn’t really have a plan.

Ben: Saturday morning, I kinda just threw all caution to the wind, and I basically just took a look at my deck tracker data. The best performing decks over the last couple of weeks were my Praxis Midrange deck at 71% winrate, Feln at like 66% and then this weird Rakano deck I’d been testing earlier at 72%. So I decided to disregard our prediction about grenadins, and to just run this pet deck instead. I realize that ladder meta and tournament meta are vastly different, but unless you’re on a team, this is kinda the best testing you have available. It seemed to hold its own against control decks and low to the ground aggro decks, but it obviously has a horrendous matchup against go wide decks. I figured, I’d just accept those losses and have a decent shot against the rest of the field.

Ben: I initially designed the deck to beat Skycrag on ladder, as I was sick of getting run over by cheap Aegis units and I found that adding a ton of cheap relic weapons and a good amount of armor/lifegain made them have a hard time finishing the games. I’ve still yet to lose to Skycrag.

Ben: It surprisingly also had a positive winrate vs Argenport which I attribute to consistently killing their 2&3-drops and forcing them to play a bit slower.

Ben: I guess the most common question is “Why the Dronedropper?” and honestly, it’s mostly just for the memes. It’s not a great card by any standard, but it does have some characteristics that makes it good in the current meta. It dodges a lot of common removal like Torch, Vanquish, Annihilate and Hailstorm and it blocks most things fairly well. Sometimes it races a big ground unit (without overwhelm), by creating a 1/1 chump blocker every turn. I never thought Dronedropper was great, but I think it was “just good enough” – if that makes sense. Despite it’s casting cost being pretty inefficient.

Ben: We’re now well into saturday, and I have to settle on a sideboard, and I added a bit of variety to shore up some of the weaknesses. But I didn’t think I’d be able to come up with a strategy to swing the matchup vs grenadins/tokens in my favor. So I just went with it.

Ben: I had a ton of fun playing the tournament. I ended up going 16-6 in games. Losing 5 (!) times to Lights Out Ace, and 1 time to another grenadin player. I had very lucky draws throughout the day and ran over most of my opponents fairly quickly. Icaria didn’t do a ton of work for me. It was mostly Champions, Unseen Commandos, Whirling Duos and Relic Weapons doing a lot of beatdown.

Ben: Going forward I don’t think the deck is a particularly good choice. It had a good showing this time, but my win-rate has dropped quite a bit since before the tournament. If you’re sick of Skycrag running you over on ladder though, you could give it a go.

RNG: Dronedropper – It’s Just Medium Enough To Work!

Bradykin: Weird one-off Rakano deck takes down a tournament because nobody, pilot included, has any idea what’s going on.

RNG: Reminds me of Rhino’s famous with Combrei Aggro, that he made the morning of by clicking on cards at random.

RNG: That said, a lot more thought went into this one. It’s always cool to see the development process so clearly laid out – and lots of good deck started out as absolute piles. I refer to this all the time, but Gift + Harsh Rule + 70 unplayable cards eventually turned into Finkel 4F.

Bradykin: I’d like to thank Ben for joining us on the show, since RNG won’t.

RNG: Looking at the rest of the Top 8, we have Tony playing Armory (yawn), a cool FTJ Tokens list, Flash straight memeing, and some TJP Midrange and Argenport.

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AetherLlama’s FTJ Tokens

Bradykin: It’s really rare to see a FTJ deck that isn’t playing Heart of the Vault and Icaria together. Well, this one still has Heart of the Vault.

RNG: And a very interesting strategy. Go wide is the name of the game here, with all the usual suspects and Obelisk plus Stand Together to buff them up. Absent is Rally, which you normally see in these kinds of decks, and instead we see… Crownwatch Press-Gang?

Bradykin: I’ll be honest, I had to look it up. It’s a 4 cost 3/3 revenge that tutors a 1 drop when you summon it. Which in this deck, is usually a Grenadin Drone? So its kind of like a Scraptank with Revenge when you play it on 5.

RNG: Nice analogy! Trail Maker seemed a bit out-of-place to me at first, but you’re more interested in hitting 4 than 3 (where Initiate of the Sands would come in) and boy does this deck want the influence. This deck follows the recent popular trend in Praxis of stopping your curve at 4 then tossing in 4 Hearts in case the going gets tough.

 

Bradykin: Deck looks like total Hailstorm bait, but I guess Stand Together is a hell of a blowout. It also seems a bit slow for a tokens deck, but maybe it plays more like Big Tokens where it goes wide, then waits for 2-3 obelisk type effects before attacking.

Bradykin: That’s all the insight I’ve got for this particular deck. Do you want to talk about Flash’s deck or…?

RNG: On to the leaderboards!

Bradykin: Right. (lol)

RNG: Briefly, for SP – childroland at 18 points holds the All Star invite for top points, and Magikarp at 16 holds the invite for rookies.

RNG: Now, the IP chart hasn’t been updated since week 3, so three weeks later there’s a lot to talk about.

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IP Week 6

RNG: Participation has been… low, this month. With mostly (maybe exclusively?) 6 round events, point totals are good 5 points lower than last season. This means a seemingly weak result like 4-2, 4-2, 4-2, 1-X is actually good enough at the moment, despite having no Top 8s, and four 4-2s is basically locked.

Bradykin: Still, there are some players worth noting. Mouche leads with 24 points and multiple big results, Magikarp is killing it this season with a win and a few more Top 4s, and IlyaK has bounced back from a weak season 1 to be right back at the top. Go Ilya!

RNG: TinMan also bears special mention – he won one week and came second in another, just missing out on the double winner distinction.

Bradykin: Hold on… didn’t we say we were going to do the archetypes before we did leaderboards?

RNG: Brady, you need to learn to be more flexible. What’s in the past is in the past.

Bradykin: It’s a text article, you could just go back an-

RNG: It’s in the past, Brady. Or rather, the present. The archetypes!

Bradykin: -_-

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Includes up to Season Two, Week 6

RNG: Let’s take a moment to bask in that glorious Elysian Midrange winrate.

Bradykin: You really don’t like Elysian.

RNG: I don’t think its any good, and am often vindicated by the results.

Bradykin: Big Time in general is not doing very well. Xenan Mid, Big Xenan, Praxis Mid and even Combrei Aggro are all below 50%, although Combrei Aggro having a high enough playrate to make this list surprises me.

RNG: AMid crunches along at 54% despite the highest playrate of all, which highlights a lot of the frustrations many players have with the format. Three color goodstuff variants take a bunch of the top spots, which highlight a lot of the other frustrations players have with the format.

Bradykin: Chalice also has a goo-

RNG: With LOA’s win, Grenadins move back above positive, but just barely. Hooru Flyers and Praxis Tokens are the remaining decks, but a lot of Token’s results come from Magikarp in particular, and Hooru, without a crest, is still considered a fringe deck by most.

Bradykin: Hmph, fine.

RNG: Despite being described by some as a “control meta”, actual control is not doing that well and neither is Feln (which isn’t control, or at least not successfully). Icaria Blue and Feln are coinflip at best, and Removal Pile tanked hard this season.

 

RNG: That’s mostly just the broad strokes of the archetypes, but we’ll save the heavy analysis for after the season completes. Thanks to Bradykin for “coming out” at long last, our guest is here and Brady’s section of the broadcast is done.

Bradykin: I don’t like the placement of the quotes in that last sentence.

RNG: Thanks for joining us, LightsOutAce! It’s a bit redundant to interview someone about a deck they’re already so vocal about, but I’m sure you have more to say on the topic.

RNG: We’ll start easy, if potentially redundantly. What is your gaming background? When did you start playing Eternal?

All of the quotes attributed to LightsOutAce beyond this point are actual interview quotes, left as submitted with the exception of some spelling correction.

LightsOutAce (Ace): I’ve played most trading card games at some point – Pokemon as a child, Yu-Gi-Oh! In middle school, and then Magic since 2006. I prefer competitive games to single-player or cooperative ones – Super Smash Bros Melee is the only non-card game I was involved in the competitive scene for. I played Hearthstone and wrote articles on it for a long time, but the game kept getting worse and worse every set. Just as I was getting fed up completely, a friend of mine gave me an Eternal closed beta key in July 2016. The rest is history.

RNG: Sorta like Brady’s career.

Bradykin: !

RNG: Anyone who followed your twitter or stream in 2018 would already know this one, but tell us about Scrappy Hour. How did you land on it? What changes did you make?

Ace: I’ve been working on Scrappy Hour for a long time – I first played it back in January and have had spectacular ladder success with it every month since then. I never got around to bringing it to an ETS until last week, but I should have done so earlier! I have made basically no changes to the list – it is super smooth with 31 power and eleven 4-ofs.

RNG: Let’s talk about Preperation! Did you have a prediction for the meta this week? If so, did you run into the decks you expected? Did those matchups play out as expected?

Ace: I thought there would be a lot of Argenport and then a smattering of other stuff, and I hoped to dodge TJP flyers and (to a lesser extent) Feln. I did succeed in dodging Feln, but I had to play against TJP twice and got very lucky to win both of those matches – Mundungu stumbled on power or influence twice in our 5-game series (as 3-faction aggro tends to do), and Komodo made a large mistake to give me a game in our match in the swiss. I crushed ground-based decks as expected, and my transition to Gremoval pile worked against Flying decks.

RNG: If this wasn’t part of our standard process I wouldn’t ask since you’ve made your feelings on the matter abundantly clear, but it is and so: Is this version the deck the real deal or a flash in the pan?

Ace: Scrappy Hour is the real deal. I wrote an article about it last week and have been hyping it on stream, reddit, and discord for a long time. It’s difficult to play, but the rewards are well worth it if you put in the time.

RNG: Who was your hardest opponent / what was your most memorable match?

Ace: My most difficult matchup was definitely against my irl friend Mundungu in top 8, and I definitely was fortunate to escape with a win. My most memorable match was against TonyGeeeee, where we both ripped the perfect card off the top of our decks four turns in a row and eventually he hit the Harsh Rule he needed to get in for lethal with a buffed Diasho.

RNG: I hope everyone manged to catch that match despite our production… difficulties.

RNG: Would you run this ladder deck that you’ve played the same list of for four months with no changes on ladder, and if so, would you make any changes?

Ace: I would and do run it on ladder without any changes; it is a very tight list due to being synergy-based. I have made it to top 10 multiple times in multiple months with the deck; it is very good.

RNG: A bit redundant for some, but this does give Ace another loudspeaker to push Scrappy Hour on. Grenadins is already pretty good, and this is purported to be better, so if you like the playstyle be sure to give it a try!

 

RNG: Once again, this concludes this radical new version of Best of Three! Certainly less visual than most of our shows, but hopefully you’re able to read it at your leisure. Let us (well, mostly me) know what you think of the new format, and if you’d like to see more of this style in the future. This is more urgent because we (RNG mostly) are thinking about making this a fixture of the new style of Best of Three for the foreseeable future while we get our production sorted. Thanks for reading!