Thursday Tier List #8 – December 15, 2016 (Open Beta List #2)

This tier list is valid for Patch v1.14

Stock Lists are being updated to the new patch right now.

Thursday Tier List #8 – December 15, 2016 (Open Beta List #2)

Hello all! I’m aReNGee, and I’m happy to present our second Tier List since the move to Open Beta. As there are many players who will be reading one of these for the first time, I would like to clarify the purpose of this Tier List. This list is NOT intended to tell you what decks to play, nor is it intended to tell you whether the deck you play is viable or not. Simply put, this Tier List is designed to give you an overview of the metagame as a whole – high tier decks are both popular and successful, so you should be aware of them when playing ladder. Highly successful but unpopular decks do not show up on the tier list, while popular but less successful decks will show up on the tier list. There is a waiting period after a deck’s inception before it is added to the tier list to see if it’s an actual new archetype or just a flavor of the week.

The tier list is developed by combining the opinions of four top players: Finkel, Unearthly, Neon, and myself. We keep track of what kinds of decks we face on ladder and how we did, then use that information plus our personal opinions to rank the decks. Finally, all four opinions are combined to form the final tier list. While this is of course an imprecise method, skewed by personal biases and deck choice, until we get real stats from the whole of ladder this is the best I can do. Opinions have been formed based on the following assumptions:

  1. Decks have been ranked into their tier based on both win rate and popularity. The most popular and successful decks are Tier 1. A very successful but unknown deck will not show up on this list, while a popular but unsuccessful deck will show up but will be lower tiered.
  2. There is no special formula for weighting popularity vs win rate, each player has their own opinions.
  3. Decks are listed within their tiers in approximate order of success. Therefore, a deck at the top of a tier is at least slightly better than the deck below it.

Explanation of Tiers
Tier 1 – These are the best decks right now, both in terms of representation and win rate.
Tier 2 – These decks don’t have either the representation or the winrate to be considered Tier 1, but are all powerful decks and great choices for ladder.
Tier 3 – These decks are usually quite powerful when they go off, but need the a strong draw to work or have some other exploitable weakness. Fine choices for ladder, especially if the metagame favors them or you minimize their weaknesses.
Tier 4 – These decks are less powerful than Tier 3 decks or are wildly inconsistent.

Official Tier List

Tier 1
Elysian Shimmerpack
Stonescar Burn
Righteous Rakano

Tier 2
Aggressive Combrei
Stonescar Jito
Stonescar Midrange
FTP Shimmerpack
Feln Control
Traditional Armory

Tier 3
Icaria Blue/FJP Control
Elysian Midrange
Xenan
Big Combrei
Haunting Scream

Tier 4
No decks are Tier 4 this week.

Newly Unranked
TJP Spell Control
Mono Justice

Tier One Decks

In this week’s winner of “ridiculous things I thought I’d never write” Elysian Shimmerpack is legitimately the highest ranked deck on the tier list. While it isn’t the most popular deck on the tier list, its pilots are usually very successful, and it is thriving in this metagame oriented against burn. Tech choices like Permafrost and Protect do nothing to stop an army of 4/4s from crashing in, and the disposable units protect your life total until you’re ready to crack back for the win. Shimmerpack even has the Party Hour-esqe ability to surprise you with lethal damage if you make the grave error of leaving any of their units in play. With tools against aggro, card draw to trade resources against midrange and control, and a “combo” win condition, Shimmerpack decks are legitimately dangerous and should be seriously considered when you’re building your deck.

Stonescar Burn returns to tier one, but mostly on the back of popularity rather than power. The most popular deck on ladder, players are now quite experienced in the matchup and Burn players can’t expect nearly as many free wins anymore. Aggro decks are happy to outrace the high curve Burn decks and Midrange/Control decks have mostly found the tech cards that work for them. While Burn is by no means a spent force, its not the free wins it was two weeks ago. Skilled pilots are still finding success, but you need to be familiar with your matchups because your opponent certainly is by now.

Rakano players clearly believe in evolution because they just keep adapting. Plenty of builds have been experimented with, but it took forgotten tech card Righteous Fury and a couple of Deepforge Plates brings the deck back to prominence. With extra sources of lifesteal against aggressive decks and a ton of burst damage against midrange/control, Righteous Fury made such a splash that some players began splashing it in Stonescar decks! It remains to be seen if so-called Righteous Rakano remains the variant of choice moving forwards, but Rakano is definitely back. Again.

Tier Two Decks

When waiting until turn 7 lets other decks play cards like Shimmerpack and Flame Blast, Combrei players got the memo – be aggressive! Combining Combrei’s powerful units with Aegis and weapons, Aggro Combrei decks look to overwhelm unprepared players. Even if the game goes late, Combrei Aggro is packing some powerful lategame cards in Siraf and Xenan Obelisk. An extremely solid choice right now, but slightly too expensive and underplayed to be considered tier one.

You had best impact the board before turn 3, or Stonescar Jito is going to impact your win rate. With the fastest clock of any deck in the game, winning as early as turn 3 or 4 with good hands, Jito demands “Do you have it?”. Lightning Storm decks had been mostly pushed out in favour of Permafrost by Stonescar Burn, and Jito began to flourish – but Shimmerpack’s rise brought them right back. Even in a hostile metagame, Jito makes them have it, and it can easily outrace the other aggro decks. That said, if you ever draw more than four power you probably lose the game. Extremely powerful with a good hand, but worthless with a bad one.

Not much has changed for Stonescar Midrange. Statuary Maiden still gives unit based decks fits, and combines with Steward of the Past to totally shut down Void nonsense. At the top of the curve, Infernal Tyrant gives you the huge life swings you need to push out of burn range or survive aggressive decks, and the rest of its cards are also quite powerful. However, with no sweeper outside of Plague and a high curve, the deck struggles against flood decks like Shimmerpack and Jito.

Shimmerpack has somehow become a popular enough deck to have legitimate variants. While most players favour the straight Elysian version popularized by Finkel and Lighteningball, some players stand firm with Toth201’s original three faction version. With better token generators and more options from the third faction, FTP Shimmerpack has some things going for it, but it’s three color power base ultimately slows it down slightly more often than it helps. Overall, the deck is both less consistent and less powerful than its two faction cousin, and as such is lower ranked.

Feln Control is basically running out of deck space. You need Withering Witch to beat Midrange, a Gift package to beat Control, a selection of cheap removal against aggro, Lightning Storm for Jito, pressure to beat Shimmerpack, and also a win condition in there somewhere… Then you need to draw the right cards in the right order against the right deck. That’s a tall deckbuilding requirement and no one has yet proved equal to the task. The imperfect versions of the deck reach Tier Two, so if anyone gets it right, look for them at rank 1.

Three cheers for Armory! Aegis decks are back in force, so the deck that ignores the Aegis and hits them with weapons is doing well. Armory decks have a good Rakano matchup and close to even against Burn, but the Shimmerpack matchup is basically hopeless and prevents them from moving higher up the list. Much like Feln Control, Armory is a deck that needs to fit a lot of core cards, which limits the space for tech choices and forces you to contort the list to make it fit.

Tier Three Decks

Things aren’t pleasant for low-win-condition control decks at the moment. While Icaria Blue does have the exact selection of answers it needs to attack the metagame at the moment, its lack of any offensive momentum whatsoever allows its opponents to draw 10+ extra cards and win games they shouldn’t even be in. If the draw lines up and Icaria is good enough, the deck can be good, but it just gives its opponents too much time given the potential power of the tier one topdecks.

Elysian Midrange decks play the best units they can, then point them at the opponent. With Cirso looking quite poor against a Tier One full of token decks and Dawnwalker lacking its prenerf punch, Elysian Midrange struggles to find the correct build. The deck is solid, its just not particularly advantaged against most of the top decks. Interestingly, Elysian does have the tech cards at its disposal to beat burn.

Xenan struggles from many of the problems of Elysian, compounded by its lack of anti-burn tech cards. With one of the slower and grinder strategies of the midrange decks, Xenan really wants to Dark Return its best cards and value you out. Without impactful early game cards, the Xenan struggles against the Tier One aggressive decks.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this is a metagame that reward proactive play. While Combrei plays plenty of units, its removal choices are limited and its often forced to keep them back on defense. It’s high end value engine is just too slow against the top decks, although it can still grind out control and midrange.

Haunting Scream remains a popular but inconstant archetype. Relying on getting hits in with infiltrate units, it does poorly in the face of fast removal, permafrost, silence, and especially void hate like Steward of the Past and Statuary Maiden. With most of these cards out in force, Haunting Scream struggles in many matchups. That said, when the deck gets rolling, it REALLY gets rolling, and a good enough Scream draw can beat anything.

Tier Four Decks

No decks are Tier four this week.

Newly Unranked Decks

Once the gold standard for Control, TJP Spell Control pilots have given up and moved on. I’ve hear whispered rumors of a TJP Control deck that works like now-deceased 4F control, but I’ve yet to see any concrete evidence to lend credence to this deck discussion boogeyman. Felnscar also drops of the list this week – while we saw a few pilots, there wasn’t a consistent thread, nor was the deck particularly powerful.