Omens Tier List #1 – July 28th, 2017

Tier lists are updated on a biweekly basis and posted every second Thursday. Next update is August 17th, 2017 (RNG is on vacation and outta town).

This tier list is valid for Patch 1.22.4 (Omens of the Past)

Omens Tier List #1 – July 28th, 2017

After many weeks of waiting, Omens of the Past has finally released and the metagame got shaken up by our first ever set release! Many players have been happily delving into the many new strategies the Omens of the Past has to offer and experimenting with builds and decks. At time of writing, we’re exactly two weeks after the set’s release, and while we’re starting to have an idea of what’s working and what isn’t, decklists are still very ephemeral and change moment to moment as players continue to iterate and improve. I’ve taken the opportunity to overhaul the Tier List in hopes of making a more useful resource for keeping track of what’s going on in the metagame, and taking a more in depth look at deck trends and evolution. I’m looking forward to feedback on the new style!

The New Faction Pairings

Skycrag

Skycrag Aggro was a deck in the forefront of everyone’s minds as soon as the set released. Champion of Fury and Vadius both pointed towards an aggressive deck, backed by the two best 1 cost removal spells in Torch and Permafrost. Actual builds vary widely, with players initially favouring a Stonescar-Burn-esqe style, raising the curve high enough to support Soulfire Drake and Obliterate. Later decks have dropped the curve, with some builds playing as a Rally deck with Assembly Line and sometimes Grenadin Drone, and other builds making use of cards like Censari Brigand, Shogun’s Scepter, and Mortar. Consensus for the moment seems to be that the curve stops at 3 or 4, and Skycrag aggro is very very good at punishing slow starts, with Oni Ronin into charging Champion of Fury being a control killer if not rapidly handled. However, the deck does have trouble breaking through the time staple Sandstorm Titan and lacks some of the tricks of the other aggressive fire pairings, relying on speed and burn to close out games. Skycrag Aggro emerged as an early top contender but is rapidly losing steam as players adapt to the playstyle, and it doesn’t seem to be significantly stronger than any other effective aggro deck we’ve seen before.

Skycrag All Spells nonwithstanding, the other major place that Skycrag cards have been showing up is as support cards in FJP Control shells. Kaleb’s Choice is an extremely flexible card that has targets against nearly every deck in the format – hitting spells or attachments covers two of the only four card types. It’s given control decks effective maindeckable answers to relics, as well as an on-demand Backlash. Control builds vary wildly, from updated Icaria Blue decks, to more weapon focused builds (which often still include Icaria), to new Knucklebones decks. Knucks is everything Feln Cauldron wasn’t, offering card advantage at the expense of randomness. Control players are able to build up a hand of removal as a safety net, then fire off the Knucklebones to close out the game. Drawing two cards a turn is a good way to pull far ahead, and transforming all the power in your deck into action (even if its random action) is a very powerful effect, even if the card is removed immediately. However, the most common relic destruction (Kaleb’s Choice and Banish) can’t destroy Knucks, which makes it a potentially serious option even if “random” would ordinary scare players away. There are other FJP decks playing other kill conditions, ranging from classics like Channel the Tempest and Sword of the Sky King to new cards like Decimate. Knucks and Icaria are the two most common choices, however – Molot and Nakova have yet to find a home.

Praxis

Many players were skeptical about the Warp keyword, and tried out a full Warp deck with Workshop Forge. Locking yourself into all Warp cards let to some weird decks that could have huge turns, or just fizzle when you didn’t have a warp card on top. However, not all the warp cards were a flop, and Praxis Midrange quickly arose from the ashes of the fallen Forge decks. Heart of the Vault is the real deal and a powerful source of card advantage, hopping into play off the top and adding another card to your hand. Champion of Impulse is a solid 3 drop even if I don’t personally like it, and Shatterglass Mage is a low cost include to cover some bases against attachments. If you’re interested in going big, Diogo Malaga isn’t the best body, but his ultimate wins the game if you can survive long enough to draw two units. Of course, Praxis also has access to the best Fire and Time have to offer, from standbys like Torch and Sandstorm Titan to aggressive options like Obliterate and Soulfire Drake and even more card advantage in Mystic Ascendant. There’s fair amount of room for individual card choices in the builds, but the decks are generally removal light and unit heavy, with more card advantage than you’re used to seeing out of Praxis. Praxis Midrange is definitely the dominant build at the moment, although older style Token builds or more aggressively slanted decks are definitely possible as well. Multifaction decks incorporating Praxis are generally limited to Rakombrei (FTJ) midrange decks that add some of Combrei’s beaters and Rise to the Challenge to the party.

Xenan

So… Lifeforce. Much like Warp, players were uncertain as to the mechanics potential going into the set, especially since Lifeforce basically played like two abilities, one of which wants constant life gain and one which wants large chunks. Successful Lifeforce decks have mostly focused on the smaller side, using cards like Katra and Cult Aspirant to steadily grow their forces over time. Xenan Midrange decks have fully embraced Ayan as a midgame option with late game applications. They also make extensive use of the secret sixth choice, Banish, which is great at clearing out Titans and Obelisks alike. Some players have even pushed themselves far enough up the curve to play Xenan Control, although the most interesting new card being built around is Shepherd’s Horn. Horn has created an overwhelm archetype, which is usually Elysian built around False Prince and Cirso. Aside from these archetypes, Xenan decks also see play as part of three faction decks, usually TJS builds like Dark Combrei (which will be touched on more in the Argenport section).

Hooru

Now we come to the factions that didn’t. While Hooru Control was initially an obvious control deck, Omens of the Past included a lot more card advantage for aggro and inevitability for midrange, which demands that control decks end the game sooner rather than “when I get around to it”. Channel the Tempest got far worse with the advent of the choices adding more maindeckable counters, which makes it a less desirable finisher option. Hooru also didn’t really get any new strong cards to fill the finisher role, which leaves the faction in a bit of an odd place. It certainly got strong cards, with Kothon, Eilyn’s Choice, and Bring Down all being powerful additions, but these cards have mostly ended up playing the support role in three faction decks rather than a draw to Hooru alone. In addition to the FJP Control deck mentioned above, these cards have seen widespread adoption in revitalized Chalice Control decks. Kothon gives the deck free additional late game, Eilyn’s Choice is a powerful flexible removal spell, and the addition of Bring Down (and more commonly, Archive Curator) gives Chalice additional silence options. Chalice is one of the more powerful but less liked decks at the moment, able to easily outgrind midrange and control alike. The deck has historically had problems with aggressive strategies however, and aggressive decks are poised to take advantage of that.

Other Hooru cards point to other builds, there’s certainly a Hooru Aegis deck somewhere, although how powerful it is remains to be seen, and Nostrix, Torgov and even Watcher of the Big Ones all point towards a potential Hooru Midrange deck. However, neither of these decks have been sufficiently iterated upon to clearly indicate their power levels.

Argenport

I always attempt to stay neutral during my tier lists, but I feel obliged to point out that Argenport’s biggest problem going into Omens was a lack of card draw and boy did Omens deliver on the faction pair’s identity. Like Hooru, Argenport received powerhouse cards in Makto and Slay, but it lacks the proper shell to use them to their maximum potential in straight Argenport decks. Argenport Control is (so far) completely unplayable due to a lack of actual card advantage mechanisms (you trade one for one bar harsh rule, then lose) which has pushed players to seek decks lower to the ground. Headlining Argenport Aegis, Bartholo threatens to be the most annoying card in the game, but a healthy amount of relic weapons have kept him in check for the moment. Makto is of course one of the most beloved and oversplashed for cards at the moment, showing up in everything from Dark Combrei to Icaria Black to his own Recurring Nightmare inspired deck, Endless Revenge (which is just JPS Makto recursion). The card is certainly effective,but I believe that it’s slightly overvalued at the moment, and some three faction decks will later move on from Makto in favor of consistency. Speaking of consistency, Slay kills anything that moves at nearly no influence cost. It’s a popular inclusion in any deck that plays both Shadow and Justice.

Argenport, like Hooru, takes the back seat as a support color in three faction decks. Dark Combrei is probably the most popular, tossing Slay and some combination of Makto/Ayan/Katra/Banish into a Combrei shell with all of their existing goodies. JPS Control decks have been starting to pop up towards the tail end of the week, supplementing Argenport’s legitimate control options with some actual card draw from Primal. JPS Reanimator is also definitely a deck that people play, although consistency is a real issue and no clear builds have yet emerged.

The Tier List

Decks are still being rapidly iterated on, which makes pinning down stock decks difficult. I’ll be going into more details over the next few days with each archetype and try to see if players have come to any kind of consensus, but there’s so much experimentation its difficult to expect even a consistent 40 cards across the same archetype.

I’ve taken the opportunity to clean up the tier list page a bit, frontloading all the important information and reducing our infinite disclaimers down to just the tier explanations. Keep in mind that in a rapidly evolving metagame a single piece of new technology can throw everything out of whack, but the following list should be a good snapshot of how things are right now.

 

Explanation of Tiers
Tier 1 – These are the most successful and prominent ladder decks at the moment.
Tier 2 – These decks are powerful and great ladder choices.
Tier 3 – These decks are usually quite powerful when they go off, but need a strong draw to work or have some other exploitable weakness. Fine choices for the 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.

Decks in italics were not on the previous Tier List.

Official Tier List

Tier 1

Praxis Midrange, Rakano, Traditional Armory

Tier 2

Chalice, Skycrag Aggro, Dark Combrei, Combrei Midrange, Shimmerpack, Xenan decks

Tier 3

FJP Control, Burn Queen, Elysian, Dark Roaches, Argenport Attachements

Tier 4

Hooru Control, JPS Control, Skycrag All Spells, Argenport Control

Explanation of Tiers

Tier 1

Praxis Midrange combines resilience and power in a midgame package that’s difficult to unseat. It has tons of card advantage at the top end to grind through control and cards like Diogo and Xenan Obelisk help it go over the top of other midrange decks. Praxis Midrange was the second deck to really come into its own using the new cards, and players have yet to adapt.

Rakano is as Rakano does. While it got a few new options with Omens of the Past, for the most part this deck is up to its old tricks. Deepforged Plate is fantastic in a world of Permafrost and races, and the Rakano Skies strategy previous effective against Chalice are effective again in the new metagame. One of the stronger deck in aggro mirrors, it also has the potential to outmuscle midrange in the midgame if it has a good start.

Armory got a number of cool options with Omens of the Past, Slay being the most notable. With many players turning to low curve aggro and a variety of Aegis decks in the format, Relic Weapons remain a tried-and-true answer. It does struggle against Skycrag and Kaleb’s Choice gives control a fighting change, but Armory is a generally powerful option against a large portion of the field.

Tier 2

Chalice Control got a ton of new options with Omens, including Eilyn’s Choice, Kothon, and Archive Curator. With so many midrange decks looking to gain card advantage, including a powerful draw engine in your control deck has proved to be a successful choice. This deck is still a little light to aggro, although Kothon also gives them a good turn 2 roadblock. Taking to the skies is a good choice because trying to go over Chalice is a difficult task indeed.

Skycrag Aggro was the early winner of Omens, but the deck was easy to build and easy to understand. There are few decks better at punishing slow starts (like not playing a one drop) and the deck’s speed is not to be underestimated. Some Aegis units give it protection against traditional clear like Lightning Storm. However, the deck has poor lategame if it can’t curve out, and struggle against common roadblocks like Combrei Healer and Sandstorm Titan.

Dark Combrei takes the existing Combrei Midrange shell and adds extra power in the form of Argenport and Xenan cards. Banish and Slay give Combrei actual hard removal, and Makto is potentially a recurring threat. If they so desire, Dark Return lets Dark Combrei bring back powerful Combrei cards for a second try. A powerful midrange deck with a solid removal selection, Dark Combrei has only lack of deck space to worry about.

Combrei Midrange itself hasn’t lost any of its previous power. The metagame around it is volatile enough that a powerful, stable can deck still be an effective choice. For the most part, Omens cards are absent from the archetype but its a powerful choice nonetheless.

Shimmerpack decks got a few new tech cards in Archive Curator and Humbug Swarm (no, really) that give it added velocity and resilience. While three faction versions are possible, the simple Elysian version has a strong late game and several powerful cards to swing games in its favor. If you can survive the early game and get an Obelisk down, Shimmerpack is a real threat.

Xenan decks are something of a hodgepodge at the moment, ending up somewhere around Tier 2 on average. They’ve got some powerful midgame and top end options backed up by what used to be best in class removal, but Banish can’t kill everything and many of the control and midrange decks are capable of going over the top of you. Midgame Lifeforce strategies with Ayan and Katra do okay, but then they run into another midrange deck and are just outclassed on board if their combo doesn’t come together. More iteration will need to be done to find the optimal Xenan build.

Tier 3

FJP Control is a deck with a ton of volatility in how it ends the game. The core control cards are generally similar and the games play out in the same way, but the choice of finisher really dictates which matchups are good and which matchups are not. It’s a three faction deck with sometimes heavy influence requirements and limited fixing, so it can stumble on power, and relies on having the right cards in hand to answer the aggressive decks. However, if it gets going it can be a powerful strategy in its own right, even if it doesn’t go as late as something like Chalice.

Burn Queen remains a present if not particularly popular threat to the metagame. If it curves out into Queen its quite scary and it can end stalled games with burn. There’s not a ton of new technology in this deck, but it can easily prey on clunky brews.

Elysian decks, with or without Horn, answer the Time midrange soup with better Time midrange soup. Cirso brawls with anything and Crystallize remains a game ender. The low numbers of Vara’s Favor let Friendly Wisp often survive to draw cards, and you can play some of times high curve value engines if you want to go bigger. It can struggle against Rakano and other aggressive decks, but its a powerful strategy against midrange and Armory decks.

Dark Roaches got patched out pretty quickly, without the Revenge tricks it lives and dies on drawing Crown. With Banish now at the ready to remove the Crown and some fast decks to pressure you, it usually needs a solid draw just to compete. If Crown survives the early game or gets a lucky destiny hit, disgusting things can happen.

Argenport Attachements plays the powerful justice based weapons with Shadow removal to keep the board clear. The more successful versions often drop down well below what you’d expect, with a tight curve and interesting cards like Jack’s Knife. A fast start is critical and its difficult to keep the deck in check once it gets rolling, but it lacks resilience or late game reach so once you’ve stabilized the game is generally over.

Tier 4

All these decks are controlling decks looking to hit the big time that have one or more key problems. Hooru Control lacks a dedicated finisher plan and struggles against the value decks, JPS just needs a tuned build to really take off, Skycrag All Spells is super hit or miss, and Argenport Control trades one for one until it blanks and loses because it has no card advantage tools. All of these decks have powerful cards in them and are poised to move up once these underlying problems are solved.