Third Dusk Road Tier List – February 16th, 2018

This tier list is valid for Patch 1.28 (Whirling Duels Event)

Third Dusk Road Tier List – February 16th, 2018

Happy Valentines Day everyone! The patch that was looming last list is now in full swing, and its been quite a shakeup. Public enemy number one Argenport Midrange went mostly untouched in the patch, which instead hit cards like Steward of the Past, Dawnwalker, Withering Witch, and Argenport Instigator. The big winners of the patch were Stonepowder Alchemist, which immediately found multiple homes, a now-cheaper Devastating Setback, a now-playable Torgov, Icecap trader, and Holdout Pistol. The both the buffs and nerfs have been more impactful that we orginally expected, resulting in an entire metagame shift – to somewhere many players aren’t that happy about. Hearthstone PTSD is about to kick in, because this meta is all about who’s in chaaaaaaarge!

FJS varients have emerged as a generally accepted counter to Argenport Midrange, and has been preying on it with enough success that Argenport Midrange has lost a lot of popularity. Time decks mostly gave up on Dawnwalker, one of their best ways to beat FJS, and have also lost a fair amount of ground. With those two oppressive midrange decks marginalized by a powerful control deck, and Feln an unattractive option, aggro decks have returned in force. Skycrag, Rakano, and Stonescar all charge in before FJS can really get rolling, and are generally resilient to cards like Lightning Storm and Devastating Setback. These decks used charge units to dodge FJS’s slower removal and punch in for damage before the unit-light deck could assemble a defense. Then Shine came up with an idea – let’s charge right back! FJS began playing the same powerful lifesteal cards the aggro decks used to race each other, backed up by its superior removal and lategame. This strategy proved effective at holding the line against aggro and further punishing opposing control decks. We’re likely to see another metagame shift as decks continue to adapt, but currently FJS is on the cutting edge of the metagame.

The Tier List

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 were the week of the Whirling Duels event.

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, though noticable less popular or powerful than tier 1 decks.
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

Skycrag Aggro, FJS Midrange, Rakano

Tier 2

Stonescar Aggro, Feln Reanimator, FJS Removal Pile, Icaria Blue, Echo Makto, Argenport Midrange, Big Combrei

Tier 3

Xenan Midrange, Elysian Midrange, Feln, Praxis Midrange, Hooru Fliers

Tier 4

No decks are tier 4 this list.

Unlisted

JPS Nostrix

Explanation of Tiers

Tier 1

When all the time decks go away, Skycrag Aggro comes out to play! Both Sandstorm Titan and Tavrod, two of the most difficult cards for Skycrag to beat, are on the downturn and Skycrag is reveling in its newfound freedom. The fastest of the aggro decks, it’s protected from removal by aegis and Permafrost is one of the best answers to the popular Revenge units at the moment. It lacks any lifegain to help in racing situations, but makes up for it with pure speed. If you’re looking for a spiritual successor to the old stonescar rush decks, look no further than Skycrag Aggro.

The new bogeyman, FJS Midrange has a lot of things going on. Charge units, lifesteal units, Harsh Rule, Icaria… There’s a lot of moving parts and a lot of angles of attack that are difficult to deal with. Aggro decks were previously able to go underneath the expensive spells, but FJS is fighting back with lifesteal and cheaper units. Other midrange or control decks have difficulty dealing with threats like Makto and Icaria. While it is possible to go over the top or underneath, the deck has enough tools to fight on those axes and absolutely crushes anything midrange.

Returning triumphantly to tier one, Rakano is the deck you want to be on in the aggro mirror, with plenty of lifesteal units to race and enough speed to get the job done. It has a very low to the ground curve without a lot of finishers, so it can be in real trouble if it runs out of cards, but it can also close out games quickly. Since the metagame is trending towards aggro decks, playing the aggro deck with the best matchup in the aggro “mirror” is an effective strategy at the moment.

Tier 2

Stonescar Aggro seems like it should be top dog at the moment, given that in meta’s past it’s been the best aggro deck. However, it’s been slowed down a hair by the nerf to Instigator and the lack of powerful three drops. Both Skycrag and Rakano have better tools for the mirror, which leaves Stonescar a bit behind the curve. It does have the most powerful four drops if you can get there, but turn 3 seems to be the critical turn for aggro at the moment and Champion of Chaos dying to Torch just doesn’t cut it. It is worth noting there’s a variant focused on Gunslingers that makes good use of Hideout Pistol that’s picking up some steam. It remains to be seen if it will become more than just a variant.

Well, if you’re not going to rush the opponent down, you might as well win the game on Turn 5. The Steward nerf turned off one of the void safety valves and Feln Reanimator has blossomed in that space. If you can Grasping at Shadows on turn 5 and bring back some good cards, you’re generally going to win that game. Four Vara’s give it the best late game outside of Echo Makto – but it’s early game is quite weak and its vulnerable to being rushed down. However, if you don’t rush it down, Feln Reanimator generally wins.

Last weeks deck, FJS Removal Pile still sees some play. It’s a harder counter to midrange than FJS Midrange, but most players have migrated to the newer deck due to the dearth of midrange on ladder and Removal Pile’s weak aggro matchup. Players that are playing it often tech in cards to beat their bad matchups, from Stonepowder Alchemist to Statuary Maiden. The deck remains strong, just not nearly as strong as it was before aggro surged and the deck evolved.

Icaria Blue previously lost a ton of ground when it was revealed to be not that sure a counter for Argenport Midrange, but is bouncing back to a degree due to builds that are better able to handle charge threats via fast spells. Its also one of the few decks able to play Lightning Storm to keep flood aggro honest. It still has some issues closing out games and answers not lining up, but its probably the premiere “control” deck of the moment given FJS’ current midrange style.

The latest of the late game decks! Echo Makto is here to draw cards and play cards and draw more cards, all for free. A Elysian Pathfinder nerf was supposed to bring the deck back into line, but mostly what it did was improve the power base of the deck as they dropped fire. With a limited number of counters to Revenge in the metagame, its pretty difficult to stop this deck once it gets its namesake combo going. Aggro decks are effective counters (for now), but slower decks often need to hope that Echo Makto doesn’t draw what it needs.

After many weeks at the head of the pile, Argenport Midrange has finally become last week’s deck. FJS has become so popular and has been so successful in countering Argenport that at least for the moment, it has lost a fair amount of ground. Late game decks like Echo Makto and Feln Reanimator also go over the top, which forces Argenport into the aggressor position it does not want to be in. It has more game against aggro decks, but even there can be outraced by a good draw. The other midrange decks that Argenport loves to prey upon are mostly hunted out of the metagame – they’ll need to come back for Argenport to shine again.

Big Combrei slash Combrei Midrange is a deck that’s creeping up in value as the days pass. 8 silences is back as a desireable strategy and Combrei Healer is once again pulling its weight. Titan remains a powerful roadblack for the aggro strategies that are cropping up. You still have problems going late against control, especially since Dawnwalker is no longer a popular inclusion, but the deck is rebounding from the mangling Argenport Midrange gave it.

Tier 3

Going to collect the three midrange decks in one – Xenan Midrange has the best removal suite against fast units and the most lifesteal to stay alive against aggro, but has the weakest finishers. Elysian exploits the fact that Permafrost is good right now and packs some beef to go blow for blow with aggro. Praxis has the best late game but is the most vulnerable to the aggressive decks that are popular right now.

Feln is going through an identity crisis at the moment. With the loss of Steward and the general acceptance of the Vara/Rindra package, decks are starting to amalgamate together – Control, Midrange, and Reanimator start to look pretty similar. “Hard” control Feln lost a lot of its power – between Witch and Steward, you’re lacking a lot of tools to actually go late. Most of the power is tied up in CCunning and the Vara/Rindra package, and Reanimator is doing the best since it’s the deck best equipped to make use of that package.

Hooru Fliers brings up the rear – the deck that should have been great, but just didn’t work out most of the time. Protect and Aegis got worse when decks just started racing, and the Hooru deck proved to slow to really contest the board early. It’s late game is also weaker than a lot of the late game decks, so when it gets rolling it still gets outclassed. You need a great draw to have a chance and even then you’re probably in trouble.

Unlisted

JPS Nostrix (basically Makto + Nostrix in a control shell) has been picking up some steam recently, and might warrant inclusion. However, I’ve spend most of my time putting FJS through its paces and have not yet explored JPS so I don’t actually know how strong it is. Keep an eye on it in coming weeks!