Thursday Tier List #9 – December 29, 2016 (Open Beta List #3)

Thursday Tier List #9 – December 29, 2016 (Open Beta List #3)

Hello all! I’m aReNGee, and I’m happy to present our third Tier List since the move to Open Beta. As we just finished the exciting Eye of Winter Classic, I want to emphasize that this tier list is based on ranked play, rather than tournament results. The purpose of this Tier List is 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
Righteous Rakano
Aggressive Combrei

Tier 2
Stonescar Midrange
TJP Shimmerpack
Stonescar Burn
Stonescar Jito
Feln Control
Xenan

Tier 3
Big Combrei
Traditional Armory
Icaria Blue/FJP Control

Tier 4
No decks are Tier 4 this week.

Newly Unranked
Elysian Midrange
Haunting Scream

Tier One Decks

Shimmerpack seems like it’s here to stay. While its been divided into straight Elysian and Combrei varients, and Elysian versions are similairly split on whether or not they play Wump, Shimmerpack varients are rapidly approaching Rakano’s ladder share in terms of popularity. It will take some more time to determine if Wump is here to stay, but for the moment the straight Elysian version are the most popular and consistant version of the deck. With a powerful go wide strategy featuring strong cards and a “combo” kill, Shimmerpack heavily punished anyone unable to clock them or deal with its army of obelisk-buffed units. Be ready to take on the pack!

Rakano continues to be the most popular deck on ladder, outstripping even all the Shimmerpack decks combined. With a solid aggressive gameplan and strong top end, opponents are forced to interact early or fall far behind. With the fall of Stonescar Burn, Righteous Fury has fallen back out of favour, but Aegis still leaves players tearing their hair out and Finest Hour can turn a good block into a very bad one. You’ve seen it before, and you’ll see it again – Fire and Justice fight on!

Combrei Aggro has seen a rise in popularity in the last couple weeks. Despite a questionable Shimmerpack matchup, it combines Combrei’s huge units with a fast start in order to outmuscle most of its foes. If pure power fails, Aggro brings plenty interaction to the table as well, and if the game goes long, it retains long term power through cards like Siraf and Xenan Obelisk. Powerful and popular, Combrei Aggro spikes to tier one this week – but will it remain?

Tier Two Decks

I said it last week and I’ll say it again – not much has changed for Stonescar Midrange. Solid is as solid does. Statuary Maiden is still a great card and the rest of its cards are also quite powerful. However, Plague isn’t the sweeper you want vs Obelisk and a high curve means slow starts, so the deck can struggle against the top tier decks.

The third Shimmerpack varient is TJP Shimmerpack. Some versions play only a few Justice cards, while other play mostly Combrei cards with Obelisks, Scouting Parties, and Shimmerpacks. The deck is rapidly rising in popularity, but for the moment lacks the focused power of the two faction versions. The deck is powerful, but three factions sometimes comes at a real cost, placing it lower on the tier list for now.

Stonescar Burn sticks around as the third most popular deck on ladder. While most players have figured out ways to beat it, the deck remains powerful and is slowly sliding out of the spotlight. When people forget about it, it’s poised to make a powerful resurgance.

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?”. However, the rise of Shimmerpack has brought token decks (and Lightning Storm) back into style. The aggro decks are popular and low curve enough to compete with Jito for early board presence, and the cumbersome control decks are nowhere to be found. With a disfavorable metagame, Jito has to really work for the wins that once came easily, but the decks quick clock keeps it in the running.

Feln Control continues to cycle around tier 2, but has been unable to break into tier one. The deckbuilding requirements are high: 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.

Yes, yes, I know this won a tournament yesterday. However, Xenan isn’t the most popular ladder deck, nor is it the most powerful. With a slow and grindy strategy, Xenan struggles against the high pressure put on the tier one aggressive decks and the wide strategy of Shimmerpack. With exploitable ladder weaknesses and low (but likely rising) popularity, Xenan remains tier two.

Tier Three Decks

The bigger, badder brother of Combrei Aggro, Big Combrei just hasn’t been able to find solid footing so far. Opponents are attacking fast and often, and Big Combrei is really looking for grinding midrange decks to go over the top of. While it remains a popular archetype, it hasn’t had a ton of success. If the metagame slows down a bit, look for Big Combrei to rise.

Armory smiles at the thought of cutting down hordes of tier 1 Aegis-based aggro decks… then recoils in fear at the thought of facing Shimmerpack on ladder. That is not a good matchup for Armory, and the primary thing holding it back. With Shimmerpack out of the way, Armory can rise, but Shimmerpack is too popular and too bad of a matchup to put Armory any higher.

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.

Tier Four Decks

No decks are Tier four this week.

Newly Unranked Decks

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 pilots have mostly looked elsewhere. Generally played as the better Midrange deck in Midrange metagames, this deck often falls in and out of favour. The deck is solid, its just not particularly advantaged against most of the top decks, and so is left on the bench for now.

Scream decks used to be really really popular, now they’re not. Rakano has a fast clock and interaction, Shimmer tosses a ton of junk in your way, Combrei Aggro has 8 silences… these are not things you want to see. Lower down on the tier list is all void hate and silences. With an unfriendly metagame for a deck that is pretty draw relient, most pilots have turned elsewhere.