Thursday Tier List #15 – April 6th, 2017

Tier lists are updated on a biweekly basis and posted every second Thursday.

This tier list is valid for Azindel’s Way (Promos + Redraw change)

Thursday Tier List #15 – April 6th, 2017

It’s been a few weeks since the last tier list, and the metagame has not yet resolved itself. If anything, it’s gotten murkier with the release of three new promo cards – the first ever in enemy faction pairings! Reinvigorated, brewers jumped at the chance to play with mostly untouched faction pairings, leading to a number of different strategies all over ladder. People gasped at the Redraw changes and immediately ran the numbers, but it will still be a few weeks before we understand the true impact of these changes and alter our decks accordingly.

What is the Purpose of the Tier List?

The tier list is essentially a metagame snapshot of what you can expect to see on ladder, with added comments from me explaining what decks are doing well and why they are doing well. For some players, this is very useful – they can pick up a deck that’s doing well right now and experiment it. For brewers, it’s even more useful – they get an easy checklist to see what they need to be prepared for and can tune their decks appropriately.

How do I use the Tier List?

The most important thing you can do to enhance your use of the Tier List is to read my in-depth explanations. As I said before, data without context is useless, so it does you no good to know that a deck dropped a tier without knowing WHY it dropped a tier. I put plenty of information about new tech cards to watch out for or play patterns, so make use of that information! Even if a deck didn’t move much, I’ll usually have something useful to say about it. Once you’ve got all the information, you’re better equipped to make a decision – is this week’s top deck a flash in the pan? Should I play it? Play something that’s good against it? The decision of how you want to attack the metagame is yours to make.

How is the Tier List created?

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 an imprecise method, this is the best that we can do until we can get real stats from the ladder. 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.
  2. There is no special formula for weighing 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.

The best deck varies moment to moment and is difficult to predict, but all Tier 1 and Tier 2 decks are reasonable choices for climbing the ladder.

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
Stonescar Burn/Burn Queen
Big Combrei

Tier 2
TJP Midrange
Vodakhombo
Traditional Armory
Praxis Tokens
Felnscar
Elysian Shimmerpack
Elysian Midrange
Icaria Blue
Rakano Plate

Tier 3
Stonescar Kalis
Feln Control
Hooru Control
Stonescar Midrange

Tier 4
No decks are Tier Four this week.

Newly Unranked
Aggressive Combrei
Stonescar Jito

Metagame Overview

Once again, it’s been three weeks since the last tier list, and the new promo cards have given players something to get excited about. For the first time, we have enemy faction cards! Unfortunately, only one of them has yet found its way into a tiered deck – Arcanum Monitor in Praxis Tokens. Rilgon has proved too inconsistent for most ladder players to invest to heavily in, and Azindel’s Gift remains more impressive than the man himself.

We’ve only listed two decks at Tier One this week, yet we’ve placed an unprecedented nine decks in Tier Two. As is frequently the case after a major change or release, we’re currently experiencing an open metagame where what’s best shifts from minute to minute and best results are found playing what you’re comfortable with. However, two decks stood out above the rest and are therefore Tier One. Tier Two stretches the full spectrum this week, from almost-there-Armory to Rakano stubbornly holding on to Tier Two.

Speculation for next week: My plans for a shadow dominated metagame did not work out, and it seems to be Time’s time at the moment. Players have often reacted to this with hyper-aggressive decks in the past, but aggression has gotten defanged a bit in the last few patches. Players will need to find better ways to go over the top, or a strong enough gameplan to compete in the midgame.

Tier One Decks

Stonescar decks have a “breakthough” this cycle that’s actually a cleverly disguised regression. As much of the later technological developments have been nerfed (Umbren Reaper + Soulfire Drake, Frontier Jito, etc) players have returned to the Bandit Queen powered decks of old. Sporting a quick clock and good reach, the deck carries a torch of aggression into a sea of midrange.

Aggro decks haven’t adjusted to the metagame shifts just yet, and the latest kill-you-on-turn-four list has yet to appear. Combrei abuses this to sit stoically at the top of the list. With time to prepare, Big Combrei can outvalue nearly any deck (Vault of the Praxis lists being a notable exception) and Combrei is a reliable, known quantity in an uncertain field.

Tier Two Decks

Did someone say Midrange soup? The ever flexible TJP Goodstuff is here to fill whatever particular needs you have. Unit combat? Cirso. Board stalls? Crystallize. Finisher? Shimmerpack. Aggro getting you down? Permafrost and Storm. TJP takes the powerful Combrei core and adds a dash of whatever primal cards they desire. There’s a wide range of decks in this archetype but they’re all pretty good.

Vodakhombo is a separate archetype from Big Combrei this patch. It’s coming into its own as a distinct metagame choice, and is less popular and less successful than its more general cousin. Enabling Vodakhan requires a number of cards that weaken the matchups in which the Vodakhan plan isn’t optimal, which hurts you when you run into one of your weaker matchups in this wide open metagame.

Armory is kind of a 50/50 deck at the moment, depending on what part of the metagame you hit. If you run into the Dawnwalker midrange decks or tokens tokens tokens, you’re going to have a bad time. If you hit one of the hard control decks or aggressive decks that trying to exploit those decks, you’re going to have an easy run. Being very powerful against some parts of the metagame and falling flat against others makes Armory a bold if inconsistent choice.

Praxis Tokens is the newest addition to the tier list, powered by the new Promo card Arcanum Monitor. With 8 Obelisks and plenty of token generation, Praxis goes wide then tall – a rectangular strategy, if you will. With Fire’s burn to back up their initial token damage, Praxis decks can win even if they aren’t able to sneak their units through. Praxis Tokens is a cool new token deck with plenty of play to it, though the usual caveats about mass removal apply here.

Felnscar decks have weak powerbases and can’t beat Armory, but they’re looking better and better against what the metagame appears to be shaping up to be. Plenty of mass removal and void hate slices through stalled boards and tokens alike, and BSH keeps them healthy even in the face of aggro. With the Champion of Chaos nerf, the Primal versions are definitely your go-to at the moment.

Elysian Shimmerpack decks lost a lot of ground this cycle. Enough units are in play to make it tough to get their tokens through and to actually pressure Shimmerpack decks, Obelisk is a card that everyone is ready for and actual Shimmerpack needs to end the game or face a Harsh Rule. All of Shimmerpack’s best cards are more difficult to use effectively in this metagame, which greatly hurts Shimmerpack’s power.

Elysian Midrange takes Elysian’s powerful midrange core and… that’s it. Elysian Midrange plays the best units around, but so does TJP Midrange with all the added power of the Combrei Core. One of the most straightforward decks, Elysian Midrange lives and dies based on whether Play Big Dudes is a viable strategy. At the moment, it appears to be.

Icaria Blue was remains fairly popular and is a pretty good choice if you can stay ahead of your opponent. However, if you ever find yourself behind on board with no reset tool, you’re probably dead. Icaria Blue has the tools to succeed but the execution and draws need to be on point.

Rakano is at the low point of its curve – every opponent rudely insists on playing tons of units and blocking all your attacks. Crownwatch Paladin now trades with Temple Scribe and Grenadin – Armory players feel your pain. Many players have switched over to Rakano Outlaw for a quicker draw, but its a hostile metagame out there for Rakano.

Tier Three Decks

A cruel and unusual omission from last cycle’s tier list, Stonescar Kalis has been a metagame force for a few weeks now. Specializing in playing out a board of units for your opponent to clear, then sacrificing them all itself just before the Harsh Rule comes down. Smuggler’s Stash gives it some long game plan, and its got cheap removal to bust through the problematic units. Kalis vs token decks is a bit of an odd matchup, but with a good draw the deck is powerful.

Feln decks are actually reasonable at the moment, but Feln suffers as it always does in unknown metagames. Feln needs to know what it’s going to be facing and react accordingly, and there’s no Feln build thats going to be good against Armory -> Elysian Midrange -> Stonescar Burn all in a row. With a more settled metagame, Feln will flourish.

Hooru Control spikes onto the list this week, powered by players who tried to make Rilgon work, couldn’t, and built something else in his colors. Also known as durdle control, the general gameplan is usually to draw a million cards and finish off the opponent with Channel the Tempest when convenient. With a solid draw, the deck executes flawlessly, but it needs its situational answers to line up well with its opponent’s threats and has limited lifegain to keep it alive in the long game. Plenty of card draw helps you find what you need, but sometimes the cards just aren’t in the top ten and then you die.

Almost Tier Four in power level, Stonescar Midrange is at its low point. No mass removal unless you play Stray into Shadow (then its expensive), all your units got nerfed, and you don’t have a good game ending plan or card draw. Competing on card quality doesn’t work when your cards aren’t better than your opponents.

Tier Four Decks

No decks are Tier Four this week.

Newly Unranked Decks

Update on last weeks report: Jito is now dead. Players are looking elsewhere for the best token deck and Bandit Queen players have a tier one burn list to play with. Jito decks have been sidelined.

Gone are the Aggressive Combrei decks. They have returned to their deckboxes until the next big tournament result reminds people the deck exists.