Thursday Tier List #16 – May 4th, 2017

This tier list is valid for Distant Lands – Patch 1.20

Thursday Tier List #16 – May 4th, 2017

Happy Star Wars Day! It’s been almost a full month since we last put up a tier list, and for that I have to apologize – real life has been keeping me busy. I delayed this tier list just a bit to ensure that nothing in Distant Lands – Patch 1.20 would change the Tier List and on first glance that seems to be the case. The list itself is more of a guideline than ever this week, as we see one of the widest and healthiest metagames that I have ever seen. Proactive decks are more popular than reactive ones (as always) due to their faster games and more linear strategies, but nearly anything can work on ladder. Decks have entered a sort of rock paper scissors between aggro – control – armory, with no one deck clearly beating all three at once. There’s a ton of variety on ladder and a lot of decks to choose from, so pick what you’re comfortable with!

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
Elysian Shimmerpack
Stonescar Burn/Burn Queen
Big Combrei

Tier 2
Stonescar Tokens/Stonescar Rally/Throwback Queen
Rakano Plate
Elysian Midrange
Icaria Blue
Traditional Armory
Feln Aggro
Praxis Tokens
Vodakhombo
TJP Midrange

Tier 3
Feln Control
Stonescar Kalis
Hooru Control
Felnscar

Tier 4
No decks are Tier Four this week.

Newly Unranked
Stonescar Midrange

Metagame Overview

New decks this week! ManuS’ Feln Aggro list has taken off as a legitimate archetype, and formerly Jito decks have finally stabilized into their own cohesive list using a go-wide strategy with tokens and cards like Rally. As discussed above, we’ve got a super wide open metagame and each of the decks in tier 2 have their own strengths and weaknesses. Each can be a fine choice depending on what you’re facing on ladder. Meanwhile in Tier One, we have a few decks that stand out from the rest in terms of general success. Players generally gravitate to one of these three decks in open metagames depending on their play style, so you’ll face them more often than normal.

Last week’s prediction: Players will need to find better ways to go over the top, or a strong enough gameplan to compete in the midgame.

Speculation for next week: Players reacted to the midgame soup by pushing towards the extremes – two hyper aggressive decks in Feln Aggro and the new (old?) Stonescar deck, as well as a resurgence in Shimmerpack. If you can find a midrange deck strong enough to weather the aggression but fast enough to clock Shimmerpack, you’ll be in great shape in the coming week. Combrei Aggro has been that style of deck in the past – will we see it return?

Tier One Decks

Less to say than usual about these decks, so I’m combining the three. We know the ins and outs of Shimmerpack by now, if you leave them a board and they hit 8 power you usually die. Beat them before then or don’t let them keep a board. Burn sticks around as the aggressive deck of choice, pointing its Flame Blasts at face. If you prevent them from getting aggressive or force them to use their burn as removal you can usually defeat them. Backlash is a popular tech choice against these decks. Big Combrei is actually not that popular at the moment but is a common choice for players looking to go over the top. If it survives long enough to Harsh Rule it can usually come back.

Tier Two Decks

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Pictured: Professional Stonescar Player

Jito decks have come back in a big way – without Jito. Using a similar heavy one drop core to get the aggression started, the deck looks to go wide with cards like Assembly Line and sometimes Shogun’s Scepter before closing out the game with the huge burst damage offered by Rally. They’ve got a bit more resilience to sweepers than the older Jito lists, but not much. If you suvive their burst turns you’ll usually win.

Powerful proactive strategies? Did someone say Rakano? Current lists are teched out to beat Burn and Shimmerpack – lifegain and plates aplenty. Finest Hour slipped out of lists and Rakano’s Armory matchup also slipped. The deck is as solid as ever, but needs a fast start to get going and has to stay on board to actually kill you, making it less popular than just-go-face burn.

Elysian Midrange decks are getting somewhat popular – there’s not much Steward and hardly any Maidens running around, so Dawnwalker gets a chance to shine. Some players follow in LocoPojo’s footsteps and play Accelerated Evolution for even more tricked out Dawnwalkers – handle with caution.

Icaria Blue is a bit better than Armory right now due to its better token matchup, but they fill the same role as a weapon based reactive deck keeping control in check. They’re strong against their good matchups, but both struggle to clock Shimmer and Burn can get out of control easily. Both of these lists are popular regardless of metagame, so pilots are usually experienced.

The new Feln Aggro deck! After about 10 months, someone finally found a list that had some consistancy to it. Capable of blazing fast starts, Feln Aggro punishes players relying on one-play-per-turn with a ton of disruption and tricks. If you draw too many tricks you can be in trouble though, and if you run out of steam you’re toast.

Praxis Tokens returns to the list despite private skepticism, Arcanum Monitor doing a great Xenan Obelisk impression on its way to buffing a board of tokens. Slower than its Stonescar cousin, but with less late game than Shimmerpack, Praxis Tokens excels if you can draw the correct ratio of token creators/buffers. They have more burst than you think, so handle with care even if you keep the board clear.

Vodakhombo decks sacrifice some early game for an even stronger late game than your average Big Combrei deck, but that sacrifice really hurts when fast aggro comes to the fore. Quick decks are able to exploit Vodakhombos slow starts and beat them to the punch, and a single Suffocate or Rapid Shot is all it takes to make their suspect early game crumble.

TJP decks lost a lot of popularity, which isn’t surprising since the popular decks that emerged were designed to give them trouble. Shimmerpack goes over the top of the midrange and its midgame units don’t usually get started soon enough to slow the hyper aggressive decks. Add that to its three faction nature and its fallen a bit out of favour.

Tier Three Decks

Feln decks are less reasonable this time around – they struggle to beat both Shimmerpack and Armory style decks, and Deathstrikes aren’t great at the moment. A more midrange approach with Champions is possible, but far less successful and popular than Feln Aggro.

Kalis struggles when opponents are matching it token for token, as it lacks good ways to break through and popping everything for a Kalis to kill a 1/1 doesn’t seem great. Kalis excels more against the decks that care about your units as units, so if you’re facing those kinds of decks it’s a lot stronger.

Hooru Control is pretty good at weathering the initial token storms but is very slow at closing out games. It often finds games slipping through its grasp when it runs out of answers, lacking the inevitability of patched-out echoscavate lists. It has a powerful finisher strategy in Channel the Tempest, but needs its situational answers to line up in order to be successful.

Remember when I said Felnscar was pretty good? It’s not. Neither Champion is worth the work, and your super suspect powerbase leaves you vulnerable against fast decks. Even if Maiden + Storm sounds really good right now, a single obelisk can leave you dead in the water.

Tier Four Decks

No decks are Tier Four this week.

Newly Unranked Decks

Stonescar Midrange is officially dead. High influence costs and Torchable Champions proved to be the last straw – with Stonescar’s card quality brought back into line, it can no longer compete on that axis. Without overpowered cards, Stonescar Midrange’s low-pressure-low-lifegain-bad-mass-removal strategy simply doesn’t work.