Thursday Tier List #17 – May 17th, 2017

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

Next tier list update is June 1st, 2017.

This tier list is valid for Patch 1.20.2 Hotfix (Rapid Shot Nerf)

Thursday Tier List #17 – May 17th, 2017

In a huge change of pace, I’m actually writing this list the day before its supposed to go up. Rapid Shot got nerfed and something new came up and our open metagame collapsed upon itself faster than you can type “NETDECK”. The hot new kids on the block are secretly-throwback TJP Chalice and Elunex-style Feln Control. People have already painted targets on Chalice’s back, so expect that deck to come under heavy fire in the next week. Whether the deck has the resilience to survive the targeting remains to be seen – some claim it does, some are more skeptical.

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
TJP Chalice
Feln Control

Tier 2
Rakano Plate
Elysian Shimmerpack
Elysian Midrange
Big Combrei
Traditional Armory
Stonescar Burn
Stonescar Rally
Praxis Tokens

Tier 3
Stonescar Kalis
Icaria Blue
Feln Aggro

Tier 4
No decks are Tier Four this week.

Newly Unranked
Hooru Control
TJP Midrange

Metagame Overview

New decks this week, again! Mouche nearly took down the weekly ETS tournament with a Chalice deck alongside the deck completely exploding on ladder, rapidly rising to #1 in popularity. Another newish take on a deck, many players have adapted Elunex’s ETS-winning Feln Control deck for ladder play, believing in its strong Chalice matchup. Others have teched their Big Combrei decks even higher up the curve, going Full Vodakhan. Rakano decks take to the skies and quietly reap the rewards of decks slowing down.

The rest of the decks on the tier list haven’t seen widespread adaptations to the new Chalice metagame yet, and as such are a step behind the top 4. Tier 3 decks are particularily weak at the moment, sporting few good matchups but plenty of bad ones.

Last week’s prediction: 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?

Next Week’s Prediction: This section could nearly fill Sunyveil’s “RNG was wrong” series on its own. We did end up with a midrangey deck in TJP Chalice, even if it wasn’t quite what I expected. You can be certain that Chalice decks will be coming under fire in coming weeks, as Chalice decks rapidly iterate to beat their counters and find the edge in the mirror. I expect players to try to go over the top until curves get too unwieldy and a low to the ground aggro deck runs everyone over and the cycle starts all over again.

Tier One Decks

With a powerful midgame value engine as well as plenty of lifegain and strong lategame cards, Chalice sticks around for a loooooong time before it ends the game. If you’re trying to play a midgame value deck, you had best make sure you can break through and actually end the game or you are going to get ground out by Chalice. The new Chalice deck is undeniably powerful, but in time cracks will appear. TJP Chalice was a deck back in closed beta but eventually forced out of the metagame and forgotten. TJP Chalice is, in the authors opinion, definitely both the Deck of the Week and the Deck to Beat, but most of its power comes from its newness and positioning.

The other new (take on a) deck, the new style of Feln Control benefits greatly from having a specific foe to attack. By adding in many more lategame tools to push itself over the top of grindy opponents, Feln decks focus bringing their powerful expensive cards to bear. Whether this strategy will work long term remains to be seen – Feln’s endgame tools are a known quantity, and it sacrifices early game power to play them. Additionally, it lacks real ways to clock its opponent’s outside of a very early Champion of Cunning, which gives opposing decks plenty of time to set up.

Tier Two Decks

Rakano decks follow the every-iterating Unearthly and have quietly come up with a solid gameplan in the current metagame – to the skies! With fewer ways to actually shoot down your birds, Rakano stands a reasonable chance of establishing a flyer or two and riding it to victory. Deepforge Plate remains as a powerful way to break both stuns and board stalls, which serves Rakano well in the face of Chalice’s blockers.

Big Combrei decks reshape themselves this week, as the two Tier One decks out lategame the lategame kings! Combrei players respond by bringing Vodakhan to bear and drawing half their deck in one go – let’s see you outvalue that! More fragile than most Big Combrei builds to early pressure and much more reliant on a single card, but also with a higher upside when they get going. With regular Big Combrei light to Chalice, Vodakhombo steps in as the Combrei deck du jour.

Shimmerpack decks find themselves in an odd spot in the metagame – most of the top decks are actually trying to go over the top of them, so Shimmerpack is actually the aggressor now. Obelisk remains a powerful card against many strategies and a fast draw from Shimmerpack can put many decks out of commission. Be wary of Rakano as their adjustments have improved their matchup against you.

With people gumming up the ground, the many Overwhelming units in Elysian Midrange decks start to look attractive indeed. With a powerful ground game, fast starts, and Crystallize to break through, Elysian Midrange has the most built-in tools to fight against the current metagame of any “traditional” deck. Permafrost is not the card it was two weeks ago, nor is Dawnwalker with Feln (and Steward) returning, but the core of the list is solid enough.

Regular Big Combrei decks want to be good this week, but are preyed upon by the even-later-game Chalice, Feln, and Vodakhombo decks. They remain as strong as ever against most other decks, especially the experimental “anti-meta” decks that some players are testing, but you’re definitely at a disadvantage against the tier one decks. If you’re a fan of this style, take a look at Vodakhombo.

Armory finds itself in middle of the pack this week – with naturally polarized matchups, it can be very good or very bad depending on what you’re facing. A good way to beat up the Feln Control decks that have been popping up and chop down the Silverwings that Rakano has been returning to, but not a good place to be facing Shimmerpack or other token decks. The Chalice matchup is not yet fully understood, and will be a major factor in determining its success moving forwards.

Stonescar Burn is hit hard by the latest nerf, losing its cheap blocker-punishing Rapid Shot. Stonescar decks have mostly scaled themselves back up into Big Burn style decks, with multiple 5 drops and plenty of burn. The amount of lifegain Chalice is naturally packing hurts Stonescar’s aggression, as does its more midrange style. The deck can work, but you often need a good draw (or a huge Flame Blast) to be competitive.

Stonescar go-wide strategies take a backseat this week – their vulnerability to a single card (Lightning Storm) has turned a number of players off of them. Additionally, they are often far lighter on reach than the Big Burn decks, so if the board clogs up you’re usually out of the game. If curves get greedy enough there will be room for Stonescar to Rally away, but the loss of Rapid Shot hurts this deck even more than the previous one.

Praxis Tokens decks are kicking around ladder, using their many buff cards to build up an unstoppable board. With players laser focused on clearing out enemy Chalice decks, Praxis gets hit as splash damage from many of the tech choices, from mass removal to relic destruction. Additionally, the deck lacks the quick clock to close out the game against the many lategame decks on ladder.

Tier Three Decks

Greedy Kalis decks actually have a pretty good late game if you can Stash back a large Kalis or two, as well as plenty of time to build up a board against the slower decks on ladder. Kalis decks do struggle to clear the enemy board and actually break through, however, which puts them pretty far down the list.

Icaria Blue can be good right now, but boy are you on the Turbo Icaria plan. Icaria is good card for most of the metagame bar Scorpion Wasp (and Titan out of some time decks) but the rest of Icaria Blue is slow to pressure and mostly just board clears. You’ll have to use your resources extremely carefully to win against nearly all your opponents – Chalice can rebuild it’s board with ease, Feln now has tons of lategame, and Vodakhombo goes full combo.

Aaaaaand Feln Aggro dies a horrible death alongside Rapid Shot. Pros: Deck is aggressive, flies over blockers. Cons: Deck lacks midgame, never mind lategame, lost a key tool in Rapid Shot, and has no reach. Draws need to be near perfect in order to succeed, as there is essentially no room for error.

Felnscar still not good. Card power isn’t there anymore, power remains inconsistent and the builds just don’t fall into place.

Tier Four Decks

No decks are Tier Four this week.

Newly Unranked Decks

Players had some fun with Hooru Control – then Chalice popped up. It’s the better durdle deck AND the better Channel deck, so anyone who wants to do either of those things has naturally gravitated to it. You’ve never had any real incentive to play Hooru over TJP Control anyways, and this just reinforces that point.

TJP Midrange decks do an about-face and become all about relics, morphing into the new TJP Chalice decks. Midrange is so last week.