This tier list is valid for Patch v1.16 (including Promos)
Thursday Tier List #12 – February 9th, 2017 (Open Beta List #6)
Hello all! I’m aReNGee, and I’d like to take some time to formally address some of the concerns regarding the Tier List. Here at RNG Eternal we use subjective criteria that combines popularity and success to determine what decks we think are doing the best right now. We do not have access to hard data to make completely objective decisions, but we try to keep our list as free of bias as possible. However, this lack of data does mean that the Tier List is not what some people would like it to be: an objective ranking of deck strength, nor a list of “this is the best deck, play this to climb”.
Data without context is useless, as many players have found by trying to port stock ladder lists directly to tournaments – it’s just not the same metagame. Without massive amounts of data, I don’t feel comfortable objectively ranking decks in a vacuum, nor do I think that information is as useful overall as the current state of the tier list. With that in mind, we’ve decided to retain our current ranking system but refine our communication of how to effectively use it.
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 weeks 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 attck 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:
- Decks have been ranked into their tier based on both win rate and popularity. The most popular and successful decks are Tier 1.
- There is no special formula for weighing popularity vs win rate; each player has their own opinions.
- 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 tiers have been restructured! Again!
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 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.
Official Tier List
No decks are Tier Four this week.
I found myself redrawing aggressively for Lightning Storm a lot this week, as my opponents reminded me all the different ways that players can play a turn one Oni Ronin. The majority of your opponents are going to be on aggressive decks, and are looking to close out the game – the metagame is quite polarized into aggro and control at the moment, and there isn’t much midrange running around. Three and four faction Find the Way decks did make themselves known, but not enough to put them on the list. I personally saw TJP, TPS, TJS, and TJPS control decks this week. It remains to be seen which, if any, will prove to be a defining choice in the coming weeks.
Tier One Decks
The predicted metagame slowdown from last week did not occur, decks are still firing on all one drops. Burn Queen emerges from the torches as the overall most effective aggressive deck at the moment – it’s fast enough to keep up with anything, and the large spells/burn to close out long games. It also has the 1-2-3-Queen curves that are very difficult to handle, especially since you can’t storm away all of Burn Queen’s board. It’s a narrow margin, but this is the aggro deck I’d recommend.
Back again in Tier One, Stonescar Jito is the more all in version of Queen. With a solid matchup against all the aggressive decks save perhaps Rakano, Jito can all in without fear in the absence of Lightning Storm. A very draw dependant deck so your mileage may vary, but your top choice if you want to ignore what your opponent is playing and just press A.
Our final Tier One deck is… a slow deck? Big Combrei attacks the metagame from a very different angle from the previous two decks. You need to actually survive the early game, but you have the tools to do so and one of the best late games of any deck. Any control decks that tuned their curves low to deal with aggro are not happy to see Big Combrei. Popularized in part by Invitational Champion iReedMinds’ streams and posts, Big Combrei is a good example of a way to play the metagame differently.
Tier Two Decks
Rakano in Tier Two? Crazy, but true. Rakano is experiencing what I often refer to as the Feln Conundrum, where it needs to tech itself to beat different common decks but can’t hit all of them at once. Armory demands Finest Hour and Soulfire Drake, Jito and Burn demand lifesteal and careful sequencing, Feln wants more Aegis/Protect and Big Combrei asks for the fastest clock you can mount. Rakano is running into walls right now rather than squeezing into gaps, and the free wins just aren’t there. Still a very popular ladder deck (as always) but not one I’d recommend.
Speaking of the Feln Conunrum, the deck itself makes an appearance. Feln, if built correctly, is really really good at holding down the aggressive tokens decks but loses a ton of ground against control. Without the late game haymakers, you rely on Witch/Harbinger to carry you against midrange, and have no real gameplan for any true control deck or Big Combrei – you just get outvalued. If you go up the curve to hard Feln Control (think Vara/Gift/Last Word), you lose ground against aggro. It’s a difficult balance to find. Personally, I’ve favored locking up the Jito/Burn matchup and switching to something else if you’re facing a lot of higher curve decks, but you have plenty of tech choices at your disposal. Regardless, Feln has trouble with Relics.
Aggro Combrei is bouncing back! The token decks don’t like seeing a flood of medium sized units, and they’re big enough to be tough to burn away. The control decks are not ready for Aegis in general and really don’t want to see Stand Together. Aggro Combrei is picking up steam by exploiting holes in the metagame. Whether or not it remains a solid choice in coming weeks depends on if players fill in the gaps and prepare for it.
Boosted by a reddit primer, Armory gains some ground this week, but not too much. Jito is still a horrible matchup, as is Big Combrei. However, you chop down Rakano and the greedy control decks, so it depends on what metagame pockets you hit. From my perspective, I’m just happy someone finally agrees with me about the control misconception (just don’t tell Neon about it).
Felnscar continues to slide – decks are so aggressive that you don’t really care about the cudgels you get from Maiden, and getting a turn four Maiden removed is tempo loss you generally can’t afford. The third color really does hurt your mana base, and the makeup of the metagame isn’t what Felnscar was built to beat. Players will likely shift into more aggressive versions in days to come.
TJP Shimmerpack is now the more successful version of Shimmerpack, mostly on the back of its non-Shimmerpack cards. 8 cost is a lot for a card that only wins you the game if you have a big enough board, and often relies on setting up an Obelisk. With so much mass removal prepared for the go wide aggressive decks, Shimmerpack decks struggle to retain a board.
Tier Three Decks
Shimmerpack continues it tumble down the tier list, both in success and popularity. Without Obelisk, the deck is just a bunch of x/1s and Sandstorm Titan. Decks can beat a lone Sandstrom Titan, so Shimmerpack decks often find themselves overwhelmed before they can play what good cards they do have. 8 power plus a board is a lot to ask in the current metagame.
Our newest metagame deck gets its life from Rank 36 Master player Rivulets (I believe) who wrote a Reddit Primer about this cool sleeper deck. The decklist presented in the article is probably not quite optimized, but the deck has a fair amount of play to it – Sand Warrior + turn 3 play is a good aggressive start, and Obelisk pushes medicore units far. It doesn’t stack up well against board stalls or clears, but has room to grow in the coming weeks.
Stonescar Midrange basically falls down in one key area: Plague sucks. Against token decks it can be okay, but it doesn’t hit two health units like Lurking Sanguar. Against Obelisk it’s embarassing. Against any non-token deck it’s not a card. With so many decks going wide, Stonescar Midrange has no answer other than play a weak counter card that doesn’t always do the job.
Tier Four Decks
No decks are Tier Four this week.
Newly Unranked Decks
Xenan decks got experimented with a bit, but Dawnwalker is not good against aggressive decks and many of the control decks are packing silence and/or Steward of the Past. It’s not looking like a Xenan friendly metagame out there.
Dawnwalker: not good. False Prince: rarely works. Cirso: Several turns too slow. Permafrost: not optimal. While Lightning Storm is good, you need more than one or two good cards to draw you to a deck like this. Elysian is solidly out of metagame at the moment.