Thursday Tier List #13 – February 23rd, 2017 (Open Beta List #7)

This tier list is valid for Patch v1.17 (including Jekk’s Bounty)

Tier List 14 has been delayed until March 16 to include patch 1.18.

Thursday Tier List #13 – February 23rd, 2017 (Open Beta List #7)

Hello all! Eternal’s first adventure/mini-expansion, Jekk’s Bounty, was released last week. With it came sixteen brand new cards to shake up the tier list. Some were instant hits while others have yet to catch on. Regardless, their impact was such to shuffle the metagame around – but it couldn’t dethrone the reigning Stonescar. Still, decks are adapting and experimenting, so it remains to be seen what direction we will take. A number of new/previously untiered decks join the tier list this week, so there’s plenty going on beyond the usual top tier shuffle.

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.

Official Tier List

Tier 1
Stonescar Burn/Burn Queen
Traditional Armory
Stonescar Jito

Tier 2
Righteous Rakano
Stonescar Midrange
Big Combrei
Icaria Blue

Tier 3
Elysian Shimmerpack
Aggressive Combrei
Feln Control
5F Nictotraxian

Tier 4
No decks are Tier Four this week.

Newly Unranked
TJP Shimmerpack

Metagame Overview

This week saw a stark contrast in control and aggressive archetypes. Most of my opponents opened on Oni Ronin, but even knowing they’re in Stonescar doesn’t say much as three distinct decks (Burn Queen, SS Burn, Jito) have that opening. Identifying what your opponent is playing is pretty difficult when all but one of the Tier 1/2 decks can lead on Fire Sigil -> Torch. At the other end of the spectrum, Big Combrei and the new 5F Nictotraxian decks are grindy, punishing players who try midrange decks over aggressive decks. Aggro decks are far more prevalent though, so keep that in mind while choosing your deck this week.

Speculation is always difficult, but there seems to be a “can’t beat em so join em” mentality going on with Stonescar at the moment. Players attempt to control the Burn lists with decks full of Backlashes, Protects, and Lightning Storms then get rolled by Armory. This frustration leads them to just… play Burn. We’ve seen this play pattern before – Burn topped the charts on Tier List #7 but died down by Tier List #9 a month later. The answer last time was lower curve aggression and solid midrange decks with a few tech cards. Will players be able to overcome their fear of Flame Blast, or will Torch take the day?

Tier One Decks

Midrange may run rampant over the ETS, but on ladder, Burn is definitely Queen. With some players trying to have fun playing too-many-faction Nictotraxian decks, other players have fun killing them on turn 4. With Armory decks back in force on the back of some new cards, Rakano and Feln style decks are kept in check. The deck that can burn those weapons off stands strong as the aggressive deck of choice.

Traditional Armory is Tier One. Man, that was satisfying for me to type. While I may love the deck through thick and thin, it’s been a rough road for Armory. It bottommed out at Tier Four in September, and you have to all the way back to August, to a Tier List that predates this website, to find the last time Armory was Tier One.

Well, for those of you that don’t care about the history (or my love for Armory) WHY is it Tier One? Armory got a powerful new tool in Jekk’s Bounty in the form of Quarry, the card selection tool that does it all for the deck. Quarry finds sigils/early plays in the early game and huge weapons in the late game. The cost reduction helps “ramp” Armory into earlier Harsh Rules, Daishos, Icarias… and the cards you discard can be brought back with Stash! Quarry gives Armory decks some much needed consistancy and selection, which allows them to reliably draw those weapons and beat you down.

With Armory chopping down the Lightning Storm decks one by one, Jito finds some room to go wide. Very wide. Copperhall Baliff is a new answer to token strategies, but turn three can sometimes be too late and the card isn’t super popular (yet). Undercutting the Burn decks with their all-in aggression, Jito starts fast and doesn’t stop. Jito returns to tier one this week due to good metagame positioning and solid matchups against the top decks.

Tier Two Decks

Rakano returns to Tier Two this week, but is starting to rally. Both Armory and Jito aren’t what it wants to see, but Rakano got a new tool to fight the Jito decks in the aforementioned Copperhall Baliff. Righteous Fury builds seem to be the ones that are most successful at the moment, which makes sense in a world of burn and aggression. Naked Silverwing Familiar is pretty weak against Armory but reasonable everywhere else, and can weapon up and swing games when players are often racing.

The terror of the ETS, Stonescar Midrange finds itself in Tier Two this week. None of the Tier One decks are what it was meant to grind out – Maiden doesn’t line up well against Flame Blast, Auric Runehammer, or dying on turn 3. That said, Quarry and Stray into Shadows give Midrange decks new options to attack the metagame, and Quarry’s card selection is very powerful in a deck with as many high power cards as Stonescar Midrange.

Big Combrei and Vodakhombo decks have been merged together in this list, with them playing somewhat similarily but Vodakhombo being much less popular. The new Combrei Emissary was a big boost to Vodakhombo decks, and Big Combrei plays the same as always – if it can survive the early aggression, it will usually take the game. Playing Big Combrei against Burn is always tricky, but Combrei Healer, Harsh Rule, and Protect can help make it happen.

Icaria Blue makes its triumphant return to the Tier List after a three list hiatus. Players looked to Permafrost/Storm/Aegis/Relic Weapons last time Burn took over, and they do so again now. All those spells mean little in the face of an opposing Armory or Big Combrei deck however, and sometimes despite your best laid plans it falls through and a Stonescar deck takes the game. With the advent of Quarry, Stonescar now has comparable filtering tools to Icaria Blue, and that’s not a good thing if you’re the deck on the back foot.
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.

Tier Three Decks

Shimmerpack stops its slide this week and actually gained some ground in the metagame. It’s very good at beating Armory, and the new token answer Copperhall Baliff doesn’t actually answer its tokens. Anti-Burn tech choices do little to stop it and Shimmerpack has access to the almighty Permafrost. 8 power plus a board is a lot to ask in the current metagame, but when it happens you do win the game more or less on the spot. That’s generally considered to be a pretty good deal.

Aggro Combrei isn’t a bad deck by any means, it’s just… not a particularily good deck for the current meta. It doesn’t like to see big Relic Weapons to chop through aegis, hordes of tokens, or a powerful burn strategy. With a good draw and initiative the deck does fine, but it doesn’t play well from behind and there are may decks that seize the initiative immediately at the moment.

This just isn’t Feln’s metagame. Feln CAN beat Armory, but you have to twist your deck so badly that you’ll be hard pressed to beat anything else and sometimes it STILL doesn’t work. It also has a weak Icaria matchup, and if you’re tuning it down to handle the aggro decks, you can’t win against other control decks and you still struggle against good Rakano draws. In short, Feln is Feln, but the metagame isn’t in two nices slices it can tech against, so you need godlike deck teching to succeed.

Speaking of things it’s not time for, Felnscar. It can do everything that Feln can do, plus get colorscrewed. Torch is okay but you can’t beat Armory either, and you’re less able to tech to help your other matchups since so many cards are core. A bit too clunky and slow for the current metagame – Quarry would be a good addition, but what do you cut?!?

The fun deck graces the Tier List! Players are playing Nictotraxian, but generally have no illusions about its competive value. Nictotraxian can give you everything from another Nictotraxian to a basic sigil and is just too random to plan for. If you’re planning on casting it, it’s a 7 power 8/8 flyer with no other text once its in play – hardly the sort of card that leaves anyone quaking in their boots. It’s fun and full of highlight reel moments, but the deck is unsound by design.

Tier Four Decks

No decks are Tier Four this week.

Newly Unranked Decks

Mono Time showed up… and then it was gone. The deck really wants a slightly different metagame. With limited removal options, it can’t deal with the powerful Stonescar units nor with token flood. Armory is a much better matchup for Mono Time, but most of the players who enjoy this style of quirky deck have moved on to brewing with Jekk’s Bounty cards.

TJP Shimmerpack decks now almost universally don’t play Shimmerpack, transforming them into some sort of TJP midrange deck. The deck isn’t super popular on ladder but has some ETS success, so we’ll need to keep an eye on this evolution moving forwards.