November 2018 Tier List - Neon - November 1, 2018
The meta has been going through some very serious evolution since the most recent balance changes. It seems like new decks are popping up left and right, with no way to predict what will happen next! Well, today we release the November tier list, which might help make sense of what is happening.
BUT BEFORE WE GET INTO THAT!
We’ve got an exciting giveaway to announce! You probably know Inked Gaming for all their lovely work supporting the Eternal community. We at A+Space have been working with them to get a ton of sweet merchandise into their store, which should be rolling out this Friday! To celebrate this, we are giving away a mousepad for free! The winner can choose from one of the three A+Space mousepad designs.
Life is simple - go face! The A+Space mousepad is here, and it is not about crunching numbers.
AngerMania’s art of Kanna and Prellex is colorful and mysterious. For those aspiring Artifact lore aficionados!
The giveaway ends November 15th at midnight. Also, while we are at this, join our Discord community! We would love to have more friends join us!
Ok, enough with all that business. Let’s get down to business!
Where Am I Getting My Numbers?
High level players! I recruit a rotating band of high-performing tournament and ladder competitors to fill in a survey to give their thoughts on different decks. I am deliberately trying to pull information from a range of high-level players to get a well-rounded perspective. If I didn’t ask you, it doesn’t mean I don’t care about your opinion, but I would just like to spread out the work from month-to-month. The players who filled out the survey this month were Grimfan, DrPringles, BruisedByGod, and theovermaster. This is a different collection of players than last month, so some differences in evaluation will partly be a result of idiosyncratic effects. I am also offering a chance to win a $5 Steam card to those who fill out the survey, and this month the winner is DrPringles!
I should mention that I asked players to ignore differences between Ranked and Tournaments. While I understand that there are some decks that have an edge in one over the other, this is not generally too important. I asked players to average their rating of the two formats if there was a difference in their mind.
Players gave me suggested decklists for each archetype. I will admit that I did not test these myself, but they seem reasonable. These are at least a good starting point to understand typical builds of these decks.
Power and Popularity
I am dividing the tier list into two separate metrics: “Power” being a metric for how good a deck is, and “Popularity” being a metric for how often a deck is played. This will help identify decks that are overrated or underrated.
The “power level tier list” is a summary of what top-level players think you should be playing. I specifically asked them to ignore complexity and fun, but focus entirely on maximizing the chance of winning. Here are the descriptions I gave to the players filling out the survey:
Tier 1: Heavyweight. Decks you would suggest to a skilled player who only cared about winning.
Tier 2: Contender. Some weaknesses, but has a lot to offer. Maybe a change in the meta will allow it to move up
Tier 3: Lightweight. This deck has some serious problems, but some people keep playing it for some reason.
Tier 4: Meme. If it is popular, it isn't because the deck is actually good.
(Tier 5) No comment.
Edit: given a suggestion from camat0 I have renamed “FJS Midrange” to “FJS Midrange/Control”. It is difficult to define/differentiate similar decks in a tier list like this, as they appear similar when you queue into them on the ladder. There is also a continuum of midrange-to-control decks, meaning they are not quite distinct archetypes, but alternative builds of a similar deck. I personally think most versions of FJS are quite strong, though I prefer the more controlling build like that given in the example deck.
Commentary: In the previous tier lists that I have done, it is sometimes hard to say for sure where tier 1 ends, and tier 1.5 begins. That was not the case today. FJS Midrange/Control and Haunted Highway were both unanimously voted at top-tier in power. This is an impressive performance, but given how impactful these decks have been on ladder and in tournament play, it is unlikely this is a shock to many people. Still, it should be emphasized that they are very clearly a step above the rest of the field. Perhaps it is fitting that the top decks on Hallowe’en were Haunted Highway and Cauldron Cookbook FJS Midrange/Control?
While these two are clearly the top dogs, there are a number of other decks with their own appeal. Rakano Valkyries is clearly much worse than a month ago, but is still totally viable. Talir-Mask is also a totally real deck. TonyGeeeee’s Feln Midrange is solid. Unlike other times where there is a clearly established tier 1 metagame, I think there are a lot of options in the tier 1.5 space that are quite attractive.
If we want to stick with the Hallowe’en theme, let me tell you about Time decks getting murdered on the ladder. Big Xenan, Big Combrei, Elysian Midrange, Praxis Midrange, and Xenan Midrange all fell way down the ratings. TJP took a hit so badly they fell off the tier list! It has honestly been shocking how balance changes aimed at some of Big Time’s strongest predators seem to have made things worse for them. I suppose this is to be expected when Madness decks are top tier.
What is almost as important as what you should be playing is what other people are playing. If you want to metagame against the field, it is good to know what decks are the most common.
Tier 1: Very popular. Expect to see this deck in almost every ladder session, and every tournament.
Tier 2: Somewhat popular. Be prepared for the deck, but don't warp your deck around it.
Tier 3: Fringe. Some players are using the deck, but it is certainly not common. Be familiar with it.
Tier 4: Off-meta. Maybe you have seen it once or twice, but it is not worth considering.
(Tier 5) No comment.
Haunted Highway, FJS Midrange/Control, Skycrag Aggro
Combrei Aggro, Feln Scream, Feln Midrange, Rakano Midrange
Praxis Tokens, Talir-Mask Combo, Argenport Midrange, Argenport Control, TJP Control
Big Combrei, Big Xenan, Stonescar Aggro, West-Wind Herald Combo, Praxis Midrange, Rakano Aggro, Xenan Midrange, Kennadins
Feln Control, Icaria Blue, Hooru Midrange, JPS Control, TJP Blitz, Elysian Midrange
Commentary: Not only did Haunted Highway get a unanimous score as being top tier in power, it also received a unanimous top score in popularity! I’m not sure if this has manifested in Diamond and Gold, but it is all over the place on the top of the ladder. The current builds are probably not even optimal yet, as there are still some issues with the power base, but this deck is absolutely incredible. While FPS Scream is somewhat established at this point, the meteoric rise of FJS Midrange/Control has been shocking. Last week on my podcast I remarked that I was surprised that it was not seeing more play, but things have clearly changed. It should also be noted that Skycrag Aggro has been seeing a good deal of play as well. It doesn’t have an amazing FJS Midrange match up, but the Haunted Highway match up has felt fairly good.
It is hard to read too much into the popularities scores outside of the very top, given how varied the metagame is. Once again, Time has take a massive hit, though it is still present between Combrei Aggro and Praxis tokens having a reasonable metagame share. I am curious if we might begin to see a shift away from Haunted Highway, given how strongly the meta has moved against is.
This measures decks that were rated as significantly more powerful than they were popular, meaning that they may be underplayed at the moment, or might highlight some hole in the metagame.
WEST-WIND HERALD COMBO
When Almost first made the top 8 of an ETS event with West-Wind Herald Combo, I honestly didn’t think much of it. Good finish with a neat deck, but this was likely just a one-hit-wonder deck. After he won last week’s ETS I decided to take the deck for a spin. I no longer think it is a flash in the pan. While the deck is very difficult to pilot, it is very powerful. Our high-level players seemed to agree, as they gave West-Wind Herald Combo a very high underrated score.
Time decks are not great right now, but maybe people have over-reacted? Cards like Sword of Unity and Desert Marshall are very attractive, and a well built Big Combrei deck might has some game. Still, Big Combrei is not amazing, but maybe with some work it can set up a come-back?
While some decks are more powerful than they are popular, the reverse can also be true. Which decks are seeing more play than they should?
There might have been a bit of a misreading to the results from the DWD event. A ton of Skycrag showed up in the Reunion event, though their performance within the top 32 was mediocre. In addition, the rise of FJS Midrange/Control has been pretty rough for Skycrag, as Vara is just such a brutal beating. The being said, Skycrag is relatively easy to pilot compared to many of the other decks in the top ranks, so I can understand why players might be opting for easy wins over some of the more exotic options. It also might be the case that you panel is underrating the deck, given how simple it is compared to the rest of the meta. Personally, I think the deck is on a downward trajectory given the spike in FJS Midrange/Control.
I have made no secret about this, but I do not like this deck. I think it does most things worse than FJS Midrange/Control, and even the things that it does better feel unimportant. I honestly just don’t understand the appeal, given that Tavrod is just not very good right now. The panel seemed to agree, but I should note that the opinions on this deck were mixed. Still, no one seemed excited about Argenport Control.
On the form I give contributors a chance to suggest decks that I might have missed. If half (or more) of the contributors feel I missed something, I would go back and get responses to include it in the article. If two people pointed out the same deck then I figured it is worth mentioning, but not worth including as part of the tier list. This month one decks met that threshold: TJS Mask. I personally haven’t been impressed by the deck when I have seen it, but maybe I am missing something? This is also a deck to keep an eye on if Scream is nerfed.
Things on the ladder are moving fast. Expect to see more twists in turns in the metagame over the course of the next couple of weeks. It is hard to tell how likely a balance change might be, as Haunting Scream is clearly having a weird effect on the ladder. At the moment I don’t think it is necessary, but I can promise you that DWD is watching it carefully.
Before we finish up here, I want to let ya’ll know that A+Space is looking for more content creators to work with! Some of our regular writers will not be as active in the coming months, so I would love to have more people contributing! Be sure to check out the “Joining A+Space” page for more information.
Thanks for checking this out! I’m sure a lot of you have opinions on this, and I want to hear them! Share your thoughts on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, or on YouTube! Thanks again to those who helped give me the information for the tier list, and thanks to all of you for supporting the site! Don’t forget to enter the contest at the top before you leave!
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