Vicious Rumors

Patch 1.03.00.00

Friends List is Live!

First, in mid-November, we were told that the much anticipated Friends List, or Social Features 1.0 as they called it, would be coming with the November patch. Then, a week later, when the 1.02 patch went live, the Friends List was having trouble scaling, and wouldn’t be included at that time. Now, after not mentioning it at all in the December State of the Game, it went live with Patch 1.03!

You can add friends either by username or email address, and you can challenge your friends to games/matches. And that is about the extent of the functionality at this point. There are some known bugs with the function, but you can read up on all of that here if you like.

Performance

The Arena team has been working hard to improve the game performance. They’ve successfully reduced the number of FPS drops and hitches. I generally agree with their assessment. The number of threads created over the last month have decreased, or haven’t gained enough traction to make it to the front page of the subreddit. And my performance has been much better on the three very different computers I play on. They note that there are still improvements to be made.

Brawlidays (BOOOOOO!)

This one. I was really hoping to not have to touch on this one. But, here we are. They’ve added a Brawl event called Brawlidays that runs from yesterday, December 12, through January 16. The cost to enter is 10,000 gold or 2,000 gems. The reward for the first win is a Rhys the Redeemed. You can play as much as you want. That’s it.

The reception of this event has been comically bad. Content creators large and small have given their feedback on twitter. Many threads have reached the top of the subreddit asking people to not participate.

Honestly, I’m not sure many people will jump on this event. I really hope not many people join it. Again, there are alternatives arenabrawl.net or the BrawlHall discord. Both are fantastic ways to get Brawl games at any time of day. Besides that, you can craft the Rhys the Redeemed for one wildcard a piece. Even if you have to open six packs to get the wildcard, it’s 4000 gold or 800 gems cheaper.

This hasn’t been the first time the Arena economy team have completely missed the mark. The first Mastery Pass. Two for one wildcards for Historic. Just to name a few from recent memory. But, this one has made me start questioning my commitment to the game. If they stay on this path, making me not only pay for cards, but then pay to play with them, I’m going to quickly run out of desire to keep up with it.

I don’t put this out there to be a downer, but constant and blatantly poor decisions like this one are going to drive people away from an otherwise amazing game.

Store Updates/Additions

Several new items were added to the in-game store with the patch. First off, a very awesome pair of exquisite sleeves from the art of Lightning Bolt and Cryptic Command.

These look absolutely amazing! They’re a bit expensive at 8,000 gold, but this is the type of monetization, or removal of gold from the economy that I like to see.

Also two pre-orders for Theros Beyond Death have been added to the store costing $49.99 US each. One of the pre-order packages is similar to what we’ve been seeing each set since War of the Spark, and includes 50 booster packs, an Ashiok, Nightmar Muse card and style, and an Ashiok Mosaic Sleeve. The other order doesn’t seem to come with any booster packs, but includes the Mastery Pass with 10 bonus levels, 2 tokens to redeem for Sealed events, an Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis card and style, and an Elspeth Mosaic Sleeve. Purchasing either gets the sleeve immediately, but you will need to wait until January 16th for the rest of the items.

If you buy both, you get a Cerberus pet as a bonus. The Cerberus pet is also available in the store for 3,000 gems or 20,000 gold. I’m sure I’ll be buying the 50 pack package, but I doubt I’ll be splurging for the other. It doesn’t seem to have a good value to it.

In addition to those items, several card styles are 50% off, including favorites like Hydroid Krasis, Fabled Passage, and Questing Beast.

Historic

Suspensions

The short of it; Oko, Once Upon a Time, Veil of Summer, and Field of the Dead are ‘suspended’ in Historic. Suspension is short of a pre-ban trial period. For now, the cards in question are removed from the format until the next round of Historic play, likely in the month leading up to the Spring set, Ikoria. At that point, they will either be put back into the format, or banned. If they are banned, and you had crafted them after their ban in Standard, you will receive wildcards as compensation. You can’t receive compensation on a card twice. This sounds like it is working as it should, and I don’t believe at this time there is anything to worry about with it. They have a decent track record with not screwing up wildcard compensation.

Events

Artisan Event

There will be another Artisan event running from December 20th – December 30th. This time, with the Historic card pool. Artisan was very fun to play the previous time around, and I expect the same this time. The event is 2,500 gold or 500 gems to enter, which looks like a steal compared to the Brawlidays event. Your first five wins get you card styles for Wildgrowth Walker, Guttersnipe, Cast Down, Curious Obsession, and Militia Bugler in that order. You can play as many games as you like during the event.

Dominaria Ranked Draft

January 3rd through 16th Dominaria will make a return to Ranked Draft. The price and prizes are the same as any other Ranked Draft mode. It will cost 750 gems or 5,000 gold to enter.

Historic Challenge

Then finally, January 11th through 13th a Historic Challenge event will be available. This is a high-cost, high-reward event that will set you back 10,000 gold or 2,000 gems to enter. You can play to 8 wins or 3 losses. The prizes for this event are fantastic, with top prize being 15,000 gold, 40 Historic boosters, Treasure Hunt Card Sleeve, and Gaea’s Cradle Card Sleeve. You can earn the Treasure Hunt Sleeve just for entering, and the Gaea’s Cradle sleeve shows up at five wins. You better believe I’ll be giving it at least one shot to get those Gaea’s Cradle sleeves!

Other Events

There are a few other events planned, including Standard Shakeup from December 30th through January 6th, and Planeswalker Momir from January 10th through January 16th. I’ll talk about those a bit more when they are closer.

Deck Sorting

One final note from the patch is enhanced deck sorting features. While you can currently filter your decks by format, with the December update, you will further be able to filter by color(s). Additionally, you will be able to sort your deck by color, format, last modified, or alphabetically. This is a decent quality of life change that people like me, who have many many decks, have been sorely missing for a long time.

Mythic Championship VII Results

Piotr ‘kanister’ Głogowski took home the top prize from MCVII playing a Jund Sacrifice deck. After skipping directly into day two from his results in the MPL league Głogowski went completely undefeated day 2 and day 3. While Kanister isn’t new to prop play, this is by far his best result. His previous accomplishments include 3 Grand Prix top 8s, 1 Pro Tour top 8, and he came in second at the Mythic Invitational earlier this year. A big congratulations goes out to Kanister, who has now earned his spot in Worlds early next year.

Other than the winning Jund Sacrifice deck, several other decks performed well last weekend, and the metagame looks to be healthy. The Top 8 consisted of 3 copies of Simic Flash, 2 copies of the winning Jund Sacrifice, 1 Simic Ramp, 1 Golgari Adventures, and 1 Jeskai Fires deck.

While Jeskai Fires had the most decks in the tournament, it severely under preformed against both Simic Flash and Izzet Flash. In the end, those poor match-ups were just enough to keep too many copies out of the Top 8. Simic Flash was the best performing deck of the tournament, with a 66% overall win rate. Jund Sacrifice and Simic Ramp were the only decks holding Simic Flash back. Jund Sacrifice, Simic Ramp, and Temur Reclamation all had winning records, while Golgari Sacrifice, Rakdos Sacrifice, Izzet Flash, Golgari Adventures, and Azorius Control all came in under a 50% win rate.

Viewership for the event was strong, peaking at nearly 105,000 viewers.

Folio of Fancies

MCVII Jund Sacrifice

from Piotr Głogowski

2 Korvold, Fae-Cursed King (ELD) 329
4 Casualties of War (WAR) 187
2 Massacre Girl (WAR) 99
4 Witch's Oven (ELD) 237
4 Trail of Crumbs (ELD) 179
4 Blood Crypt (RNA) 245
4 Overgrown Tomb (GRN) 253
4 Stomping Ground (RNA) 259
2 Swamp (ELD) 258
1 Mountain (ELD) 262
5 Forest (ELD) 266
3 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244
2 Castle Locthwain (ELD) 241
2 Thrashing Brontodon (M20) 197
4 Cauldron Familiar (ELD) 81
3 Beanstalk Giant (ELD) 149
2 Murderous Rider (ELD) 97
4 Mayhem Devil (WAR) 204
4 Gilded Goose (ELD) 160 
 
1 Massacre Girl (WAR) 99
1 Korvold, Fae-Cursed King (ELD) 329
4 Duress (M20) 97
2 Wicked Wolf (ELD) 181
1 Murderous Rider (ELD) 97
2 Deathless Knight (ELD) 208
1 Thrashing Brontodon (M20) 197
3 Lovestruck Beast (ELD) 165

Piotr ‘kanister’ Głogowski piloted this Jund Sacrifice deck to a perfect record and first place at MCVII. Starting with the Cat/Oven combo and Trail of Crumbs at the bottom, and curving strongly into four copies Casualties of War and two Korvold at the top, this deck is clean and synergistic. I like seeing the Deathless Knights in the sideboard, but I’m not sure if they ever saw play in games 2 and 3 at any point during the tournament.

MCVII Simic Flash

from Brad Nelson

2 Mystical Dispute (ELD) 58
2 Castle Vantress (ELD) 242
7 Island (ELD) 254
7 Forest (ELD) 266
3 Paradise Druid (WAR) 171
4 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246
4 Growth Spiral (RNA) 178
4 Nissa, Who Shakes the World (WAR) 169
2 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244
3 Quench (RNA) 48
3 Sinister Sabotage (GRN) 54
2 Aether Gust (M20) 42
2 Brazen Borrower (ELD) 39
1 Negate (M20) 69
4 Temple of Mystery (M20) 255
2 Hydroid Krasis (RNA) 183
4 Frilled Mystic (RNA) 174
4 Nightpack Ambusher (M20) 185 

2 Mystical Dispute (ELD) 58
1 Negate (M20) 69
4 Lovestruck Beast (ELD) 165
1 Aether Gust (M20) 42
2 Chemister's Insight (GRN) 32
2 Sorcerous Spyglass (ELD) 233
1 Hydroid Krasis (RNA) 183
1 Kenrith's Transformation (ELD) 164
1 Crushing Canopy (GRN) 126

This Simic Flash deck that performed very well was piloted by several people at MCVII. This deck has gained a lot of traction over the last few weeks. It has similarities to the flash decks from the previous Standard, which had sort of gone by the wayside. But there are some big differences too. The biggest difference you’ll notice is the 4 copies of Nissa, Who Shakes the World. This deck isn’t reliant completely on playing everything on your opponent’s turn. Against certain opponents, you’ll be just as happy to tap out to ramp into your Nissa. The fallback option of being the counterspell deck, is just a bonus.

I’ll be honest, I don’t have the play patters of this deck figured out yet, especially as it concerns the rest of the meta. I assume you’re not tapping out on turn four to play your Nissa against a Fires deck, but might against Adventures. This is one of those decks that is going to take a lot of practice to master.

Experimental Frenzy

[Historic] Vampires

Deck
4 Skymarcher Aspirant (RIX) 21
4 Knight of the Ebon Legion (M20) 105
3 Vicious Conquistador (XLN) 128
4 Adanto Vanguard (XLN) 1
4 Legion Lieutenant (RIX) 163
2 Sanctum Seeker (XLN) 120
2 Champion of Dusk (RIX) 64
1 Vona, Butcher of Magan (XLN) 231
4 Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord (M20) 115
1 Cast Down (DAR) 81
2 Legion's End (M20) 106
3 Legion's Landing (XLN) 22
2 Prison Realm (WAR) 26
2 Conclave Tribunal (GRN) 6
4 Swamp (ANA) 63 
4 Plains (ANA) 61 
1 Castle Ardenvale (ELD) 238
2 Castle Locthwain (ELD) 241
4 Godless Shrine (RNA) 248
3 Isolated Chapel (DAR) 241
3 Unclaimed Territory (XLN) 258
1 The Haunt of Hightower (RNA) 273

Sideboard
2 Settle the Wreckage (XLN) 34
3 Hushbringer (ELD) 18
3 Duress (M19) 94
2 Legion's End (M20) 106
2 Noxious Grasp (M20) 110
3 Phyrexian Arena (8ED) 152

Since the announcement of Historic suspensions, I had to start finding a new deck to play. I still like Gruul without Once Upon a Time and Veil of Summer, but I think there are other aggressive strategies out there to play with. I started thinking about the pre-rotation vampires deck, and all of the good that had to offer.

This is fairly close to what was being played before the majority of Vampires rotated out of Standard a few months back. From the suite of one and two-drop Vampires, a bit of removal, and Sorin at 3, to the top end of Champion of Dusk, Sanctum Seeker, Vona, and The Haunt of Hightower, this is a fun mid-rangey deck. Use Sorin to cheat out one of the bigger vampires on turn 3 and you’re getting ahead on board quickly.

This deck does okay on the ladder pre-suspensions, and it’s stock will likely go up after.

Settle the Wreckage

There was a lot to talk about this week, and I didn’t even get to all of the decks I wanted.

The patch looks good, other than the obvious blundering of Brawlidays. Again, please use arenabrawl.net or the BrawlHall discord to find Brawl games and don’t pay for that nonsense on Arena. I’m very happy with the Friends List, the Historic suspensions seem good, and the upcoming events look fun and interesting.

The Standard meta is in a good spot with Tier 1 being crowded by 3 different decks (Jeskai Fires, Simic Flash, and Jund Sacrifice) and there are a five or six decks knocking on the door.

The Historic meta is anyone’s guess with the suspensions, and I haven’t had enough time in the last 20 hours to figure it out. Azorius and Esper control might get a larger stake, and look out for Nexus decks. Old favorites like Vampires and Red Deck might also see a resurgence.

Theros Beyond Death spoiler season is starting, and I expect to see a few more cards next week.

That’s all for this week. My fingers are tired.

Big <3,
Hank

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