Editor’s Note: HA, “Monday”

The following people made this article possible:

Crafty Muso


This is Isochron presenting Meta Monday

As always, if you’d like to contribute data and have your name featured in the article, make sure to submit your games to both the Throne Ladder and Expedition Ladder forms. Please specify the deck list the opponent was on each game in the form. If you have a large data set, you can DM them to /u/NotoriousGHP on Reddit, [TRS] NotoriousGHP#6765 on discord, or email me at [email protected]

The quality of the metagame breakdown depends entirely on how many submissions we get. These are our significant thresholds:

The Stats

0-222 games – I am not confident in the data we have, the quality of analysis will deteriorate greatly.

222-285 games –  I am confident in the value of our data, the articles will function perfectly normal in capacity

286-399 games – The metagame breakdown will include any tier 4 lists I have enough data for.

400+ games – The sample size is big enough for more precise rounding.

This week we had a sample of 424 games for Throne Constructed and 310 for Expedition Constructed.

Whoa… Isochron? Didn’t that person like quit the game and hand the articles over to GHP? Yes and yes, but now I have been playing enough to feel comfortable writing articles again. But sadly, my stay here at the helm is not permanent, I just got an opportunity to write one of these articles this week and I thought “Why not?”. So, here we are.

First, I know GHP has his own formulas and structure for the articles and this one right here is going to be fairly incongruent with those anyway and I’ve already forgotten how I used to write these. So instead of taking any shortcuts, this article is going to be written completely freestyle. However, I will still be keeping the part of the formula where Meta Monday always comes out on Tuesday.

So let’s get to it. First, we have to talk about Throne.

Throne Ladder

Throne Breakdown

Tier 0:

Praxis Ramp 16.2%

Tier 0.5:

Grodov Mid-Con 13.4%

Tier 1:

Stonescar Aggro 7.3%
Skycrag Aggro 5.4%

Tier 2:

Rakano Aggro 4%
Ixtun Control 3.5%
Argenport Midrange 3.3%

Tier 3:

Combrei Aggro 2.6%
Xenan Cultists 2.4%

Tier 3.5:

Argenport Paladins 1.7%
Combrei Midrange 1.7%
Even Feln Mill 1.7%
Winchest Midrange 1.7%
Jennev Midrange 1.7%
Fire Aggro 1.7%

Tier 4:

Feln Control 1.4%
Even Praxis 1.2%
Skycrag Control 1.2%
Feln Reanimator 0.9%
Jennev Control 0.9%
Stonescar Midrange 0.9%

Tier ? (7.5%):

Sodi Tempo
Sodi Midrange
Elysian Maul

Expanding Further

So, three big things. What the heck are tier 0.5, 3.5, and tier “?”? Isn’t this supposed to be a reasonable article with things that make sense? My answer to that is simple, nothing makes sense anymore so neither will my tier system. First off, tier 0.5 is a bit self-explanatory. Grodov (FTJ) Mid-Con (Midrange-Control) is a very popular deck and eclipses everything in all lower tiers by around three times. However, it would make no sense to have two decks be tier 0, especially if one is clearly the more dominant one. But if Grodov is tier 1, it would understate exactly how dominant Praxis is, because then tier 0 would just be three percentages above tier 1. Or if we just had both Praxis and Grodov in tier 1, we would lose the impact that ranking something as tier 0 has.

Simply put, both of these decks are incredibly dominant and form a functional duopoly over the metagame. Praxis is jut more dominant than Grodov. Overall, the only thing that can be said about either of them is that throne is throne. It’s nice that time based ramp still has a chance, but this is likely due to the fact that justice is currently reeling from suffering massive nerfs. I think the dominance of Praxis can be largely attributed to general metagame confusion, since big time tends to always be the default go-to for whenever no one really knows what to play. Praxis is also incredibly powerful, but I wouldn’t expect this metagame to last forever, as there are a great many answers to just playing a lot of big creatures.

Sadly, the best answer seems to be playing another incredibly dominant deck, and not innovating anything new. The “holy grail” in this current meta is something that can beat big creatures and ramp units and also beat Grodov without being Grodov. I don’t know if such a deck exists. So basically, my take on this is that Praxis isn’t really the issue, but rather Grodov is. Praxis can put up a good game against anything that beats Grodov and non-Grodov decks that beat Praxis lose to Grodov. So basically, if something should be targeted for nerfs, I think targeting Grodov is the healthy choice for the metagame. Or if DWD just wants to functionally remove both of these decks from the game, they can finally nerf Heart of the Vault.

When it comes to tier ?, things get more complicated. This is because tempo has been introduced to Eternal in a big way. This raises the basic question, what’s tempo and what’s midrange? Tempo often looks like just a smaller and more disruptive version of a midrange deck, so it’s hard to determine. Of course, the two archetypes follow a fairly different game plan. And now there are two Sodi decks, one of them has a tempo tuning, the other one has a midrange tuning. Well, this in itself isn’t really a problem, we could just merge the Sodi decks into one deck, but here’s where the problem starts. There’s also Elysian Maul, which is another tempo deck in the same factions. And due to the way we collect data (which will be changed soon), this has caused a problem.

So this is what we know: At least 2.8% of the meta is midrange Sodi. At least 4.7% of the meta is Elysian tempo. At least 2.6% of the tempo decks are maul decks. This leaves 2.1% of the tempo decks unassigned. If we assume that everyone who played against a maul deck specified that the deck was a maul list, that would make tempo Sodi have a 2.1% share of the meta. But in practical terms, this is not possible to determine, so the two Sodi decks combined are anywhere from 2.8% to 4.9% of the metagame, while maul is anywhere from 2.6% to 4.7% of the metagame. So while in a normal circumstance I would just combine the Sodi decks into one archetype to avoid any lines being blurred, it’s impossible to do that here due to maul. But I think a fair rough estimate would be that Sodi and maul are both around 3.5% of the metagame, making them squarely tier 2.

So, now to the real tiers. Tier 1 is occupied by two aggro decks, for obvious reasons. Even though Praxis and Grodov can easily out-muscle anything in the meta, it’s still possible to go under them. Skycrag and Stonescar both do exactly that. So they remain at the top of the rest of the metagame. This also explains why the next most popular deck is Rakano Aggro as it enjoys the same benefits as the rest of the aggro decks do. Here is another place where the new submission system can be useful. A lot of Rakano aggro decks are Oni, a lot of them aren’t. Ideally, we could still have Rakano aggro as one big pile by using the specific faction + archetype combination, but it would also be nice to know the exact breakdowns of which decks are Oni and which are not. The same goes for Skycrag and yetis.

The rest of tier 2 is occupied by Ixtun control and Argenport midrange, both of them being unique decks due to the specific advantage they have over the tier 0 decks. Ixtun can draw cards and beat almost anything on card advantage and Argenport has removal that’s far better than what Praxis has access to. So Ixtun can put up a good fight against Grodov on control grounds, and can beat Praxis given that Praxis isn’t the strongest against control. Argenport can keep up with Praxis when it comes to midrange value, and is also fast enough to compete with Grodov. Both of these decks should be considered as options. Although here’s another question, a lot of these midrange decks could also be paladin decks, although the correct archetype for paladins would be “even”. So paladins being 1.7% of the sample size might be an understatement and they could be the dominant non-Praxis midrange list instead.

So even though this article has turned into talking about the submission system a lot, I don’t think GHP has a bad system at all, in fact, I think it’s a redeemable system unlike my old one. When it came to how I used to run things, everything relied on massive amounts of manual labor and judgement calls with the processed data leaving no untainted permanent record at all since that would have been ever more labor intensive. I’m probably the only person willing to go through all that trouble just to have moderately more precise data. And as I already mentioned, this system can be drastically improved unlike my old system. The simple solution that we have chosen to take is to make specifying a deck list mandatory. If you didn’t see enough of a deck to know what list that person was on, you can just say that you couldn’t tell and if it’s a new brew, that’s also simple to specify. These decklist descriptions don’t have to be long, and can be as simple as typing out “Sodi” or “Maul” after playing against an Elysian tempo opponent. Or, just simply specifying “yeti” or “non-yeti” against a Skycrag aggro opponent. Hopefully this can make the data even more precise in the future.

Tier 3 is occupied by Combrei aggro and Xenan cultists, two respectable aggro decks. And now we can finally get to tier 3.5. As a quirk of this week’s sample, a lot of decks ended up with a 1.7% share of the meta, that’s less than I would consider to be enough for tier 3, but having all of them in tier 4 also feels weird. Since we already indirectly talked about Argenport paladins, we should probably focus on the rest of them. Combrei, Winchest, and Jennev midrange are all decks with their own advantages. Jennev and Winchest have been whittled down slowly over time and as new sets release, but there are still reasons to play the decks. Combrei took a giant hit by having it’s best removal removed from the game and if it weren’t for that, I would be playing a Vodakhan combo deck right now. Feln Mill and Fire Aggro are both cool decks that do something unique. I was surprised at how low Feln Mill was, considering that I have played against it a fair bit. It’s definitely a cool deck that people should check out and try, especially given that it can actually win games.

There are two more Feln decks in tier 4, those being reanimator and control. The current reanimator list relies on a bunch of tiny synergies and is a lot more dynamic than the old one was. It avoids a lot of the pitfalls that were associated with having a single large combo to win the game. And given that Privilege of the Rank was nerfed, it loses a lot of the card advantage that it used to have. This makes for games that are fairly interactive and where decisions really do matter. And I salute everyone still keeping Feln Control alive, they’re the real champions in this metagame.

Skycrag Control was one of the first combo-control decks invented with set 7 cards. It was fairly good, but took a large hit with the nerf to the Garden of Omens. And as a surprise to everyone, I’m glad that this deck is gone. While I love both combo and control, it is truly miserable to play against combo-control, especially when it relies heavily on calculating really slight amounts of damage over multiple turns. Having to focus on my health total all the time instead of anything that actually made for engaging interplay wasn’t very fun. And although this nerf was probably just targeted at Ixtun unitless, it potentially affected skycrag far more.

Expedition Ladder

Expedition Breakdown

Tier 0:

Elysian Tempo 24%

Tier 1:

Rakano Oni 11%
Xenan Cultists 8.5%
Stonescar Tempo 8%

Tier 1.5:

Hooru Tempo 6%

Tier 2:

Combrei Tempo 4.5%
Makkar Control 4%

Tier 3:

Kerendon Control 3%
Feln Aggro 2.5%
Skycrag Control 2%

Expanding Further

So, the metagame still hasn’t figured itself out. Even though Elysian tempo is an entire fourth of the metagame I don’t think it necessarily means that it’s twice as good as the next best deck. It’s generally resilient to other tempo decks, control decks, and midrange decks, but it can be easily countered by playing a faster deck. Spellshaper is a bit too cheap and efficient and could use some sort of change but reacting too harshly to the current meta is not warranted considering how it’s only been competitive for a single week.

More likely than not, the popularity of Elysian is due to the fact that it was established as the best deck in the format before Expedition became competitive. So when the large influx of people joined the format with the introduction of the ladder, a lot of them started by making an Elysian deck for reasons that are fairly obvious. It doesn’t really have any awful matchups and it’s definitely one of the strongest decks in the format. That being said, I think that Hooru has it beat in consistency and Rakano has it beat on sheer explosive power. It can definitely put up some great results, but as evidenced by its relative absence from the weekend tournament, it’s not the only powerful choice in the format.

And it’s not like the deck is particularly unfun to play against yet either, it’s been around for a relatively short time and makes for some relatively dynamic games with multiple decision points. Obviously it’s not ideal to have a deck at a fourth of the metagame in any game and any format, but it’s not the worst possible scenario yet. However, if the deck keeps being this popular for a few more weeks and nothing happens to it things will start getting more complicated and intervention will likely be necessary.

The second big thing is that all the most popular decks are tempo decks, everything within tier 0 to tier 1.5 could be classified as some sort of tempo. Elysian is midrangey, Rakano is tribal, Xenan is combo-ish, Stonescar is aggro-esque, and Hooru also falls into the more midrange-like category. But all of them definitely have a lot of tempo elements. On one hand, this is very good given that tempo is an archetype that hasn’t been able to shine in Eternal. But then there’s also the fact that it’s fairly dominant as an archetype. Not only is Elysian a fourth of the metagame, tempo is over half of it.

Again, nothing drastic should be done about it right now and maybe it’s not a problem at all. There have been plenty of metagames where midrange was way more than half of the field and those did not seem to be deemed too unhealthy for the game. But as with Elysian, this is definitely not ideal and I hope it will change. Control, midrange, and aggro are all archetypes that should have a place in the game. And while some of the tempo decks could be classified as aggro or midrange, they’re definitely neither in a more traditional sense. I’m glad that Makkar and Kerendon control are even doing as well as they are, although I wish we had more control in the format. Although as it is right now, the existence of control is heavily reliant on Incarnus and a lot of people seem to be dissatisfied with that card.

Another card that rubs a few people the wrong way is Varret. And while Varret can be slotted into multiple top tier decks, I don’t think it can really be categorized as a problem card. Sometimes it’s really good, usually it’s just a decent two drop. The only real problem with it is that there are no other two drops that can properly compete with it on it’s own terms, but I don’t think that necessarily means that the card itself is an issue. It’s weak to a lot of removal and can only dominate when combined with powerful weapons or an empty board.

Speaking of Varret, the final tempo deck in the breakdown is Combrei. This is probably the deck I’m most conflicted about. It feels like it has a lot of potential and the good games it has are incredibly good. But it’s also very dependent on having a good hand and being on the play. As it stands, I think Combrei is a very play-at-your-own-risk type deck. The same goes for the final two decks on the list. Neither Feln Aggro or Skycrag Control are decks I can really recommend, but they do have potential.

Overall, I think Elysian is overplayed and Kerendon control is underplayed. I think if nothing really changes, this meta will eventually become lead by a trifecta of Elysian tempo, Rakano Oni, and Kerendon control. But things will inevitably change and I have been wrong before, so don’t take this as a proper prediction of anything. More than anything else I’m waiting until the competitive scene for Expedition can really start kicking off. When tournaments are involved, stronger decks will often win and those decks will become disseminated throughout the player base and change metagames overnight.

This has been Isochron with Meta Monday, brought to you on Tuesday, as always.

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2 Responses

  1. Is there a way to contribute without the form? I maintain a Google Sheet for myself and could export or share it. That would be way faster for me. If not – let me know and I’ll keep copy&pasting my games into the form.

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