This is Isochron presenting Meta Monday.

The following people made this article possible:
Squadhawk
Liglig
TheSauceror
LJSchoppert
ROESTI
Oldrich
ArtificerProdigy
Mrben

As always, if you want your name in the article, make sure to submit your games to our form (which you can find by clicking here). If you have a large data set (over 50 games), you can DM it to /u/IsochronEternal on Reddit or to [TRS] Isochron#0801 on discord. If you want to look at the data we collect in a spreadsheet form, you can do so here.

The quality of the metagame breakdown depends entirely on how many submissions we get, these are the various significant thresholds:

0-222 games – I am not confident in the data I have, the quality of long term analysis will deteriorate greatly.
223-399 games – I am confident in the value of my data, the articles will function perfectly in a normal capacity.
400+ games – I am confident in the accuracy of my data, I will use more precise rounding and include tier 4 decks.

This week we have a sample size of 264 games.

Metagame Breakdown

Tier 0 – Overwhelmingly popular, this is the deck you’re most likely going to face on ladder.
Tier 1 – Very popular, a sizable minority of your ladder games will be against tier 1 lists.
Tier 1.5 – Meta defining lists that are not quite dominant enough to be tier 1.
Tier 2 – Popular decks that you should keep in mind.
Tier 2.5 – Decks that are an important part of the metagame, but not very popular.
Tier 3 – Obscure decks that you’re unlikely to run across.
Tier 4 – Very rare decks, only one person could be playing them.

Tier 1
Ixtun Sites 10%
Hooru Midrange 8%
Jennev Peaks 7%

Tier 1.5
Auralian Relics 6.5%
Feln Control 6%
Hooru Control 5.5%

Tier 2
Stonescar Aggro 5%
Xenan Midrange 4.5%
Skycrag Aggro 4.5%
Rakano Aggro 4%
TJP Midrange 4%

Tier 2.5
FJS 2.5%

Tier 3
Praxis Midrange 2%
Xenan Aggro 2%

Hooru Midrange and Ixtun Sites are still leading the pack at tier 1, but they are now joined by Jennev Peaks. After Homecoming came out, both Jennev Peaks and FJS drastically plummeted in popularity, but Jennev Peaks has regained what it once lost. Hooru Midrange and Ixtun Sites have simply overtaken the positions of the best greed-piles. Hopefully the push towards more aggressive game play will force greed-piles to commit to proper midrange or control strategies, instead of sticking to their usual antics.

At tier 1.5, we have Auralian Relics, Feln Control, and Hooru Control, all of these are decks that were fueled by the Homecoming expansion, and could not exist otherwise. The pattern is becoming extremely obvious here, the campaign overturned the entire meta in ranked. If DWD keeps putting out high impact campaigns, and produce 50% more content on a yearly basis, we might see metagames have drastic changes every two months, which is a massive step up from the current scenario where we have to wait for nerfs whenever a metagame becomes stale.

Auralian Relics is the most interesting case to me, because I think it mostly thrives on being one of the most fun and unique decks in the game, which makes playing it incredibly appealing. And it’s nice to see two control strategies make the tier list, as it has been quite some time since a variety of control decks got a chance to have high profile roles in the meta. Combined with the control tuning of Ixtun Sites, the high profile control decks themselves make up around 15% of the metagame, which is quite nice to see.

In tier 2, we have Stonescar Aggro, which is only so highly ranked due to the immense amount of people who were playing it today. I estimate that by next week, Stonescar Aggro will have firmly dropped out of tier 2, unless someone comes up with a really fantastic decklist that can make Stonescar Aggro a very desirable deck. The rest of tier 2 are the usual suspects.

I put FJS in tier 2.5 because while it’s not popular at all in the current moment, the data that we have is insufficient to call it tier 3 this week. Speaking of which, the two tier 3 decks are Xenan Aggro and Praxis Midrange. Praxis Midrange is totally expected due to the pledge builds still being tuned, while Xenan Aggro is a fairly new deck list that has a lot of ladder popularity. Overall, most decks fell just below the threshold of being included in the metagame breakdown, so if you want to see less popular decks show up, make sure to submit your games to our breakdown.

NotoriousGHP’s Tier List

Last month we had NotoriousGHP, one of the best competitive players in Eternal, compile a tier list for Meta Monday, and this month we are continuing the tradition. We were supposed to do this interview a bit earlier, but due to my personal error and bad luck, we did most of this interview right before the balance changes dropped. With all this being said, this is what GHP thought that a tier list, sorted by power level, would look like.

These aren’t in any particular order, but just grouped by tier.

Tier 1:
Jennev Peaks
FJS
Hooru Midrange
TJP Midrange

Tier 2:
Ixtun Control
Hooru Control
Auralian Relics
TJP Pledge
Xenan Midrange
Haunted Highway
Praxis Midrange
Ixtun Midrange

Tier 3:
Reanimator
Combrei Ramp
Rakano Aggro
Skycrag Aggro

So, with all of the changes to the metagame brought on by Homecoming, why do you think that FJS and Jennev Peaks are still solidly tier 1?

I think both of these decks still have absurdly high card quality, which allows for them to keep fighting back against the newest threats in the meta. FTP has access to a ton of fast speed removal, while also having hard-to-answer threats that generate card advantage. These give FTP game into the majority of match-ups, while also having a lot of blowout potential for whenever Palace decks cast withstand. Fast removal has been crucial for the decks survival. Both FJS and FTP also have a ton of adaptability. FTP can play cards like Scorpion Wasp now that aegis is prevalent. On the other hand, FJS can play Auric Runehammer to deal with aegis units and Vargo, which would otherwise be very awkward to deal with. It is very hard to find match-ups that annihilate these decks, as their primary game plan is typically so much more efficient then most other decks, all of these factors give these decks game into the general field.

Having established the decks that you think are the most powerful, what do you think is the best answer to the tier 1 metagame? Is there a rogue deck that has game against all the top tier decks?

This is not just bias, but I think Haunted Highway is a solid choice. FJS has been moving away from Defiance and is now playing cards like Desecrate and often Runehammer, both aren’t good into highway. FTP is moving away from permafrost, which was good against our screams and dark returns, and was one of their more efficient answers. Hooru doesn’t have a ton of strong interaction, although unchecked Hojan or Shelterwing can cause some problems, and TJP is a very close match-up.

Now that we have been over all the good decks, what do you think of the rat deck that has been going around? After all, it’s rare seeing unique strategies really flourish in the game.

I think rats is a solid, tier 2 deck. I think the deck is doing a ton of powerful things, and when it works it is near unbeatable. The issue is, the deck doesn’t have a lot of card manipulation, so sometimes it can struggle to get started. The deck can also have issues with aggressive decks, as they punish you for spending so much time setting up and trying to draw towards your pay off cards. But I am super excited to see what a fully refined rat deck looks like.

Now, I asked GHP what balance changes he wanted to see, but I’m not going to post his list in full as the balance changes have already been announced. Overall, GHP wanted to mostly target Hooru Midrange with nerfs, and buff some cool fringe cards like Ijin’s Workshop, Black Iron Manacles, Champion of Mystery, and Lens of Clarity. In my opinion, the coolest part of his wish list was the exact change to Rakano Artisan that DWD ended up making.

After we had gotten the announcements for the nerfs, I asked the following:

How do you think the recently announced balance changes will affect the meta?

I think aggro gets slightly better, but I don’t believe Jotun Hurler will go away. I expect the Shelterwing Rider nerf to make Auric Runehammer a more popular choice. With this in mind, it’s safe to say the meta is going to fluctuate a ton as players explore the placement of their old favorite deck – Stonescar Aggro again.

Do you think that the smuggler nerfs are a significant blow to FJS or FTP strategies?

Not to FTP. I already preferred Jennev Merchant over Great Valley Smuggler. When it comes to FJS, I think it’s going to hurt somewhat if players are moving towards more aggressive decks, but I don’t believe the smugglers are how we fix those match-ups anyways, as the inclusion of cards like defiance are the real plan against aggro. And against the rest of the field, the smuggler body isn’t the payoff

Deck Spotlight – JPS Control

I have historically been pretty bad at covering ECL events. This is because they tend to have generally less streamlined decks, and a much more relaxed atmosphere. It’s a great experience for playing, but doesn’t really offer the same look into which decks are the best of the best when it comes to crushing the competition. But this week there was no way that I wasn’t going to showcase the JPS deck that took down the latest ECL Sunday tournament. For those who don’t know, JPS is my all time favorite deck in Eternal, and Almost took down the latest ECL Sunday Challenge with it. This is not my all time favorite build of JPS, but there are some cool things about it.

The deck is largely built around Honor of Claws, as it runs both Privilege of Rank and Jotun Hurler, neither of which are cards that the deck actually wants to cast. The hope here being that Jotun Hurler can serve as a budget Xo for JPS. The Hurler nerf should not affect this deck too much as casting Jotun Hurler would be a losing move anyway, as the deck does not run enough units to draw out the opponents removal. This means that Hurler beat-down will never be a reliable plan. However, casting Privilege of Rank is far less painful than casting Jotun Hurler, as Privilege of Rank can provide a lot of card advantage with reliable results, the JPS player will always get two justice sigils, which is sometimes even better than just running Wisdom of the Elders. Running this many Privileges of Rank allows the deck to also skimp out on power, and only run 25 power cards and 3 Seek Powers.

The site package of Regent’s Tomb, Korovyat Palace and Dizo’s Office is nothing to scoff at either, as these cards can also generate massive amounts of card advantage. The only problem is that the deck has very few ways to capitalize off of Withstand or Sack the City, so Palace is not the same kind of powerhouse in a JPS deck as it is in Hooru Midrange or Ixtun Sites, however, it can still provide massive amounts of card advantage, and even though it’s difficult to do so, the pump spells can spiral out of control much faster than they would when it comes to midrange decks that aren’t full of removal.

The actual removal package is a veritable grab bag of the best spells against certain decks. The deck runs 3x Defiance, 1x Suffocate, 2x Annihilate, 3x Desecrate, 1x Rindra’s Choice, 2x Auric Runehammer, and 4x Harsh Rule. And while this can provide for a lot of high rolls when you draw the exact removal that’s necessary, something like 4x Defiance, 4x Desecrate, 2x Vanquish, 2x Auric Runehammer, and 4x Harsh Rule might be a bit more reliable when it comes to consistently having good answers.

The only real main deck threat that this deck has is Vara, Vengeance Seeker, so the plan to win the game really comes out of the market with Jennev Merchant. And this plan is called Scourge of Frosthome. Scourge is nearly unbeatable if it ever hits the board, unless the opponent has Permafrost. But even then, it’s still possible to win the game just via the passive effect of Scourge. The rest of the market is also very unorthodox, aside from the Permafrost and Vision of Austerity. This is because it features both Eye of Winter and Aerial Battle, which are very niche answers to specific decks. Personally, I think that the deck could use a Black-Sky Harbinger in the market instead of Eye of Winter, but that’s a much less cool card to play.

Overall, this is a very unique take on JPS Control, and Almost definitely deserved his win through innovation alone. It has a lot of very powerful synergies and moments where it can blow anything the opponent does out, and with more attention and refinement, it could be a real contender for a proper tier 2 deck position.

This has been Isochron with Meta Monday.

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