Hello everyone and welcome to another meta monday on Team Rankstar! I’m Tim (and Mitch), otherwise known as Tchamber5 (and Magikarp) on ladder! Let’s begin!

Thirty-two of eternal’s best players came together this weekend for the ETS Season Four Invitational. There was a good showing from all of the big teams on the Eternal scene, including five members from Team Rankstar. One reason this event is so cool, is because you get to see all the best players bring what they have been building and tuning into the spot light, which usually unveils some cool new brews. This weekend did not disappoint, so let’s dive in!

The entire tournament was taken down by TonyGeeeee from SeekPowerGaming playing Feln Mid!

This deck will look familiar to some of you, being that TonyGeeeee has played a similar archetype in the past several weeks to a good degree of success, including a second place finish at a previous ETS. We do see some notable changes however, shifting the deck in a more controlling direction. The core threats and spells of the deck are still present: Champion of Cunning, Black-Sky Harbinger, Wisdom of the Elders, and Jennev Merchant are all here, gluing the deck together. The support cards have changed quite a bit. Notably, we see the removal of Hailstorm, it’s spot being filled by none other than Ripknife Assassin. I actually really like the inclusion of the two drop here for several reasons, though they may not seem immediately apparent. For one, it has deadly, which insures that this card will always trade at least one-for-one and can do a decent impression of a removal spell. Secondly, the more subtle function of the card lies in the fact that it can soak up your opponents removal in the early game, leaving in a far more precarious spot when you are slamming aegis units in the late game. We also see the inclusion of Jotun Feast-Caller, a slot that was previously occupied by Rindra and Caiphus in this style of deck. While chatting with TonyGeeeee a bit after the tournament, he pointed out that Rindra was mostly a curve filler, and that often times, it just gave your opponent’s more gas with the nightfall trigger. He also mentioned that He didn’t really need a four drop when he so often wanted to just play Jennev Merchant plus a removal spell. Not to mention, Feast-Caller’s value increases exponentially in a world where Auric Runehammer is almost non-existent, and can run away with the game if it isn’t dealt with promptly. The Removal suite in this deck is also really well thought out, rocking a full four copies of Rindra’s Choice, Annihilate, and Permafrost. With so much card draw in the deck and so much versatility in removal, you will usually be able to find the spells that you need when you need them. Overall, A nicely built deck from TonyGeeeee, and congrats on a great finish!

In second place, we have Value Scream, piloted by Almost!

This is a spicy one for sure, and utilizes the full power of Haunting Scream, but instead of the usual Haunted Highway or West-Wind Herald deck, Almost uses the card (as the name of the deck suggests) almost strictly for value. We also see some cards that were most likely just draft chaff before this. For example, we see Direwood Beastcaller which,without the power of Haunting Scream, would almost always be a 1/1 for three power, but will usually net you two 5/5 beasts here. The deck is also running some of the usual suspects like Gorgon Fanatic and Crunch the Hoarder, which will draw a bunch of cards more often than not. One of the weirder inclusions here is Abduct. I suppose that it is about as high impact as something like Sabotage in a creature heavy meta, and will make your Haunting Screams that much better if you can snag a high impact unit that cost four or less. There is also a neat innovation in the power base, which is the four-of inclusion of Chairman’s Contract. I commemorate Almost for recognizing that they can get away with adding a colorless utility power to their deck, since none of their cards have any intense influence requirements, and you actively want to be putting cards in your void. In theory, you could haunting scream a Direwood Beascaller as early as turn two, which is an extremely powerful start. This is a really cool deck, but I would caution you if you are just blindly jumping onto the ladder with it. Take a moment and consider the many different lines of play this deck has, and familiarize yourself with the deck before taking it into ranked, and you will certainly be rewarded for knowing the deck inside and out.

Moving  onto the third place ties, we have DrPringles of The Great Parliament playing Haunted Highway.

There’s not really anything new going on with this list, but it does appear to be quite intentionally tuned. Most notably, Pringles has maxed out on Permafrost and Shakdown in addition to a Rindra’s Choice in the market for as much  interaction as possible. I don’t have a whole lot to say about this deck, except to point out that I respect that DrPringles did so well with a deck that everyone knows and is prepared for. This shows a lot of experience and knowledge of the deck, and a firm grasp of the meta.

Also tied for third place, we have a deck titled Pimped Up Xenan (does Xzibit play eternal?), piloted by Tobboo of Eternal Titans!

Several members of Eternal Titans played Talir combo this weekend, and a wild Camat0 was last seen piloting this deck into the top ten of masters. At this point, you should be familiar with Talir combo if you are aiming to climb ladder, as you will run into it in the higher tiers of ranked play. This deck is a little bit different though. In previous iterations of the deck, we saw three Talir in the main deck to maximize your chances of drawing the combo and going off. This was supplemented by Mask of Torment to ramp you very quickly into eight power. This new build is a bit different though. The combo is relegated to the market, and is replaced by several powerful Xenan cards like Azindel and Duskwalker. I am a huge fan of this build since you can grind out your opponent by gumming up the board and drawing a ton of cards. Then, when your opponent is out of gas, you can fetch the combo from the market and will usually bury them. Some other cool cards in the deck include Lumen Reclaimer to keep from decking yourself (which is a very real thing with this deck), and Archive curator to silence problematic units on the other side of the board. I’m a little surprised that there are zero Mask of Torments in this deck, as that was viewed as a core card in previous builds of the deck, but It’s possible that with a more midrange build, it is just a little too clunky.

Moving on to the fifth place slots, we have FJS Cookbook Control, piloted by Erik 9099!

Relatively stock decisions here, though I would say that this build is a bit more greedy than a lot of the FJS decks on ladder, featuring Icaria, the Liberator and Sword of the Sky King for a total of four eight-drops. The addition of these cards in these numbers indicate that Erik was assuming people were going to be slanted toward midrange this weekend, and  wanted to ensure that FJS will always have the late game on lock. Devastating Setback has proved to be a very good tech choice for FJS lately. It bridges the gap to harsh rule vs the aggro decks while also not being a dead card in the midrange and control matchups due to it’s discard capabilities. Expect to see Setback as a four-of more often moving forward. With the large amount of board wipes available to FJS, having five eight drops is a little greedy, but not crazy.

Next, we have Soono on Here’s To The Heartache, or Skycrag Aggro as we’re calling it these days.

Count em’ FOUR Entagling Vines!  Will this become a new stock Skycrag Aggro card or is Soono just a card game god and managed to put up an amazing performance with a suboptimal card? We’re sure to find out soon on ladder as Skycrag has always been a favorite of grinders from Bronze to Masters. Bringing Skycrag to an event like this is a brave yet smart move, proving that most players were going to go a little greedier than normal playing less hailstorms and more midrange and control breakers to hope to counter the meta. Additionally, Skycrag is favored in a heads up matchup against Haunted Highway, a slower but more powerful aggro/tempo deck.  Congrats to Soono with the solid finish with an archetype that has been historically looked down on due to its moderate inconsistency from time to time.

TheOvermaster brought his regular date to the dance and posted another strong finish with, Dancing with the Girl that Brought Me, or Haunted Highway.

Of the ten Haunted Highway decks that were brought to the tournament, the master managed to beat the hate and get another awesome finish. Dire Wolf Digital needs to nerf this man, not the deck! Not much else to be said about Haunted Highway. Good deck + good pilot = results

Rounding out the top eight, Grimfan on Four Faction Control!

One of the most awesome metagame calls that we have seen in recent memory. Let’s break down these choices. First off, the deck is playing four Petition and only one Seek Power. Why? This deck is SUPER power hungry and needs to get double influence on almost every power that they play. Petition does a great job of fetching out your dual influence power and your reward? You get to play the best answers in every color! Four Desert Marshal, four Banish, four Devastating Setback, four Vara, and four Harsh Rule! Instead of playing sub-optimal answers for Grimfan’s expected metagame, he decided to basically take FJS and add some of the best answers to Cauldron Cookbook and Haunted Highway threats in Desert Marshal and Banish. While the splash may lower your consistency a bit, getting double Shadow, double Fire, and double Justice factions in addition to a Time influence didn’t hinder Grimfan from registering this list. With additional multiple faction love coming in the new expansion, will there be a world where four or five color control will be the norm?

Overall, the top eight from the invitational this weekend was fairly well rounded, representing a bunch of different cards and archetypes, but the meta still has some room to change and grow. For example, the deck that Team Rankstar brought was pretty cool, and saw two copies in the top sixteen. (except Magikarp, we all know that he was on tokens)

Here’s what Aetherllama had to say about the deck this weekend:

I expected the meta to be mainly Haunted Highway and FJS, and the other decks to target FJS. So the plan was to beat Haunted Highway and most of the FJS counters, hoping FJS would lose early and we could dodge that matchup. Wide Combrei is able to build a board early, protect it with Stand Together, and go over the top of many decks with Xenan Obelisk or even Sentinel’s Might. It performed well in testing against every deck we were expecting except FJS. The aggro matchup (including Highway) was favored since our deck develops enough early blockers and has some life gain to stabilize. Most greedy decks fell behind early and couldn’t come back after a Stand Together. We expected a few Talir Combo decks, which was difficult before we added Vanquishers Blade and Reality Warden. Most midrange decks were favored for Wide Combrei unless they played a lot of fliers (TJP/Hooru mid). I think the 3 main counters are FJS, TJP fliers, and Big Combrei. We only expected one of those to be popular, so overall Wide Combrei seemed to be well positioned.

We also saw AP Mid played by Kangbreath and a sweet looking  Xenan Mid deck piloted by Flash2351. There are a ton of great options for any player to choose from for the ladder, and i suspect we will continue to see the meta shift from week to week.

Thanks for reading! We’ll see you next week! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them here, or to hit me up on twitter via @Tchamber5

-Tim and Mitch

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