This is Isochron presenting Meta Mon(?)day
The following people made this article possible:
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. If your opponent was on an off-meta deck, please just write a little bit of information about it to make my job a little easier. 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]
Since GHP is going to be busy throughout January, I’m going to take over a few Meta Mondays this month, and as is tradition, the articles will actually come out on Tuesday. This week, we had 242 Throne games submitted and 506 Expedition games. Due to the balance changes, the Throne meta described is pretty much just a novelty, but we should still look at what the meta was like during the final week of Endra.
I chose not to feature any decklists this week as the balance changes will change the entire meta. Last week’s decks will not be relevant this week.
Makkar Endra 14.5%
Combrei Aggro 10.5%
Stonescar Aggro 3.5%
FJPS Endra 3.5%
Elysian Tempo 3.5%
Praxis Midrange 3.5%
Even Praxis 3%
Feln Midrange 3%
Feln Reanimator 3%
Argenport Midrange 2%
Combrei Midrange 2%
Kodosh Aggro 2%
Kodosh Control 2%
Skycrag Aggro 2%
When looking at the meta, it might immediately seem incredibly unhealthy, everything is focused around Endra. The two Endra decks constitute a combined 18% of the metagame. (I would like to take a moment to appreciate the rarity of having a highly played 4F deck, even if it’s an Endra list, I think that’s really cool.) The second best deck is only as good as it is because it has a good gameplan against Endra and nothing else comes even close to penetrating tier 1. However, I would look at it from a slightly different perspective. In retrospect, having a clear best deck made innovating and creating off-meta decks a lot easier for people, so there was more diversity when it comes to the rest of the meta.
It’s not like Endra and Combrei dominated with an unprecedented meta share or that either of the decks are better than any best deck we had before. Endra was just a combo deck that demanded answers. And while this might not be the best state for a meta, it seems apparent that a lot of people could fit good answers into their decks. And from personal experience, as the week went on, people became better at playing against Endra. They stopped removing her from the board as soon as they could and knew when to use their resources. So, while I believe that the nerfs were warranted, I don’t think Endra was necessarily oppressive in the same way that a lot of other top decks are. She spurred innovation and forced people to play differently. And I do expect to see some more Endra decks in the future because she is still a good card, but having a good combo deck around might not even be one of the worst things that has happened to the meta. Hopefully, the next metagame we see will be as diverse as this one was.
The rest of the decks are pretty self-explanatory, as most of them are just decks that can put down a clock and answer some of the stuff that Endra players are doing at the same time. I would have expected to see Mandrake decks represented more, as they are a somewhat viable counter to Endra, but maybe they’ll make an appearance next week. As it stands right now, the meta is open for anyone to take. All brews are viable and can get you great results if you find one that really works. I hope the community takes this as an opportunity to innovate and try out all the other cool cards from Promises by Firelight.
Combrei Aggro 4.5%
Xenan Cultists 1.6%
Mono Shadow 1.4%
Praxis Aggro 1.2%
Jennev Midrange 1%
Winchest Control 1%
I have to admit, I wasn’t really playing that much expedition this week. I knew Endra was likely to get nerfed, so I wanted to get as many games in with that deck as I could before it was gone forever. It’s not the style of combo I usually love, but being able to play any combo is always fun. And I knew that when I came back to expedition, my curse deck would still be waiting for me.
Elysian might be back on top of the metagame- it’s sheer card quality is hard to beat, but Linrei Curses is holding steadfast onto it’s share of the meta and still remains a solid contender. It’s hard to be objective here given that it’s a deck I built and helped popularize (even though others had created versions of it before me and the best versions of the deck are very different from the one I posted). However, this is some of the most fun I’ve had with the game in a while.
When I had to put up with the dreadful Endra mirror in Throne, coming to expedition and being able to play JPS against JPS is a really cool experience. While control mirrors are not for everyone, JPS mirrors are exactly the kind of resource management I really enjoy in card games. The one problem with the deck is that it’s easy to be teched out, which is why it’s been struggling this week. It’s easy to just look at the percentage and see it at around 10% like it was last week, but it’s popularity in the last breakdown was just the result of it being in the public consciousness for a few days. At the end of December, the deck was closer to 15% of the meta. So it has fallen out of favor a bit as was expected, but if people keep tuning it to be even better, it can definitely stay competitive.
I already talked about how cool Argenport Paladins was last week, and I’m glad to see that it’s a popular deck. The same goes for Feln Mill. The Expedition meta right now has all the unique and cool decks that made me fall in love with Eternal in the first place. Even Elysian is a pretty cool deck, instead of being a greedy pile of midrange cards, it’s a greedy pile of tempo cards. Which, at least, is refreshing. The Yisha combrei deck being popular makes me really happy, and while a lot of people playing combrei aggro are not on Yisha, I still want to shout that deck out. Assault Formation was the deck that made me truly fall in love with Magic years ago, and I wouldn’t be playing Eternal without that having happened. So a deck that does the same thing in a cool new way is a cool deck in my opinion.
Hooru Curses is still around as a more resilient and midrangey way to play curses. It’s not affected by the curse hate to the same extent that JPS is and it has a way more solid unit-based gameplan to compete with the other decks in the metagame. It’s definitely a good deck to play and ladder with, although it has taken a meaningful hit by the curse hate in the meta.
Tier 3 is also pretty interesting. Auralian Elves is another relic based deck, but it’s not reliant on relics in the same way that curse decks are. So while the additional relic hate is suppressing it, elves should remain as a part of the meta even if JPS is the deck to target. Powerful elf synergies use relics a lot, but they’re still powerful even if the relics are gone. We have seen elf decks in the hands of brewers for a while, and it’s nice to see another tribal deck properly enter the fray.
Yetis are also a part of Expedition now in Skycrag aggro. Even though they drastically differ from the Throne deck that had the same concept, they can put up a fight. On the other hand, the Skycrag midrange deck utilizes the burn and card quality in Skycrag, but isn’t quite as controlling as dedicated Prodigious Sorcery decks. It still has the same general playstyle when it comes to how it closes games, but it doesn’t utilize the quality of it’s win condition as a way to build a control deck, rather, it’s a solid midrange list with a really explosive finish. It also has a phenomenal matchup against Linrei and is worth playing for that reason alone.
In tier 4, we find mono shadow. When the mono-faction 5 drop cycle was introduced into Expedition, I thought it would create some cool strategies. Even though these are cards that people are tired of and DWD should have handled the way they were introduced better, they have been a healthy addition to the meta. I think it’s pretty cool that there’s now a reason to have heavy faction commitments in a format where two faction is the default place to be. When the mono faction cycle was introduced into Throne, it was exciting because it suggested a shift away from three faction decks. But these cards have an entirely different dynamic when decks don’t have to sacrifice that much to run them. They’re an incentive to build your deck differently, and sometimes differently enough that you end up in just one faction.
I expect Expedition to stay relatively similar unless someone invents a deck that massively changes the way the format plays out or DWD changes the draft pack contents again. I don’t think either of these are likely to happen at this point, but there’s plenty of innovation to be done with Promises and a lot of ways the meta could change for better or worse. It could also be that the curses get completely hated out, and people switch back to just playing Elysian. I doubt that this will happen though. As a final note, mono fire aggro is good in expedition and people should really be exploring that deck more.
This has been Isochron with Meta Monday.