This is Isochron presenting Meta Monday.

The following people made this article possible:
squadhawk
chriseay
Khrane
liglig
nanofuture
Oatmeal
NotoriousGHP
Radiophage
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 your enemy is playing an off-meta deck, please clarify some specific cards they used. 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.

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.
223-285 games – I am confident in the value of my data, the articles will function perfectly in a normal 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 to use more precise rounding.

This week we have a sample size of 400 games.

Metagame Breakdown

Tier 0 – This deck defines the entire metagame.
Tier 1 – A sizable minority of ladder games will be against these 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 – Relevant decks that are less popular than tier 2 decks.
Tier 3 – Obscure decks that you’re fairly unlikely to run across.
Tier 4 – Everything below tier 3.

Tier 1
Stonescar 15.25%

Tier 1.5
Praxis Midrange 7.75%

Tier 2
Hooru Control 5.5%
Mono Fire Aggro 4.75%
Auralian Relics 4.25%

Tier 2.5
FJS 4%
Jennev Peaks 4%
Feln Control 3.5%
Skycrag Aggro 3.5%

Tier 3
Hooru Midrange 3.25%
Even Feln 2.75%
Even Xenan Katra 2%
Rakano Midrange 1.75%

Tier 4
Combrei Midrange 1.5%
Even Argenport 1.5%
Ixtun Sites 1.5%
Sword Reanimator 1.5%
Argenport Midrange 1.25%
Maul 1.25%
Mono Time Midrange 1.25%
Praxis Aggro 1.25%
Rakano Aggro 1.25%

Since this week we had exactly 400 games, the rounding I usually use makes the numbers look a bit weird. So I added an additional digit where necessary. I also rebranded “Stonescar Aggro-Mid” to simply “Stonescar” due to how iconic the deck has become for that faction combination.

Metagame Analysis

The overwhelming question when looking at these numbers is simply, how did we arrive at this metagame? Stonescar is played twice as much than the next most popular deck, and the deck after that only captured 5.5% of the player base. On one hand, most decks are on basically the same playing field and there are no clear cut distinctions when it comes to most of the metagame. On the other hand, Stonescar still remains incredibly popular.

When it comes to Praxis Midrange, the answer is pretty obvious as the deck has been fairly popular again in recent weeks. Having it jump to 7.75% of the meta isn’t a massive shock. It’s also not a shock to see Stonescar go from 12% to 15.25%, as Hooru suffered some nerfs to its top end cards. This also explains the drop in Hooru popularity. And Mono Fire Aggro came second in the ECQ circuit, which combined with it being a unique powerful deck leads to the obvious result of it being fairly popular this week. Everything else just lost or gained a few percentage points of popularity, which is just the normal fluctuation of the meta at work.

But even though everything is perfectly rational, how did this happen? Stonescar is powerful, but is it really so much more powerful than Praxis Midrange to have double the player base? I wouldn’t think so. And Praxis Midrange is also very powerful, but is it really so much more powerful than Rakano Midrange to have over 4 times the player base? Again, I wouldn’t think so. Usually there’s a fairly consistent line between power and player base, but this week it seems like people didn’t really know what the good decks were. The obvious choice at that point is just defaulting to Stonescar, which is the safest choice for the most powerful deck in the meta. Although even if Stonescar is the most powerful deck, it’s not the most powerful by that wide of a margin.

So, that mostly explains the disparity of Stonescar and the rest of the meta. It also explains why there’s such a steep drop off when it comes to the progression from the tier 2(.5) decks to the tier 3 decks. Every established deck is seen as generally equal, and the bottom three decks are just much less established than the rest of the decks on the list. I think Sword Reanimator might have also made its first appearance in the tier 4 metagame, way to go little guy.

Reading through the comments of my post last week, and thinking about the issue of a stagnant meta some more I think I found a conclusive answer for why it is like this. Eternal is just at an incredibly low player base. Of course losing 20-30% of the players during 2019 would cause a more stagnant meta as a large amount of creativity has been removed from the game. It also seems like the people who are leaving tend to be the more dedicated players, as aside from the ECQ events, there’s currently very little reason to play the game for people who have been intensely playing the game for years. And a stagnant meta will result in losing even more players, although I think people who don’t look at the same amount of data that I do or play hundreds of games on a weekly basis don’t feel the full extent of the problem. But my point is solidified when even a new set release couldn’t really bump up the numbers like it usually does. So let’s take a deeper dive into the numbers.

Number Crunching

Fair Warning: This section is completely born out of basically having nothing to talk about when it comes to the vast majority of the metagame, you can skip to the conclusion if you don’t want to read armchair financial analysis.

There are only around 700 people online at any time on steam, and making a fairly realistic, albeit generous, estimate that steam makes up for a third of the player base, there would only be around 2100 people online at any given time. These are not horrible numbers, but it could actually go either way, as I think it’s a fairly reasonable assumption to make that more dedicated players tend to be the ones who primarily play on their PC. So if only dedicated players might be getting burned out, the game might still be in a good place, and might be pulling in numbers closer to 2700. The worse option is that the people dropping the game are casual players. In which case, the real numbers might be in the 1400 area. Since I don’t work for DWD, I’m just going to assume the generous ~2100 player middle ground. So the total active player base on both mobile and steam would probably still fall somewhere into those ranges.

If we consider recent reports on the trends when it comes to spending on online games, it’s pretty reasonable to make a fairly conservative estimate that the average Eternal player spends 40 dollars on the game on a yearly basis. Some spend nothing, some spend a thousand dollars, but I think a 40 dollars on a yearly basis is not an unreasonable guess. This would mean that Eternal is making around 3 million dollars a year, and looking at the financial estimates when it comes to the income of Dire Wolf Digital, this probably checks out. So Eternal still is most likely a moderately profitable property, if we assume that the complete development team is fairly small. But that could soon change if these trends continue. And unprofitable games don’t tend to last very long. Although due to the sheer amount of unknown factors, the practical income could be anywhere from 500 thousand dollars to 10 million dollars, although both estimates rely on some fairly unrealistic numbers. We also don’t know the team size for Eternal, so it might be a lot more expensive to maintain than I assumed, so the game might still be incredibly unprofitable.

Reflecting further on this, I don’t think the game could even survive a rotation at this point, so my previous suggestion was wrong. If a new set couldn’t pull players back in, I doubt rotation would do anything other than disenfranchising dedicated players. I still think that a rotation would improve the general game play, but I don’t think Eternal will survive in the long term if it even loses 15% of it’s player base at this point.

So, to conclude this section by circling back around to the metagame, there are no easy solutions. The Eternal meta will only probably start moving like it was before if there’s a large influx of new players. But the Eternal Championship is approaching, which might bring in a bunch of new players if it’s held at a significant convention or advertised as a large event to people outside the community. And by some immense luck, the upcoming board game might also bring in a lot of new players, which would also fix the meta.

Eternal Tournament Series

Congratulations to Rokoku for winning the ETS. Congratulations to Erik9099, NotoriousGHP, isitaboutmycube, Magnnarot, ThePlatypusKing, EldenSC, and JockeD for their finishes.

This has been Isochron with (now mostly filler) Meta Monday, Make sure to follow us on our socials and check out our sponsors: https://linktr.ee/teamrankstar

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