This is Isochron presenting Meta Tuesday.

The following people made this article possible:
Chriseay
Squadhawk
Oatmeal
Mrben
LJSchoppert
Tmattoo
PerilousNemesis
Goaychanhong
Mrmeeseeks
TheSauceror
Liglig
MrSmoke
Nanofuture
Tghy71
Clawblade
Kharne

I would also like to thank the entire Reddit Community. Since we had quite a slump in submissions this week, I had to ask for help. And all of you guys and gals had nothing but kind words and support. I can seriously say that every single upvote helped get the word out and greatly increased my morale.

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 441 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
Stonescar Aggro-Mid 13.8%
Hooru Control 10.9%

Tier 2
Skycrag Aggro 5.4%
Jennev Peaks 5.2%
Praxis Midrange 4.8%
Hooru Midrange 4.5%

Tier 2.5
FJS 3.4%
Ixtun Sites 3.4%
Argenport Midrange 3.2%

Tier 3
Combrei Ramp 2.9%
Feln Control 2.9%
Feln Midrange 2.9%
Praxis Tokens 2.5%
Jennev Midrange 2%
Xenan Katra 1.8%

Tier 4
TJP Control 1.6%
Mono Shadow 1.4%
JPS Control 1.4%
Xenan Midrange 1.1%
Elysian Midrange 1.1%
Mono Fire 1.1%
Mono Justice 1.1%
Rakano Aggro 1.1%

So, Dark Frontier is out, and it’s been very refreshing. Although the meta is so volatile that innovative new decks haven’t quite risen to prominence people are iterating a lot on older decks. We will probably see entirely new archetypes start playing a larger role in just a few more weeks, but I would not expect anything too soon.

Counter-Meta Options

This week, I would like to introduce a section of the article that deals with what I personally think are the best decks to bring out against this meta. I could just say that Stonescar Aggro-Mid and Hooru Control are both solid options, but most people are probably thinking about how to beat these particular decks without having to play them. However, this means that I need to delve into deep speculation as the meta is very volatile and I don’t have enough games with any of these decks to make a definitive judgement on what the best lines are. With that being said, let’s dive deep into the meta.

First of all, removal and charge are both really good things right now. Being able to get rid of sites and units is extremely relevant. So Eclipse Dragon and Desecrate are the most obvious place to be. But we don’t want to be playing stonescar, so we need to find a deck that can beat both Stonescar and Hooru. I think that running either primal or shadow is a good baseline to start off with. Ice Bolt and Desecrate are the best pieces of removal in the game, so they should form the basic make-up of the deck. This leads to an obvious best choice in the form of Feln Control, as it’s able to run both of these cards. But Feln is relatively weak to control matchups and sites.

On the other side of the coin, Temporal is less weak to control matchups in general, as it can usually just go over any control deck. However, Hooru Control is different as it’s hard to get rid of Korovyat Palace and a single palace can completely dominate a control mirror. Cutting Time and going into Hooru Control would be the intuitive option here. But we aren’t going to fall for any kind of tier 1 seduction, so I will shift my sight towards Ixtun archetypes.

Ixtun Control can run Palace, Vargo, and Eclipse Dragon. After all, a good way to beat a site is to play one, and the hard to remove units just add to the pressure on enemy sites and life totals. And if that isn’t enough anti-Hooru technology, a few Royal Decrees should push the matchup over the edge. And when it comes to stonescar, having Ice Bolt, Torch, Defiance, and a whole variety of board wipes to choose from should do the trick.

This is obviously not the only angle from which you can attack the tier 1 metagame, but the following deck is a quick mockup of a counter-meta strategy that I would personally try out: Anti-Meta Ixtun.

This is a fairly basic control deck. It can easily shut down aggro early game with Defiance and Torch, and deal with mid-range units via Ice Bolt and Harsh Rule. It also has some anti-Hooru technology in Eclipse Dragon, Vargo, and Korovyat Palace. The basic card draw shell is minimal, as the deck only runs two strategies, two re-reads, and four wisdoms. It also runs 8 merchants, but only 2 Xos. I don’t think Xo is the place to be at this moment, but I like 8 merchants enough to run two copies. This could be easily replaced by Jotun Hurler, but I personally don’t really like that card. And since it’s an Isochron deck, the power base is incredibly greedy.

The reason why I want to run 8 merchants is to have 8 ways to get Howling Peak, because that’s stashed away in the market. Being able to exchange Xo for it is just a bonus, and not necessary to make the strategy work. The market also has a Permafrost, Royal Decree, Vision of Austerity, and Hailstorm. This is just because this deck is sacrificing general matchups to beat Stonescar and Hooru. Royal Decree and Vision of Austerity can shut down a lot of things that would otherwise be hard to answer fast enough when it comes to Hooru, and Permafrost and Hailstorm can help even the stonescar matchup. A more well rounded market would probably run Jotun Feast-Caller instead of Hailstorm.

This deck is definitely not a great deck, and requires a lot more work to be able to go toe to toe with anything that can be thrown at it. But I think it is serviceable in just being able to attack the current metagame. With all of that being said, I would love to hear your feedback on this deck and the general counter-meta segment.

Meta Analysis

Praxis Midrange went from extremely dominant to tier 2 in just the span of this week. My best guess for why this happened was that Praxis Midrange is not a really fun deck to play in it’s current iteration, so people prefer experimental decks over it. But it could also be that Ice Bolt just muscled Praxis out of the top tier metagame. All primal decks got a significant increase in their power level, so unit based strategies will definitely be struggling. But I wouldn’t quite dismiss the deck entirely, as there are definitely more powerful Praxis Midrange variations that use Dark Frontier cards which just haven’t been popularized yet.

However, the actual tier 1 other than Praxis remained fairly stable. Hooru Control dropped a percent, but has been putting up a good fight against the improved Dark Frontier decklists. Although Hooru didn’t gain that much in card quantity, both Pristine Light and Ice Bolt are great cards. I don’t expect Hooru to stop being popular in the next week unless it’s either hit by a counter-strategy or some massive nerfs.

On the other hand, Stonescar increased a few percentages in popularity. But this isn’t the same Stonescar deck that we saw last week. With the introduction of Dark Frontier cards and ManuS winning the ECQ with a midrange build of Stonescar, the deck has changed dramatically. Not to the extent of being unrecognizable, but it has become a solid aggro-midrange deck instead of being a more pure aggro deck. When I was talking about someone building a desirable Stonescar Aggro deck, this kind of breakthrough was exactly the type of thing that was on my mind. Stonescar has now caught up to its popularity power-wise, and can rest on its laurels as the best deck in the game for now. I don’t think Stonescar has a stable position in the metagame, as it can easily become far more popular if there’s an even better build of it in Dark Frontier, or it could fall off the radar if new brews outshine it. But if there’s no drastic change, I expect to see Stonescar at the top of the metagame next week.

Tier 2 is mostly what we have grown to expect, with the exception of Praxis Midrange falling so drastically from last week. Skycrag Aggro, Hooru Midrange, and Jennev Peaks have been staples of the metagame for a while. And although both Jennev Peaks and Skycrag Aggro increased by around 2% in popularity, that’s completely in line with the fluctuations we expect from those decks. The same pattern continues for tier 2.5. FJS, Ixtun Sites, and Argenport Midrange are decks we expect to see as relatively mid-tier parts of the metagame. Going forward, all of these decks will probably be a part of the meta for at least a few more weeks. As it stands, these seem to be stable deck choices that tend to be good all-rounders when it comes to matchups against the rest of the meta. They aren’t really phenomenal at doing anything, but there aren’t too many weaknesses to these decks either. Skycrag Aggro is the one with the highest likelihood of disappearing if we just think about power level. But as an affordable aggro deck, it’s niche in the metagame isn’t going to disappear any time soon. These are all decks that I wouldn’t be surprised to see in either tier 3 or tier 1.5 next week, but which I expect to stay in the tier 2 range.

But tier 3 is where it gets really interesting. Combrei Ramp, Feln Midrange, and Praxis Tokens are all familiar decks that haven’t had the best showings in the last few weeks. But they all simultaneously emerged from obscurity this week. These are all decks that are improved by the new cards that came out of Dark Frontier, and which can once again put up a solid fight.

I don’t think that Feln Midrange can get further than tier 3 in the metagame, unless it merges with the Feln Control decks to create a new Dark Frontier Feln Decklist. Feln Control has held fairly stable from last week, so I don’t think that Feln Midrange can just overpower it in popularity or strength. However, with more innovation and a deeper understanding of the new cards, there could be a new hybrid decklist that combines the best aspects of both tunings, or just finds more interactions within the new card pool to push one deck or the other over the edge. But as long as there are two feln decks in the metagame, I expect them to stay in tier 3.

Combrei Ramp and Praxis Tokens are much bigger wildcards, as they can both make us of new Dark Frontier cards to a certain extent, but can’t really keep up with the pre-Dark Frontier meta decks otherwise. If these decks see new builds and more work put into them, they can become serious tier 2 competitors, but as long as that doesn’t happen, they will probably move between tier 3 and tier 4 for the next month or so before they leave the meta.

Jennev Midrange exemplifies exactly what I was talking about with the previous two decks. This is a deck that has been in the game for a month and a bit, and has just fluctuated between tier 3 and tier 4 for its entire existence. It has a steep hill to climb as it’s going to always be compared to Jennev Peaks, but it remains as a unique build of that deck. However, with that being said, it’s another deck that probably won’t get too far in the Dark Frontier metagame.

And this brings us to the spiciest of the bunch, Xenan Katra. This deck is a turbocharged version of old Xenan Lifeforce builds. The basic combo is that having Katra and Razorquill at the same time allows a player to spend 1 power to gain 1 life and give the entire team +1/+1. At that point, the only limit to how big the units can get and how high the life total can get is the amount of power that the player has. It’s a very powerful combo, especially since it’s possible to start using it as early as turn 5. And it’s not even inconsistent, since a Kerendon Merchant can get all required pieces of the combo. Adding Stained Honor to the mix can also make it into an infinite combo. The only problem is that the combo is soft to removal, but even then, the deck can just play like a normal Xenan Midrage/Lifeforce deck, so the backup plan is not the worst thing in the world. This deck could even shoot up to tier 1 if it gets refined, and I’m extremely excited to see where it goes.

Both TJP Control and Elysian Midrange have gone down to tier 4, which wasn’t unexpected, but what most people would not have predicted is the drastic plunge of Rakano Aggro. It used to be one of the meta defining decks for the longest time, but now has just fallen to being a tier 4 deck. Xenan Midrange has also gone down from solidly tier 2 to only capturing 1% of the playerbase. I don’t have high expectations for any of these decks. TJP Control has a very bad matchup into Hooru. Xenan Midrange is too slow to compete with the meta in the early game and doesn’t have enough high end to win the late game, a normal time midrange deck like this isn’t really in the best spot right now. Rakano Aggro has always just had momentum going for it, and if it stops being the go to budget aggro option, it stops being a relevant deck. And Elysian Midrange was always fringe, and it will only regain steam if the playerbase gets rejuvenated.

But there are also some really cool decks in tier 4, including my personal favorite JPS Control. I think JPS Control could be more prominent in the metagame, but I wouldn’t stake anything on it being more popular. Strangely enough, I haven’t actually been playing JPS since it’s just been more fun to tinker on Temporal control. The rest of tier 4 is comprised of various mono faction decks, which have an incredibly loyal playerbase. I don’t expect any of these to become serious meta contenders in the next few weeks.

Eternal Tournament Series

Congratulations to fellow TRS member NotoriousGHP for taking down the tournament. Congratulations to SolventSoup, f300XEN, Gozuuu, Doc28, Rhay_v3, TheBoxer666, and Bikespokes for their great finishes.

This has been Isochron with Meta Tuesday.

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