Today we’ve got an article that is different than anything else we’ve published for Mythgard so far. One of the most important parts of a card game is understanding the metagame and planning your deck and your strategy accordingly. With the help from some faces that should be pretty familiar to most of our readers, I gathered some data and I’m here to tell you all about it.
We’re going to be examining the play rates of different decks on ladder currently. With help from WholesomeGMNG, SemperEU, Erobert, Tune Star, Oneiric, and Whats_Up_Woody, I’ve got over 400 games of ranked play tracked over the span of 7 days. We made sure our group of data collectors spanned ranks from silver through mythril and multiple continents to minimize the impact that rank and time zone had on the data. I want to thank every person above for working so hard to make this piece possible.
Here are the rules:
This is NOT data based at all on the perceived power level of any given deck. All data collected was based solely on representation.
All recorded games were played with the recorder queuing into Ranked Play.
All recorded games took place between the 2nd and 9th of January.
This is NOT guaranteed to be a continuing article (more on that later).
There is an accompanying video linked below. Be sure to watch the entire video for a chance to win a giveaway for 20 packs.
Alright, with that out of the way, let’s talk a bit more about what this data means. I’ve gone out of my way to avoid calling this article a tier list. I think that the expectation of the average player is that a “tier list” implies some weight is given to the competitive viability of a given deck or its ability to streak out while grinding ladder. This data did not track the win rates of any deck. What you see is simply the frequency of the given decks. I’m confident in the accuracy of the data we’ve collected given the rather large sample size.
That’s enough prep, I think. Let’s get into the data. There will be links to example decks littered throughout this article, courtesy of MythgardHub. If you’d like to watch Whats_Up_Woody go over this in video form, watch the video below (and don’t forget to comment on the video telling us your favorite deck for a chance to win 20 packs).
We’re going to break this down into multiple sections. We’ll start with a broad overview of the data as a whole and then also go over a few decks in more depth in archetype-specific breakdowns as well.
There are some key takeaways to be had from this. I think the fact that Red/Orange Midrange is the single most popular deck on ladder is not at all surprising to anyone who’s played ladder recently. As one of the more refined and optimized decks in the game, it’s shown that it is here to stay. The more surprising stat to me was that out of 415 games collected while tracking 15+ decks specifically, we still had 30.2% representation of “other” decks. This shows that the ladder scene is still very versatile and far from being really taken over by any one strategy, even while having a strong Red/Orange leaning.
When we started collecting this data, we set out to track Blue/Green Reanimator and Purple/Green Reanimator specifically and decided any other Reanimator strategies were likely to be one-offs that wouldn’t need named representation. As the week played out, we saw that neither of those decks had impressive representation on their own, but we noticed a lot of decks in our “other” category being some flavor of Reanimator. The data above has listed all of the different Reanimator strategies together to give a more accurate indicator of how likely you are to find Hopeless Necromantic trying to make a mess of your game.
Let’s take a closer look at the Reanimator decks and how the various pairings made up that 10%.
Our initial assumption that Green/Blue would be the most popular Reanimator strategy held up, but we were surprised at the amount of different Reanimator decks that showed up. Of the 40+ Reanimator decks we came across, here are the top 3.
Green/Blue is not a new pairing for Hopeless Necromantic. With tournament success as far back as Jok winning a Mythgard Weekly Open thanks to Berserkr Sickness and Necro’d fatties and the ladder representation to match, this deck isn’t going anywhere any time soon. I think this is definitely the most bursty of the Reanimator strategies, thanks in large part to Freki Sidecar and Allfather’s Horn. Being able to drop 30+ damage from nowhere is really strong and this deck does that with a frequency that may just leave me joining the “Nerf Horn” camp that has occupied the Mythgard Discord lately.
For me personally, Green/Red is the standout here. I did not expect to see this pairing for Reanimator and was really shocked to see it come ahead of the Green/Purple decks. Using Wings of Abaddon to trigger your recursion or pairing Dashing Ringmaster with some rather cheeky Necromantic targets in Cerberus Unchained and Vilja Windfury can have devastating board establishment early. Red giving you access to powerhouse cards like Stairway to Hades and Fated Firebird gives you a fair bit of inevitability down the stretch. I don’t think this deck grinds out quite as well as blue pairings with Junkyard Valhalla but there is definitely some room for overwhelming wins with Green/Red Reanimator.
I expected to see Green/Purple at around the same rate of play as Green/Blue for Reanimator decks. It’s definitely the most controlling of the bunch and has been talked about and played a lot in both ladder play and tournament scenes. I’m very interested to see where this deck winds up after the upcoming buffs to purple.
With the Reanimator data now addressed, I’d like to change gears just a bit. We’re going to start breaking these groupings down by specific archetypes and talking about standout data points from each. Let’s kick things off with everyone’s favorite way to win: Aggro.
When deciding the best way to pair this all up and break it down, we decided that with the nature of wanting to win out by dropping early stat balls on curve, Valkyrie Tribal decks were best listed as aggro. Here are the most popular aggro decks we encountered:
Mono Blue Valkyrie
Mono Blue Valkyrie showing up in force was something I was not expecting when we started this, but I think in hindsight I should have seen this happening. As one of the easiest decks for new players to really sink their teeth into, both for its accessibility and ease of play, this deck can be devastating when they open well and are a likely contender to always be present on ladder, regardless of results.
Rainbow Rush is a deck that I love seeing represented here. It’s not only got a cool name (seriously Mythgardians… start coming up with some good deck names please) but it’s a deck with some interesting evolution over time. This particular pairing has ebbed and flowed in popularity with changes to the Rainbow’s End path and a buff followed by a subsequent nerf to Fire Eater. The current iteration gets bonus points from me for giving Mani, Queen of Tides a place to call home.
Red/Orange being one of the most popular aggro decks, while the midrange variant is the most popular deck overall, is interesting. The difference in gameplan between these decks is rather cool to see. Red/Orange Aggro tends to forego the midgame threats of Sideshow Chimera or Armageddon Angel and the value engine of To Heaven And Back or Stairway To Hades to instead push damage through as fast as possible with Strigoi Pups and Eager Recruits being backed by Spear of Destiny and Conviction. Topping out with Temptation lethals and Magmataur punishes, this deck looks to end games decidedly faster than the midrange variant and is more susceptible to gassing out because of it.
With the aggro face mashers out of the way, let’s look toward the midrange decks for a bit more stability and a bit less reckless abandon in our ladder approach.
While I was surprised to see Red/Orange Midrange “only” take up 15% of our games, I was not at all surprised to see it make up a large portion of our midrange matchups. With this deck being the most popular in the game currently, everyone should be prepared to face it. Here are the other midrange decks you may run into.
There’s not much to be said about the Red/Orange Midrange deck at this time. We’ve all faced it. Most of us have played it. We’ve got a good comparison to the aggro variant above. Let’s talk about some of the other midrange decks running around right now.
Orange/Purple Midrange is something that I’ve toyed with for a long time but have never gotten to a list that feels “really good”. I was intrigued by the deck’s ability to stick threats at every phase of the game, but was often left blown out by more cohesive strategies. The current iteration of Orange/Purple Midrange has gone for a more synergistic approach than my own value pile attempts. With Racer in Shadows and Nine-Tailed Vixen, the deck is more capable of fighting back against early aggression. Ultimately, I don’t think my opinions on the deck have changed, but I do like that we continue to see evolution to the strategy.
I’ll be completely honest in saying that I’m not too sure what this Orange/Blue Midrange deck is all about. Maybe it’s a thing and I missed the memo. I think this was a side effect of a 12% “other” representation in the midrange decks. There is some desirable synergy in the deck but I think that anyone going to these lengths to play Orange and Blue cards in this manner should take the extra time to better learn Angel Loop and play that instead.
If you don’t subscribe to the gameplans above, perhaps control is more your thing. We’ve got control deck stats as well, so let’s get to it.
Given the success of both decks in tournament play, I was not at all shocked to see Green/Yellow and Yellow/Orange as the most popular control decks. Joining them to round out the top end of the top end is Yellow/Purple, which I didn’t think I’d see much of.
With Cruel_TeK playing Green/Yellow Control with back to back top 4 or better showings in the Winter Wonderbrawl and Mythlander tournaments after Gerren won the Moonlight Masquerade with it and plenty of top players like NKL and Oneiric spending some time on the deck, it’s no surprise to see it come out on top in the control category. This deck can kill you from hand with surprising consistency, thanks to Boneyard Abomination and Volition, while also being able to outgrind damn near every other deck in the game. I don’t think this is a deck that I’d suggest someone new pick up and start playing without watching some replays of the deck at the top of the ranked pool first.
With Gerren’s performance in the Winter Wonderbrawl, we saw that Herald of Pestilence finally had found a home. Slotting in well with the likes of the Twins and Kushiel, Gerren took second place on Yellow/Orange Control. The deck has seen a little bit of change since then but it’s largely the same shell Gerren did so well with. Most lists are playing Lavish Proxy over Kushiel and some have found room for the likes of Lamp of Wonders and/or Volition. This is a more straightforward control deck than the likes of Green/Yellow and is likely easier to pick up and play with no prior experience.
Alright… confession time. Right before the new season started, I was trying to work with the old Turbo Purple shell that Erobert spent some time on shortly after purple was introduced. The general gameplan is Maze of Iyatiku or Simuzen into Foul Harvest to drop a turn 2 Cadejo or Back Alley Ronin. I quickly found myself doing away with the cheeky Foul Harvest plays and just adding more and more control cards. I thought I was going to be one of only a couple people on ladder playing Purple/Yellow, as I really hadn’t seen it much leading up to Ranked reopening. I went on to queue into 3 Yellow/Purple control mirrors on my second night playing ranked and decided I was not the only one. Both of these colors provide rather deep card pools on the higher end of the curve and while purple is weak overall, it has access to some very scary cards. Much like the purple Reanimator decks, I’m withholding opinions on this list until the purple buffs are shown.
With all the data out of the way, let’s talk a bit about the overall message of this article. I am a personal believer that articles like this need to exist for players looking to jump in and get their hands messy with ladder grinding. I think articles like this also help a lot in pushing the evolution of a metagame. Knowing what you’re likely to go up against lets you tailor your deck to the meta and look to push a format to places it’s not yet been.
This is, however, a rather time-consuming endeavor and is inherently not one that just one person can complete. Moving forward, I’d love to drum up enough community interest in this type of breakdown to collect data directly from whomever would be so kind as to record it and send it in. You’ll be credited before the breakdown for any article you contribute data to. I’m going to look into setting up a Google Form that you can submit your games to. I’ll be able to collect the data weekly and do a breakdown of the data, should we get enough games to make one worthwhile. If you’d be interested in helping, please reach out to me on Discord or leave a comment here or even on the YouTube video and let me know how you’d like to contribute.
If we can get enough data to do this with weekly or even biweekly frequency, we can also look to do monthly roundup videos (complete with more giveaways) where we look back at the month as a whole and talk about the trends we saw in the evolution of the metagame, be it through balance patches or natural format progression.
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