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Between The Lanes Meta Snapshot #1

Welcome to the first installment of the highly-anticipated Between The Lanes Meta Snapshot! Now that the game has been in open beta for around a month and a half, we felt that we had enough games under our belts with a variety of decks to produce an accurate depiction of the Elder Scrolls: Legends metagame.

The rankings of this snapshot were a group effort between myself (CVH) and fellow BTL contributors EarthP0w3R, CoreyMilhouse, DJBigRuss, and wwlos. Players ranked the decks separately to avoid being swayed by outside opinions and gave their thoughts on a variety of matchups.

The primary purpose of this meta snapshot isn’t necessarily to rank the decks per se, as I personally feel that the meta fluctuates regularly and certain decks become temporarily positioned higher or lower as a result. The use of tech cards can also skew matchups which, in turn, affect general rankings. The main goal of this snapshot is to show players what is being played and widely perceived as dominant on the ladder, and offer some insight into deck lists and matchups to make grinding the ladder easier – or at least a little more predictable. That being said, the decks are organized into “tiers” which can be defined as follows:

TIER ONE: These decks dominate the ladder at the high Legend ranks, both in popularity and power level. They are optimized and adaptable, with good matchups against many other popular decks that often lead to extremely high win rates and access to some of the most powerful cards and combos in TES: Legends.

TIER TWO: Though not quite of the power level as the tier one decks,  these decks are also very capable of reaching the very top of the ladder. These are very solid decks that occasionally benefit from good matchups among other tier one and two decks. 

TIER THREE: These decks are generally average. They aren’t particularly bad, but may not be optimized or well-positioned against the dominant tier one and tier two decks. These decks are still capable of making it to Legend, however, and many have room for improvement.

TIER FOUR: While not incapable of grinding the ladder or taking wins off higher-ranked decks, these decks find more of a struggle. They are typically unrefined or poorly-positioned. Winning against tier one and tier two decks with these usually requires great tech choices and deep knowledge of the matchups.

Clicking Details will reveal a general overview of the deck itself, an explanation of why it is placed where it is in the current Meta Snapshot, a link to a sample list, and (for the first two tiers of decks) matchups against the other decks in the top two tiers. While not irrelevant, matchup rankings for the decks listed in tiers three and four are not provided due to lack of data; however, they are mentioned in the write-ups of several decks.

We sincerely hope you enjoy the Snapshot, and look forward to future installments in the future!

Tier One

Control Mage

The only deck rated in the top three by all five Meta Snapshot contributors this time, Control Mage is one of the most dominant forces on the ladder and easily the best Control deck currently available in Legends. If this deck is allowed to reach the late game, it can almost feel unfair against an Aggro opponent due to its number of board clears, targeted removal, cycle, and heals. This deck boasts great winrates against several other popular decks, making it the deck of choice for many top players grinding to the top ten Legend ranks.

With all the tools necessary to stabilize against Aggro and no real need to worry about breaking runes early, the deck is incredibly favored against Prophecy Assassin. MihaXXL’s Firebloom Assassin only fares slightly better, and board clears like Ice Storm and Dawn’s Wrath do a number on Token-based strategies. In the late game, the deck can almost always beat other control and ramp decks barring an enemy Blood Magic Lord netting Raise Dead for immense value. The first deck list provided is a fairly standard list by streamer Delude, though it should be noted that many players are opting to cut Brutal Ashlanders for more two-Magicka creatures like Shrieking Harpy and Healing Potion for more well-rounded cards like Pillaging Tribune. Brilliant Experiment also can be found in many lists to generate crazy plays with Ayrenn. This can be found in the second sample list which achieved #1 Legend in September.

Delude’s Control Mage

Entaro_thomas/Chapterhouse Updated Control Mage

Highly Favored Against: Prophecy Assassin, Ramp Scout
Favored Against: Firebloom Assassin, Token Spellsword
Even Against: Control Mage, Control Spellsword
Unfavored Against: Midrange Scout, Midrange Archer
Highly Unfavored Against: –

 

Midrange Archer

Like Control Mage, Midrange Archer is another deck that has been around for a long time and continues to be refined. Virtually every one of our contributors ranked it in the top two decks, with two even putting it ahead of Control Mage. It’s clear that this deck is the other main dominating force on the ladder currently.There was a time when Archer’s power was basically unchecked, as pre-nerf Murkwater Savage and Soulrest Marshal gave the deck access to unfair starts followed up by similarly unfair mid-game plays like a turn four Elixir of Magicka into double Soulrest Marshal into Triumphant Jarl. While those times are gone, Archer decks have been able to adapt, many adding cards like Mournhold Traitor to shore up the early game and Withered Hand Cultists and Mage Slayers to fight the popularity of Control Mage. While cutting Actions, many have still opted to play two copies of Burn and Pillage as a “reset button” in case opponents of any deck type begin to stabilize. This allows the deck to race other Midrange (and even Aggro) decks more effectively.

The deck list provided was created by CoreyMilhouse and played by Santosvella and CVH to good tournament finishes and ladder ranks, boasting a great winrate against Control Mage which CVH further increased by cutting Murkwater Witch for Mage Slayer. This is a highly adaptable deck depending on the meta, with a solid base of high-value cards like Soulrest, House Kinsman, and Moonlight Werebat. We definitely expect it to keep adapting and taking high spots on the upcoming Snapshots.The anti-Control tech can be replaced to shore up other matchups, but the ability to beat Control Mage regularly is one reason this deck is currently so viable in the metagame. It is worth noting that very fast Aggro decks can do quite the number on this deck, so I’d expect to see them rise on the tier list if the popularity of the post-nerf Archer lists continues to increase.

CoreyMilhouse/Santosvella Midrange Archer

Highly Favored Against: Control Mage
Favored Against: Midrange Scout, Control Spellsword
Even Against: Midrange Archer, Firebloom Assassin, Ramp Scout
Unfavored Against: Token Spellsword
Highly Unfavored Against: Prophecy Assassin

 

Tier Two

Prophecy Assassin

One of the first Assassin decks to tear up the ladder, Prophecy Assassin is also tearing up the Meta Snapshot with a high tier two rating this installment. Initially developed by CoreyMilhouse, many players have been able to refine this deck and its various forms have taken the ladder by storm with numerous high rankings, including CVH hitting #1 and finishing #4 with the deck in the August season.This deck can be slightly adapted to fit the meta, but the core of it is simple; it begins with an incredibly aggressive game plan using the powerful early game of Agility and Intelligence, and follows up with “burn,” direct damage in the form of Actions like Lightning Bolt and Charge creatures like Cliff Racer. This deck will frequently ignore opposing threats that can take over one lane like large Guards instead of dealing with them. It will move creatures out of the lane if able but can just as easily start developing in the other game, knowing it has a very high likelihood to win any race situations its presented with as all current variations of the deck are made up of at least 50% Prophecy cards.As expected, the deck is very powerful against other aggressive decks, including Midrange Archer and a plethora of Aggro strategies that didn’t quite make it to tier two in this installment, but struggles against Control decks that care less about attacking and can heal.

CVH’s Prophecy Assassin

Highly Favored Against: Midrange Archer, Firebloom Assassin
Favored Against: Midrange Scout
Even Against: Prophecy Assassin, Ramp Scout
Unfavored Against: Control Spellsword, Token Spellsword
Highly Unfavored Against: Control Mage

 

Firebloom Assassin

Another Assassin deck takes another high tier two ranking in this installment of the Snapshot, this one built by MihaXXL who played the deck to a #1 Legend finish in the August season. This deck takes advantage of under-utilized cards like Cruel Firebloom, Goblin Skulk, and Balmora Spymaster to make combos that generate huge swings in tempo.This deck has slightly less reach than Prophecy Assassin but is more comfortable in the later stages of the game due to its versatility and increased options, as well as heal. With a less linear game plan, it has a slightly better matchup to control decks but does lack the ability to run them over with an aggressive draw. That said, it doesn’t seem to have any absolutely terrible matchups we know of as of yet, and while difficult to play correctly, is a solid deck all around. The list provided is MihaXXL’s own #1 Legend list.

MihaXXL’s Firebloom Assassin

Highly Favored Against: –
Favored Against: Control Spellsword, Midrange Scout
Even Against: Firebloom Assassin, Midrange Archer, Token Spellsword
Unfavored Against: Control Mage, Ramp Scout
Highly Unfavored Against: Prophecy Assassin

 

Token Spellsword

Token Spellsword is another deck that has been around for quite a long time and remains a very popular deck to take to the ladder today. It has seen a good amount of refinement already, transforming from a more gimmicky Token deck with inclusions like triple Siege Catapult and Imprisons to a solid Midrange deck that has the ability to go wide on the board with cards like Imperial Reinforcements and Bone Colossus. The power level of Divine Fervor in this deck alone made many question whether or not it was overpowered, and the only reason Spellsword isn’t one of the tier one decks in this particular Snapshot is the current popularity of Control Mage, one of the deck’s worse matchups.That being said, Spellsowrd is great at combating many of the Aggro and Midrange decks you’ll encounter, as it can take over the board early, give decks without AoE like Ice Storm too much to deal with, and close with powerful threats like Bone Colossus and Golden Saint. The sample list included is Tvp9’s from last month and it is worth mentioning that he cut several copies of Token generators though in the vast majority of versions, a third Scouting Patrol is at least included. Aside from that, the deck hasn’t seen much recent change. His changes possibly did improve the Archer matchup to what we would call “highly favored,” but the addition of Burn and Pillage to Archer decks has given them some ability to fight back in the matchup.

Tvp9’s Token Spellsword

Highly Favored Against: Midrange Scout
Favored Against: Midrange Archer, Prophecy Assassin, Firebloom Assassin
Even Against: Token Spellsword, Control Spellsword
Unfavored Agiainst: Control Mage, Ramp Scout
Highly Unfavored Against: –

 

Ramp Scout

Ramp Scout, initially popularized by JustinLarson, is a late-game centered deck that focuses on surviving until turns 7+ and then dumping threat after threat onto the board that quickly become too much for the average deck to contend with. This deck has waned in popularity slightly over the past few weeks, but players continue to experiment with it. An interesting trend that is popping up involves the removal of any of the Magicka-ramping cards that aren’t Thorn Histmage; while they allow you to reach the late game sooner more often, their immediate power level is very low compared to cards like Young Mammoth and House Kinsman which can trade more effectively and prevent losing the board early. The sample list is a good example of this.The deck struggles heavily in the late game against Control Mage due to cards like Mantikora and Miraak, Dragonborn which can answer Scout’s “one threat a turn” plan so easily. With a good enough draw though, the late game of Ramp Scout can be overpowering for just about any other deck and it boasts high winrates against many of the decks that didn’t quite make it to tier two this time around.

liquidputin’s Ramp Scout

Highly Favored Against: –
Favored Against: Token Spellsword, Firebloom Assassin
Even Against: Midrange Archer, Prophecy Assassin, Ramp Scout
Unfavored Against: Control Spellsword, Midrange Scout
Highly Unfavored Against: Control Mage

 

Control Spellsword

There isn’t much to say about the general game plan of Control Spellsword that can’t be said about Control Mage, though there are definite benefits to being in Spellsword colors. Spellsword has access to additional targeted removal in Edict of Azura and additional late-game threats such as Blood Magic Lord, a truly powerful card in Control mirror matches. That said, the deck still has a hard time keeping up with the cycle of Control Mage with cards like Elusive Schemer and Fate Weaver, and can struggle against decks that apply pressure with multiple creatures at a time (such as Soulrest Marshal) due to its only sweeper being Dawn’s Wrath (and occasionally Immolating Blast).  The sample list provided is close to what many top players on ladder have been playing, though the deck’s popularity continues to be overshadowed by Control Mage.

R1cardo’s Control Spellsword

Highly Favored Against: – 
Favored Against: Ramp Scout, Prophecy Assassin
Even Against: Control Spellsword, Token Spellsword, Control Mage
Unfavored Against: Midrange Archer, Firebloom Assassin, Midrange Scout
Highly Unfavored Against: –

 

Midrange Scout

Squeaking into the last tier two slot for the first Meta Snapshot is yet another CoreyMilhouse creation, Midrange Scout. The younger (and much more aggressive) sibling of Ramp Scout, this deck has more similarities to Midrange Archer than anything else. While it doesn’t have Triumphant Jarl to keep the hand full in the late game or Withered Hand Cultist to make Actions cost more, it still provides a lot of threats that are difficult for slower decks to answer and has more viability against hyper-aggressive decks thanks to cards like Midnight Sweep and Thorn Histmage. The deck also has a fair bit of reach thanks to Cliff Racer and Tazkad, which help to close out games that Bone Colossus is too slow to win.

Deck Tech: CoreyMilhouse’s Top 10 Legend Midrange Scout

Highly Favored Against: –
Favored Against: Control Mage, Ramp Scout, Control Spellsword
Even Against: Midrange Scout
Unfavored Against: Midrange Archer, Prophecy Assassin, Firebloom Assassin
Highly Unfavored Against: Token Spellsword

 

Tier Three

Aggro/Action Mage

Aggro Mage, also dubbed Action Mage since most versions utilize Lillandril Hexmage to burn opponents out, is one of the Aggro decks that didn’t quite make it to the tier two rankings for this particular Snapshot. However, it remains at the high end of tier three and is definitely poised for future success in the meta as it can outpace many slower Midrange decks and even  burn Control decks out with Actions if they stabilize the board, something most other Aggro decks are not capable of. This is also one of the few decks that is able to easily take a player on a budget to the very high ranks of Legend since the only Legendary card most include in it is Descendant of Alkosh, which is not 100% necessary for the game plan to be executed. While many of the deck’s actual attackers are quite vulnerable, the deck is capable of very explosive starts that can steal wins from just about anything. The sample list is an older example of a budget version without the Lillandril’s, though they can (and probably should) be added over Piercing Javelin for more consistency.

Deck Tech: CVH’s Budget Aggro Mage

 

Ward Sorcerer

Sorcerer in general is quite unpopular on the ladder currently in the face of classes like Mage, Archer, and Assassin, but that doesn’t mean it’s without playable archetypes. The most common one in the current metagame is easily Ward Sorcerer due to the power of High King Emeric and the easy synergy within the class. This is a deck with fairly polarizing matchups; it can do a number on Control decks and Aggro decks with the right draws, but opposing Midrange decks can be tough to answer since the deck is relatively light on removal. In addition, popular Agility creatures like Murkwater Witch and Chaurus Reaper that have the -1/-1 effect interact very well with Breton Conjurer. This is definitely a meta call deck, but could easily rise in the rankings given upcoming card releases and meta fluctuations.

Deck Tech: CVH’s Ward Sorcerer

 

Midrange/Pilfer Monk

Monk, while not among the most played classes, is also present on the ladder primarily in Midrange form. There are effectively two separate types of decks that both fit into the Midrange umbrella in Monk, one focusing on the Pilfer mechanic and one not. Due to the deck’s relative unpopularity and thus lack of refinement, it’s hard to adequately judge the matchups but a safe assumption is that the matchups between these two don’t differ too significantly. The sample list provided was played by popular Monk streamer Boomslife and features a version more focused on Pilfer. While the archetype was hurt more than almost any other when Murkwater Savage was nerfed, the deck has access to enough powerful cards that it wouldn’t take much for it to jump back into tier two territory.

Boomslife’s Pilfer Monk

 

Token Crusader

Token Crusader is one of the more difficult decks to evaluate, again due to the relative lack of refinement of the deck lists. There were definite varying opinions on whether or not this deck should be rated higher, but it is certain that with the right draws, the power level can seem quite high.As opposed to the strict Aggro variations of Crusader, this is a deck that utilizes “token” generators like Raiding Party and Markarth Bannerman to make Nord Firebrands that then receive increases in stats from Fifth Legion Trainer and Support cards. Its ability to create beefy boards coupled with its higher Magicka curve (and the triple Triumphant Jarl’s found in Furo’s sample deck list) means Control is less likely to be able to stabilize against it.

Furo’s Token Crusader

 

Control Monk

Monk is rarely seen in a control incarnation, but has been played on the ladder to some success by CoreyMilhouse and others. An even slower list than the sample provided that has been seen on the ladder involves the use of Imperial Might and Adoring Fan coupled with Divine Fervors and Mundus Stone to give other slow decks a constant stream of smaller threats that will run them out of card advantage in the very long game. The sample list provided is much less greedy, though without much popularity on the ladder in the face of not only the other Monk decks, but also Control Mage and Control Spellsword, it’s hard to evaluate whether or not it is more or less viable than a lot of the other decks in the meta.

CoreyMilhouse’s Control Monk

 

Tier Four

Aggro Crusader

Aggro Crusader is the true all in, no-frills-attached Aggro deck. This deck doesn’t mess around with Token or Item synergy and simply looks for the maximum damage it can generate. Unfortunately, due to Control Mage’s popularity and the ability of that deck’s current iterations to stabilize against Aggro Crusader’s plan, it isn’t terribly well-positioned. That being said, its fast game plan still makes it a good choice for at least grinding the ladder to get to Legend, as rushing face can be a nightmare for several other popular decks like Midrange Archer to deal with. The sample list provided by CVH attempts to soften the Control Mage matchup by including Mage Slayers, Cultist, and the inevitability of Gladiator Arena.

CVH’s Aggro Crusader

 

Combo Battlemage

Combo Battlemage’s position on this tier list is up for dispute, and we at BTL personally expect to see this deck rise on the list as more players experiment with it and are able to optimize it against the meta. As it stands, streamer s_l_w has been heralding this deck as quite competitive for a while, consistently playing it to maintain top 50 legend. The sample list includes a write-up on the card choices here on Between The Lanes. While s_l_w is probably one of the only people currently to be able to give an accurate depiction of the matchups due to lack of data on our end, we can safely say that the burst damage this deck creates makes it very difficult for Control decks to deal with and any deck that can contest slower decks in the current meta is well-positioned for a rise in the ranks in upcoming Snapshots.

s_l_w_’s Combo Battlemage

 

Aggro Battlemage

Aggro Battlemage makes it into the list, but only barely as the deck is generally without refinement. Compared to the other Aggro decks on the list such as Prophecy Assassin and Aggro Mage/Crusader, Battlemage’s approach is too gimmicky since it has to focus on Items to be on the same power level as the others. It also doesn’t boast the great matchups against Control that Combo Battlemage has or the great matchups against Aggro that Prophecy Assassin does. The deck, however, is still capable of enough scary plays to warrant its initial ranking on the Snapshot, and it’s well-known that many decks can’t answer a Mage Slayer with a bunch of Items on it easily. As noted with other Aggro decks, the games are quick so it’s a deck to look to for a quick grind. The list featured is a deck played to top five legend in August by streamer Dovahkiyn.

Dovahkiyn’s Aggro Battlemage

 

 

4 comments

  1. Hi CVH, great work! I don’t know how much testing with it you guys have done but I just wanted to report that your aggro crusader list is quite effective on ladder right now, at least for me. It cuts through all these archers like butter and their Tier 1 tears are delicious. I believe it deserves Tier 3 spot on the snapshot. It counters good number of decks placed higher since it is the fastest deck in the game. I managed to get to top 100 legend today with it just by going face, which is not impressive or anything but I think that it shows that aggro isn’t dead in ESL. I played with Relentless Raiders instead of Descendants because SMOrc, also, not having mighty allies triggering triggers me.

    Like

  2. Hi CVH, great work! I don’t know how much testing with it you guys have done but I just wanted to report that your aggro crusader list is quite effective on ladder right now, at least for me. It cuts through all these archers like butter and their Tier 1 tears are delicious. I believe it deserves Tier 3 spot on the snapshot. It counters good number of decks placed higher since it is the fastest deck in the game. I managed to get to top 100 legend today with it just by going face, which is not impressive or anything but I think that it shows that aggro isn’t dead in ESL. I played with Relentless Raiders instead of Descendants because SMOrc, also, not having mighty allies triggering triggers me.

    Like

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