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Between The Lanes Meta Snapshot #2

As we approach the end of the October season, the meta is significantly changing thanks in part to the introduction of Hist Grove and the constant experimentation of players on the ladder. As a result, the Meta Snapshot is back to keep you up-to-date with decks you’re likely to see on your grind to Legend and beyond!

The primary purpose of the BTL 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.

Beneath each deck is 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.

October has been a crazy month for the metagame; not only has Hist Grove shaken things up substantially, but the growing playerbase of Legends continues to push the meta forward and new decks continue to emerge. Hist Grove has propelled Ramp to the top tier, and thus its counters have gained popularity and strength as the snapshot indicates. The top tier of decks contains some familiar faces as well as decks that were near the bottom in last month’s snapshot, and several entirely new decks make their snapshot debut this month.

Tier One

 

Midrange Archer

Midrange Archer ascends to the top of rank one this month after being narrowly beaten out by Control Mage in September. Unlike any other deck in the snapshot, all seven contributors ranked it in the top two decks currently. The reason for this is largely due to Control Mage’s recent decline in play thanks to Hist Grove Ramp Scout, a deck Midrange Archer is quite capable of beating. While Midrange Archer doesn’t quite have the good matchups across the board to Aggro decks that Control Mage does, it can punish slow decks that rely on a win condition like Hist Grove very hard.

Archer is a deck that has been dominating for months already as the premier Midrange deck of the metagame. With powerful early game cards like Daring Cutpurse and House Kinsman and a mid-game comprised of the likes of Soulrest Marshal and Triumphant Jarl, this deck can outpace slower decks and keep the aggression up into the later stages of the game if need be. This week, we feature a list built by ThatsAdmirable and Romanesque, who piloted it to the top of the Legend ladder, dubbed “cycle Archer” thanks to the amount of card draw it packs. Another popular variant is the Withered Hand Cultist version with Burn and Pillage as the only Action; that version preys more heavily on decks like Control Mage and Action Assassin.

ThatsAdmirable/Romanesque Midrange “Cycle” Archer

Highly Favored Against: Control Mage, Combo Battlemage
Favored Against: Ramp Scout, Midrange Scout, Control Spellsword
Even Against: –
Unfavored Against: Token Crusader
Highly Unfavored Against: Aggro/Token Crusader, Action Assassin, Prophecy Assassin

Ramp Scout

With the introduction of Hist Grove as the September monthly reward card, Ramp Scout has seen a surge in popularity. The deck is fairly straightforward in that it wants to draw the game out and win with a variety of large threats like Blood Magic Lord. Now that Hist Grove is available to Endurance, however, it offers and almost insurmountable amount of pressure in the very late game, giving the deck a huge advantage over slow decks not using the card. While it was mentioned in the last snapshot that Control Mage was very favored against Scout, Hist Grove has effectively flipped that matchup on its head. This is what has propelled Ramp to the top tier of decks and made it one of the most popular and powerful decks on the ladder.

CVH’s Scout Ramp (10/6/16)

Highly Favored Against: Control Mage
Favored Against: Token Spellsword
Even Against: Prophecy Assassin, Control Spellsword
Unfavored Against: Midrange Archer, Midrange Scout
Highly Unfavored Against: Aggro/Token Crusader, Action Assassin, Combo Battlemage

Aggro/Token Crusader

There are a few different ways to build this deck, such as focusing primarily on the Aggro plan or on the Token plan, but Aggro Crusader in general has also seen a huge boost in popularity and power level thanks to the lack of Control Mages that previously were able to prey on the deck. Divine Fervor makes the “tokens” generated by Raiding Party and Markrath Bannerman incredibly threatening, and the Bannerman is already a difficult card for Ramp Scout to answer. As a result, it is positioned nicely against the deck as well as against Midrange Archer thanks to Archer’s inherent difficulty in dealing with Aggro. While is doesn’t have the most well-rounded matchups and can lose to a timely Prophecy as all Aggro decks can, it matches up to the ladder very well currently thanks to having favorable matchups to the two decks ranked higher than it in this month’s snapshot.

The sample list by Sciserr takes advantage of the tokens with Helgen Squad Leader in addition to the obvious inclusions of Fifth Legion Trainer, Orc Clan Captain, and Divine Fervor.

Sciserr’s Aggro/Token Crusader

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

Action Assassin

For those of you looking for a deck to play August’s season reward card, Smuggler’s Haul, in, look no further! Action Assassin is the “newest” of the tier one decks in this snapshot as Prophecy Assassin and Firebloom Assassin were the more popular iterations of the class last month, but it, like Aggro Crusader, is benefiting from good matchups. As an Aggro deck, it does well against most versions of Archer (although the Witherd Hand Cultist variants can spell its demise) and since it doesn’t run too many Prophecy cards to clog its hand, it has a solid game against Ramp Scout as well. This deck has been used at high legend by a variety of players recently and it scary not only due to its explosive early game but the amount of burst damage it can generate later with Lillandril Hexmage and burn Actions.

Delude’s Action Assassin

Highly Favored Against: Midrange Archer, Ramp Scout
Favored Against: Midrange Scout
Even Against: Combo Battlemage,
Unfavored Against: Control Mage, Prophecy Assassin, Token Spellsword, Aggro/Token Crusader, Control Spellsword
Highly Unfavored Against: –

 

Tier Two

 

Control Mage

Control Mage has fallen from its throne at the top of tier one this month, but survives as a solid tier two deck. The core of it hasn’t changed and it remains one of the best decks at stabilizing against aggression, but Hist Grove severely impacted its popularity to give rise to other decks. In the future, things are likely to balance out and Control Mage may see a rise again. The deck boasts fantastic removal, heal, and card draw with a powerful late game to back it up. As the deck hasn’t gone through much refinement during the last month, the sample used is still the triple Brilliant Experiment version that is becoming standard.

Entaro_thomas/Chapterhouse Control Mage

Highly Favored Against: Prophecy Assassin, Aggro/Token Crusader, Token Spellsword
Favored Against: Action Assassin
Even Against: –
Unfavored Against: Midrange Scout, Control Spellsword
Highly Unfavored Against: Ramp Scout, Combo Battlemage, Midrange Archer

Prophecy Assassin

One of the first Assassin decks to tear up the ladder, Prophecy Assassin is also still raning high in the Meta Snapshot with a high tier two rating this. 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.

This deck’s poor matchup to Ramp Scout when compared to Action Assassin has lead to a slight decline on the ladder, but it still regarded as one of the best (if not the best) decks at racing, so it is a solid choice if there are a lot of other Aggro and Midrange decks.

CVH’s Prophecy Assassin

Highly Favored Against: Midrange Archer, Aggro/Token Crusader
Favored Against: Midrange Scout, Action Assassin
Even Against: Ramp Scout
Unfavored Against: Combo Battlemage, Token Spellsword, Control Spellsword
Highly Unfavored Against: Control Mage

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.

Though much less popular on the ladder than its Ramp counterpart, Midrange Scout retains a spot in tier two simply as one of the better and more versatile Midrange decks in the metagame. Though CoreyMilhouse is credited with what many would consider the original version featured in September’s snapshot, BadW0lfGaming’s Tempo Scout is a new iteration of the deck with interesting card choices.

BadW0lfGaming’s Midrange Scout

Highly Favored Against: –
Favored Against: Combo Battlemage, Control Spellsword, Ramp Scout, Control Mage
Even Against: –
Unfavored Against: Aggro/Token Crusader, Prophecy Assassin, Action Assassin, Midrange Archer
Highly Unfavored Against: Token Spellsword

Combo Battlemage

Combo Battlemage, another deck that benefits from token generators like Raiding Party, ranks much higher this month due in part to its solid matchup against Ramp Scout. The deck, popularized by s_l_w, has been played to the top few Legend ranks by numerous players this month, solidifying itself as part of the metagame. As a combo deck, it has an incredibly high skill cap and is very punishing to misplays, but it has been proven that a skilled pilot can take it to the very top of the ranks.

It is worth noting that while Combo Battlemage has very strong matchups overall to the rest of the tier one/two decks in this snapshot, several decks ranked in tier three such as Pilfer Monk and Ward Sorcerer can be quite problematic for the deck’s game plan.

s_l_w’s Combo Battlemage

Highly Favored Against: Control Spellsword, Ramp Scout, Control Mage
Favored Against: Token Spellsword, Aggro/Token Crusader, Prophecy Assassin
Even Against: Action Assassin
Unfavored Against: Midrange Scout
Highly Unfavored Against: Midrange Archer (particularly Withered Hand variants)

Token Spellsword

Token Spellsword remains in tier two due to its good matchups against many Aggro and Midrange decks, though its popularity wanes at the higher ranks where slower decks like Control Mage and Ramp Scout are more present. In the lower ranks where Aggro is more common, it remains one of the most popular choices. This is also because it’s a deck that can be built to be fairly effective even without the Legendary cards that are common inclusions; the power level of Divine Fervor allows this.

Frank Lepore’s Token Spellsword

Highly Favored Against: Midrange Scout
Favored Against: Midrange Archer, Action Assassin, Prophecy Assassin, Aggro/Token Crusader
Even Against: Control Spellsword
Unfavored Against: Ramp Scout, Combo Battlemage
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. Many newer lists have included a ramp package involving Hist Grove that gives it a better matchup to other Control decks since it also has the late-game of Willpower cards like Mantikora but doesn’t change the rest of its matchups in a meaningful way. The sample list enclosed does not and focuses strictly on controlling the game.

Lateralus19’s Control Spellsword

Highly Favored Against: –
Favored Against: Prophecy Assassin, Control Mage, Action Assassin
Even Against: Token Spellsword, Aggro/Token Crusader, Ramp Scout
Unfavored Against: Midrange Archer, Midrange Scout
Highly Unfavored Against: Combo Battlemage

 

Tier Three

 

Control Sorcerer

The introduction of Hist Grove led to experimentation with control decks outside the traditional Scout and Mage classes, and Control Sorcerer has seem more play as a result. The same late-game package of Endurance is coupled with the removal and cycle of Intelligence to make a powerful combination, but not one as powerful as is seen in other Control decks that ranked higher in the Snapshot. However, players are still refining the list and have found success with the deck. Justinlarson, whose list is the featured example, is one of the players to grind with the deck to the higher ranks of Legend.

JustinLarson’s Control Sorcerer

Aggro/Action Mage

Aggro Mage, also dubbed Action Mage since most versions utilize Lillandril Hexmage to burn opponents out, remains in tier three though it does have several good matchups in the first two tiers of decks. It is 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. This month’s sample list was provided by snapshot contributor Santosvella, who achieved a high winrate with it to Legend.

Santosvella’s Aggro Mage

Ward Sorcerer

Ward Sorcerer is another deck that remains in tier three despite being one of the more popular Sorcerer variants due to the addition of Hist Grove and subsequent meta fluctuations not really affecting it. The power of High King Emeric and the easy synergy within the class should not be underestimated. 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.

Entaro_thomas’s Ward Sorcerer

Pilfer/Midrange 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. 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 Midrange Monk

Control Monk

Control Monk remains in tier three this month despite players still experimenting with the deck on ladder mainly because it is a deck that wasn’t as powerful as other Control decks already and didn’t benefit from the release of Hist Grove as Scout Ramp and Control Spellsword/Sorcerer did. Though Control Monk is capable of wins and has been seen in the top five Legend recently, it’s generally viewed as less consistent than other Control decks. More refinement could cause an increase in this deck’s rank.

Dazer777’s Control Monk

Control Archer

A new addition in this month’s snapshot is the more late-game oriented style of Archer. While many card choices are similar between Control and Midrange Archer, the decks aim to do different things. This deck wants to go to a later point in the game and get value out of cards like Wrothgar Forge, Dremora Markynaz, and Swift Strike to kill opponents unexpectedly. Soorock was able to attain #1 Legend with the deck in the past few weeks, and while it’s ranked fairly low this month due to general uncertainty of its long-term viability, this deck is definitely one to watch out for.

Soorock’s Control Archer

Midrange Spellsword

Midrange Spellsword is a deck that effectively acts as a Token Spellsword with more resilient creatures. However, that limits the deck’s ability to go wide somewhat and it relies on Black Worm Necromancer and Golden Saint to do so. It benefits from some better matchups than Token Spellsword such as against Combo Battlemage, but the lack of mass token generators and Prophecies in most versions cause it to struggle against very aggressive strategies like Aggro/Token Crusader that Token Spellsword can deal with. In addition, the deck shares Token Spellsword’s bad matchup to Ramp Scout, a very popular deck at the moment. However, it is a deck that can put pressure on other Midrange decks such as Archer and certain Control decks.

CoreyMilhouse’s Midrange Spellsword

 

Tier Four

 

Midrange Warrior

A deck that’s just now making its appearance on the ladder in recent weeks is Midrange Warrior, an aggressive deck that doesn’t rely on Orc synergy at all like the Orc Warriors of closed beta. While a rare sight on the ladder (contributing to the deck’s low ranking this month), Midrange Warrior can hand out some beatings with the typical Midrange plan of good creatures on curve. The deck uses Black Worm Necromancer to mimic Soulrest Marshal’s effect as Midrange Spellsword does, and can generate burst damage with Savage Ogre at the top of the curve. The sample list is that of Dreamore667 who attained Legend #1 with the deck.

Dreamore667’s Midrange Warrior

Firebloom Assassin

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. MihaXXL piloted the deck to a #1 finish in the August season, but the deck falls from tier two to four this month simply because the other two Assassins, Action and Prophecy, have all but erased Firebloom Assassin from the ladder. That isn’t to say it’s gone for good, however, and other variants (such as a Last Gasp version with Necrom Mastermind) continue to be experimented with.

MihaXXL’s Firebloom Assassin

Aggro Battlemage

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 deck isn’t completely absent from the ladder, but a good enough build to warrant a higher ranking on the tier list has, as of yet, not been found. The sample list by AJarethA makes use of a Prophecy package similar to that of Prophecy Assassin to try and find better winrates against similarly aggressive decks.

AJarethA’s Aggro Battlemage

Control Warrior

Control Warrior has seen enough ladder play compared to last month to warrant a spot on the tier list, but unfortunately makes its first appearance at the bottom of tier four. In other words, it has nowhere to go but up as more players refine the lists! Hist Grove gave this deck a more consistent win condition, but it also gave that win condition to other decks. Warrior does have some unique combos to add to a Control strategy, though, such as Whirling Duelist + Daedric Dagger to clear a whole lane. The sample list was played by Boomslife at high Legend.

Boomslife’s Ramp/Control Warrior

 


Contributors

CVH
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CoreyMilhouse 
Follow CoreyMilhouse on Twitter
Follow CoreyMilhouse on Twitch

BadW0lfGaming
Follow BadW0lfGaming on Twitter
Follow BadW0lfGaming on Twitch

EarthP0w3R
Follow EarthP0w3R on Twitter
Follow EarthP0w3R on Twitch

Romanesque
Follow Romanesque on Twitter
Follow Romanesque on Twitch

BradfordLee
Follow BradfordLee on Twitter
Follow BradfordLee on Twitch

Santosvella
Follow Santosvella on Twitter
Follow Santosvella on Twitch

2 comments

  1. Thank you guys for your hard work! The quality of this article is splendid.

    I have been looking for this article for so long🙂

    Cheers.

    Like

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