Just Add Bacon's Meta Report 3/15/2021
Howdy there, my name is Just Add Bacon and I am proud to present Skyweaver League’s very first Meta Writeup! While we’ve had quite a few tournaments in the past few months or so, the meta has been very volatile, as to be expected of a game in closed beta. From Banjo and Iris combo to Zoey and Fox aggro, we’ve seen a great variety of decks and strategies through the past month. However, one hero has remained consistently a threat, and his name is Horik.
Horik Unrise Aggro
Horik is considered the best hero in the game, and honestly it’s easy to see why. The Heart prism comes with a lot of internal synergy, draw, and aoe options that make it incredibly versatile, while strength has some of the best statted units in the game. Taken together, a good Horik deck has little issue bullying its opponents onboard with units like Casket, Doomshroom, Polar Bear, and Rhumbo, all while generating value in hand. That value in hand is key, as it is usually seen in the form of its removal options, like Mortal Blow, Wed Dead, or ,my personal favorite, Chill + Funeral Moon. As for top ends, the only question is how awful and greedy you want to be. Some players like SwapGo are much more tempered in their approach, using an UnRise package to reset board with even more chunky bodies. Other players like yours truly prefer going all the way, slamming threats like Dracomantium and Undragon, with a Grave Roil to follow up. The potential for Titanic Loops with cards like Undragon and Temple Watch is really only there as a meta-threat, but when they go off they can be game ending.
Nevertheless, these decks certainly have kinks in the armor. Dusting is always the answer against any Heart deck, and these lists are no exception. What’s unique about Horik though is that dusting at any point in the game will always be a setback. Early on it’s usually turning off their draw tools in cards like Casket or Crypto (not all of them though, some like Chester or Eclipse require other answers.) Later in the game, bigger targets like Rhumbo, Flame Phoenix, or Titanic getting dusted can leave the Horik player with far fewer resources, allowing control decks to grind them out with the right combination of draw and removal.
Full disclosure, I am a Horik main, and based on my own opinions I would have placed Horik at the top of A tier. Dusting is not played enough and aggro tools like Righteous can shut down these lists hard. But, this report is not based on my opinions, so S tier it is.
Sitti Copy Control
Coming in very close to S Tier we have the classic Fox Aggro list, followed by the standard array of Wisdom based decks and a few Heart Heroes. Interesting to note is the return of Sitti Copy Control, which hasn’t really held a relevant position since the control summer of 2020, when Avatar of Light was about as busted as it could be and cards like Libra were still in the Heart prism.
The first thing to note about this tier is that it is, in general, greedy. Even the aggro lists like Fox and Zoey make their aggro work by maintaining a constant stream of cards through tools like Quest, Fate, Huntaro, and elemental synergies; usually fire, but also air, metal, and dark. The second key to this tier is its efficient removal pieces. Grim Reprisal, Backstab, Whisk Away, Eradicate, Eye Spy, Water Rune, and now even Strike Down. As a quick aside, for those of you who feel as though you are getting dominated in rounds against Fox decks, take note of their removal pieces. Strength and Agility have more “deal 3” spells than any other prism, and have numerous alternative removal pieces like Pair of Jacks, Mortal Blow, as well as Gusto’s Retort or the big daddy dragon Gusto himself. Fox decks generate tempo by controlling the board faster than their opponents, usually through their removal tools. Try holding board against Fox and his units actually aren’t as good as you would expect from a Strength deck.
On the control side, Banjo makes this tier look like a hall of mirrors, with three equally scary lists that can all cheat in hilariously stupid ways. By far my favorite of these lists is the Grover Rainbow Turbo deck, which aims to basically play a two-prism ten card deck, allowing it to curve early Desires, Deepus’s, and Sky Phoenixes with frightening consistency. And while dusting is usually a great way to handle Phoenix lists, the sheer speed that this deck fills its discard with makes that strategy problematic at best. Oh, and it has Clone Army and Manage Memory, so expect to see things more times than should be legal. As a final note, Sitti is a hero I expect to move up the tier list in the near future. I’ve been playing her a lot, players like Freud and Shpungo are playing her a lot, and she has a lot of underused tools. Teleport is still an amazing card, her aggro strats are mostly unexplored (Hope is a slept on card in my opinion) and her Grave Roil can give Horik lists a run for their money in terms of just raw greed. Flood Water’s potential remains to be seen, but probably needs more strong targets before it can start to oppress control decks.
Iris, Banner Combo
Here is the point in the tier list where I feel the need to remind everyone that just because a deck is in B tier does not mean it’s bad, quite the contrary. This tier list was created using a survey of master rank and higher level players, asking what decks they thought were relevant to the meta. Consider all of these decks S and A tier in the overall game, but for our intents and purposes we are only looking at decks that are considered relevant. That being said, what generally separates B tier from A tier is efficiency of strategy. Banner Combo is still a good deck even after the Mountain Lion nerf to 8c, but why would you play it? Compared to Zam combo, it’s slightly slower, doesn’t have the same draw, doesn’t have the same easy cost reduction, and doesn’t have alternate win-con’s in cards like Hax/Unophobia or century key + overload (For a more in-depth analysis of how to play a combo deck that face plants against my beautiful Dracomantium, be sure to check out Shpungo’s Zam guide and see how you too can play the 50+ damage monster.) Or consider Heatwave Fox. While the list can certainly be powerful, a board full of shroud is nothing to sneeze at, it has trouble matching the speed and resources of aggressive Zoey lists, forcing it to play a more midrange style.
One list I will say I don’t think belongs here is Mai Unophobia, and that is entirely on the merit of its resource generation and disruption. Cards like Dr. Vile and Plane Ranger can be nightmares for control to deal with, often translating into direct face damage while also fueling Unophobia. Additionally, cards like Hax, Kook Book, and Angler all provide cheap bodies with draw, meaning control lists have trouble developing tempo on their board clears. And while the draw has been pulled back from previous patches, I’m not convinced a card like tempest brew can’t fit in some build and just wreck the balance again. Although, I do play mostly Horik, and Unophobia lists are a great weakness for it, so perhaps I’m just biased.
Finally wrapping up our list we have two mono-prisms, Strength and Agility, doing what mono-prisms do best: consistency. If nothing else, having ten less cards in your deck means your likelihood of getting the cards you want (assuming they are in your deck) goes up drastically. What this means for aggro is that they get to do their wacky openings on a much more reliable basis. Flashbang into Demon Pact, Fox Familiar into Sworn Oni, and plenty of other strong turn one plays are suddenly frighteningly consistent. Of course, you could just play Fox Aggro and have both of these openings available, but that’s why these decks are C tier. While they can consistently do strong things, they are very vulnerable to a concept I am calling Threat Exhaustion.
Threat Exhaustion is basically the observation that there is a (semi) limited number of “threats” in your deck, a threat being any card that can help you win the game given the current game state. For example, Fox Familiar is a threat on turn 1, but not really on turn 10. And while ood mechanics do change this, (this is why Grave Roil is so dangerous for control decks to deal with) being in a mono-prism inherently means that the number of threats in your deck will be lower. Of course, if you play all your cards on the exact perfect turn when they are threats, one could argue you have “more” threats, but I would “respectfully” disagree. Mono-Prisms also carry another weakness in their draw-removal-unit balance. To maintain a winning game against your opponent, you generally need to have more resources than they do. This isn’t always cards, sometimes it can be the quality of units, or it can be a late game bomb like Unophobia or Grave Roil, but it’s usually looked at in terms of Card Value, or just who has more cards. This is why cards that generally go +1, or increase the number of cards you have relative to your opponent, are generally good.
Unfortunately for the mono-prism player, those +1 cards are usually in the form of draw power but that takes you closer to decking out and taking damage, making you especially vulnerable. But, if you don’t play that draw, you run the risk of getting out valued if your units or removal cards get beat. Or your opponent could just play draw, go +1 anyways, and laugh because they have 10 more cards to go through before taking ood damage. In short, mono-prisms are stuck in a catch 22; they are consistent, sure, but between a mono-prism and an equally good dual-prism deck, the dual prism deck wins far more often. And hence, even the best mono-prism decks in the game fall well below the serious threats of the meta.
Special thanks to all our wonderful survey respondents, as well as Lyze on discord for helping me work out the statistics. If there are any master or higher level constructed players who are interested in filling out the survey, please feel free to message me on discord so I can get you on the list. Have a disagreement? Feel free to leave it in the comments somewhere, and I will personally find it and prove it wrong. And finally, a massive thanks to our wonderful Dev team for working so hard on such a great game. Here’s to open beta, whenever that is!
About the Author
Just Add Bacon is a relative veteran of the Skyweaver community, working on various projects in SkyStreamers, Skyweaver Leagues, and his own personal team, Fox Fang. He is also very active in the competitive scene, boasting the #5 constructed rank and two tournament wins of his own, along with 2nd in the most recent league. His favorite decks are Horik Control, Fox Aggro, and Sitti.
“Basically, anything I can put a dragon or fox into. Or both.”
Just Add Bacon#7811
Fox Fang Official Discord Server: https://discord.gg/TaKmxznBm6