Can Nature decks make a comeback? Will Deception continue to be the darling of the dance? saints answers these questions and much more in this week's Meta Report!
The dance between Zoo (Death/Light) and Deception continues. Magic made a late appearance towards the end of the week. War's Onslaught is struggling to make a definitive impact in a zoo-heavy meta. Nature is back to being nearly non-existent at Mythic, yet viable at lower ranks.
The latest balance patch was flavorful to the game but not too impactful to the current meta. Since it didn't introduce any bombshells to counter early game aggression, Zoo was the dominant archetype again this weekend. My rough estimate was that, if you played at Mythic level, you likely faced a Zoo player in close to half your matches, if not more.
Since Aggro dictated the meta this weekend, we saw an increase in Deception players as well. Deception remains one of the best counters against Zoo-style play without giving up too much against other matchups, making it the most well-rounded God at the moment, a title it's been carrying for a while now.
What keeps Deception from being overly dominant is their weakness to direct damage spells (and, to a lesser extent, Midrange). Magic's influence on the meta has been slowly waning over the past few weeks, but it's been on the receiving end of a lot of indirect buffs to its Discovery God Power playstyle, which currently allows it to burn down Deception with surprising efficiency.
The traditional Control Magic style was heavily disadvantaged playing slowly against Deception, but the new age of Magic built around recycling direct damage spells can burn down Deception before their card advantage mechanics can fully kick in.
At the start of the weekend, Death, Light, and Deception were the most represented Gods at Mythic-level. Over the course of the weekend, Light's popularity dropped significantly, possibly as a result of more Deception and Control Death deaths built to counter it.
Death Zoo was still played heavily, meanwhile more players joined the Deception ranks. Towards the end of the weekend, the number of Magic players grew, but where it gets interesting is that Light is the better Zoo variant in a meta with more Magic players.
This is all to say that, had the weekend event gone on for another day, there would probably have been a brief window where Magic could counter the two main decks, Death Zoo and Tempo Deception, while not having to worry about Light Zoo.
While this weekend's meta might seem like a rehash of last weekend's (which isn't a bad thing), I have a feeling the upcoming patch will change things significantly.
There's not much I can say about it from a strategic angle that I haven't already mentioned in the last three Meta Reports, but I think its presence is healthy, even if it may feel oppressive to some.
There should always be a viable Aggro archetype to enforce certain deck building considerations, counter combo decks, speed the up pacing of the game, and give new players a strong deck to play with limited investment.
In a Zoo-dominant meta, I consider Tempo Deception (decklist) to be among the strongest, if not the strongest, decks in the game at the highest levels of play. It's geared to trade efficiently, compete for board against Zoo, and has game-ending mechanics against Control.
It has a narrow range of weaknesses, like its aforementioned weakness to Discovery Magic, but a couple lucky Flips or stolen cards can occasionally give you the edge. VictorVonHom created a video on his top 10-topping free-to-play Tempo Deception deck last week.
It's still not in a spot where it can be relied upon in the lower ranks however, especially with the prevalence of Midrange Nature decks that will simply run you over by playing a bunch of big creatures on curve. Much of Deception's toolkit implies that Deception thrives when their opponents either play too many creatures or don't play many creatures at all.
Rapture Dance is most likely getting a nerf this week, with the current thinking that it will no longer include your own creatures in the calculation. If this is the confirmed change. It should make a small, but noticeable difference against Zoo, but would be practically a dead card against Midrange and Control.
Overall its design is in a great state and nearly all of its God Powers are viable, even with the same deck. A slight nerf is probably justified as we wait for other classes to develop into a similar state of variety.
Light's sole viable deck continues to be Light Zoo with a reliance on Papal Bull (decklist). While its reduction in popularity (down to 7.5% usage at Mythic in the final day of play) is worth noting, it still had a visible presence in the leaderboard.
It's been confimed that Papal Bull will be getting a "berf" (buff/nerf) this week, which has the potential to shake things up dramatically based on its changes. As it stands, it remains an effective deck that excels at countering Magic and Onslaught War, which have fallen in popularity since Light Zoo came back on the scene.
Overall, Magic appears to be slightly underpowered in the current meta, with a total Mythic winrate of 35.7% over the weekend. This sounds horrible (wait til you hear the Nature winrate) but it's definitely affected by the limited sample size and that many winning players keeping up with the meta have flocked to other Gods instead.
The prevailing playstyle is a form of Control (decklist) that can switch gears into spell-based Aggro if the situation calls for it. Neutrals Backstreet Bouncer and Ocular Fiend, along with its own Runestorm, provide Magic nearly infinite gas.
Discovery can feel oppressive, especially at the lower ranks, but it's susceptible to Light Zoo (as are most decks) as well as creature-based decks that run a lot of Ward, such as some Onslaught War lists.
I anticipate Magic sticking around and performing better moving forward, especially if Tempo Deception remains popular. Deception decks are primarily tuned to deal with Zoo boards right now, which carries a cost, namely a lack of healing and ability to consistently threaten significant face damage.
Nature only accounted for roughly 3% of all games at Mythic with a 34% winrate. The redesign to Overkill a couple weeks ago hurt Control Nature, since Overkill's ricochet effect was used as a board clear and anti-Blitz (Onslaught War) mechanic. Now, it struggles for a consistent win condition other than "Hope Leech Life hits the right target and try your best not to die."
There's potential for Control Nature (decklist) as a Deception-stopper, but Control Nature still has many poor matchups (especially against other Control) and if your aim is to counter Deception, there are better options, like Rune Magic.
If the meta flips to favor Rune Magic, Control Nature may have another favorable matchup due to its abundance of heals and ways to regenerate cards, mitigating the effect of losing creatures to a seemingly endless parade of Magic spells.
Amazon Nature (decklist) is playable as an excellent Midrange option with Arkmonian Onslaught, but it's early game setup is weak compared to that of Aggro Zoo, which contains a lot more potent creature buffing since it isn't handcuffed by tribal synergy.
Onslaught War's (decklist) presence in the meta remains strong, just not at the Mythic level. In fact, only one player managed to bring Onslaught War to the top 20. To put that into perspective, there was also exactly one Control Nature player in the top 20 as well.
Onslaught's power level reduces when it can't be effectively used every turn against a meta that favors Hidden, Protected, and no board presence (Rune Magic). Meanwhile Slayer is weak if not built specifically for it (unlike the versatility offered to Deception), Intense Training is underpowered since single target removals are plentiful, and Enrage isn't popular since its downside doesn't help an Aggro or Midrange War deck survive against board clears.
Slayer War (decklist) has potential, especially as a Deception stopper. Unlimited durability on Godblitzed weapons can expose Deception's lack of healing. The problem with Slayer is that it can never be a meta-defining deck the way Zoo is because there are cards that completely shut down relics, like Iron-Tooth Goblin, whereas there aren't any cards that can completely shut down Discovery, for instance.
The GU team made some significant changes which will make the Leaderboard a lot harder to track moving forward. Below is a snapshot of the top 10 thirty minutes before the end of the weekend event, filtered only for players with more than 20 games played.
NameGodDeckTondyDeathZoo[Mythic] PandaLightPapal Bull ZooEthereumDeceptionControlYukinekoMagicControlIhavesomecardsLightPapal Bull ZooFemto, the ChosenDeathZooMALFORMED CLIENTLightPapal Bull Zoo[Pulse] AldocDeceptionRunesingsongWarTempoz3llDeathTempo
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