To date, our fortnightly Marketplace analysis articles haven’t focused on Core cards, (something we’ll adjust going forward), so we felt like it would be a great time to delve into the early data relating to Gods Unchained’s play-to-earn economy brought about by the launch of Flux.
More core to explore
In this article, we’re going to look at two different aspects of Core cards:
- We’ll examine the best-performing ladder cards from the last 30 days, courtesy of CardsUnchained data, and
- Core card performance on the Official Marketplace in recent weeks
To avoid burying the lead, Neutrals, Light and Magic cards are on top on the Core Marketplace, though the winningest cards across the last thirty days feature a smattering of War and Nature in a sea of Neutrals. Of course, this is understandable: since Neutral cards can be used across each and every domain, they are expected to show up more often in the overall game data.
With that in mind, it was somewhat surprising to see that only a quarter of the week 15 Official Marketplace top 20 cards were neutrals when they made up half of the same bracket when I searched by ladder performance.
Official Marketplace Top 20 Core Cards
The week 15 Official Marketplace data shows Light’s Levy on top of the Core marketplace, a key part in a multitude of strong Light decks in the metagame and also one of the highest-ranking cards in the CardsUnchained database as well (number 19 at the time of writing, having dropped from #8).
Skeleton Heavy is in hot pursuit at number two – are we ever surprised by its presence anymore? – and Wyrmbreath rounding out the podium. The three top core cards on the Marketplace serve as a good snapshot of the rest of the top twenty as well: Light, Neutral and Magic make up most of the list, (four, five and five cards each respectively, almost three-quarters of the top twenty) with War and Deception getting only two entries with Deadly Arsenal at #11 and Ares’ Runeblade at #19 for the former Anti-Magic Expert at #18 and Switch Duelist at #20 for the latter).
Almost all of the top core cards on the Marketplace, at least as far as this sample is concerned, are common or rare (nine and ten respectively), with Dust to Dust the single epic to make the week 15 top twenty – which also happens to be the only Death card present. Nature’s only entry on Week 15’s core card Marketplace list was Canopy Barrage, only hitting #17 while also being by far the best-performing core Nature card on ladder (currently in #18 on CardsUnchained, followed by The Hunt in #17 and Black Jaguar in #28).
The low rarities on display coupled with the presence of every domain suggests a healthy state of the metagame and the Marketplace as well going into the new expansion, with core cards playing a significant part in the metagame.
So which are the top neutrals and why are they so good? Is there anything that ties them together which can help you identify the potential meta-breakers from Trial of the Gods? Let’s dive in and examine the top five, shall we?
The familiar five
Can we assume that every Gods Unchained player has encountered Skeleton Heavy one way or another at this point? Simple, unassuming, yet brutally efficient: it’s tough to overstate how much it dominates any sort of metagame analysis.
If you search for the last 30 days’ winning decks on CardsUnchained, it appears in 66,490 of them, which is more than twice as much as the third-placed card on the same list. That’s how much it matters to have a single extra stat point compared to what you “should” have as a two-drop, and in a healthy distribution as well. The “vanilla test” serves as a strong baseline for card analysis in almost every TCG, which says that a textless card should reasonably be expected to have 2X+1 stats if it costs X mana.
Skeleton Heavy crushes this by having six stats overall for two mana, with a tribal tag thrown in as a bonus. It may not sound like much, but a 20% bonus for such a small mana investment is pretty incredible. Not only that, but it’s also perhaps the best possible distribution, too: 4 health means it can often survive attacks from more expensive creatures as well and it provides staying power even when drawn at a later stage of the game.
Two attack is also enough to clear up many aggressive options from turn one when played on curve. For those interested in card game fundamentals, it’s a joy to see this card in action and doing so well. It proves so many basic observations right. It’s just nuts.
Most Played Core Cards - via CardsUnchained
Shieldbearer is in second place with 42,671 hits, a 1 mana 1/1 Olympian with a Roar which gives +1/+1 to a friendly creature. Though conditional, this is technically a 2/2 for 1 mana, once again a great bang for your buck (or in this case, mana).
Crucially, since creatures don’t recover Health between combat stages like in some other TCGs, the ability to value trade (kill your opponent’s minion with your own while keeping yours alive) is a big part of gaining an advantage, and a cheap and effective way to bump up yours beyond the opponent’s damage output before making the attack is a very strong tool to have.
Deuteria, Manashard Mage is the only legendary far and wide when you look at high-performing core cards. Again, a 1 mana 2/2 is pretty good – so it goes without saying that a 1 mana 4/4 is nothing short of incredible, even if you have no way to get in the first turn of the game. With 31 163 hits in the last 30 days, it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.
Cursed Caipora is the only “expensive” core card in the top five, the lone representative of the “costs more than two mana” club. A 5 mana 1/2 Amazon doesn’t exactly scream “value”, so what’s the deal with this one? Three keywords and their synergies. Protected, Frontline and Deadly makes this an incredible barrier that is both time-consuming and costly to get through, especially with minion-based aggressive strategies.
It also survives single-damage spells and other attacks without the investment of some other resource. The 1 attack only really comes into play when this creature attacks a God, which is really not why it’s used in the first place: for the purposes of minion combat, Deadly means you have infinite attack on the board. That’s a pretty good thing to have.
Finally, Athenian Archer is a recent arrival to the top ranks, rising by over 50 in CardsUnchained’s recent lists to supplant Deadly Arsenal by just ten hits over the last month. You know the drill at this point: a one mana 1/2 would be fine and not particularly exciting without text – but a Roar which deals one damage to an enemy creature plus a tribal tag makes it a very efficient tool to have for just one mana.
So what unites these cards that propelled them to the top of the pack? A low mana cost coupled with either a strong Roar effect (initiative in the game) or just a big pile of stats. Keep an eye out for these going forward in new sets and you can easily identify big winners! And why are they not all represented in the weekly top Marketplace statistics? That’s the thing about good cards, especially when they are neutral and low in rarity: it’s quite likely most of the active players have already picked them up!
Are you one of those who already put in a happy purchase review for these cards, or are you still holding out? Do you think these cards will also play a big part in the post-Trial of the Gods metagame? Let us know what you think and keep an eye out for the next entry in our Official Marketplace analysis series!