Welcome to a new series of articles that I will be writing here on Fiveshards. In this article series I am going to review tournament results for selected major tournaments and tell you the story of the tournament. What were the popular decks? What were some surprise decks that did well? Are there decks that were very popular that were not as successful? I will also spend some time to highlight a couple of deck lists that I think are interesting for various reasons. If you are a competitive PVP player this article series will let you know what the metagame looks like and what are the targets that you need to beat.
For our first look in this series I am going to cover the season 3 Blood Cup tournament results. I want to point out that we did not collect deck lists for this tournament since it was run in client. Hex provides a data feed with results for constructed tournaments run in client, but they only show the top performing decks. In this case we are only able to look at the top 68 decks rather than the entire 200+ players that participated. This is the first major tournament after the core rules change that I talked about in my last article. I made a few predictions in that article so let’s see what the top decks were:
|Most popular archetypes|
|Tetzot, Son of Omoc||RS Tetzot, Son of Omoc||10|
|Zorzym of Korru||BS Zorzym of Korru||7|
|Winter Moon||SW Winter Moon||5|
|Bunoshi the Ruthless||B Bunoshi the Ruthless||3|
|Zared Venomscorn||B Zared Venomscorn||1|
|Rutherford Banks||DS Rutherford Banks||1|
|Running Deer||RW Running Deer||1|
|Prairie Meadow||D Prairie Meadow||1|
|Nin the Shadow||BS Nin the Shadow||1|
|Mightsinger Alyndra||BW Mightsinger Alyndra||1|
|Dreaming Fox||S Dreaming Fox||1|
|Bryson Maplewood||DR Bryson Maplewood||1|
Based on the champion choices I would say the core changes made an impact on what players decided to play in the Blood cup. Kranok was the clear #1 champion choice in the Blood Cup with 17 players selecting Kranok. Even if you look at specific archetypes, Mono Blood Kranok is still the most popular deck with 11 players. Tetzot was second most popular champion with 10 players running RS Tetzot. Cressida was a lot less popular than normal (or maybe less successful?) deck with 9 players in the top 68. Urgnock still put 4 players in the top 68 in spite of his starting health nerf. Possibly the most interesting to me is seeing 3 different Benvolio players in the top 68. Prior to this tournament we have rarely seen Benvolio in constructed and in fact he was successful in 3 completely different archetypes.
For another look at the top 68 let’s look at the average wins by archetype to see which of these are the most successful against the other top decks:
|Avg wins by archetype|
|Nin the Shadow||BS Nin the Shadow||8.0|
|Bryson Maplewood||DR Bryson Maplewood||7.0|
|Winter Moon||SW Winter Moon||6.0|
|Zorzym of Korru||BS Zorzym of Korru||5.9|
|Tetzot, Son of Omoc||RS Tetzot, Son of Omoc||5.9|
|Bunoshi the Ruthless||B Bunoshi the Ruthless||5.7|
|Zared Venomscorn||B Zared Venomscorn||5.0|
|Rutherford Banks||DS Rutherford Banks||5.0|
|Running Deer||RW Running Deer||5.0|
|Prairie Meadow||D Prairie Meadow||5.0|
|Mightsinger Alyndra||BW Mightsinger Alyndra||5.0|
|Dreaming Fox||S Dreaming Fox||5.0|
At the top of the list we have a couple of outliers for decks that were not popular and performed very well. It’s extra cool to see them do so well since these champions were virtually nonexistent before the core changes. BS Nin the Shadow was a Vennen control player that decided the champion power change was worth a few extra health points. RD Bryson Maplewood was an aggro deck with a good mix of early aggression and a couple of cards to provide some staying power in the late game. I want to highlight Benvolio again because the mono Ruby Benvolio deck was pretty successful and fell just 1 match short of making the top 8. Of the popular champions we see that Kranok clearly the most successful in the swiss rounds and mono Blood outperformed the other flavors of Kranok decks. Cressida and Tetzot players mostly met expectations and had a solid average.
The winner of the season 3 Blood Cup was Koma. You might know Koma as one of the players qualified for the Invitational at Hex headquarters in February thanks to his constructed IQ win. In this tournament Koma went 8-1 in the Swiss before winning the top 8. Here’s his winning mono Blood list:
|Vampiric Kiss||Quick Action||3|
|Phenteo the Brood Priest||Troop||2|
|Rise Again||Basic Action||2|
|Pact of Pain||Constant||2|
|Withering Touch||Basic Action||2|
|Exarch of the Egg||Troop||4|
|Terrible Transfer||Quick Action||2|
|Argus, Herald of Doom||Artifact Troop||2|
|Vampiric Kiss||Quick Action||1|
|Pact of Pain||Constant||1|
|Crackling Rot||Quick Action||1|
|Withering Touch||Basic Action||1|
Mono blood Kranok is a deck that we have seen before. The notable changes that Koma made include 4 Xentoth’s Inquisitor, 3 Vampiric Kiss, 2 Rise Again and 2 Pact of Pain in the main deck. If you expect a lot of Blood mirrors and Tetzot these seem like great changes compared to some of the other cards you sometimes see in the main. A lot of Blood mirror matches go long and the Xentoth’s Inquisitors and Pact of Pain are very strong at grinding out the opponent by shrinking opposing vampires and drawing extra cards when your vampires do damage. Rise Again can target either graveyard so the ability to return a key troop like Argus, Herald of Doom can really swing a match as well. Vampiric Kiss can kill some important troops such as Puck and Periwinkle, but mostly it seems like a concession to quick Azurefate in the Tetzot matchup. In the reserve Chaos Keys are the best answer Blood has for a constant like Soul Marble and Argus is a strong trump for control mirrors if the opponent does not have the right answer to it immediately. Overall I really like his choices and he seemed well prepared to beat this metagame.
Beyond the winning deck list I also want to highlight a couple of the innovative decks that did very well in the tournament. It is possible that these might be the next big contenders for constructed so if you want to go rogue then these seem like good choices to try out. First up we’ll look at Sethanon’s 7-2 Diamond Ruby Bryson deck:
|Angel of Dawn||Troop||4|
|Quash Ridge Tusker||Troop||4|
|Crackling Bolt||Basic Action||4|
|Iljun’s Parade||Basic Action||3|
|Pride’s Fall||Quick Action||1|
|Heat Wave||Basic Action||3|
|Pride’s Fall||Quick Action||3|
|Houndmaster of Ardevaas||Troop||1|
This deck is aggressive with 15 troops that cost 1 (Angel is basically a 1 drop), and 4 Protectorate Defender with the +1 gem to pump up your troops. Iljun’s Parade is socketed with the destruction gem for direct damage along with Crackling Bolt and Burn as cards that can affect the board or provide some reach to close out games. Hopeheart Unicorn is a great main deck threat that protects your team from Heat Wave or Extinction. This is also one of the best Martyr decks because all of its modes (removing an enemy troop; removing the worst troop on your side to pump the rest of your team) are relevant here. In the reserves Frost Wizard is a good card that has a lot of applications against Winter Moon or recursive threats like Xentoth’s Inquisitor. Cerebral Domination is another card that is great against Countermagic decks like Winter Moon, but you usually only want to have 1 copy in play since the second copy does nothing. Heat Wave is usually best when your own troops have 3+ defense, but it works here because you can choose when to play it and Hopeheart Unicorn can let you overextend. The presence of Fissuresmith says to me that aggro matches are a problem because it is the only tunneler in the 75. While I like what the deck is doing I think there are a couple cards you could test that might work better in this metagame. Spiritbound Spy seems like a card that helps fight opposing aggro decks well and fits with the champion’s need to have more troops in play. I would also be tempted to try Living Totem and Soul Marble somewhere in the 75, but they are a lot slower and really only shine against control decks that stop your early rush.
The other rogue deck I want to highlight is GPrime’s 7-2 mono Ruby Benvolio deck:
|Burn to the Ground||Basic Action||4|
|Crackling Bolt||Basic Action||4|
|Crazed Rummaging||Basic Action||4|
|Ruby Lance||Quick Action||2|
|Cannon Volley||Basic Action||1|
This is a deck we have not seen much in the tournament scene. I remember seeing some decks like this in gauntlet before and it’s not your typical mono ruby rush deck. Here we have a deck that is capable of some crazy fast starts with Kindling Skarn and Sunsoul Phoenix that can hit hard and fast when supported by cheap actions. The deck also has a fair amount of card draw with Psychotic Anarchist and Crazed Rummaging. While it is true that neither of these are card advantage (in fact Crazed Rummaging is actually card disadvantage) it does not matter here because you can play Skarn before you rummage and Phoenix can be played from the graveyard if you discard it randomly. Another point for the deck here is you have several dream draws that are very difficult to beat if you get them. 2-3 Phoenix on turn 2, forcing your opponent to discard all of his shards on turn 1-2 with Crazed Rumaging, and 4x Ragefire for 20 damage are all pretty crazy ways to win. Mindpyre is very strong against Winter Moon champion as well as the Pact of Pain that the blood decks sometimes play. In the reserves we see Heroic Outlaws which can win with speed and direct damage against other midrange or aggro decks. The extra Mindpyres are great against control. The Fissuresmiths are a lot better here because of the bluff value you get when they are paired up with fellow tunneler Mesmeric Hypnoscientist. I like this deck if you expect a lot of control; especially Winter Moon where the Mindpyre damage really adds up.
That’s all I have for this week. I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the constructed metagame and know what decks you need to defeat in the next tournament (or to play for yourself). Mono Blood Kranok was both very popular and also very successful in this tournament. If you want to win your next PVP tournament you definitely need to have that deck on your radar. RW Cressida is still a deck you have to beat, but it is no longer the dominant force it once was. We also have a couple of rogue options that performed well and you can try instead if you want a change of pace. Good luck and have fun figuring out how to beat the army of net decks out there.
P.S. – props to Matt Miller (deckofmanythings) for coming up with the article series title.