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Attack of the Cloned Net Decks

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
KranokB Kranok11
BD Kranok5
BS Kranok1
Tetzot, Son of OmocRS Tetzot, Son of Omoc10
CressidaRW Cressida8
RSW Cressida1
Zorzym of KorruBS Zorzym of Korru7
Winter MoonSW Winter Moon5
UrgnockR Urgnock4
Bunoshi the RuthlessB Bunoshi the Ruthless3
BenvolioRW Benvolio1
RS Benvolio1
R Benvolio1
Zared VenomscornB Zared Venomscorn1
Rutherford BanksDS Rutherford Banks1
Running DeerRW Running Deer1
Prairie MeadowD Prairie Meadow1
PalamedesD Palamedes1
Nin the ShadowBS Nin the Shadow1
Mightsinger AlyndraBW Mightsinger Alyndra1
Dreaming FoxS Dreaming Fox1
DimmidDS Dimmid1
Bryson MaplewoodDR Bryson Maplewood1

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 ShadowBS Nin the Shadow8.0
Bryson MaplewoodDR Bryson Maplewood7.0
KranokB Kranok6.5
BS Kranok6.0
BD Kranok5.6
Winter MoonSW Winter Moon6.0
BenvolioR Benvolio7.0
RS Benvolio6.0
RW Benvolio5.0
Zorzym of KorruBS Zorzym of Korru5.9
CressidaRW Cressida6.0
RSW Cressida5.0
Tetzot, Son of OmocRS Tetzot, Son of Omoc5.9
UrgnockR Urgnock5.8
Bunoshi the RuthlessB Bunoshi the Ruthless5.7
Zared VenomscornB Zared Venomscorn5.0
Rutherford BanksDS Rutherford Banks5.0
Running DeerRW Running Deer5.0
Prairie MeadowD Prairie Meadow5.0
PalamedesD Palamedes5.0
Mightsinger AlyndraBW Mightsinger Alyndra5.0
Dreaming FoxS Dreaming Fox5.0
DimmidDS Dimmid5.0

 

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:

 

cardcard typequantity
Blood ShardResource21
Crackling VortexResource3
Xentoth’s InquisitorTroop4
ExtinctionBasic Action4
Vampire KingTroop4
Vampire PrincessTroop4
InquisitionBasic Action4
KillQuick Action4
Vampiric KissQuick Action3
Phenteo the Brood PriestTroop2
Rise AgainBasic Action2
Pact of PainConstant2
Withering TouchBasic Action2
UruunazTroop1

 

Reserves

Exarch of the EggTroop4
Chaos KeyArtifact3
Terrible TransferQuick Action2
Argus, Herald of DoomArtifact Troop2
Vampiric KissQuick Action1
Pact of PainConstant1
Crackling RotQuick Action1
Withering TouchBasic Action1

 

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:

 

cardcard typequantity
Diamond ShardResource12
Ruby ShardResource9
Angel of DawnTroop4
Protectorate DefenderTroop4
Quash Ridge TuskerTroop4
Valiant EscortTroop4
Crackling BoltBasic Action4
MartyrQuick Action4
Iljun’s ParadeBasic Action3
BurnQuick Action3
Deadeye RipperTroop3
Hopeheart UnicornTroop3
Solitary ExileConstant2
Pride’s FallQuick Action1

 

Reserves

Frost WizardTroop3
Heat WaveBasic Action3
Pride’s FallQuick Action3
FissuresmithTroop3
Cerebral DominationConstant2
Houndmaster of ArdevaasTroop1

 

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:

 

cardcard typequantity
Ruby ShardResource20
Burn to the GroundBasic Action4
RagefireBasic Action4
Psychotic AnarchistTroop4
ScorchBasic Action4
Sunsoul PhoenixTroop4
BurnQuick Action4
Crackling BoltBasic Action4
Kindling SkarnTroop4
Crazed RummagingBasic Action4
Mesmeric HypnoscientistTroop2
MindpyreConstant2

 

Reserves:

Heroic OutlawTroop4
FissuresmithTroop4
Mesmeric HypnoscientistTroop2
MindpyreConstant2
Ruby LanceQuick Action2
Cannon VolleyBasic Action1

 

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.

Hex Kickstarter backer. Contributor to 2 Turns Ahead Podcast. Invitational Qualifier. Shoutcaster for the Cup of Fate tournament series. Player formerly known as JuzamJedi.

4 Comments on Attack of the Cloned Net Decks

  1. Loved this article!

  2. Thanks for the feedback. I will probably turn this into a series to continue evaluating the metagame after major tournaments. We just need the next big tournament 😉

  3. Great article. I played against Sethanon (I was playing RS Tetzot) when I was 4-1 or 4-2. As he was destroying my deck, I couldn’t help but think what a cool deck he was playing. I was completely unprepared to go to reserves against him. The only game I won had him denied rubies and it was still close because he kept killing my stuff with all his diamond removal. Glad he’s getting a shout out here.

  4. Thanks for featuring the deck and you are right, the sideboard is quite messy, but it did reasonably well given Blood Cup meta. Since then I have redone it several times – additional cards to be considered in sideboard are Soul Marble or Living totem you mentioned, but in addition there is more Solitary Exiles, Heroic Outlaw, Eye of Lixils, Golden Avengers, Eye of Lixil, Meeks, Repels, Deathmasks or even a shard (the shard count is really low for using Soul Marble or Totem).

    R/D has done reasonably well recently (see Rzelky or Phoenix in IQ) and there is the right competitive deck somewhere out there that will surely take the Iljun’s Parade to IQ finals 😉

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