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Competitive Armies Discussion Discuss, critique, and build ideas for tournament-caliber armies.


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Old August 15th, 2015, 02:27 PM
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AotP Meta Report (August 2015)

Warning: this is going to be a long read.

I’m trying to start something a little different than the normal power rankings. Card games have much more dynamic metagames than board games, so I’m recording current perceptions of the colors and their cards. The colors* will be ranked on their power level vs. the other four Planeswalker in a 1 vs. 1 Kill the Planeswalker game. This post will be updated an interval of time after each expansion releases with updated reviews of the colors and their standing in the metagame, as new cards become introduced and old cards become outclassed or find a new home. For this first review, I’m trying to give an example of what I will be doing in the future (and create something fun to read in a couple years). Since there will likely not be any competitive tournaments before the first expansion is released, this review is purely from my own gameplay. I would be happy to discuss my evaluation with anyone who wants to, since I may be missing something about how to play with and against certain colors.

*I reserve the right to change the rankings to Planeswalkers instead of colors

#1: Blue- In a kill the Planeswalker match, 1 vs. 1 (which I anticipate will be the standard tournament format), Blue is extremely tough to beat, mostly due to Unsummon and the consistency with which Blue can draw that effect. Blue felt like a clear top pick to me.

Why is Unsummon so good? The games are very short, so the Unsummon effect is extremely potent for destroying the offense of your opponent. It also destroys all enchantments on the Unsummoned card, which further slows and limits the opponent’s ability to kill Jace. And Jace is able to make use of this time to draw into cards like Twisted Image or Mind Control that give him or his squads extra damage to put the hurt on the enemy Planeswalker, all the while dropping attacks of 5 (or 3 attacks of 3, with Illusionary Projections) on them. Especially powerful are the two Hidden Enchant Unsummon effects, since they do not only Unsummon the enemy squad, but they also deny all attacks for this turn. There are ways to slightly limit the effects of this, by only attacking the figure with an Unsummon Hidden Enchant with your last attack to get two extra attacks off, but it’s still devastating and hard to counter for most decks and draws.

The other reason why Blue is so strong at the moment is his ability to filter out the bad cards in his deck and draw into the good ones. Selective Memory and Focused Thoughts (and even Collective Knowledge) give the deck unrivaled consistency. Repetition in effects of cards, like the three Unsummon effects, also add consistency. Other decks will eventually reach that level of consistency when more cards are added to the pool, but Blue is the most coherent deck at this point.

I don’t think Blue in its current form will continue to dominate once expansions come out. Common squads are unaffected by Blue’s Unsummon effects, which renders most of the way he works useless if they are usable (and they probably will be). Blue will get new cards in the expansion that will likely be good as well, but I don’t think that ridiculous tempo-gaining Blue will exist forever.

Army Cards:
Spoiler Alert!

Spells:
Spoiler Alert!

#2: Green- I think here is where the order of the heroes gets a little subjective. Green, Red, and Black are all actually fairly evenly balanced and I think that personal preferences and experiences are going to influence which you think are better. For my own part, if Blue were banned and I had to win a single game, Green would be my pick, and that’s why I put them second.

Green simply has the most varied win conditions of any deck. Its fantastic range can make opponents play differently in the early game, slowing down their own win condition, which gives Green time to draw into the super combo - Paths Revealed + Overrun on the Pummelroots. Against 3 defense, 3 attacks of 6 averages 6.16 wounds. Against 4 defense, the combo averages 5.31 wounds. If you have a Titanic Growth to add into the combo, it’s more likely than not that you one shot their Planeswalker. It’s within the realm of possibility that you win on the combo turn, and pretty likely that you can finish them off with your archers the turn after. Remember, they still have to deal with the three Pummelroots sitting on top of their Planeswalker. Beyond that win condition, cards like Snare the Skies, Groundswell, and Leaf Arrow can be great ways to push damage on to their Planeswalker and the long range of Green allows for any damage pushing to have solid followup.

Nissa is also the most survivable Planeswalker, with great range to keep her safe, and great life and defense in case someone does get to her. Bountiful Harvest is a great healing spell to extend her life. Nissa’s Expedition gives Nissa an effective 11 move and disengage for that turn; plenty to escape any army. Primeval Light is incredible at destroying the buffs that Black/White puts out or the hidden enchantments that Blue relies on.

I do think Green is one of the harder decks to play, since you have to change styles based off what cards you’ve drawn. That will probably change once expansions come, as more cards will mean more repetition of effects. I think that expansions in general will benefit Green since some fantastic cards such as Overrun and Snare the Skies work on common squads. Commons will be able to take further advantage of these already strong attack boosts, since they will almost always be able to get three (or maybe more, if four man squads happen) boosted attacks from them.

Army Cards:
Spoiler Alert!

Spells:
Spoiler Alert!


#3: Red- This is a lot lower than most people have Red. Before I had the game, I was also a believer that Red was the strongest color. It seemed to have a variety of ways to instantly kill an opponent and it definitely does. 7 cards in the deck (Chandra’s Fury, Dual Casting, Firebreathing, Power of Fire, Seize the Day, Stoke the Flames, and Twinflame) are all great cards and can lead to lots of damage on the enemy Planeswalker very quickly. But there are a few reasons why Red struggles:

7 cards are good, but the other 5 are bad- Most of the rest of the deck is removal spells that require Chandra to get in close, which she doesn't want to do. She also doesn’t really need to do one damage to squad figures, since Super Heated already does that.

Double-space denial- A careful opponent knows the Firecats are going to come and that they are double-spaced, and that they can only be summoned 5 spaces from Chandra, and they can use that knowledge to place their squad figures in a way that limits the Firecats from getting adjacent to their Planeswalker.

Relatively fragile- Chandra and her whole army in general is the shortest range besides White, and it’s also extremely fragile. It’s possible that your opponent is able to limit your offense before you draw enough combo pieces and you are forced to use the Firecats just to keep up with their offense, which makes it nearly impossible to actually win.

Power of Hidden Enchantments- Strangling Soot, Aetherspouts, Scatter Arc, Psychic Rebuttal and Naturalize are all really good at stopping combo turns. Healing spells like Bountiful Harvest and Altar’s Reap are also a problem if you can’t finish the Planewswalker.

Now that that is out of the way, let’s get to the good things about Red. The Firecats are amazing with any sort of attack boost and Seize the Day is borderline broken. Red also has a very proactive game plan, and it can win against any deck in any game with above average rolls and draws. Double Attack is also fantastic and makes taking turns with the Planeswalker not feel like a waste.

I think expansions will help Red. The more cards released that have attack boosting effects will make a Red deck built on the Firecat combo much more consistently drawn into. Also, Super Heated will gain a lot of utility if common squads only have 1 life (which seems likely).

Army Cards:
Spoiler Alert!


Spells:
Spoiler Alert!


#4- Black- The only true control deck in the game. Snuff Out and Darkness Arises, along with a plethora of fantastic removal spells (Bone Splinters, Killing Wave, Corrupt) make Black the undisputed king of the late game. The amount of discard in the deck also can also destroy the opponent’s win condition cards, which helps Black reach the lategame state.

Black’s problem is that the three decks above it are able to consistently take down Liliana before she reaches the attrition phase. Outside of Dark Harvest, Liliana lacks tools to put the same amount of pressure on enemy Planeswalker. Liliana will have some dominant wins, but more games where she comes short.

Another problem that the deck can have is that the self-destruct spells are only good if you are destroying Restless Zombies. Using things like Altar’s Reap and Bone Splinters to destroy a Blighted Reaver can be necessary, but it can really hurt your win condition since it’s much harder to bring a Reaver back.

It's hard to evaluate how expansions will change Black at the moment. If common squads have 1 life, Snuff out is useless and Black will lose its best power. If common squads have more than 1 life, Black will have great power in thinning the opponents hordes faster, and Black will have more bodies to protect its fragile Planeswalker.

Army Cards:
Spoiler Alert!

Spells:
Spoiler Alert!


#5- White- After Green, Red, and Black, there is a pretty large dropoff before White. White has struggled to win any games at all in our tests. Its main problem is that a lot of the cards in the deck are based on the theme of buffing on the squads' defense. In this game, buffing your defense does absolutely nothing your own turn. In fact, in terms of survivability, you are actually more likely to survive through the next turn by buffing your attack, since you can kill the things that were going to attack you. Buffing your defense just doesn't do enough on your own turn to create a path to victory.

The other problem is that it’s really easy to fight through the buffed up defense. Red and Black have auto-wounding cards that don’t care how much defense you have. Blue and Green have cards that completely destroy the buffs that you put on the squads. And since the buffs didn’t do anything on White’s turn, the cards end up doing nothing at all.

White will need to get very good common squads to become a viable choice, but I do see that as a possibility. If expansions give White a strong common squad and cards to boost it, White could be a good choice.

Army Cards:
Spoiler Alert!

Spells:
Spoiler Alert!

Last edited by vegietarian18; August 17th, 2015 at 04:10 PM.
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  #2  
Old August 15th, 2015, 06:23 PM
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Re: AotP Meta Report (August 2015)

I could get on board with these rankings, especially if it's true that one cannot summon the firecats, put an enchantment on them, and then attack with one. Red is still good but they definitely drop behind blue if that's the case.

I would agree with you that green is also very good. They have a little bit of everything except for auto wounds. That range is gonna be huge.

And white sucks. I can't believe that army went past playtesting and people thought it was balanced at all. I hope that isn't an indicator of the kind of playtesting they are doing on the whole. Because like you said, the other colors are all pretty even
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Old August 16th, 2015, 12:49 AM
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Re: AotP Meta Report (August 2015)

Yeah, White is really bad. I'm hoping that the base set is weak because they are going to get some really good common squads (like the Einar of this game basically) but it's not a sure thing, especially if they stick with the defense theme.
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Old August 16th, 2015, 02:27 PM
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Re: AotP Meta Report (August 2015)

Quote:
Originally Posted by gamjuven View Post
... especially if it's true that one cannot summon the firecats, put an enchantment on them, and then attack with one.
I see no reason for this being the case. You can cast spells after you summon. You just can't cast them during move or attack steps.
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Old August 16th, 2015, 06:41 PM
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Re: AotP Meta Report (August 2015)

I think the word "immediately" precludes casting spells prior to the attack by the hasty firecat. I could be wrong, but if they intended it to work as Colorcrayons suggested, I think phrasing it as "...you may attack with a Blazing Firecat this turn" would have made more sense.
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Old August 16th, 2015, 10:49 PM
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Re: AotP Meta Report (August 2015)

Ahh yes, I see what you mean, jwsanners2. I agree that the word "Immediately" does preclude that, in this case.
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Old August 23rd, 2015, 12:07 PM
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Re: AotP Meta Report (August 2015)

The OP is a great analytical piece, which also looks forward to the effect of expansions on the value of the current spell cards. Now that I've finally started playing the game, I'm giving it the reading it deserves. We still need to iron out some rules concepts and agree on interpretations.
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  #8  
Old August 23rd, 2015, 01:39 PM
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Re: AotP Meta Report (August 2015)

Quote:
Originally Posted by vegietarian18 View Post
Yeah, White is really bad. I'm hoping that the base set is weak because they are going to get some really good common squads (like the Einar of this game basically) but it's not a sure thing, especially if they stick with the defense theme.
White worked out for me really well when I played him. The rhino men had all kinds of buffs including plus 1 attack and plus 3 defense. I actually won five games in a row using a different Planeswalker each time. So I have a hard time deciding what ratings to give them.

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Old September 7th, 2015, 11:54 PM
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Re: AotP Meta Report (August 2015)

So far I am having a hard time ranking as well. Honestly the synergy of each army works really well, with itself. And it seems that victory tends to come down to the timing of spells and placement of units, which is player causal not function casul. I think rankings wont really be definable until we see our first tournaments.

Record Count Since First Tourney
Wins 45 Losses 52
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Old September 8th, 2015, 11:47 AM
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Re: AotP Meta Report (August 2015)

I just played a game last night and my white planeswalker easily took out the blue planeswalker. White gets all those extra hits when attacking if there are enemy figures nearby, and there were five enemy figures within 2 clear sight spaces. Plus I had the power glyph. So I was rolling 4 dice plus 5 auto hits. One of the other planeswalkers did a hit or two on the blue planeswalker and I finished him off in one shot.

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Old September 8th, 2015, 12:05 PM
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Re: AotP Meta Report (August 2015)

I think the metagame is drastically different in multiplayer games and this thread was created with 1v1 play in mind. Blue is definitely going to be weaker when he has more opponents since he can only shut down the offense of one of them. White is going to be better since his defense boosts will be meaningful on a larger percentage of turns of the game. Red will probably get weaker since it can only focus one player down. Green will get better since its range will help it stay out of the fight. Black will probably get better since multiplayer games will go longer and Snuff Out can be triggered by an opponent. The exact ordering I can't say since I have not run enough multiplayer games.

I agree that tournaments will help but I have been running tournament style games to create these rankings. These ratings now are more a reference to what I will be doing in the future when tournaments and expansions come.
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