Hi everyone, it's been a while since the last really high profile tournament so I thought we could all use a quick refresher on the current metagame. This article will require you to know/learn what each of the cards do as I have opted to discuss more strategy options instead. However if you will join me an hour before the event on my stream we here at Battlebranded will be going through the basics for the fresh faces keen to learn how it all works.
Join us at: http://www.twitch.tv/turquoiselink
Whilst the various websites provide some good information on SolForge if you're wanting to keep up to date Kaelari's Ladder is where we all get our information from. Check the completed tournaments tab to get an idea of what the metagame looks like or strike up a metagame discussion in the chat. For the deck lists in this article I have simply pulled various lists from recently completed tournaments on the ladder that I feel showcase the archetype well, the list is not necessarily "theirs". With that out of the way, lets begin.
In the beginning, there was Broodqueen. She has ruled over SolForge for as long as many of us have been playing. I know my first tournament was the October WCQ where 15/16 of us played her in the single elimination rounds (with only Technonaut insisting on keeping his self-respect). The deck as we see it today revolves a little less around the title card than in times past, many are even calling it a Spiritstone Sentry deck with Broodqueen a mere bit player or not included at all.
3x Duskmaw, Twilight Drake
3x Spiritstone Sentry
3x Malice Hermit
3x Shardplate Behemoth
3x Leyline Demon
2x Suruzal, Emmissary of Varna
2x Weirwood Patriarch
2x Dysian Broodqueen
2x Lysian Shard
2x Scythe of Chiron
The primary gimmick of this deck is that Spiritstone Sentry is stone immortal, if you fill up the 3 centre lanes with creatures Spiritstone is guaranteed to keep coming back to life in side lanes over and over again, usually much larger than his initial 3/3 body. Even if you can't keep the lanes full he is usually 50% or 66% to come back on the side. One thing to keep an eye out for is the Suruzal trick. We will see if any of the players choose to run her but when she targets a Spiritstone both her revive ability and the Spiritstone's natural revive ability trigger and 2 of them end up coming back to life where only 1 had died.
Another major player in this deck is the Malice Hermit. The big green man is a relatively new area of SolForge design in that he is at his strongest when you are behind on board, he will catch you back up by poisoning all your opponents creatures. On the flipside though, if you are ahead on the board he will poison all your own creatures instead and if you draw a level 2 Hermit during player level 2 are you really going to decide not to play him? Fortunately for Broodqueen its immortality plan can survive, and even benefit, from poisoning all your own creatures so you manage to play one of the strongest defensive cards in the game without the usual restrictions on him.
-Dendrify is their primary removal spell, look for that one when they're facing down a giant unstoppable monster.
-Leyline Demon comes into play for free if their opponent plays more than the usual 2 spells during a turn, Players will often choose to play around it or not depending on the Demon's level relative to the current player level, a 4/6 at player level 3 is nothing but an 8/10 might be a little scarier.
-Between Scythe of Chiron, Lysian Shard, Dysian Siphon, Tendrils of Twilight and Dendrify combats for U/N decks rarely go as they are scripted on the board. U/N can change the numbers written on their cards almost at will.
-Keep an eye out for Duskmaw combos. Duskmaw is usually low on most players priorities but anytime they draw him together with his Tendril something is probably dying for free. Remember that a level 1 Duskmaw will kill even level 3 creatures, there's no restrictions.
-Varna, Immortal King is predicted by many to become a part of the U/N decks, we will see if the competitors agree.
And then, from the darkness rose a competitor, the Rage of Kadras was printed. A/T from its inception used Ashurian Flamesculptor and Master of Elements to combo with the Rage and create huge, swingy turns. These days A/T Rage is a more traditional aggressive deck with many of the old synergies cut, keeping a lot of room to adapt to new cards as they are printed.
3 Frostmane Dragon
3 Borean Windweaver
3 Brimstone Tyrant
3 Relic Hunter
3 Nexus Aeronaut
3 Oratek Battlebrand
3 Oratek Explosives
2 Oreian Justicar
2 Korok, Khan of Kadras
2 Rage of Kadras
One of the old rules of SolForge is that Tempys creatures are small and weak, and while that still holds true somewhat they have become tricky in recent times. A/T Rage more than any other deck showcases the concept of underdrops in SolForge. It doesn't necessarily level the most or the strongest cards (although Oratek Battlebrand does let them do that too) but utilises the strength of level 1 Oratek Explosives and Rage of Kadras to kill opposing level 3 creatures.
The main card to discuss is Relic Hunter, the Hunter himself is quite weak but his Relic Scout basically just turns your creatures into bigger than their creatures for free. These are what often give Rage the early advantages and resilient creatures they need in order to begin their unstoppable snowball. Keep in mind that the Relic Scout does not need to be replaced immediately, it can be used as a free soldier in its own right, especially comboing with Nexus Aeronaut to take down 3 hp creatures rather than use a "real" creature. It also provides a free way to trigger the AoE damage on your Brimstone Tyrant.
In this list Steric has included the full 3 of the new Doppelbot. While a 4/8 with someone elses ability is nothing to write home about, it is exceptionally strong against the popular Spiritstone Sentry. He doesn't share the weakness of the Spiritstone's small body, and so if he steals it's ability he will be coming back to life as a gigantic monster.
Whilst Steric has chosen Doppelbots and Justicars, A/T decks are quite diverse these days and who knows which kind will show up. Some prefer a more leveling oriented strategy with Steeleye Seer and Scorchmane Dragon. Some prefer more of a burn plan with Dragonwake and Windspark Elemental.
-Oratek Explosives and Rage of Kadras are their primary way of killing a big, unstoppable monster, but this requires creatures to already be in play to work.
-Look for how each player prioritises their Korok's, Korok excels at dealing a lot of damage and playing an aggro role, but is quite weak when you are trying to win advantages against other aggressive decks.
-Be aware that A/T creatures never have to take a fight they don't like, nearly everything moves, and Borean Windweaver can send them to anywhere it likes.
-The 3rd turn of each player level is the magical Frostmane Dragon level. This allows him to safely lay an egg at the beginning of the 4th turn and immediately hatch it by leveling up at the end.
-Look out for any Oreian Justicars players might run, they can completely shut down opposing Spiritstone Sentries by shredding their attack when they revive.
And at the end of days there was a devil, and he was the Herald of Destruction. Originally changed as a means to prevent a loop the client wasn't prepared to deal with (Herald of Destruction/Rite of the Grimgaunt/Spiritstone Sentry) the Herald has become a staple of the current metagame. It is a U/T deck focused around its title card. It plays him at every opportunity and struggles when it fails to draw him.
3x Herald of Destruction
3x Weirwood Patriarch
3x Shardplate Behemoth
3x Malice Hermit
3x Uranti Warlord
2x Lysian Shard
2x Shardbound Invoker
The easy starting point of discussion here is the infamous Herald Bomb. By playing Phytobomb with a Herald of Destruction out, you trigger your Heralds multiple times and deal damage equal to the total power worth of Herald of Destruction's in play multiplied by the number of open lanes your opponent has. Often anywhere between 40 and 200 damage. This takes into account the multiple pump effects in the deck, the bigger you can grow your Herald the more damage is dealt.
As a secondary plan the deck features the usual rogues gallery of Uterra monsters but also a heavy targeted removal suite. Whilst Dendrify has been an all-star, Botanimate and Metamorphosis are generally considered weak cards. Combined with the Herald though they can trigger him to not leave anything behind, as well as deal a large chunk of damage to the opponents face.
For this deck in particular Rayghar has chosen to invest in the Thundersaur/Patriarch plan of the olden days. Herald players the world over have been trying to solve these relatively open deck slots with some preferring the Brimstone Tyrant/Windspark Elemental route. We'll have to see if the World Championship competitors have found what they like to do with these slots.
-Keep count of what level each of the 3 Herald's of Destruction are, that will determine the players late-game potential.
-Note how opponents will usually try to preserve their life total and fill up lanes even when it may seem inefficient to do so. Trying to survive the Herald Bomb is a top priority.
-Whilst the deck does rely heavily on the title card it does have many other 2-card combos it can play. Double Uranti Warlord or Thundersaur + Weirdwood Patriarch might come straight out of early 2014 but it means the Herald has a variety of blowout plays available.
But there were other decks, and for a time at least the world brims with life. Whilst these 3 form the pillars of the metagame that everyone is planning for, there are many other potential strategies to be chosen that we are unfortunately out of room to discuss here. Thanks for reading and I'll see you all when it starts!