Welcome to the first iteration of the Dutch Coven’s State of the Meta, a monthly article in which we run down the current meta, which deck archetypes are the more prevalent, propose ready made decklists, and give analysis on which holes you could look to fill if you want to try and counter the current power plays. It is intended for both new recruits and established veterans alike and will be short and succinct; two minutes of reading for a months’ worth of perspective. The back catalogue will also allow us to reminisce about The Golden Years in the times to come.
The Current Meta
Power resides only where men believe it resides
The meta remains heavily dominated by Targaryen, Tyrell and Martell. Accounting for more than 50% of the field in June and a staggering 68% of the cut, the likelihood you will have success without being able to contend against these decks is small. Greyjoy, Lannister and Night’s Watch continue to have poor tournament showings and cut success, especially in the case of the former, where Greyjoy accounts for only 3%. This will in part be influencing the success of Tyrell and Martell as they need pay no heed to Euron Greyjoy stealing key locations. Barathon has seen a slow increase in popularity and success, going from a -0.74 qualification ratio in May, up to -0.22 in June. Recent additions like Bastard of Nightsong will for sure have played a part in that climb. Whilst the prevalence of Night’s Watch decks saw an initial surge upon the release of Tricksy Bird, the faction continues to struggle in a meta heavily influenced by the potency of Breaking Ties. Even with an increased number of plots to choose from due to the overwhelming majority of Wars decks, the bird isn’t all that tricksy. Lannister have still seen almost no new good cards in over a year and Stark remains as stable as ever with the edition of some fun new cards like the Bolton Flayer, which is one of the few cards as of late that when it hits the table, instantly changes how the game is played; more of that please.
Figure 1 – Participants by Faction (June)
Figure 2 – Cuts by Faction (June)
Figure 3 – Qualification Ratio (June)
Whilst not being any indication of success, The Stone Drum does give some early insight into how the meta may develop for the month to come. Stark in this regard seems to be on the march. Both cards from The Shadow City are seeing play which is undoubtedly a factor. Northern Armory certainly seems to be having a greater impact than anticipated. Who knew that non-limited economy with a stand effect would be so potent (I genuinely looked past it). Wyman Manderly will only bring Stark even further to the fore and come July they look to be a rival for the current top three in terms of participation. As to their projected success, that is still to be determined.
Figure 4 – Decklist Building Popularity
The Tier List
Chaos is a ladder…Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.
Below you will find a list of established deck archetypes broken down into tiers. Decks that are an eclectic smattering of cardboard will not find their way here. That is by no means an indication that your home-brew is not tier 1, these are just the established decks that are concentrated around a specific theme or consistent approach. Due to lack of data this list is in part based on some subjectivity, but grounded in evidence, research and media musings. They will need tweaking to match your current meta and play style, but will give you a solid foundation of the theme.
(The strongest decks in the game. If you can’t beat them, join them)
(Close contenders, but just missing that final flick of paint to make them masterpieces)
(Can still win you a tournament with a bit of luck and savvy pilot, but it will be a bumpy road)
Bridging the Gap
The Bridge of Dream, Griff called it, but this dream was smashed and broken
The perplexing dilemma is how to manufacture something that can overcome a three way faction split that for the most part look to deliver on very diverse game plans. You need to protect your characters from Targaryen burn, ensure you can keep your board presence and icons against Martell and try and have a way to outrush and draw Tyrell so they can’t just overload you. So… how do we do that?
The reason most decks run Wars to Come is because of the flexibility it allows you in your plot choices. In most decks there is no room for silver bullets such as Political Disaster or Forgotten Plans. Wars allows you that flexibility with the extra slots. You can see the relevancy of those extra slots by seeing how few decks are doubling up on plots in Wars decks, instead choosing to play ten singletons. Martell Wars decks are also moving away from prince Doran’s Behest, instead choosing to add another plot that can impact the board to their arsenal.
Unless you’re playing a deck that relies on a very specific event package, you should be running at least two copies of both The Hand’s Judgement and Nightmares. Milk of the Poppy is also a solid addition to counter both the potency of Mace Tyrell (HoT) and presence of Danaerys Targaryen (TFM), however will have less impact against Martell opponents. There is very little attachment removal in the game at present, so you needn’t fear it being redundant.
Political disaster remains a reliable answer to the above decks which do focus more heavily on their location base; you can see in recent decks such as James Waumsley’s European Championship winning list that switching your location base to handle that can pay dividends. Nothing Burns Like the Cold can also give a significant tempo swing if you can leverage your deck to use it effectively.
Valar Morghulis is the suggested reset of choice currently, as with the economy and draw these houses have available, some permanency is required in order to turn the tide. Don’t be afraid to flip into it early if it can remove a key character; Close Call can only return one. With shadows now being the focal point of this cycle, Barring the Gates will be real value for you. While Flea Bottom and Martell remain dominant forces in the meta it will never let you down.
In terms of which faction would work best it is difficult to call. The reason Tyrell continues to see so much play is that it can beat any house due to the economical and hand advantages it can deliver. But only when in the hands of a strong pilot; it is not as easy to wield as most believe it to be. However data does not lie, and in larger size tournaments in terms of actual winners, the might of Targaryen cannot be contested. If you want to win, statistically, play Targaryen.
Join us again in July and please feel free to give comments and suggestions for future release!