The State of the Meta - July 2022
Written by Kugane
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Hello, I'm Kugane, and some may know me from my Youtube Channel or on Twitter. Today we will have a short overview of the state of the metagame. It accompanies my most recent video that breaks down the difficulty to play certain heroes.
The Flesh and Blood meta hasn't been this healthy since the early days of Crucible of War. With Starvo and Chane having reached Living Legend in the Constructed format, we now see many underdog decks coming back. Of course, there is still a difference in what is considered top tier, which I covered in one of my recent Tier List videos, but the win percentage gap between the worst performing deck and highest performing decks is remarkably smaller than it used to be. Back in March and onwards, when Bravo was racing his way to Living Legend, what used to be a 15 to about 75% winrate is now closer to 35 to 60%. That means some decks are still underperforming and are best not to bring to any highly competitive setting. Still, it shows that things are improving for FAB. The bans and suspensions that LSS has put in place have some positive results on top of some fantastic generic support.
I am waiting for the day when the win rate difference is only 10%, but perhaps I'm too hopeful.
At this point in time, most decks have a clear "silver bullet," a borderline unbeatable deck, or, in the hands of a skilled player, pushing their deck's winrate down to 50% or lower. It isn't a great feeling getting paired against such a hero or "anti deck." Still, it contributes to the game's overall health and allows some of the weaker decks to shine, which we've seen globally in the Road to Nationals season, with certain underdog decks spiking to the very top. Yet, some contenders are outshining the rest, partially due to overrepresentation and ingame balance differences.
If we look at this graph put out by Legend Story Studios, we can see which decks ended up winning the Road to Nationals events in Weeks one and two:
Pie chart is taken from: https://fabtcg.com/articles/metagame-road-nationals-part-1/
Notice a familiar pattern? Oh yes, the Runeblades are doing what they do best: win events.
Let's go over the decks that are both great meta picks and THE decks to beat!
#1 Runeblade: Briar & Viserai
Let's get the best pick out there right away: it is Runeblade. From initial data gathering, despite sample sizes being small, it seems that yet again, the Runeblades are pulling ahead of the rest. Sporting a near 60% winrate across the board, I think this is mainly due to their card pool, but both these heroes have access to higher value cards and additional 'free' value. This makes both Viserai and Briar top picks if you enjoy the Aggro game plan.
Because they can split damage on top of presenting relevant on-hit triggers, it becomes challenging for any deck to keep them under control. Even decks like Oldhim specializing in control have difficulty protecting themselves from the reckless onslaught of damage.
Because of this, my go-to response when asked what the best deck to navigate in the current format is? Briar or Viserai, with Viserai being the less 'spiky' hero of the two. RNG-wise, I'm not talking about those thorns visible on Briar's armor.
#2 Ninja: Fai
I am putting this as my number 2, I expect a rise in popularity for this deck, but this pick is slightly biased since it is my favorite deck: Fai. In the past few weeks, we have seen many Fai decks make it to the top in RTNs! The damage output of these decks is so sickeningly massive that it is hard for any deck to keep up. On top of that, it is incredibly consistent and still has an occasional 'combo' turn potential, thanks to Phoenix Form. We see so many Fais make it to the top mainly due to the inexperienced players facing off against Ninja decks on top of the sheer amount of representation the deck has in the current format! People seem to adore Fai absolutely, and the numbers show it.
Many people have asked me, "What about Katsu?" While Katsu is a great deck, I think his max damage output potential isn't enough to keep up in the current meta. It would also be up here if it had something similar to Fai's triple draw Phoenix turns. For now, I think the deck is excellent, but it needs too many elements to go in its favor to perform well.
#3 Illusionist: Prism & Dromai
Then there is Prism, an all-time fan favorite of many. Her midrange playstyle and constant 'free value' in the form of auras attacking for one or more damage make her a top pick in the current metagame. I think Prism is one of those decks that favors a good pilot, and generally speaking, I only see top players navigating her to a high finish. If you are a relatively newer player, unless you are ready to put in the work for a solid 40+ hours to learn the deck, I advise against playing Prism. That means we will be facing a lot of this deck, and your sideboard should be prepared. Plenty of 6 power attacks and perhaps a Timesnap Potion or two will serve you well when matched up against this lady of light.
We have also seen Dromai perform well, not nearly as exceptional as Prism has, but people are still figuring out the deck with various dragons and cards swapping in and out. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, perhaps this is the deck for you! On top of some creativity, the unfamiliarity with the deck by opponents might do you a lot of good. The element of surprise should never be underestimated especially when the format is still fresh.
#4 The Ice Heroes, Lexi & Oldhim (and possibly Iyslander)
Finally, the best disruptive heroes to pick this season are Oldhim and Lexi. I think a veteran Oldhim player should have a relatively good time in the current meta. There are plenty of aggro decks to pick on, and Prism's overall representation is slightly lower than the previous format. Of course, Prism is still a near auto loss, and Fai can be tricky to keep under control, but other than that, it should be smooth sailing for a solid Oldhim player.
Lexi, on the other hand, is in a weird position. She has a lot of tools in her arsenal (pun intended) to stop even the most complex of decks. Still, unfortunately, due to her lower damage output on top of the fusing mechanic tied into most of her cards, she tends to have one or two off-turns almost every game. Most of the top Aggro decks can easily stall until she has one of these off-turns to spam the board with massive damage and on-hit triggers taking over the tempo instantly. The release of Erase Face as a card makes playing Lexi even more difficult because it pretty much turns off the potential of fusing or having a solid turn. Most decks are also running that card right now, adding a layer of complexity for the Lexi players out there.
While I am yet to see a proper Iyslander deck perform well, I've heard rumors and whispers from some pros that that deck is good! I have less than ten games of data, and honestly, it looks grim, but Iyslander should perform decently on paper. So it might be worth exploring!
The Other Heroes
The meta is excellent and varied! We even see decks like Dorinthea, Dash; Katsu take a decent share of the meta even if they don't always finish in the top 8. Right now, the format is established so that playing the deck you like is very rewarding and should yield decent results if you put in enough practice time. So don't worry about bringing a well-optimized Azalea deck or testing your hand at Dash Aggro.
Of course, there is always everyone's most hated wizard: Kano. A deck that rewards calculation and planning! But Kano hasn't been doing that well into this new season of FAB compared to his performance in New Jersey. This may be because people are now prepared with three or more Arcane Barrier.
There will always be non-games, regardless of what hero you pick. Decks such as a Briar sometimes put Channel Mount Heroic down on turn two, but almost all heroes suffer a loss in those kinds of games, not just the lesser performing ones. So have fun! Take a risk and play what you enjoy!
If you are a veteran player or just getting into FAB, there has never been a better time! There are so many great decks to pick from that I am sure you will find something that suits your taste and playstyle. With that said, I hope this article was helpful to you, and I will hopefully see you all soon here at FABFoundry or over on my Youtube channel Kugane Gaming!