its not as bad as you think. practice solves all problems. the meta changes pretty rapidly and what was once an OP strategy is now garbage. so long as you master the basic mechanics of the game and figure out whats popular right now (and play around it) you should do fine.
it should be noted you get faction exp even if you lose. so the fact hes level 50 doesnt mean much aside hes been around for a while. (there isnt much difference between level 20 and level 50 in faction levels besides familiarity with the cards).
im only level 22 in songhai (mostly from gauntlet plays) and ive been playing since release(mainly other facitons)