Polarizing the meta?


Hi, guys. Personally speaking, I’m not really enjoying the meta after the new expansion. However, this is not going to be a rant thread; rather, I would like to raise your attention on a recent design choice, which I would call the polarization of the meta.

It is too early to cry for nerfs or complain too much about the state of the game. Any expansion in CCG comes with its problems, which are usually solved in a reasonable way after a few weeks, when people learn how to tech their decks against the most popular (apparently?) broken cards introduced in the update.

That said, I think we all agree that the new expansion gave a few incredibly powerful tools to both aggro and control. By favoring the two extremes of the playstyles, the expansion gives the possibility of designing super efficient decks which either demolish the opponents before he has time to put down his defense, or completely remove any threat in the early game and seal the match with an “answer or die” scenario.

This increase in the efficiency of “extreme” decks has a delicate impact on the meta. On the one hand, we have decks like Aggro Argeon and Drawmar which can easily stomp on the opponent no matter what when they have a good hand. On the other hand, we have decks like Variax Lilithe which can easily shut down all the other slow decks of the game. This does not necessarily mean that these decks are OP, rather they are designed to counter very specific playstyles. For instance, Drawmar looks like the worst nightmare of creep decks.

My feeling is that having such efficient cards is bad for the meta, since it is more and more difficult to deal with the efficiency of the “extreme” decks. Put it differently, you need to change your deck or heavily tech it to counter very specific play-styles. Though a little bit of teching is good and rewarding for card games, I think that pushing it to the extreme is bad, because it ultimately gives the feeling of playing a rock-paper-scissors game, where the match-up is too prevalent on who is going to win. Excellent players can certainly deal with this, but the average guy (like me) likely feels frustrated by horrible match-ups. Before the expansion, I had more the feeling that I could try to outsmart my opponent, because the power level of the cards was below a given threshold. After the expansion, however, I have the feeling that several matches are decided by the match-making algorithm and/or the luck of the draw.

Please, don’t make this a rant or rage thread. I would like it to be a place where we can preliminarly - yet seriously - assess the state of the game and discuss whether the expansion looks like a step in the right direction. Anyone else has the same feelings? Criticisms and constructive advices are also appreciated!


May I ask what kind of deck you’re playing and what rank you’re at, to better understand your situation? :slight_smile:

Also, I understand where you’re coming from, midrange isn’t super popular right now, but it is doable. I got to S-rank post expansion with my swarm lilith, with No Variax. It isn’t dedicated to either extremes nor was it heavily teched against anything, so it is possible to do well without being hard control or aggro :smile:


I was at rank 6 playing a creep deck, but then I moved back to 7 due to a streak of 6 consecutive losses, so I’m certainly biased.

I’m not saying I played perfectly, but the last month I easily got to 4 and I never had the feeling of severely lagging behind other decks. I’m trying to understand whether the problem is me, my deck or the meta after the expansion.


Could you post a decklist of your deck so we could properly understand what ur talking about.


I have to disagree, first the full potential of the expansion haven’t rolled out yet so most of the decks are basically net decking with few changes.
Teching these decks is easy as ****
Except lyonar which are a royal pain.

Second - personally I’m running some weird decks to my liking, as for now I’m still laddering, brother I’m breaking new meta decks with old shimzar Songhai deck 14 dmg. Chakri to the face and brothers
Just today had a several turn 4/5 wins against so called new meta decks.
The fact that we’ve got some crazy cards, doesn’t mean a thing, synergy and positioning is key.
Again and the fact that people actually running the same deck most of the time to maximize their laddering should play to your hands.

My advice to you - stick with your playstyle, get the necessary tiny changes and spend time on a single deck, you’ll improve in time.

All is chill brother.


I’m still a little hesitant to use the word “meta” at this point, though it does seem to be forming, at least from what I’ve seen. It’s been roughly a week since the expansion came, and when a new expansion hits, playing for extremes is easier than finding a middle ground since it’s harder to know what to expect on the ladder.

I’m confident that once we learn what’s “standard”, we’ll find more decks falling in between these extremes.


Have you tried playing a midrange deck? What was the list? What were your experiences with it? Could it be that your deck was too slow to develop, or too low impact to matter as the game went on? Are you confident in all of your microdecisions, or did you hit a sheer wall on the learning curve?

Not looking to invalidate the sentiment- But there are lots of angles at play here.


The real issue with pushing out both extreme control and extreme aggro is that they push the game towards non-interactivity. Yes, Control has to keep “removing” what you play, but since the actual details of the cards you play are irrelevant as most removal is size-agnostic, that’s where we’re at.


It seems this is mostly my problem then. I guess that keeping practising will be the best solution to the issue. No point in discussing the deck list, I just wanted to listen to the opinions of the forum users about my feelings. Thanks for contributing!


I threw this list together and have been having fun with it. It’s a little gimmicky, but as far as gimmicks go, I’m happy with it. It has roughly a 50% win rate at the moment. Nothing amazing, but not too shabby for a “just for fun” list, especially at Rank 2 where I stand at the moment (and more than half of my games were against Cassyva as it turned out). Because I run Ancestral Divination in lieu of Spelljammer, I usually can keep a relatively filled hand against more control-oriented lists without giving them more options for removal. I lost my one match against a healing Zir’an list, but my opponent had to use a tremendous number of resources to take me down. It took 2 Trinity Oath cards to keep his hand relatively full, which I thought was impressive. Maggro lists (can I coin this term lol) are scary for me to face, and I’ve considered teching an Eclipse in the deck for the sake of running it into Rancour with the help of Inner Focus. Maybe I’ll remove the Abjudicators since I don’t end up using them often.

It’s not weird to be suspicious about how the meta takes form. It’s a new meta, and I think the fact that it’s new has people scared. Shim’zar solicited similar responses before we got one of the most diverse metas ever to grace the game. Maybe others feel differently, but I’m more of a “wait and see” kind of guy, and I just don’t think I’ve waited long enough to make an educated statement on how the meta will be in the near future.


Just smorced my way up to Diamond by playing a fairly aggressive Midrange Vaath. A nice streak of 6 wins and went all the way from 7 to 5. Me no need to trade! :smiley: Pushing the polarization in my favor…


I’d probably take the Four Winds, Ancestrals and Abjudicators out of that list- replace with Ethereal Blades, Tusk Boars and Spelljammer (shaving 1 Jaxi lets you add 3 Blades, 2 Boars and 2 Spelljammer.) Just seems that you want to go the distance with Ki Beholders and Heartseekers- where Abjudicator and Four Winds just feed Bloodrage, and Ancestrals fuel the Koan engine.

:smiley: Cool stuff.


I feel you, OP. I had the same feelings ever since the new expansion hit the shelves. Competitive decks (Diamond and upwards) seem to be restricted to two categories (60% winrate and up): hyper-aggressive decks that try to close out the game before the opponent’s deck comes together, or super defensive decks with unfair inevitability in their late game who try to counteract whatever their opponent is doing in order to reach their superior late-game. Or in short: decks that kill by turn 4 or 5 and decks that have access to a late-game that is far superior to everything else (awesomemized Abyssian BBS).

To me, this seemed to be the result of the prevalent game mechanics: control cards that are, for the most part, a lot less efficient than their designated targets. Or in other words: the (opportunity) cost to ran answer cards is bigger than the cost to run the cards that need to be answered. From what I can see, this is why the meta before the advent of Variax consisted solely out of aggro decks with only Magmar being the sole contender for a control-ish deck.

Now we have Variax, who gives Abyssian an unbeatable late game. No deck can keep up with resourcefulness and the power level of an army of 4/4s and 5/5 every other turn for no card investment and not much Mana. But given the lack of efficient answer cards (like hand removal, Counterspells, denial cards, lock cards, etc.), it forces everybody else to go low: to kill it before it lays eggs. Which, as you said, kinda polarized the meta.

I’m maining Lyonar, and I always tried to go for a control Lyonar deck. The idea of playing a Lyonar control deck right now is laughable. The “late game” of Lyonar consists of a 3/10 for 5. Or Divine Bonds. Those things aren’t even in the same ballpark as other faction’s late game. So what does this mean? You have to kill your opponent before they get even remotely close to their endgame. Which only really leaves you one option: go for the most aggressive build you can. Either you win by turn 5 or 6, or you are dead (I’m generalizing and simplifying here for the sake of my argument).

And that’s where the reason lies why I haven’t logged in for the past couple of days. As of right now, I feel like I can predict the outcome of most of my games by turn 3. Either I get the faster draw and stomp my opponent, or I lose a gruelling game where I get nothing done for 10 turns and then just die to something I have absolutely no way to deal with in my deck outside of winning before it happens. Very rarely do I have a game which is a close, back-and-forth, enjoyable type-of-match. I just puke out my hand and hope it’s enough. There’s little play involved in that.

If I weren’t so piss poor, I would built me a control Vanar/Abyssian deck and don’t care, but sadly that’s out of the question for now.

I feel like the game would profit from creating an environment where everything has efficient answers, instead of a meta where the only answer is kill-it-before-it-kills-you. Or maybe I have just played too much Duelyst during the last few months and burned out naturally – without any of it being Duelyst’s fault.

Who knows.

Happy Holidays, Everybody.


I’m in exactly the same place. I came back after a month away, and the game is unrecognizable.

I love streaming and had this great plan for resuming it. But just 2 days after returning, I feel like putting my fist through my monitor every game I play.


Good post. The current state could possibly be the worst state ever of Duelyst (yes, even worse than Reva and Vetruvian 3rd wish blasting dervishes), with the least scope of viable decks.


This is straight up untrue, you can play many decks and still climb and do well. I made S-rank with a swarm/deathwatch deck with NO variax. There are lots of viable decks you can play, heck even healyonar isn’t that bad anymore, there’s all kinds of interesting control decks especially in vanar which work well. So many interesting decks have been posted in the past week that AREN’T the decks people are complaining about I.E aggromar and variax ramp lilith.

Just because you’ve stopped climbing doesn’t mean the meta is out of whack :slight_smile:


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