Hey everyone, Shpelley here. Since the release of Savagery, we’ve seen an interesting mix of old and new decks entering the meta. Unfortunately, with the infusion of new cards came a few unsavoury combinations leading to some imbalance. After much gnashing of teeth from the community in general, PlayFusion has responded with some changes to the biggest problem cards in time for (most) of the cash tournaments coming this year.
I’m going to be looking at each change, and doing my best to divine why that change was made and what impact it will have on the current metagame. These are, as always, my opinions and TCG metas are fickle beasts so I could very well be wrong any or all of these predictions. Disclaimer out of the way, let’s move onto the changes themselves!
The Change: Points Cost changed from 9 -> 11
Why This Change?: The most subtle of the three changes, this fairly innocuous-looking tweak has a number of implications for deck builders. The most obvious impact it has is breaking up the trifecta of Skarbrand, Horticulous Slimux and Bloodreaver Chieftain due to lack of points. Skarbrand + Slimux now equals out to 17 points total, leaving Champions like Chaos Champion, Herald of Nurgle and Bloodmaster, Herald of Khorne as your options. None of these options are spectacular questers compared to Chieftain.
This also means Skarbrand doesn’t play nearly as nicely with The Changeling, effectively cutting it off from “easy” card advantage in Flesh to Stone.
What effect will it have on the meta?: The band is likely gonna breakup at this point. Skarbrand and Slimux both *desperately* want to stay with Bloodreaver Chieftain. To do that, they’ll need new shells. Skarbrand himself is likely gonna go back to double-Bloodreaver Chieftain and be effectively “Chaos QQ” from last set, with Nurgle's Rot as its main pickup this set. Slimux will likely now pair up with either Harbinger of Decay and be more focused on Daemons, or Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury for its more aggressive leanings.
I think both of these variants will be very strong in the meta still, but not quite as strong as they were blended together.
The Change: At the end of your first turn, you may Deploy a Daemon Unit from your hand or deck onto this Champion. If your deck was searched, shuffle it afterwards.
Why This Change?: It’s only one word, but it makes a world of difference! Grabbing a Unit at the start of your turn came with an upside that I think a lot of people were overlooking at first: “beginning of your turn” happens before Rotation happens. This, coupled with Tzaangor Skyfires turned Slimux into a source of card advantage that could fetch up another massive source of card advantage!
Tzangor hasn’t seen much play in the past because it stays vulnerable for 2 turns, wide open to Removal and other effects before you saw any benefit. With Slimux, however, he circumvented that, effectively turning the Skyfires into a Blank/1/2 card-drawing machine all for no cost, demanding immediate intervention. With all the damage the deck could pump out, these free draws ensured it kept gassed up, never taking a turn to draw more cards up and speeding up its questing along the way.
The change effectively ensures that opponents will have a chance to respond to the Unit properly now. Tzangor looks a lot less enticing when the opponent still gets two turns to deal with it, and aggressive Daemons don’t get a free rotate out of the deal, slowing the clock somewhat.
What effect will it have on the meta?: Combined with the change to Skarbrand, Slimux has been pushed more towards its original target I suspect: getting Nurgle-themed Units to help quest it out quickly. Some decks might still go for the Tzangor gambit, but it’s a lot riskier when its not paying off for 2 turns. Slimux is still amazing value, and honestly still feels a touch undercosted, but it feels a lot less back-breaking than it used to. I suspect we’ll still see a Slimux-backed deck in top tiers, but with a much different shell around it.
The Change: Whenever you Discard 1 or more cards from another effect controlled by this Champion, you may Discard an additional card to deal 3 damage to your Opponent.
Why This Change?: Probably the most “controversial” change, Drycha has been toned down a fair bit with this change. Thanks to Skarband + Slimux’s domination, Drycha has been skating a bit under the radar in terms of how crazy she can be. When paired with Primal Terror, and consistent discard outlets like Kurnoth Huntmaster made for an alarmingly high number of Drycha triggers. Combined with Blessings of the Forest, Drycha could effectively draw for its combo, then kill the opponent out of nowhere.
Now, Drycha has to be a bit more nuanced. Trample Underfoot is still an amazing source of damage that reliably can trigger Drycha, as is Metamorphosis. Metamorphosis however now has a more obvious opportunity cost, preventing you from playing Trample Underfoot to double-trigger in a turn.
This is also probably being used to help push her synergy with the Discard Units, Ghastly Spite-Revenant and Vengeful Treelord and decrease the ease of comboing with hard-to-interact with Heroic Acts and Abilities.
What effect will this have on the meta?: This one is the hardest for me to see. Some people have already declared Drycha-based decks as “dead.” Others think it won’t have much noticeable impact on the deck. Others still thought Drycha wasn’t particular great to begin with, espousing more “grindy” decks using multiple Sacred Branchwraith as its engine.
I suspect the deck lists will definitely change, and might cause it to drop down a peg depending on how hard this hits its consistency in practice. On the other hand, I also don’t see this as going away completely. As with most things, only time will tell.
Now, stepping away from the cards changes we come to the ranked changes. In short: they’ve doubled the rewards for both boosters and Souls (notably: not Gems). I think it is…a start. The problem with the current Ranked queue extends beyond the meta, and even the rewards. It has more to do with the underlying system in place.
Right now, the amount you gain for winning and losing feels…vague. Unlike, say, MTG Arena, you don’t have a real concrete sense of progress. In Arena, you see how many wins you need to advance to the next stage. Losing drops you down a specific number of notches, winning brings you up a certain number of notches. It’s inherently transparent, and relatively fair.
In Champions, however, you gain a certain amount of “points” per win, and lose some number of “points” per loss. How much you gain/lose is effected by a few things it seems:
- You gain more for a winning streak
- You gain more if you beat someone higher than you
- You lose less if you beat someone higher than you
- You lose SIGNIFICANTLY more if you lose to someone lower than you
- you gain SIGNIFICANTLY less if you win vs someone lower than you
The goal seems to be to make sure you aren’t advancing off the back of lower people, and are rewarded more for beating “better” people. Unfortunately, this just makes gaining and losing ranks a crapshoot. If you happen to be running well, or run against a couple people playing decks you do well against, you can gain ranks quickly. If you lose even *one* of those matches though, you lose most of your rank. It is a very “feels bad” system as it stands.
In my personal opinion, a more structured ladder system that removes all ambiguity would be ideal. I, personally, would much rather have my gains/losses evened out, made transparent, and structured so that I can know exactly what I need to do to advance. From what I’ve heard from others, they seem to agree.
So what do you guys think? Do you like these changes? Did they go far enough, or did they go too far with some of them? What changes to Ranked would you like to see? Comment down below!