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Everfest and the Dissapearing Act of the Second Cycle

In my Flesh & Blood Fundamentals series, I wrote about the importance of pitching and all of the considerations players need to make beyond simply paying the costs for their cards and actions. But the early Classic Constructed meta in Everfest is changing things. Decks have become very aggressive and streamlined. Many games are being won or lost well before the second cycle – the point in the game where players begin to draw the cards they pitched at the start of the game.

In the past, hitting the second cycle in a game of Classic Constructed was almost an inevitability. Now, many classes have such powerful combos and interactions that can be setup before the pitch cycle that many games are not lasting long enough to hit this point in the game in the first place. Is this a bad thing? Not at all!

In early metas especially, the decks that tend to do well have very proactive strategies that can silo in their plans and simply try to stick to their own plan while ignoring their opponent’s. Many of the top-performing Everfest Classic Constructed decks don’t like to block frequently, if at all. Instead, they follow the concept of “play your hand,” almost always trying to play out four or more cards and maximize the power of how they are sequenced. With more strategies trying to play out their cards rather than block and protect their life totals, it’s no wonder why life totals on both sides of the table are dropping faster than ever.

In early metas when proactive, aggressive decks tend to be favored, the format tends to be much faster.

It takes time for slower, controlling decks to emerge to slow the overall pace of the format. Controlling, reactive decks need to be custom tailored to a specific meta, and tend to not do as well against a largely unknown field. Only when the field is well known and players know what to expect, can these well-tuned reactive decks rise up and exert their influence.

 

 

Header - Destructive Pitching

The early Everfest meta lends to the concept of destructive pitching and opening the concept up as a potential line of play in a way that hasn’t been as viable in the past.

I define destructive pitching as any pitching a player does in which they are setting themselves up for a terrible turn in the future. This can include things like: pitching three reds in a row to force a play or pay a resource cost when you really don’t have the resources to make it comfortably happen, pitching nothing but blues to pay costs and set yourself up for a second cycle without any powerful cards to adequately pressure your opponent, or simply even ignoring what your deck’s late game strategy should be in the matchup and only haphazardly pitching to pay your costs as they arise.

Many times, players will even intentionally pitch in a way that is destructive to their chances of winning the game in order to gain a small, incremental advantage the turn the pitching happens. They may win a turn cycle or hold onto the tempo in the game in the short term, but they’ve layered a ticking time bomb into their deck – one that could easily underwrite the loss of the entire game if it isn’t undone.

Thankfully, there are methods to deploy a metaphorical bomb squad to defuse the destructive pitch threat deeper in your deck before it can blow up in your face.

 

Header - Reverting Destruction

Show Time! (Regular)Remembrance (Regular)Sonata Arcanix (Regular)Singing Steelblade (Regular)

Typically, the only way to revert destructive pitching and undo the damage done is by having the game end before you draw into the destructive pitching you’ve done, or by finding a way to shuffle your deck. Shuffle effects like Show Time!, Remembrance, Sonata Arcanix, Singing Steelblade, Awakening and more provide ways to shuffle up a deck and undo any destructive pitching done. With so many classes having access to effects that can shuffle their decks, destructive pitching becomes much more compelling as a viable option to hold onto tempo when players can reasonably expect to be able to shuffle their decks before having to face the consequences of their actions.

Awakening (Regular)

In the Tales of Aria era, I wrote that Oldhim cares more about the individual contents of his deck. This was largely due to how impactful and powerful Awakening can be as a card (even unfused!). The true cost of Awakening is undoing the diligent work of trying to setup a powerful pitch cycle. But this hidden cost of Awakening can be undone in the unfortunate case of “redlining” (drawing four reds in a resource-hungry class like Guardian).

Typically, when you redline in a resource-hungry deck, you can either take a turn off to try to block, you can destructively pitch a bunch of reds to swing your weapons (or maybe play one of the reds in your hand), or look for other ways to filter the hand without losing cards or having to pitch them in a way that stacks multiple reds on top of each other on the bottom of the deck. With shuffle effects in the mix, you can embrace a more destructive pitch to swing your weapon, knowing that you will need to prioritize a shuffle later in the game. In this case, shuffling after destructively pitching like this actually provides a strong benefit rather than negative consequence.

 

Header - Explore Destruction - While You Can

If hyper-aggressive decks arise to better push out Prism in the Everfest meta, it could pave the way for more controlling Guardian and Mechanologist builds to rise up and slow the meta down from its current frantic pace. We saw this pattern in the Tales of Aria meta when Briar rose to power and opened the doors for Bravo, Showstopper and Oldhim, Grandfather of Eternity to step in and squash what Briar was trying to do in the days of her dominance.

With a faster meta, don’t be afraid to embrace destructive pitching when the game could very easily end before you’re forced to draw the poorly pitched hands you crafted earlier in the game. Reasonable access to shuffle effects can also allow you to pursue short-term gain and force plays that would otherwise be suboptimal. Just know that you will need to prioritize finding and activating a shuffle effect – and by forcing this play later in the game, you may have to give up ground and effectively lose any short-term gain you pocketed at the time of the first play.

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