With the Malaysian Nationals beginning this weekend, I thought it would be a good time to introduce what I would consider to be the current “tier listings” of the different classes in the game. Within this article, I’ll be talking about my own thoughts on why various classes are able to perform as successfully as they do, what decks I would expect to succeed and which ones I think will fall to the bottom.
Just note that, with the lack of formal tournaments and coverage over the recent months, it’s been challenging to track what decks have been performing exceedingly well and those that have not. Regardless, here is what I suspect makes up the current meta.
These are the decks that I would expect to represent the majority of the lists in the Top 8 of any tournament over the coming months (until the release of Monarch). They’re consistently powerful, have few truly poor matchups and are easily able to keep up with other decks in the format.
Since its inception, Mechanologist has been absolutely dominant in the meta. The combination of Induction Chamber and Teklo Plasma Pistol is the heart the class’s power in my opinion, as well as the newly added Plasma Purifier, which has allowed Dash players to fire off multiple four or five damage shots consistently over the course of the game. The fact that they start the game with an Induction Chamber and have a cheap and constantly threatening weapon is a big reason for their consistency. While they can also make use of other powerful in class cards like Zero to Sixty, Zipper Hit and High Speed Impact, it’s their consistent weapon threat that makes them such a powerful contender for the best deck in the format.
Mechanologist also has the advantage of having a plethora of in class cards with a Defense of 3 and the ability to scale into the late game, something that other classes tend to struggle with. Whereas other classes lose consistency and threat as their life total gets lower, Mechanologist is able to gain value out of their off turns by playing items or even simply pitching a blue card to shoot twice with their Teklo Plasma Pistol. Their high aggro threat, solid defense (including the gold standard Battleworn 2 Equipment in Teklo Foundry Heart) and scaling into the late game make Dash, in my opinion, the undisputed queen of Flesh and Blood currently.
Closely following Mechanologist in Tier 1 is Warrior, another class that has a multi-threat weapon with scaling potential (see a pattern?). The Warrior’s power comes from their ability to simply outrace any class with some incredibly monstrous turns. Anyone who’s been on the receiving end of Warrior’s Valor into Steelblade Supremacy (perhaps with Ironsong Determination thrown in) knows exactly what I’m talking about. Crucible of War handed Warrior a wide range of solid options too (Spoils of War, Dauntless, Out for Blood, Hit and Run), making an already solid class into an absolute monster.
Warrior’s biggest advantage is their combo potential and their ability to blow opponents out. Attack Reactions like Glint the Quicksilver and Ironsong Response can cause headaches for even skilled opponents. In addition, Dorinthea has some of the most solid defensive potential out of any class, with every single in-class card providing three Defense as well as not one, but two 2 Defense options in her equipment (Courage of Bladehold, Braveforge Bracers and not to mention Refraction Bolters’ 1 Battleworn defense on top). Like Dash, Dorinthea has the perfect formula of solid defense, consistent threat and the ability to scale if left unchecked.
I expect that the Top 8 of the Malaysia National Championship will most likely consist of a roughly even split of Dorinthea and Dash making up five of the eight places.
These are decks that are able to perform well, much as Tier I decks are. In fact, on a good day, I suspect they’d also be able to take down the championships. The thing that keeps them from being the cream of the crop is they are slightly more dependent on their draw than those decks in Tier 1 and generally don’t scale as successfully.
Brute has some of the most explosive potential in the game and can threaten some of the highest damage turns that leave the opponent unable to defend. This can mean that Brute can tear you down from 10 or more life to zero in a single attack! Their primary weapon of choice, Romping Club, is reasonably efficient without being spectacular, and they too have solid defense across the board (3 Defense on all class cards, a 2 Defense piece of equipment).
Brute can play a mostly defensive game behind their club, and then come roaring out with a Bloodrush Bellow into Barraging Beatdown into Barraging Beatdown into Massacre, dealing huge amounts of unstoppable damage. What keeps Rhinar a little down is that he isn’t as threatening on a turn-by-turn basis. His attacks don’t have on-hit effects which you need to be concerned with and he can’t always pull off an amazing Intimidate combo to win him the day.
Guardian is a highly predictable deck. On their turn, they’ll either hit you with Anothos or they’ll play a big Crush, maybe with Dominate. While predictable, they feature the most debilitating on-hit effects in the game, and have an extremely consistent threat with their primary weapon. Once again, they have a whole host of defensive options (great Defense Reactions, excellent Equipment and the ability to play Unmoveable quite easily), which means they’ll be able to preserve their life total without concern throughout the game.
The main thing that keeps Guardian down, in my opinion, is that they don’t deal well with a swarm of smaller attacks, which both Warrior and Mechanologist put out turn after turn. If they can’t get a Dominated Crush effect off to slow them down, they can easily be overwhelmed by a flurry of blows from a sword or shots from a pistol. As such, difficulties handling these small and consistent attacks keep Guardian solidly in Tier II.
Rounding out the Welcome to Rathe heroes is Ninja. Harmonized Kodachi and Mask of Momentum are the key components that make Ninja as threatening as they are. Ninja is often able to chip through damage turn after turn because of their “must block” effects and their ability to go extremely wide. On their biggest turns, they can simply explode with power, leaping from Surging Strike to Whelming Gustwave to force opponents to give up tempo or a huge amount of life.
What keeps Ninja from the top tier is their defense, which is notably poorer than other classes in Tier I and Tier II. They do have some Battleworn Equipment (Breeze Rider Boots, Breaking Scales), but they also have in-class cards that block for only 2 (Surging Strike, Leg Tap). In addition, skilled opponents who understand how to break the chain of Mask of Momentum consistently and effectively can usually control the explosive power of Katsu much more effectively, which can sometimes leaves him lacking in surprises. As such, he remains relegated to Tier II.
Although Runeblade has not been anywhere near as popular or represented as the other classes above, it shares many of their most powerful features: generally solid Defense (including strong Equipment), build-up potential (Runechants) and a reasonably consistent weapon (both Nebula Blade and Reaping Blade are very solid overall). Their ability to abuse Pummel more than any other class also makes them reasonably unpredictable and they can threaten well with solid Generic Attack Actions like Command and Conquer and incredibly powerful in-class threats like Arknight Ascendancy.
Runeblade’s major downfall is that they’re inconsistent, somewhat like Brute can be. However, whereas Brute’s inconsistency can lead to explosive turns out of nowhere, Runeblade can rarely build up such a dominant turn out of nowhere and thus is more at the mercy of the draw than other classes are. Still, I suspect that Runeblade will make a surprise appearance soon… once somebody properly figures them out.
I suspect that three out of the eight slots in the Top 8 will be made up of classes from Tier II, with my bets on Brute and Ninja being the most likely contenders to make up those three.
These are the decks that simply struggle in the current meta, for various reasons. Although their ideas and concepts might be cool, they simply have difficulties competing for a variety of reasons.
Oh, my heart breaks.
Ranger, while my favorite class and easily the most fun one to play in my eyes, simply struggles to compete right now. Although they have some of the most powerful on-hit effects in the game, there are a few areas that they’re lacking in that other classes simply excel at.
First and most importantly is their defensive game. All of Ranger’s support cards have only 2 Defense which means that, in order to protect yourself effectively, you’ll often need to give up attacks or bleed damage (which has been my general ethos for a while). More significant than this however, is their simply atrocious equipment Defense. All of their in-class equipment has Blade Break and they’re simply too necessary to defend with early in the game to gain tempo (Fyendal’s Spring Tunic, Skullbone Crosswrap) or are effectively blank outside of Defend 2 (Perch Grapplers).
One of their largest downfalls is also their lack of a weapon, which heavily damages their overall consistency. While they can have truly explosive turns, there are some turns where you may simply not draw into an arrow. When this happens, you can lose all of the tempo you worked so hard to gain. All it takes is that one “whiff” of a turn and you can be on the back foot.
None of this is to say that Ranger can’t win games, and in some games they can feel downright unfair to play against, but they require a lot of things to go right for them in order to make it through.
Wizard suffers similar issues to Ranger in their Defensive Equipment (in fact, they’re even worse off than Ranger is). On top of that, Wizard starts off with only 30 life, meaning they’re already way behind in the race. As such, they need to try really hard in order to come back into the game.
Thankfully, Wizard is able to do a lot to close the gap between life totals, and they’re the true kings of combo turns (no other class can theoretically deal over 100 damage in a single turn, after all). In addition, Arcane damage is naturally more challenging to deal with than regular damage, allowing Wizard to sneak in more damage than normal. Overall though, I have yet to be convinced by any individual Wizard build that I’ve seen and I think that the 10 life deficit is currently just too much to handle.
I suspect that neither Wizard nor Ranger will make a Top 8 appearance.
What do you guys think? Do you think I’m way off with my meta-predictions? Is there are class that’s actually better or worse than I thought? Let me know in the comments below, and I’d be happy to expand on my thoughts above!