Hello again my beastie humanoid friends. Today, I’ll be taking a closer look at the side deck in MetaZoo; what it is and how it can be optimized. A necessary tool for competitive play, I like to think of my side deck like it’s my utility belt (and I’m Batman). What is Batman without his utility belt? He’s just an angry man in spandex and so shall you if you don’t have a proper side deck, giving you options to swap between rounds.
Similar to MTG, side decks in MetaZoo consist of up to 15 cards. These cards may be swapped with cards in your spellbook after each round in the match. MetaZoo plays to a Best-of-Three so you’ll have a maximum two chances to swap cards with your side deck. So far, pretty easy to understand, right? But here’s where you have to pay attention. The number of pages in your spellbook can’t change between rounds. For instance, if you were playing a 40 card spellbook with a 15-card side deck, after you had finished swapping cards between rounds, you must still be playing a 40-card spellbook with a 15-card side deck. You may not increase or decrease the number of pages in your deck between rounds or you will be warned and/or disqualified depending on the situation.
There are a few universals when it comes to building side decks and these are lessons we’ve learned in previous TCGs. First, the side deck exists to carry cards that can help you to deal with the current Meta. Second, the side deck allows you to commit to a more dedicated spellbook design. The first lesson is easy to learn but the second lesson is just as important. Building a proper side deck should allow your current spellbook to commit more precisely to it’s strategy.
An excellent example of this is with my current Dingbelle spellbook. The concept of the Dingbelle/Quetz deck that I play on the channel is very aggressive, establishing arena control before my opponents and allowing my beasties to attack multiple times in a turn, generating tokens and stacking damage. This build doesn’t have room for any useless cards if it’s going to perform as quickly as I need it to, so I have no removal in the main spellbook. I commit entirely to being the more aggressive spellbook, creating threats and forcing my opponents to deal with them.
If this strategy doesn’t work, I have a side deck that contains a few Thunderbirds, alternative beasties who will still synergize with the spellbook but not be so easy to kill as a Dingbelle, a playset of Smokey Spirits which I can use to “fog” and end combat without taking damage and removal in the form of Lightning Bolt and Absorb Aura. When I swap these cards in, the deck plays a bit slower, but it can deal with more threats so I think of it like my “defensive” mode. Works well in mirror matches against other Lightning spellbooks.
So when you’re building your side deck, you want to look at two things: what is my spellbook trying to do and what will I need in case I have to defend it? If you can understand these questions, it’ll make you a better deck builder and a better player in general. That being said, let’s take a look at a few key side deck cards for the current meta. These won’t be cards that you absolutely need in every side deck, but they will help you find that “defensive mode” I mentioned earlier.
- Smokey Spirits. A card I’ve mentioned before and the yin the Lightning in a Bottle’s yang. SS ends combat and prevents all damage, if it’s your only beastie or artifact, it can’t be attacked again until the end of turn. It’s like Fog in MTG only it’s better, because it’s free and it can’t be countered. A must-play in either your main board or side deck. It’s necessary to survive in the current meta.
- Absorb Aura. Another card that had a reputation before it even dropped in Nightfall and it lives up to it 100 percent. If you find yourself matched up against a Dingbelle or an Earth spellbook, both of which are deadly and rely upon aura-generating aurafacts, there’s no better spell to have. For free, it will destroy their aurafacts or token artifacts and give you one bookmark and one aura that matches the page type of the destroyed artifact. This is a crippling blow for anyone who contracted an aurafact turn one and can completely change the tide of the game. I wouldn’t play it in my main deck at the moment, but I have a full playset of four in my side deck for the right situation.
- Bubbling Brew. Much like Smokey Spirits, BB is a potion that dropped in Nightfall and it deals very effectively with Fearsome Critters of the Forest, one of the dominant spellbooks in the meta at the moment, as well as working as a combat preventative against token-based spellbooks. One Bubbling Brew can kill a Gumberoo, Axehandle Hound or deal 20 damage to any beastie who declares an attack until the end of your next turn with its alternate effect, effectively shutting down token beasties. Again, not a card I main deck, but one I’m happy to have on the side
Outside of these, it will depend heavily on your aura type, but I usually recommend extra removal in a side deck. Most spellbooks perform well with a small amount of removal but sometimes you need that extra Death Beam or Jack-O-Lantern Bomb to stop an opponent from taking control of the arena. Remember to identify your win strategy with each deck and commit to that with the main spellbook. By doing so, you will also identify the weakness of your spellbook and can build a side deck to make up for it… hopefully. There’s still so much to learn in this meta but one thing is for sure. Potions are our friends.
And with that, I’ll leave you to your spellbooks. Find me on Instagram @metabroz if you have any questions! I’m always happy to help. Thanks for reading.