August 12, 2014 by Guest Author
Coxatrice: In the aftermath of the ForgeWatch Invitational Qualifier, the dust settled on a diverse metagame, a relief for some who were expecting the single-deck trend from the World Championship Qualifier to continue. A rich metagame gives us plenty of room for analysis. Let’s review some of the cards and decks chosen by the Top 16 competitors then dive into an in-depth exploration of the winning decklist.
About Coxatrice: Games enthusiast from the Land Down Under with a focused interest in competitive TCGs. Regularly streaming high-level SolForge with commentary at twitch.tv/coxatrice.
Tournament Postmortem – FWI Qualifier (Aug 9)
Looking over the Top 16 of the recent ForgeWatch Invitational Qualifier, it becomes slowly clear that our favorite game isn’t actually being held hostage to
that wonderful gnome, all of us love and hold dear; Ironmind Acolyte.
For sure, the gnome is powerful, however, unlike the World Championship Qualifier, we can see that it’s not 100% of the format.
In fact, only seven decks in the Top 16 were running the
beloved gnome. Which was actually the same number of decks running Flamebreak Invoker, that wayward heroic which has been known for its brutal board clear utilizing Static Shock and other removal.
Speaking of Static Shock, there were in fact nine(!) decks playing the heroic. The card is insanely versatile when you’re playing other spells, and often the card is played with Flamebreak Invoker and possibly Flameshaper Savant for some sweet extra damage!
Other standouts include:
- Everflame Phoenix and Ebonskull Knight played in six decks each
- Frostshatter Strike, Ferocious Roar and Lightning Spark reaching a heady five decks a piece
- token soft-lock, Oriean Justicar, clocking in at a neat four total decks
The new Wyvern merits a mention also, the card many have been calling “the chicken” snuck into two Top 16 decks in both NT and UT builds.
All of these stats are interesting of course, but what does it say about the state of SolForge Standard?
We’re still enjoying a diverse and rich metagame. Jabor’s NT Tempo list will understandably get most of the headline attention, even from me, though before I jump into the analysis of the tournament-winning deck, it’s important to note a few things about the deck composition of the Top 16.
We’re seeing the rise of an AT Metamind archetype. The power of Ghox/Gnome can’t be overstated and combining that with Tempys creatures like Phoenix and/or removal with the Invoker worked well for three of the Top 16 competitors, including runner-up SonataWolf. It’s tons of fun to play, and as SonataWolf proved, it’s also a strong contender in our current diverse field.
The least represented faction was Uterra, only appearing in six decks. The faction which is best known for Dinosaurs, Plants and pump spells also didn’t make a huge splash in the Top 8 with only two results posted that high – a major reversal in success since the Golden Gauntlet.
Other familiar lists in the Top 16 included the tribal favorites: Plants, Yetis, and Bots. All of these remain relevant in the current field, though they’re clearly not as prevalent as they once were.
Let’s talk about our triumphant winner. Jabor played the deck aptly named Rosenfloggen, after the elusive former streamer and still current TCG writer who developed the deck. Rosenfloggen’s NT Tempo article can be found on his excellent blog written way back on April 4.
Which begs the question, why hasn’t this deck been dominating since April? This is the nature of the SolForge metagame, constantly shifting, bringing the best decks at the time to the forefront of the tournament world. This deck is a powerful example of that ebb and flow, and discerning readers will already know that just because a deck placed well in a tournament doesn’t mean it’s the best deck until the next big tournament or update. And that the opposite is also true, just because your deck didn’t win that big tournament doesn’t mean it’s not a top-tier contender.
Lets take a look at the list Jabor piloted this list to win the Aug 9 FWIQ:
Jabor – NT Tempo (Rosenfloggen)
3 Byzerak Spitemage
3 Ebonskull Knight
3 Everflame Phoenix
3 Grimgaunt Devourer
3 Grimgaunt Predator
3 Cull the Weak
3 Flame Lance
3 Static Shock
First thing comes to mind is all those 3ofs. Wow! Talk about consistency, this deck knows what it wants to do and then does it. There’s a certain amount of advantage to having 3ofs, you always know your deck is going to draw certain cards, especially if those cards are similar. You also get an advantage when counting your outs and also remembering which cards you’ve leveled.
The removal in this deck is a thing of beauty, we have every top-tier removal spell you can play in Nekrium/Tempys; Spitemage, is our favorite hasty; level-gated removal spell with legs; Cull the Weak and Dreadbolt are both powerful spot removal giving you the versatility to kill Ghox or Phoenix respectively, even Flame Lance and Epidemic are played. We want our opponent’s creatures to be dead or small, and for us to get through with that sweet damage.
But let’s not forget my personal favorite, Static Shock. It’s simply one extra damage to stuff up your opponent’s plans. Can’t Flame Lance that Ghox? Need to epidemic that Leafkin? Opponent’s creature left on 1 Health? With Static Shock all of these situations are suddenly totally acceptable, hell, just that one extra point of damage to the face will sometimes be free. Not that you’ll draw it with a spell all the time of course, but when you do, all the value will be yours!
Let’s talk about Dreadbolt for a second though everyone; it was only played in one deck in the Top 16 – the winning one. Dreadbolt, some would argue is horrendously positioned right now, what with Ghox/Drix decks, with the obvious power of cards like Flamebreak Invoker and even Thundersaur and Weirwood Patriarch. However, for this Top 16, Dreadbolt kills almost everything important.
So, what does Dreadbolt kill? There were three other decks running Grimgaunt Predator and two decks running Grimgaunt Devourer (not including Jabor), both cards are prime targets for the prime removal. There’s also Everflame Phoenix and Ebonskull Knight, hell it’s not even that bad against the Mono A deck because Steelforged Avatar is a card, and if your opponent is unlucky enough to pump his freshly played Ghox with a Drix, well you can kill that too.
So, you might think, after all that, that I believe removal is the absolute stone cold nuts. Actually, I don’t think so, in fact, in a vacuum I think that being proactive is actually what you want to be doing in SolForge, find the most powerful thing to do in any given format and then find ways of doing it faster, better, or more consistently than your opponent. But I digress, that’s for another article I’m considering.
Controlling the Tempo
The true brilliance of this deck is that it consistently tries to be proactive while removing its opponents threats. That’s exactly what Grimgaunt Devourer and Grimgaunt Predator allow you to do: gain advantage from killing your opponents creatures thereby stopping your opponent from executing their plan. That’s why the removal is good in this deck, because killing your opponents creatures is both stopping your opponent from winning and also actively helping you to win with big creatures.
And if you think about it, what is Ghox/Drix/Gnome going to do about that if they’re not running Dreadbolt? There are no cards in the behemoths that are Mono A Metaminds or Necrominds decks which can kill a huge Grimgaunt threat, the deck already has enough problems with Phoenix and Ebonskull. In fact, aside from playing a giant creature yourself or casting Dreadbolt, there’s not much to be done once your opponent has a snowballing giant Grimgaunt of death, it just keeps eating your creatures for value, so blocking isn’t great and with all the removal in this deck you likely have to one shot it with your creature anyway, forcing you to trade or even trade down after you’ve lost a creature to some removal and probably taken a hit.
Now this deck has weak spots: if you can remove the Grimgaunts then you’re in a much better spot, if you’re able to execute your plan dynamically with a new threat each turn then you’re likely better off too, and I’m sure there are a variety of other strategies which work well. However, for this tournament, on this day, this was the winning deck and it was a beautiful metagame call to play NT Tempo. Well done, Jabor!
Congratulations to the Top 16 competitors in this qualifier and especially to those who have now qualified for the Invitational.
For more content from Coxatrice stop by his live stream at twitch.tv/coxatrice.
Ed. note: Thanks to Coxatrice for sharing this article.