Challenging the Meta

Strategies and Card File Construction

Challenging the Meta

Postby Candi » Fri Oct 10, 2008 12:59 pm

Hello everyone, long time no write.

Well, for those of you who used to enjoy my long discussions of card files and strategy from back in August I am sorry to disappoint but that is not my aim this time, instead I am passing the torch - to everyone. We have a problem that I am sure we are all acutely aware - the meta has stagnated. For a long while now it has been a solid state affair, the power files are still the same, the weak files are the same, the sphere's of dominance haven't rotated. This just is not right!

In my opinion and experience, in most games like Alteil which come packaged with a metagame, the meta goes through cycles. A particular file, say of type A, starts to issue dominance over the lesser files of the game and then a bunch of players mimic files of type A and for a while the game is filled with an endless barrage of files of type A. Then, some smart guy comes along and builds a counter file to type A, say type B (creative I know). He comes in and one week dominates the weekly rankings and everyone's like "where did that guy come from?!" And then all of a sudden type A files drop in popularity (but not completely) and type B files pick up usage (largely people will copy what's successful). The process repeats with file type B -> C until eventually things flip to a point where type A file are again strong (of course then you say "type A is overpowered!" but type B comes back etc. etc.).

This behaviour in play style shifting prevents a stagnant metagame - every week the new top file becomes the flavour of the week... But right now, we don't have a flavour of the week file, we have a flavour of the set file - which is very discouraging. So, here's my challenge, using every resource available construct a file that will destroy the current meta (which is full of, and it seems weird that we have complaints with such diversity, but - Dalos, Emperors, Gown Rush and Assassin soul skills). Of course, you can't use a meta file to do it (that would defeat the purpose of the exercise - making a modded Dalos file that beats everything is good, but you're still using Dalos). The point is to explore the unexplored, and I know there are some of us out there who do this every day to no avail - or so little success no one notices.

So, instead of me provided you a file that tanks the meta I will provide some suggestions to go about beating what's out there. First and foremost, pick a sphere - decide what you want to use. Once you have that decide which type of file you want to focus on annihilating. Examine your sphere for counters to that file, make a list. Then look to the next popular file, and repeat until you have a table of file types and then a list of counters your sphere has to offer. The key to beating a file type is to build a counter file, and the neat thing about this is most counters to a particular file, work well against other's too (such as how anti-defense cards beat LeBeau and any other defense heavy file, such as Renally).

Now, if you're going to post about how the current meta is stable because it's unbeatable - then provide some reasons and arguments. Just insisting on something being true because that's how it is is not a valid logical argument. Hopefully soon I will start posting some of my ideas and maybe as a community we can brainstorm the Ultimate File.
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Re: Challenging the Meta

Postby Phades » Fri Oct 10, 2008 1:33 pm

The meta is derived from options. Those options are derived directly from what is not only available within the set, but also what people can actually have to put into a card file and be effective. I think what you are noticing is that the "usable" cards are clearly dominant, because there simply is no reason to avoid using them. It isn't for a lack of alternatives, i feel it is more the byproduct of at least 2 elements. The first element is giving all spheres access to +sp and +sphere level effects allowing easy access to high level cards. The second element is the general power creep of set 2. You combine these two elements and the only "surviving" deck style from set one was the gowen "rush" consisting of largely common cards making it easier to field than other options.

I think you sliced up the generalizations a little to sharply though. Saying that the dalos card, as a unit, is a metagame trend would be like stating blitz soldier was a metagame trend. Obviously dalos dominates far more than blitz soldier could ever hope to do, but that is a little different. If you were to classify that instance slightly differently with the lawita "speed" decks, then i would have less issues with it since dalos in particular i would consider to be close to, if not always, a staple of any lawita deck as a unit.

Trying to change the meta by using cards that are sub-par isn't going to happen either. I feel that the game reached a point awhile ago where it will not improve unless rebalanced starting with set 1. The rebalancing would allow for more variety in cards, but not strategies, since there are only limited mechanics introduced within each of the sets. For example, set 2 introduced counter skills to refress. To have it really come full circle as far as diversity is concerned, other mechanics would have to be introduced in order to work around the common themes of field control leading to LP loss. Everyone works towards this goal and uses the "best" cards they have available to achieve this and that is why it would appear that the meta has become stagnant. Originally with falkow you could work opposite of the large standing field control with field manipulation, but that has been mitigated to a degree due to the variety of units that fall outside of the normal "return" style gameplay forcing the player to find an alternative in order to compete directly with the large standing units creating persisting field control. Arguably SP manipulation is the name of the game now, in order to skip ahead to what would normally be considered "late game" field control through the use of larger units. In which instance only 2 spheres even have answers for that style of play that can be used without manditory LP loss. Lawita currently contains the most options to achieve this and should be considered part of the "counter meta" when employed. However, it can also be coupled with either night style play or speed style play, thus lumping it into the "common" meta style files used.

The one good thing this game does achieve is forcing planning ahead from even the file creation phase instead of at the actual turn based game level. Through this contingentcies can be created for situations as the view for the need arises. However, the actual execution and timing for those effects to occur ends up being the real tactical decisions while durring normal play and often decides who wins and loses from a very early point within the match. As a byproduct of this, only very few cards will ever see use within the game as it stands now, since effects like deck recycling have little meaning if the player is always more limited in terms of LP.

In order to "break up" the current monotany, more useful cards for all spheres would have to be introduced as either hard counters for large creatures by using persisting effects through units on the table creating field control (in my opinion hard counters are usually bad for a developing game in the long term). Alternatively, the persisting deck destruction and recycling effects to become more common and effective, could be a solution as well, allowing the player to target threats before they hit the table while being able to keep units out on the field longer through recycling. This is a similar concept to return play in addition to SP drain, but hitting in a different mechanic area. Currently there are very few options to achive this and it does not seem valid as a playstyle. The only alternative left, with the given possibilities, is prolithic SP denial to counter the SP surges and sphere bonuses available. Now, this would not be as much of an issue, if the "behemoths" had LP or Sphere level penalties similar to XXXX and blitz soldier or the lawita angel and consequently balancing their overal use against "standard" level 2-4 unit decks as seen in set 1. This would coincide with the concept of a "rebalancing" of the game overal, but i do not think that this style of change will ever occur within this game given the nature of how it is a mirror of the japanese version to a degree.
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Re: Challenging the Meta

Postby Logress » Fri Oct 10, 2008 3:40 pm

I've seen this before and it looked good, I was wondering if anyone knows how it does against the top meta. Falkow, with the Black Cat out early, followed by the Wind Sorceress for returning of anything, followed by witch for returning your own Undines to keep returning, possibly followed by Expert sorcerer if you run out of Sorceresses and the enemy is using level 4's. This could also possibly work with a Vordore endgame, not sure. I think the lots of units taking down LP while the enemy's field is empty would be better. It's solid in principle, Black Cat stops the standard Lawtia grimoires used to back up Dalos, and more importantly stops SP generation cards. She also is a big target, and the enemy will likely do everything possible to eliminate her, maybe wasting resources and soul cards. Wind sorceress is cheap to get out, if she gets Assassin-ed you can bring the next one out pretty quickly. No high level cards are absolutely necessary, so SP drain isn't crippling. By you can get the Sorceress out fast, so you don't have to worry about the enemy out-racing you, and by returning big cards you're effectively SP draining.
I've seen this strategy overrun dragon decks before, but I'm not sure about speed Lawtia, or if it can do either consistently. Thoughts?
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Re: Challenging the Meta

Postby ANIMEniac » Fri Oct 10, 2008 3:59 pm

Sounds good in theory, but it has many vulnerabilities. First thing coming to mind if SP management on your end. SP to play Syl/Undine and SP for sorceress/witch. It will start to falter a bit if you get hit by Souls since you will have to revive and use more SP.

Although I will say a bounce type deck would be the most annoying to go up against.


I must say it is pretty tough to have a determined meta with such a small group of players. I still see quite a few various types of decks. If i had to pick a dominate type of deck, I would probably learn towards LAWT. They have the most tricks and answers to most of the decks out there. Fenrir and Dalos are also public enemy #1.
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Re: Challenging the Meta

Postby DanTheTimid » Fri Oct 10, 2008 4:48 pm

For my money the main reason the meta is so stagnant is because most people literally CAN'T change their decks, its why so many people stop playing after hitting folrart or only sign in to MM, if you don't like the card file you have have when you reach folrart, it can be months or even years before you'll get enough play sets of new cards to be able to significantly alter your card file, let alone run an entirely new one.

I'd say more then any other game I've ever played, real or online, this game suffers from its own mechanics when it comes to deck diversity and deck options. With very few exceptions you pretty much always NEED 3 of a unit/character to justify running it. In most games you want to get playsets to help consistency, but you can certainly toss a single new card in all by itself if you want to add a little spice to a deck. Not here. Combine that with the lack of trade or singles purchasing features and if the random number generator doesn't like you, you could theoretically be stuck with the same cards you started with for your entire play career. I wish I'd kept track of which cards I've pulled 8-10 of from sets while at the same time pulling 0-1 copies of 1 and 2 star cards from those same sets.

You can challenge the meta all you want, but if they don't have the new cards to switch too, theres really nothing they can do. And as for those who do have them, if the thing they find most fun is winning and they've found a winning strategy, its hard to really justify them going away from what they know works and what they enjoy playing.
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Re: Challenging the Meta

Postby ANIMEniac » Fri Oct 10, 2008 6:36 pm

Very true Dan. Most people just don't have those options open to them. Those ahead of the game are already sticking with what works for them. As long as nothing comes out that starts to pick at their weakness, it will remain so. Expect a few rogue types to come out, but that is so few in numbers.

Alteil really needs to give more incentive to stay longer in the game past Crest. The people that buy are the only ones staying and making decks. I will say some "Starters" can be modded just a little and hold their ground, I've done so w/ my Gowen alternate...but then again maybe it's b/c it's Gowen? Crest grads definitely need more boost that 10 cards through Crest. It would help greatly to get a couple packs to give them the many options they need, especially for Souls. I mean something even as small as an Assassin card does so much for any deck.

I would even say a special pack at lvl 10 that gives cards of certain spheres. Of course an ideal would be something like a pack every 2 levels to really give them something to play with.
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Re: Challenging the Meta

Postby Porky » Fri Oct 10, 2008 6:54 pm

logress wrote:I've seen this before and it looked good, I was wondering if anyone knows how it does against the top meta. Falkow, with the Black Cat out early, followed by the Wind Sorceress for returning of anything, followed by witch for returning your own Undines to keep returning, possibly followed by Expert sorcerer if you run out of Sorceresses and the enemy is using level 4's. This could also possibly work with a Vordore endgame, not sure. I think the lots of units taking down LP while the enemy's field is empty would be better. It's solid in principle, Black Cat stops the standard Lawtia grimoires used to back up Dalos, and more importantly stops SP generation cards. She also is a big target, and the enemy will likely do everything possible to eliminate her, maybe wasting resources and soul cards. Wind sorceress is cheap to get out, if she gets Assassin-ed you can bring the next one out pretty quickly. No high level cards are absolutely necessary, so SP drain isn't crippling. By you can get the Sorceress out fast, so you don't have to worry about the enemy out-racing you, and by returning big cards you're effectively SP draining.
I've seen this strategy overrun dragon decks before, but I'm not sure about speed Lawtia, or if it can do either consistently. Thoughts?

"I think you mistook Wind Sorceress for Aqua Sorcerer/ Mystere."
I ran that deck for a couple of weeks, you'll definitely beat gowen, and big refess, it is a toss up against lawtia, but you should win most of the time. The biggest flaws of the deck is that you'll lose to Falkow mirror's, Legyre/ water dragon decks,and set 1 lawtia believe it or not=( The deck does beat most favoured decks but it has flaws that is near impossible to overcome making it obsolete against those decks. Furthermore, the style is quite hard to play compared with the popular meta styles, sure you could win but you need that much more effort and precision, if you're not on your game a single mistake will lose the match for you.
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Re: Challenging the Meta

Postby Logress » Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:21 am

Yeah, I ment Aqua Sorceress. True, one mistake would lose that for you, but that's kinda true for all Falkow... I guess you lose to set one Lawtia because they use a combination of cheap units and SP drain? Interesting you lose to Legyre, I'd think that the fact he auto-returns your Undines would help you, while one Mystere return on the Dragon Emp would mess him up for good.
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Re: Challenging the Meta

Postby Porky » Sat Oct 11, 2008 3:18 am

because Legyre decks also play undine/slyph so if they just decide to back lash or reverse agi you, you're in trouble.
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Re: Challenging the Meta

Postby darklogos » Sat Oct 11, 2008 5:45 am

Here is why the meta won't change.

1. COST!

It hasn't been posted and I wanted to ask this is private from the GM's first, but how much per set do they want us to spend to compete? Add on to that how much do they want us to spend to complete a set? I know after hitting 200 dollars I haven't completed set 2 nor have I gotten enough 5 star cards to play. I've invested more then most players are at this stage and I'm a bit frustrated. I play heroclix. Its a plastic minatures game. This issue was brought up by the community to company on their forums many times about how much does it cost to collect. Since this is a ccg not a tcg the same question has to be asked. How much should I spend to complete and compete? Until this issue is solved upper level meta won't change because many solutions have a cost that is to high to reach unless you have the cards.

2. Good luck finding what you want.

I've wanted a salamander solider for the longest time. After over 6 boxes i still don't have one at all. OVER SIX BOXES! I've had tons of ideas on how to use him but I can't so I'm stuck. Guess how many blessings I have. Thats right 0. I just got 1 fairy dance. JUST 1 FAIRY DANCE! So even if people start to net deck. (This is honestly where we are going anyway) The chances of a person getting that card as a free player or low investment player is about nill. You are stuck playing 3 star and lower cards.

3. CORRUPTION! CORRUPTION! CORRUPTION!

This card is so good I've seen people who splash or mix lawtia just to pull this out when they need it. For 3 sp it nueters whatever you want to neuter on the field. Why are a lot of people playing this card? Because it is useful in a lot of situations.

4. Natural High AGI mixed with High damage = Dominance

The mechanic of the game give advantage to high agi with high damage. First strike is essential in this game and has no consequence. The closet consequence is Cutoal because of her counter attack possible killing or you or slowing you really bad. Dalos is a packed in almost every Lawtia deck for a reason. He can bring the pain fast with a high AV. Also look at Fenir. He has an ability that cost 0 sp that can clean a front row of most lvl 2's and some lvl 3 units. No one packs Fenir without Succubi or Eskatia. Now lets look at Gowen. Combat Monk, Duel Blade Swordsman, Earth Dragon, the list goes on about how fast that sphere is.

5. First to AOE wins.

Most cards that can AOE (Area of Effect) can usually clean the board fast forcing the opposition to spend sp rezing units. Dalos is the main big time AOE user but lets look at Dragon rider Mida. She is a lawtia unit that does her hp damage to opposing units. If its all or 3 I'm not sure. A fairy dance or a well timed soul skill on her makes her very powerful killer. I've used silver wings on her to make it so she can clear a field if I need her to. Sadly I only have 1 of her. But being able to hit multiple units with just one unit is powerful and most decks have some for of AOE in there. Counter attack is another good card for massive AOE field clearing damage. Lawtia dragon emp is very game breaking at times because of his close skill. Without corruption or an -atk soul skill he can wipe most peoples side of the board with no problem.

6. Drain sp> Sp generator

This is why I've been griping in chat the last week and half. I've put down my Lawtia deck to play expermental decks to try to have fun with something new. I've tried various reffess, gowen, and falkow decks. Each deck had its own failing but one thing I noticed was all those decks fell faster and harder against sp drained focus decks. This happens when fighting lawtia, -sp soul skills, or a super rare to see falkow grimore that cost 4sp to play. Mind you I'm not playing BIG decks in all of these files. It is easy to take away sp then there is generate it making draining sp more efficient then sp generation. The biggest testament to this is that everyone raises their starting sphere level to level 3 in fear of shade.

7. Easy to play and assemble versus Easy to play hard to assemble.

People that started with Gowen or Lawtia are steps ahead from anyone else because they can easily transition into advance play of that sphere. If you started with Falkow or Reffess hope you can read Japanese and read the future to find out whats coming down the pipe for your sphere. Good luck trying to make a decent Gowen or Lawtia deck without spending a good amount of cash. Heck I even went back and bought a lawtia starter just so i could make a decent lawtia deck. Well there is always burning/spore to fall back on.

8. New ideas are to risky.

When i through out the idea of mixing spheres people said it was bad. I even regeret bringing up the topic. But soon after the idea of mix got replaced with the more catchy word "splash" when it pretty much is the same thing. In spite of the comments on the forum I took the risk of running some different decks. And I lost over and over and over again. Can't really talk to people about mixing sets because the topic always goes back to "splashing". So I go to the training area and test. If I can't get a training room fight I go into Folrart to test, many times loosing badly, to try to get some new ideas or new soul skill order. So in the end I risk my time, my weekly allowence, my rank, and my tech to try to develop something new. In the end when I look back I have to few gems that came out of all the sacrifice. The best one of all is dalos with invis edge hiding behind noirweeden who has super pumped up hp. Everything else has tanked. Even my God Lance deck I have now is starting to feel the pain of development. I'm almost tempted to leave that file as well.

9. Skill is determined by cards more so then thought.

This is just my own personal issue and can be overlooked. Look at the Dragon Squire rankings and you will see in the star battle section there are a lot of people that aren't regulars on the forum, in chat, or even see in game a lot. I bet a lot of them don't have a super high ranking. But out of 200+ people they made it to the top when having access to all the tools. Heck even I got 29th place and I would have been higher if i stuck to my lawtia deck instead of testing. As much as I've seen people underestimate Mavel she came out on top. Card selection has more sway then what I think a lot of people are giving it credit for.

When you really look at it Lawtia is several steps ahead then other spheres. Right after that is Gowen. Falkow control is nice but its too expensive even with sp generators. Reffess doesn't have enough HP to justifiy their slow speed and lower attack values. For example Gowen has a lvl 2 tank with 60 hp. Reffess doesn't have a level 2 tank with 60 hp. That's backward. Reffess should have a tank with 80 hp and do what blitz solider does or even 70 hp with 10 defense.

Here is one of my decks trying something new. It's my God Lance deck that has been loosing a lot.

3 blitz solider
2 kurina
2 archer scout
3 salamander
3 gladiator
3 duel swordsman
2 god lance
2 dryad
3 rapid growth
fairy dance
3 rapid growth
fire tornado

soul skill order is

beserker, bardia, fire and gia, Lebleu, Giant Ork

I had a guy comment in how it was cool that I was trying something new. Yet I had gone through all my soul skills defeated and I hadn't gotten him to his third card.
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