The Current Meta. [Wall of Text]

THEMAGICkMANTHEMAGICkMAN Age Unconfirmed Posts: 697 Critical Contributor
Today I'd like to talk about the current metagame in MtGPQ. For this post we'll be talking about the high level gold/platinum tier games. We'll also be assuming that all planeswalkers are at level 60, as the metagame changes a lot at lower levels. Perhaps I'll make another post sometime in the future about that topic. Now that that's all said and done, lets get into it!

This post will have 2 main parts: 
What the metagame currently revolves around.
What each colour currently does in the meta.

What does the metagame currently revolve around?

1. Planeswalker abilities. Planeswalker Abilities (we'll call them PA's for the rest of this post) are very important parts of the meta right now. they often define whether or not a planeswalker is playable or not. The top-tier planeswalkers are top-tier largely because of their abilities. Jace2 and ObNix are both widely used for their ultimate abilities, which will win games really fast on their own. Nahiri has 2 great abilities for creature based decks and another ability for when you're in a pinch. Kiora, one of the best planeswalkers in the game has 3 abilities that are all relevant and useful. This is as it should be and there is nothing wrong with planeswalker abilities being dominant. They're an important part of the game and should stay that way. 

2.Removal. Ah, removal, the bane of creatures. Right now, every top-tier deck should have at least one piece of removal unless its some combo deck or doing something that doesn't need removal. Even though creatureless decks are becoming more popular, removal is still one of the most dominant parts of the meta, which is usually fine, but in this case its problematic. Why? Because removal is so plentiful and cheap. Lets take a look, Almost every colour has good, cheap removal.

White has Smite the Monstrous and Humble the Brute leading the pack for white kill spells, both relatively efficient with a requirement that is rarely a problem.

Blue has 2 destroy creature spells that are currently very, very good. Moon, and Frog specifically. Both with a drawback, but they are still very cheap.
Black has its trio of 5 mana kill spells, as well as a plethora of other kill spells that cost a bit more.

Red has Inner Struggle and Unlicensed Disintegration as its primary ways to kill stuff.

Green has... Scour From Existence and Plummet. Better than nothing right?

So whats the problem here? Well, primarily for black and blue, there's quite a bit of undercosted removal. Too much. Black having access to THREE 5 mana kill spells is ridiculous. Yes, black is the colour for killing stuff, but removal should not come that cheap and that plentifully.

3. Supports. Supports are by far the most important/most used card type in MtGPQ right now. They are incredibly important and a lot of supports are extremely strong. There isn't a huge problem with this as there is a decent amount of support removal in each colour that should have it (red green and white - white could use some more though) and the other colours that don't traditionally remove artifacts or enchantments for paper MtG have some, but not much. Fairly balanced, but spells and creatures could use a bit of buff in general, some new creatures in Amonkhet that have support-like abilities would go a long way towards this. The situation here isn't that bad, but it could use a bit of a rebalance and I really hope Amonkhet brings that balance.

What does each colour do in the current metagame?

we'll go in WUBRG order for this:

WHITE: White has several strong mythics that are just good. Hixus, Deploy etc, etc. White isn't a very deep colour right now, it doesn't have much complexity to it, but that's just fine! White fits pretty well within its Paper MtG description, it has a good amount of control and blockers, for board control, something white typically loves. There isn't really a go wide strategy in PQ simply due to the nature of the game, but white is pretty creature based. White is a generally balanced colour, with minimal outliers, and is overall in quite good shape.

BLUE: Blue is heavy control and draw primarily, which fits well with its paper description, but bits really really powerful right now. Blue is super strong, and no, not just because of Baral. Because of the sheer amount of absurdly powerful blue cards. Take a look: Insidious Will, Talent of the Telepath, Any of the mass bounce spells, Moon, Frog. The list goes on. Blue is arguably the strongest colour right now. It fits remarkably well into its paper stereotype, buts its way to powerful. Blue needs to be reigned in a bit, its getting ridiculous. Other than the power level, blue is in great shape! Flavour wise its perfect, it feels how blue should feel, the primary aspects are draw and control, all pretty good right now, just tone down the power.

BLACK: Black is: Kill, Kill, Kill, Discard and troll, kill, troll, kill. Black has an insane amount of removal right now, and thats really getting out of hand. Black is really not fun to play against, its even more oppressive than blue for creature heavy decks, and that should be the case, but not to this level. Black should be great against creatures but its gone too far. Black has warped the meta towards creatureless decks way too heavily. Black should be rough to play against, but not this insanely oppressively rough. Its very difficult to beat a creatureless ObNix deck with Nahiri Zoo without killing your opponent in one turn. This needs to be toned down. I don't have any amazing suggestions as to how, but reducing the amount of cheap removal spells would be step one. Flavour wise black is in an OK spot, but honestly, it was wayyyyy better in origins era, and maybe even BfZ, though that's where black started being OP. Black would be very tricky to balance, has to be good but not OP, but also not unusable. There are quite a few things that would need to happen for black to be perfectly balanced.

RED: red's in a bit of a weird place right now. If you're mono-red its go big or go home, otherwise red is a decent support colour for actually winning you the game. It doesn't have much to offer other than that, especially since control plays such a huge part in the meta right now. Red itself is in an OK spot, its the other colours that need reigning in. Its got good creatures, all about speed and killing stuff quick, which is good. could use some help in the burn department though, its a bit lacking there. Red also has the best support removal, which is worth noting.

GREEN: green is really really good right now, like, in good shape. Its all about going over the top with your creatures and mana. Its not too bad yet, but it wouldn't take much to tip it over the edge. Green is on the cusp of being OP, but I don't think its quite there. Flavour wise its pretty good, big creatures, lots of mana, not a bad situation here.

Summary:

The meta is really interesting and the diversity is decent right now. Control needs to be pushed back a touch, but other than that its pretty good. I'm very interested to see what Amonkhet brings to the table, and I'll probably revisit this post or perhaps make another like it. The depth of the meta is decent, but could potentially be better, and if control is reigned in then that will open the gap for so many other archetypes and make the meta suuuuper diverse. @Brigby if you could show this to the devs that would mean a lot to me, I've worked pretty hard on this, and I hope something comes of it. What're your thoughts? Did I miss anything? (probably) Do you agree or disagree with my analysis of the current metagame? What do you want to change? 

Comments

  • Rogan JoshRogan Josh Age Unconfirmed Posts: 140 Tile Toppler


    BLUE: Blue is heavy control and draw primarily, which fits well with its paper description, but bits really really powerful right now. Blue is super strong, and no, not just because of Baral. Because of the sheer amount of absurdly powerful blue cards. Take a look: Insidious Will, Talent of the Telepath, Any of the mass bounce spells, Moon, Frog. The list goes on. Blue is arguably the strongest colour right now. It fits remarkably well into its paper stereotype, buts its way to powerful. Blue needs to be reigned in a bit, its getting ridiculous. Other than the power level, blue is in great shape! Flavour wise its perfect, it feels how blue should feel, the primary aspects are draw and control, all pretty good right now, just tone down the power.

    something to add is the fact that Blue is the only colour to have all 4 of its multicoloured PWs at a very high tier along with Jace2 being (arguably) the best mono coloured PW. I don't think the other colours are quite there yet. 

    Blue really climbed out of the grave and started kicking again with SoA, it was in a bit of a slump before then. 
  • LaeuftbeidirLaeuftbeidir Posts: 1,838 Chairperson of the Boards
    I wouldn't count j1 and t1 as high tier. They've got their strengths, but especially tez is living in a niche. Also, I wouldn't argue about j2 to be the strongest mono blue, he's the most versatile with an ultimate that is incredible good.
    Why didn't you count wttf etc as creature removals?they make blue even stronger!
  • span_argomanspan_argoman Posts: 749 Critical Contributor
    A very detailed and helpful explanation of the meta and what each colour contributes. Personally I would think that Silverstrike warrants mention over Humble the Brute as a standard White removal tool.

    Also the issue of creature removal being too strong is a bit dicey. There's this unstable equilibrium that has cheap and efficient removal on one side and insanely powerful creatures on the other side. You've already listed the main removal choices so I'll list some creatures which are problematic if you don't remove them asap:
    • Olivia for her ability to give every subsequent creature or token summoned Haste, Flying, Lifelink and +3/+3.
    • Ulrich for his stats and his werewolf form's ability which can slowly wipe your board out.
    • Drowner of Hope which will disable all your creatures and do that every turn if the owner has a token generator.
    • Decimator of Provinces for the massive stats though you can't do much about the Berserker, Trample and +4/+4 boost to the board.
    • Startled Awake for the mana boosts he's going to give his owner if you don't take him out.
    • Avacyn and her Prevent Damage plus Reach which will wipe out your board if not dealt with.
    There are many more from the mythic list like Ulvenwald Hydra, Greenwarden of Murasa, Wolf of Devil's Breach and Omnath. But the thing is that at the top level the removal is there to deal with creatures like these before they get out of control.

    Though I guess this means that at the lower levels the creature removal becomes a little too oppressive when you don't have such high power creatures to balance against that. Ways of dealing with excessive removal decks include having token generators or even just a draw support like Tamiyo's Journal coupled with a buffer of cheap creatures in your deck to soak the removal spells.

    On the colours, I think you could have talked about the Life Gain theme for White. That has been a prevalent theme since Origins with War Oracle, then moving onto Lantern Scout and Allies, Ondu Rising then now with Lone Rider, Gisela, Angel of Invention and likes. Campaign of Vengeance is there to trigger life gain stuff too though best in Sorin who can benefit from Defiant Bloodlord.

    If I were to point out an issue with White, it's that it has to rely on Colourless cards for ramp aside from Deploy the Gatewatch. Green is Green. Red has board destruction. Blue has Startled Awake, Rattlechains, Baral, Talent of the Telepath, and Day's Undoing. Black has Behold the Beyond, Midnight Oil and... Ok fine, Black has the same issue with ramp. Draw is an issue commonly shared by all except Black and Blue so that's not such a big issue.

    I think you're spot on about Blue. It has everything from draw to ramp to bounce, removal, mana denial and good creatures. And it's been the best colour for Energizing which makes it very relevant for KLD and AER. We've to see how Blue performs in Amonkhet.

    The bit about Black, where the multi-removal and discard Ob deck is annoying to play against, suffers because the AI is not programmed to save up loyalty for the killer move ie. Forbidden Knowledge. At Gold/Platinum levels, you should have bonus draw built into your deck which mitigates the discards. Your best choice against the removals are token generators, Relentless Dead/Prized Amalgam, a cheap flood of good value mid-range creatures or even consider Scraphead Scrounger. If Ob discards it for you then you save that 20 mana too and it'll come back to soak a removal every time they kill one of your other creatures.

    But basically my worry about toning down the creature removal is that there then comes no good option for dealing with cards in the list I stated above.

    I agree with you on Red.

    To me Green's biggest issue is that it lacks good and cheap creature removal. Sure you can ramp to the high heavens with Green but Scour at 12 mana is still really pricey and there is no second option to add to the deck (Plummet is too situational to count). Personally I don't have access to Green's best mythic creatures so that may colour my perception of their creature choices. But I think in terms of mono-colour planeswalkers, Green is second last after Ob followed by Koth and Jace 2 as joint second.

    Great read and thanks for the effort!
  • toastietoastie Age Unconfirmed Posts: 119 Tile Toppler
    This is the eternal problem of eternal formats. Only the best, most efficient cards of all time are playable at the highest level. And that means cheap, resilient and/or just OP threats, and cheap universal removal. Synergy gets pushed aside for a mix of the all stars, and the metagame stagnates (if it doesn't go all degenerate). Fortunately (aside from Baral) we haven't seen a whole lot of degeneracy yet, but that is largely because of the sheer number of mythics you need to do the most broken things.

    Ultimately the solution will always be the same, introduce rotating formats to better control the number of great threats and answers, pull down power level, and allow for more interesting synergistic decks.
  • madwrenmadwren Posts: 1,834 Chairperson of the Boards
    edited May 2017

    3. Supports. Supports are by far the most important/most used card type in MtGPQ right now. They are incredibly important and a lot of supports are extremely strong. There isn't a huge problem with this as there is a decent amount of support removal in each colour that should have it (red green and white - white could use some more though) and the other colours that don't traditionally remove artifacts or enchantments for paper MtG have some, but not much. Fairly balanced, but spells and creatures could use a bit of buff in general, some new creatures in Amonkhet that have support-like abilities would go a long way towards this. The situation here isn't that bad, but it could use a bit of a rebalance and I really hope Amonkhet brings that balance.

    I strongly disagree with the bolded. One of the most frustrating aspects of gameplay, as it has been since inception, is the inability to target supports with support removal spells.  Being able to simply flood the board with supports to counter artifact removal is somewhat ridiculous, and fabricate simply made it worse. Gotta love casting Release the Gremlins to combat a Dynavolt Tower and seeing it destroy a couple of servos and a Deadlock Trap. 

    Now, imagine if your opponent cast Village Messenger, Ulrich, and Quilled Wolf, and you cast Scour and it randomly killed the Wolf, leaving Ulrich on the board. Then, imagine he immediately cast another Quilled Wolf, and you cast Scour again, and it did it a second time. That would be, well, ridiculous.

    Strong creatures demand an answer, and you can build your deck to provide one. You can put all the Smites and Slaughters or Scours or Moons you want in your decks.  

    But Starfield? TSN? AI-controlled Hixus? FB? Waterveil? Dynavolt Tower? You're left completely at the whim of RNG, even if you pack multiple support removal spells--and unless you know your opponent's deck composition, no one is going to do that because it so greatly lowers the threat potential of your deck. 

    Creature removal is necessarily strong to combat extremely powerful creatures.  Support removal, unfortunately, has remained exceptionally weak. I think this limits design space and creates problems.

  • shteevshteev Age Unconfirmed Posts: 2,031 Chairperson of the Boards
    edited May 2017
    3. Supports. Supports are by far the most important/most used card type in MtGPQ right now. They are incredibly important and a lot of supports are extremely strong. There isn't a huge problem with this as there is a decent amount of support removal in each colour that should have it (red green and white - white could use some more though)
    Spoken like a man who has Anguished Unmaking :) Black has literally nothing else.

    White has a great answer to powerful supports in Consulate Crackdown, which you know definitely isn't going to fail to take out a Thopter Spy Network or Starfield, but again, it's only one good answer, and it's rare (although luckily it's raining AER rares at the moment. Not so much SOI).

    A whole spell which targets a single, random support is often pretty bad against an opponent who has his 3 or 4 synergistic ones in play already (especially if one of them is Prism Array), so green actually really suffers. Conclave Naturalists is a solid card when you start Bronze Tier but it gets left by the wayside pretty fast once you start to advance through the game.

    Red fares better; Demolish is at least cheap, Release the Gremlins hits 3, and Harness the Storm will let you recur your Demolishes to clear the board (again, if you happen to have one specific SOI card lying around, this time a mythic). Plus, red has access to a bunch of random gem removers, which can help a bit. Green can attempt to do something similar, through gem converstion, but it takes a while to blow up non green supports like that, and by the time you have, it usually means you're comboing like crazy and winning the game anyway.

    Blue? Blue is just tinykittied, isn't it? There's a reason why the only games I lose with my Jace 2 are against Thopter Spy Network.

  • EDHdadEDHdad Posts: 609 Critical Contributor
    Green's removal flat-out sucks.  The fact that the only targeted creature removal spell is colorless and 12 mana is galling.  This might not be immediately apparent to those with Ulrich or Undergrowth Champion, or who have the ability to loop "turn all the gems green" effects until they can attack with a 100/100 hydra, but you might be surprised how tiny kitten green's removal is when you're lacking certain cards.

    Green should also have the best support destruction.  In paper Magic, green can destroy any permanent of any type.  Caustic Caterpillar should destroy a support when it dies.  Cards like Creeping Mold and Reclaiming Vines should cost no more than 3.  Ideally, there would be a common green creature with reach and deathtouch costing no more than 5 (example:  Deadly Recluse or Thornweald Archer).  Ideally, green would have cheap spells allowing your creatures to "fight" an opponent's creature outside of the combat step (each deals damage to the other equal to its power).  There should be a green card like Lignify which turns an opponent's creature into a lump of wood. 
  • EDHdadEDHdad Posts: 609 Critical Contributor
    As for Jace II being Tier I, I have no doubt that many people have a Tier I Jace deck, but that's different from Jace himself being Tier I.  Play Training Grounds using the "beginner's deck" of a given planeswalker, and you might discover which ones are really top tier, and which ones are top tier because Startled Awake into Rattlechains is really good when you have Prism Array on board and Exert Influence charged up in your hand.

    By comparison, play the beginner Ob Nixilis and Koth decks and you'll actually get somewhere.  Ob Nixilis can win the game all by himself, and Koth is, well, Koth.
  • shteevshteev Age Unconfirmed Posts: 2,031 Chairperson of the Boards
    What does the metagame currently revolve around?
    Blue. It revolves around blue.

    Blue has an obscene number of extraordinarily OP cards: Drowner, Exert, Crush, Engulf, Prism Array, TSN, Startled Awake. How many other cards in the game are on that power level? Behold the Beyond, Olivia, Hixus, Deploy the Gatewatch, Nissa's Renewal, Season's Past, Rishkar's Expertise. (Starfield? Harness the Storm? Gaea's Revenge? Ulvenwald Hydra?)

    (I'm leaving colorless cards out of that list... also Masterpieces cos they don't impact the metagame much)

    I'm not saying that cards like Gisela and Baral aren't severely overpowered for their cost, but I don't think they rank in the above list of utterly broken cards because at least they have the decency to get Imprisoned in the Moon or taken To The Slaughter before they have the chance to affect the board. Lightning Runner can be more problematic but he's unlikely to be able to double the power of your other creatures in play before his opponent at least gets one opportunity to kill him. But, do feel free to debate me on my list, because that kind of thing is always fun :)

    Today's tinykitty event accurately displays how I approach the current meta: there's a green node, a white node, and a black node, so I'm going to play a WU, a GU, and a BU planeswalker. Tezz2 is new to me, but I'm already getting a bit bored of his extreme power. Kiora has been my staple for green nodes ever since.... probably ever since Season's Past was printed, I think.

    There are two mono-colored planeswalkers who can claim to be in the top tier, but I'm not sure about one of them, tbh: Jace 2. Maybe I just don't quite have enough of the broken cards yet, but for me Jace 2 has some huge gaps in his arsenal; life gain, and support removal. I've lost more games to TSN with Jace 2 than I have with any of my other regular PWs. His abilities are super strong, but show me a blue node and chances are I'd rather be playing a dual colored PW.

    Ob Nixilis, on the other hand, is still the real deal, because his abilities are way OP. Well, OK, not his second, that's just powerful. But his ultimate is still the best creatureless win condition in the game, and being able to play completely creatureless and still have a strong finisher gives him a real leg up over most PWs. His first ability is crazy good, too, and probably OP... if you don't have a broken card, or a removal spell for your opponent's OP creature, in your hand right now, then it's really not going to take you long to find one.
  • ThuranThuran Posts: 456 Mover and Shaker
    Good news for you, the embalm ability from Amonkhet should tone down Black's power vs creatures quite a bit, depending on how it will end up working. 

    Nice summary, and a very pleasant read.
  • THEMAGICkMANTHEMAGICkMAN Age Unconfirmed Posts: 697 Critical Contributor
    edited May 2017
    @span_argoman you're points are all very good, and yeah, there should be removal to deal with that stuff, but 3 5 mana removal spells in black is too much and makes it way too hard for a lot of decks to win through a wall of pure removal. Green not having removal thats cheap is OK, but yeah it could use a bit more, something like unlicensed disintegration. I agree, I should have talked about life gain for white (and probably black as well) but white seems a bit shallow to me, I should've spent some more time on it.

    Note: yes I left out some cards, like WTTF and silverstrike, I can't mention literally every good card in the meta right now and I'm gonna forget some - they all play a part but I think I did a pretty good job of covering the main themes.

    madwren said:

    3. Supports. Supports are by far the most important/most used card type in MtGPQ right now. They are incredibly important and a lot of supports are extremely strog. There isn't a huge problem with this as there is a decent amount of support removal in each colour that should have it (red green and white - white could use some more though) and the other colours that don't traditionally remove artifacts or enchantments for paper MtG have some, but not much. Fairly balanced, but spells and creatures could use a bit of buff in general, some new creatures in Amonkhet that have support-like abilities would go a long way towards this. The situation here isn't that bad, but it could use a bit of a rebalance and I really hope Amonkhet brings that balance.

    I strongly disagree with the bolded. One of the most frustrating aspects of gameplay, as it has been since inception, is the inability to target supports with support removal spells.  Being able to simply flood the board with supports to counter artifact removal is somewhat ridiculous, and fabricate simply made it worse. Gotta love casting Release the Gremlins to combat a Dynavolt Tower and seeing it destroy a couple of servos and a Deadlock Trap. 

    Now, imagine if your opponent cast Village Messenger, Ulrich, and Quilled Wolf, and you cast Scour and it randomly killed the Wolf, leaving Ulrich on the board. Then, imagine he immediately cast another Quilled Wolf, and you cast Scour again, and it did it a second time. That would be, well, ridiculous.

    Strong creatures demand an answer, and you can build your deck to provide one. You can put all the Smites and Slaughters or Scours or Moons you want in your decks.  

    But Starfield? TSN? AI-controlled Hixus? FB? Waterveil? Dynavolt Tower? You're left completely at the whim of RNG, even if you pack multiple support removal spells--and unless you know your opponent's deck composition, no one is going to do that because it so greatly lowers the threat potential of your deck. 

    Creature removal is necessarily strong to combat extremely powerful creatures.  Support removal, unfortunately, has remained exceptionally weak. I think this limits design space and creates problems.


     This is verrrrrry true and a great point, I'm not sure that supports are quite at the point where they are simply too strong (they might be) but they aren't far off. I really hope that in the very near future targeted support removal becomes a thing. Thank you for bringing it up, its a great point.

    Also, the wonderful thing about MtGPQ, and really MtG in general, is that you can pair colours together to cover up for weaknesses, that said, Mono-colour planeswalkers play a large part in this game, like J2 and ObNix, and if they aren't in the support removal colours then they shouldn't have an easy answer to supports, but they shouldn't just lose to them. These colours should have ways to deal with what supports DO, but not the supports themselves. Hopefully thats a bit clearer. By this same logic, green should be able to deal with creatures, but not have spells that just kill creatures, yknow like reach creatures and stuff.

    Thuran said:
    Good news for you, the embalm ability from Amonkhet should tone down Black's power vs creatures quite a bit, depending on how it will end up working. 


    EDIT:I don't know why but I keep losing part of my post here - just a small paragraph, I'll put it down the bottom of the post and see if it stays there. Yeah it worked, its down the bottom there.
    Brigby could you pass this bit to the devs as well - its reaaaaally important.Take a look at the paper magic Amonkhet set, there is a load of artifact removal. Like, a ton. Some isn't good, some is, but there is a really ridiculous amount of it. And Amonkhet doesn't even have a ton of artifacts, so why is there that much artifact removal? Because of Kaladesh, and artifact themed block. Lots of cards are built specifically to kill the block or set before it. This idea can't be translated directly to PQ, as its only format is an eternal one, but you can kinda transfer the premise - kill the meta instead, which is why I made this post, to try and guide @Hibernum_JC and the other card designers in the right direction. White and green need more support removal and they need to be careful not to make supports more OP. Black and blues cheap control needs to be toned down a bit and countered by whatever Amonkhet does - Embalm is perfect for that if they make it really strong, but then they have to be careful not to make it too OP, and prepare for something else to stop tokens or whatever in the set after yknow? Hopefully you all get what I mean here, I was rambling a little bit. I'm glad you guys enjoyed reading this, I'll probably make a new one after Amonkhet comes out, I'll be sure to keep your feedback in mind. :smiley:
     



     Now this is something I really want to talk about, and I'll probably end up detailing it more in another post, but in paper MtG, the set after the previous one tends to kill the previous set, this is how they stop power creep and puzzle quest should really take note of this
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