Table of Contents
If this is your first time reading the power rankings it is strongly recommended you check out the introduction first.
-Dying Wish Maehv
Welcome Duelyst Fam to August’s power rankings! If you are unfamiliar with the power rankings here’s how it works: we get a group of some of the very best players together and we ask them their opinion on every… single… deck we can think of. We then take it one step further and ask them to try and put those decks in order from best to worst in the meta right now. This does a lot of wonderful things for you the reader: you get an idea of what the meta looks like right now, you can see which decks are controversial, you get the opinion of a lot of S-rank players compiled into one location, and you can see which decks there is a general consensus about. If you noticed the table of contents at the top you can use that to skip to specific decks, however if you start scrolling down we have the decks put in order of their rank for you.
Some things to know: A power ranking is not a tier list. It is going to show you what a lot of different people think all at once. On a tier list a player decides what they think the best decks are and all of the “tiers” are based on how decks play against the common match-ups. Something might be considered tier 2 because it has a good match-up against the current number one deck. That will sort of come out by how a deck goes up in ranking, but it is not a direct consideration on a power ranking like it is for a tier list. Another important point is that you are looking at the compiled opinions (and we can’t stress opinions enough here) of some of the best players. Constructive arguments have occurred between some upper end players and we encourage you to politely engage in conversation and debate with us. We know you are going to disagree with some of the rankings and points we make because internally we have already disagreed with each other by ranking decks differently. So please enjoy the rankings for what they are: a great opportunity to examine the meta and the diverse opinions that can come out Duelyst’s ladder.
This Months Crew
- IceyFire95 (Lead Writer, Consultant, Designer)
- Niklaren (Consultant)
- RHacker93 (Consultant, Designer, Writer)
- Reeeee69 (Consultant, Designer, Writer)
- Ryvirath (Consultant, Designer)
- Rocken (Consultant, Designer)
- Starkly (Consultant, Writer, Designer)
- DeathsAdvocate (Consultant, Designer)
- GoodGuyHopper (Writer)
Arcanyst Shidhai #20
Long gone are the days of the Arcanyst meta where it was the top dog of the ladder that the vast majority of the playerbase hated but since the nerf of Vanar it has begun to lose popularity. With the release of Shidhai a new Arcanyst shell has come together with some insane snowball potential that has the ability to out-value Wanderer which is a feat not many decks can claim.
The issue with the deck is its inconsistency. Arcanyst tends to just fall flat without being able to set up an Owlbeast and usually just wins once a board has been established with it. This leads to a high-rolly deck that I wouldn’t recommend for ladder or tournament when there are so many better decks around in the meta.
Dying Wish #19
Dying Wish Maehv is probably the only midrange deck that can contend with Wanderer to some degree right now. The power of their highrolls far out-values Wanderer, and their ability to make huge bodies like 4/8’s with little mana investment is extremely powerful earlier on in the game.
With six cost-reduction cards in Lurking Fear and Carrion Collector, starting turns can result in huge leads. Depending on the deck, they may also include Darkfire Sacrifices and big minions like Vorpal Reaver, which can lead from a powerful turn 1 into an even more ridiculous turn 2. The Azure Horn Shaman and Cryptographer combo is a match made in heaven, creating giant bodies for 1 or 2 cards and low mana costs.
Dying Wish has bad match-ups against any aggro deck or combo deck like mantra, due to its wanton use of HP and need to have at least some control over board early. However, DWish’s biggest downside is themselves. With a huge reliance on RNG to draw ramp for t1/t2 (or Cryptographers and Azure Horn Shamans), then to draw big bodies like Vorpal Reaver to drop after ramping up, followed by a need to get card draw, DWish is very prone to bricking and bad hands. With good draws it can be stronger than any current tier 1 deck, but more often than not you don’t draw what you need or want.
Wanderer Kara #18
While fairly far from the most popular Wanderer decks in terms of popularity there are still some benefits to playing Wanderer Kara. Firstly, Vanar has access to a variety of ramp opportunities which means that they will more consistently be able to power it out early. In addition to this both Wanderer’s buff and Kara’s BBS are able to synergize with walls and can make cards like Gravity Well, Luminous Charge, Grandmaster Embla and Ice Age into powerful threats. Along those lines Wanderer Kara is also able to play the largest Jax Truesights of any Wanderer deck which can be very difficult for opponents to deal with. That being said Wanderer Kara does suffer from a lack of high-quality faction minions which does weaken it a bit when compared to Wanderer in other factions.
Aggro Vet #17
Losing Accumulonimbus was a huge blow to Zirix in general but was of course the worst for the lower-end Zirix lists that leaned on it as a late-game closer. In addition the patch did not bring much back for Aggro Zirix like it did for the control and midrange lists. So the deck lost one of its best cards and got nothing. This coupled with other decks gaining access to some powerful cards caused the deck to plummet in the rankings. Despite that Aggro Zirix is still not a bad deck by any measure, the deck can run people into the ground very quickly, and because it is now making more use of cards like Second Wish it can tempo a little better than it could in the past. So the deck has gained by design an adjustment towards a better mid-game. Unfortunately it suffers the age old curse of being compared to other decks of the same archetype. Among the aggro decks it is not the best and compared to other decks in the same faction it is also not the best.
Midrange Kaleos #16
Once lauded as the deck which could beat anything if properly piloted, Midrange Kaleos has been struck with a fall from grace. The cancellation of rotations alongside a few crucial nerfs to EMP, Thunderhorn, and Grandmaster Zendo have done much damage to the deck’s game plan. Weaker Zendos and Thunderhorns are particularly crippling, as the deck can no longer reliably play around both Plasma Storm and Homeostatic Rebuke, to say nothing of how the majority of the deck’s minions are unable to stomach a fully-powered hit from the reintroduced Lava Lance. Couple such weaknesses with the rise of an increasingly snowbally meta weakening the relevance of damage-based board control from the likes of Flamewreath, and the original Songhai general has quite an unforgiving path ahead of him. Alas! Take heart, blink aficionados; not all is bad for the man in red. Blink remains a fantastic ability in the hands of an adept, enabling Kaleos to control trades in a way other generals can only dream of. Furthermore, the return of Shim’zar cards have added old friends like Battle Panddo, Onyx Jaguar, and Ki Beholder to the lineup. Finally, a freshly-buffed Inquisitor Kron alongside a more relevant Hamon finally give Midrange Songhai the spammable five drops it has traditionally lacked. I look forward to seeing how Kaleos evolves in this new age, and anticipate his ratings to only increase as the player base learns how to wrangle the meta’s most popular threats. In the meantime, embrace your inner hipster and take the old Xaanese out for a spin. Your brain will burn as you run it along the knife’s edge of positional precision such decks require, but should you emerge successful, a unique understanding of the game’s fundamentals – satisfying as it is powerful— will be yours for the taking.
Aggro Cass #15
Over the months Aggro Cass has slipped down the rankings. As an aggro deck that beats aggro decks Burn Zir’an basically does the job better with the caveat that Cassyva gets to run efficient hard removal to answer large minions. In addition, player opinion is swaying slightly on how good aggro actually is against Wanderer, as players learn to play a little more carefully or include an extra healing card, so not only does Cassy appear to be slipping very slightly in that matchup (still favoured though), also the burn deck she’s happy to play against are a little less prevalent.
Nonetheless, it’s still a good deck with a number of tech options that you can choose to bring; Desolators, Betrayals, Revenants, or even Creep/Obliterate are things you can choose to serve as finishers after your aggro beatdown has gotten the enemy low and on the back foot. As I said earlier it has some of the best 2-mana removal, which allows the deck to not miss a step as it keeps pressuring the opponent’s health. Her BBS is also notably good against eggs, placing a creep under the rebirth minion, that kills the egg for free afterwards, as well as fault, being an excellent way to replace sand tiles. As an aggro deck it’s got stiff competition, but it has some really clear strengths that make it a great choice in the right situation
Strategos Brome #14
Strategos was a monster in the first month or so of the expansion, but fell to unpopularity after the nerf to its trial requirement. Strategos was not really nerfed as bad as it seems to people and continues to be a very strong sleeper deck. Being a swarm deck, Strategos has a special place in the meta. Whenever swarm decks fall out of popularity they become stronger, due to people neglecting to put AoE in their deck.
Strategos is therefore much stronger due to this fact. With the change to being able to play 1-attack buffed minions like Silverguard Knight, Strategos decks also have better quality choices for their minions. All in all, Strategos is a really strong pocket pick for whenever the meta is running low on AoE.
Titan Lyonar #13
Ebon Ox #12
Titan, err I mean Ox Songhai is a deck that I think surprised a lot of players these past 2 months yielding not only some pretty impressive displays on ladder but also a first place finish by MunkBusiness in the weekly Ostracon Tournament. The deck operates very similarly to Lyonar’s Alabaster Titan list while also having the ability to run spells. However, after testing the deck with several different playstyles and seeing several others do the same – I think we all came to the same conclusion: The deck becomes almost inoperable with the inclusion of spells. This deck wants to be slamming impactful minions on the board or curving out every turn and the MO of the deck (the trial), which is already not easy to complete becomes that much harder when you dilute the deck with spells. Knowing you’re going to draw a minion every replace means so much more in a deck that wants to thin its hand of minions whose mana costs were already played. There will always be an argument to put Jux in almost any Songhai deck that plays minions but I truthfully feel the deck doesn’t need it. I also want to point out that this deck is not going to perform well for you until you have really made it your own and learned its playstyle. It took a lot of experimentation until I truly felt I had found the most optimized version that fit my playstyle so don’t be afraid to experiment with it.
Wanderer Lilithe #11
It’s pretty safe to say that any Wanderer deck with the neutral core, supplemented with all the best in-faction cards that support the Wanderer plan makes a pretty good deck even for the factions and generals that aren’t optimal. What Abyssian provides is a number of good cheap and effective removal spells that can help you come ahead on board early or have more options to answer large threats later, some really fantastic lategame bombs, access to some pretty nice healing options, some swarm cards that can benefit from the Wanderer buff if you want to go that route and also the Darkfire Sacrifice Highroll. Lilithe isn’t quite as good as the top two Wanderer generals, but she’s certainly capable and I feel like she has some very even matchups across the board that will reward a good player for knowing how to navigate them (or a lucky one for drawing well).
Burn Starhorn is a deck which has always been strong in metas where slower decks with less healing are dominant. Wanderer and Fault fit this description quite nicely, and so once again Starhorn is ready to rise into the limelight. The deck looks to win board control early and then push damage, finishing the game with its classic Decimus + Tectonic Spikes combo once its opponent is low. Magmar’s power level is indisputably high, with the strongest on-curve minions such as Ragebinder, Haruspex, and Visionar, tempo removal minions such as Lavaslasher and Makantor, a removal suite to make any faction jealous with Natural Selection, Homeostatic Rebuke, and Plasma Storm, and finally some of the most broken utility spells such as Flash Reincarnation and Greater Fortitude. Starhorn’s great role in the current meta makes Decimus-Spikes the perfect deck to abuse these strong options. Alongside the change in meta, Starhorn also got some powerful new tools this patch which give him other options on how to play the game. Visionar is simply a humongous body for its cost, and lets Starhorn play a slower, midrange build where it pumps out huge threat after huge threat. Flaming Stampede can also be a cute addition to this slightly slower deck, helping to close out games with 8 damage to the enemy general. It should come as no surprise that Burn Starhorn is a strong deck this meta. Magmar is clearly being pushed, and the slower midrange nature of the meta makes it naturally weak to aggro/chip damage followed by a high damage combo finisher. In the hands of a competent player, Starhorn should be able to tear up the ladder.
Buildmar (new) #9
It began as a whisper.
The softest breeze fluttered week after week over the decimated remains of entire Team Wars Squads, mutterings of a deck filled with terrors unlike any shared with its more popular brethren. Enter Buildmar, the brainchild of the original Meltdown Town — the terror of Team Wars given new life on the ladder as Vaath wanes in popularity.
0/10 buildings are difficult to remove by themselves, but their synergy with the likes of Magmar ramp and Progenitor borders on the absurd. No other deck can put as much stats on the board during the opening two turns as Buildmar, overwhelming anything short of Plasma Storm (indeed, sometimes even outracing it). Curving Gigaloth into Time Keeper is absolutely devastating; capable of ending matches as early as 5 mana with proper play. Longer game? No problem. Reliquarian or Bounded Lifeforce provide more than enough oomph to close out games so long as you have any semblance of a board.
Alas, the deck is not without weaknesses. All tyrants fall, and this deck is no exception. Player one openers sans cheese can be quite difficult, and puts excessive reliance on Lava Lance to recover. Poor matchups against fellow Magmar archetypes are further detriments. Limited pings allow rippers to shred structures with impunity, while all variants of Vaath run multiple copies of Natural Selection and Plasma Storm– kryptonite for 0/10s.
That said, be not dissuaded, prospective architect. This deck will more than pull its weight on ladder, crushing most Lyonar, Vetruvian, and Songhai players. Such positive matchups, particularly Fault Vetruvian and increasingly popular Tempo Ziran, are reason enough to consider Buildmar as a solid meta choice.
Aggro Reva #8
Wanderer Brome #7
I originally got turned onto this deck by RHacker back when I was exploring decks to take to the launch tournament. After a couple of games it was readily apparent that the deck had all of the elements that made Wanderer good in other factions. I got sold on the idea of ‘play all your decks as Wanderer!’, and I was not disappointed with the results. At this point no one needs to be sold on Wanderer as a concept, rather what they need to know is what advantages/disadvantages does any given general have over others. Of the Lyonar generals Brome is the best suited to play with Wanderer. Lyonar as a faction brings to the Wanderer shell a lot of swing power which enables the deck to turn the game back in their favor. Practically the entire spell package in this list reeks of ‘Oh crap I’m losing…. wait never mind I win now.’ This is a highly desirable trait for Wanderer decks because a common (although misguided) strategy is to try and play faster and aggro-out the Wanderer list. Brome is probably the third best Wanderer deck because of Lyonar’s ability to respond well to aggression. Brome at least from my perspective falls only behind Reva who is often in command of the early game with their point removal and combat tricks, and Ragnora who has what is easily the most unfair four-mana play that can be made right now.
Tempo Ziran #6
Zir’an has managed to maintain her position near the top for the last few months, and even seen some players spreading out with a number of interesting and clever builds that make use of how powerful some of the healing synergy is. Still, the more aggressive variants by and large still seem to be the best configuration for the deck, having the reach to close out the game quickly from afar before some of the powerful value generation engines start getting out of control, and the healing to dominate the aggro matchups.
The strong healing trigger synergies allow Zir’an to double dip defensive healing with offensive capabilities, powering through adversity to blast off large AoE clears with Sunriser, get swole with Lancer, have her beams be more lucently as well as machine gun the board with Vitriol. Her abberant playstyle of wanting to take a little damage here and there means that it can be tough for some decks to know the right decision to make against her. If you lose by having your HP hit 0, and win by having their HP hit 0, then Zir’an might just be the perfect fit for the equation of winning and not losing.
Wanderer Zirix (new) #5
While still not nearly as popular as many of the other Wanderer archetypes Wanderer Zirix is able to hold its own. One of the most important things that Wanderer Zirix brings is that they have access to a large number of 3 health minions which is a powerful tool in a meta looking to kill minions with 1 or 2 health due to the prominence on Ragnora, Reva and Fault. In addition to this Wanderer Zirix is able to bring some of the most powerful midrange tools that Wanderer decks have access to. Cards like Nimbus and Fifth Canopic are able to easily contest the midgame as huge bodies that will often allow you to play a Wanderer onto an already established board as well as Blood of Air and Sandswirl Reader which can help to regain tempo lost from playing Wanderer. In addition to this Wanderer Zirix also has one of the most powerful end game as Fault is even more difficult to outvalue due to the buff and Swarmking Scarab will often end the game in a turn if not dealt with the turn it is played. The deck does suffer some from Vetruvian’s lack of healing and while it has a stronger midrange/control matchup than other decks it does suffer a little more against more aggressive strategies than some other Wanderer builds.
With the return of Rae from Shim’Zar, Cataclysmic Fault can be played on 6 mana and the addition of Khanuum-Kha allows you to follow up the Fault and clear the majority of boards or outright kill any general with a buffed attack value. Because of this Fault has become the undisputed king of the meta right now along with Wanderer. Most other decks at the top of this list are there because of their ability to deal with Fault and Wanderer more-so than their individual strength. The deck is unmatched in its ability to dominate the board after Fault has been played and has access to Vetruvian’s super strong removal package of Blood of Air and Sandswirl Reader. In my opinion Fault isn’t the strongest deck around for tournament play nor does it need to be nerfed but for the ladder this deck can do absolute work.
I originally got this deck during the first half of team wars 5 from a video that Alphacentury had made in tandem with Zabiool when Zab had hit S1 with the deck. Since that point I’ve been playing and learning the deck on and off to the point where I would confidently say I am one of the better pilots out there. I love this deck. It has the ability to go slow with Rippers, go fast and play for the board, or you can finish out the game with a 10-damage combo when needed. For Wanderer and Titan you have the greedy sideboard to capitalize on their inconsistent/lack of removal in a tournament setting.
Dampening Wave does work against big threats, namely Wanderer, and allows you to keep your Ripper on board to threaten combo and give you a lot of extra reach. All in all this deck is a very powerful and versatile force to be reckoned with that in the right hands can hold insane winrates due to its ability to adapt to almost any matchup and it has favored matchups against the top decks of the meta.
Wanderer Reva #2
It’s tight at the top. Both Reva and Ragnora have excellent Wanderer decks that are very close in power. Both have exceptionally powerful BBS’s that really do make incredible use of the Wanderer buff, pushing such high value minions out of ping range makes them much harder to answer and I feel it’s a key part of what pushes these two out in front all the rest.
Songhai has an some excellent tempo tools and combat tricks to take control of the early game and protect or threaten the mana globes that Wanderer loves to take. I think Rippers are arguably a better BBS, but Heartseekers actually seem to me to be a more consistent threat for value generation and I believe them to be a slightly better fit for the deck. I also believe Reva to be better at dealing with artifacts, whilst Ragnora has access to superior healing to deal with aggro decks. In my opinion Ragnora Wanderer is the more explosive deck with bigger comeback cards, while Reva is a little more consistent and perhaps attritional, also very slightly favoured against Ragnora Wanderer in the head to head.
Both are excellent decks and while I don’t believe you’d be wrong to say that Ragnora is the better deck I think that personal preference probably plays just as big a role for how a top player will perform with either of these decks. But Ragnora has the advantage of being slightly easier in addition to sometimes winning the game on 4 mana with Flash Wanderer.
I think a lot of people are quite fatigued at the popularity and ubiquity of Wanderer, but in my personal opinion it’s pretty fun to play as and against, and I think it’s far from the most egregious deck that’s ever ruled a meta.
Wanderer Ragnora #1
I personally believe this is the strongest deck that you can be playing at the moment. Like most Wanderer decks it is a versatile, fair deck that, if played correctly, can be favored in almost any match-up. Despite the fact that you are limited to playing only one of each card Wanderer is easily able to make up for this by allowing your cards to overpower your opponents. Although I feel that Wanderer Ragnora and Wanderer Reva are close in power, and will even concede that Reva is probably advantaged in a head-to-head match, I feel that Ragnora slightly edges out as the better deck overall because it is better able to deal with the many combo decks floating around right now through superior healing and burst damage potential.
In my mind Wanderer Ragnora is a deck that has very few fundamental weaknesses. Wanderer decks can be customized and modified to fit a large variety of situations and given that you’re only playing single copies of each card it’s difficult to say what really counters them. Linear strategies that require specific answers are often a good place to start but veteran Wanderer players will know how to turn on the aggression as those sorts of linear decks oftentimes have trouble fitting in enough removal to deal with the raw amount of stats Wanderer can commit to the board.
As my final note I’d like to end by saying that although I think Wanderer is the strongest archetype it is not the deck that will give you the most free wins. However if you are willing to put the time and effort into learning the deck and learning how to play against a wide variety of archetypes Wanderer is a deck that will have a strong chance coming up against almost anything.