National Championships 2023 Meta Analysis, Week 2

8th Sep 2023 Kasharn Rao

Take a deep breath and smell that fresh morning air with just a hint of blood from arrow-induced wounds. We all thought Briar would redeem her sins with a final noble act of dismantling the Lexi hierarchy, but the plucky Elemental Ranger has held onto her throne with a frost locked fist. Despite the non-stop jokes about razors and bad weather, a couple of savvy outliers have managed to squeeze past the Ranger regime and pull off a win. Hope is not lost…

EVR RANGER Rain Razors (Polar)

The Big Leagues

Lexi’s overwhelming success in Week 2 comes as no surprise. Even with her weakness for redheads wielding chunky attack actions, Lexi manages to find a way to adapt. A trend started months ago that has rapidly caught on is Trench of Sunken Treasure as a counter to arsenal disruption like Command and Conquer, by tucking away the arrow to save for later, letting the hit trigger resolve, then using the floating resource to load an arrow from hand for next turn.

Briar is still performing exceptionally well, as players flock to the Rosetta before she turns into a tree, or whatever it is that the people of Candlehold do when they’re finished tormenting the meta. Interestingly, it’s not the innovative fatigue build that’s succeeding overall, but the highly aggressive big hill builds, proving that Briar still has some bite.

Dromai gets better the more people play her, which is unfortunate for the Prism stans. A good Dromai player who rarely makes mistakes is a huge challenge to overcome, and with the upcoming Tome of Imperial Flame that was recently previewed online, it’s only going to get hotter. Although it’s been floating around for a while now, Nourishing Emptiness is one of my favourite additions to the deck, clearing the graveyard with Burn Them All for free damage and cards.

Trench of Sunken Treasure
Channel Mount Heroic
Nourishing Emptiness

The Little Leagues

Able to be built aggressively with efficient attacks that demand answers, or defensively to soak up damage and run the enemy out of cards with ye olde trusty hammer, the fan favourite big bonker Bravo is always present and always crushing it. Chokeslam is proving yet again to be an extremely capable card for crumpling not just Lexi, but a wide spread of other threats as well. He’s only claimed a small piece of the pie so far, but a win is a win.

Uzuri had a really strong headstart in the early days as the prime counter to Lexi, loaded up with Frailty tokens to slow Lexi down and force her to take as much chip damage as she was dealing to stay ahead. She might not be able to survive the lethal combination of Three of a Kind and Rain Razors, but Uzuri still puts in the hard yards. All it takes is your opponent making one mistake for you to put them on the backfoot for several turns in a row, helplessly watching as their life trickles away.

Katsu has so much flexibility these days that he could make a living as a yoga instructor. You always have to be on the lookout for those punishing long combo lines, but facing down Flic Flaks while having your life slowly whittled away by Kodachis and a Mask that threatens to draw an extra card every turn is just as dangerous. You can’t keep a good Ninja down!

Chokeslam (1)
Shred (3)

The Sidelines

Levia is the spirit of feast or famine, where everything going right can lead to an unstoppable rampage, and everything going wrong can lead to sitting in the corner crying yourself to sleep. Panic! At The Demonastery obviously received a huge leg up with her new ability to turn off blood debt, but it’s also the little things like having another 1-cost 6-power in the deck like Slithering Shadowpede to play at the end of a Bloodrush Bellow turn. My Mandible Romance serves as a natural predator to decks like Dromai and Iyslander, which gives her a very promising future.

Fai’s greatest strength can also be his greatest weakness. Draconic chain links are great for teaching basic math to children, but whenever new Ninja or Draconic cards are released, they tend to be more useful for Katsu and Dromai, respectively. But despite his worst matchup being the most popular hero in the game right now, Fai is keeping the Phoenix Flame alive with cards like Warmonger’s Diplomacy. Not only is it devastating to slap one down after your opponent has elected to eat a bunch of damage, it doubles as an excellent card for pitching and defending.

Azalea seems quite content letting her Tales of Aria counterpart lap up most of the attention, preferring to slink around in the shadows, picking off unsuspecting victims from the outskirts. She hasn’t quite landed the prime beef of a National Championship just yet, but she’s damn close. It’s a good thing she decided to become a Ranger instead of a comedian, because nobody’s laughing at her now.

Slithering Shadowpede
Warmonger's Diplomacy
Nock the Deathwhistle

It’s true that Lexi has been dominating the metagame for months, but look how quickly she is racking up those Living Legend points as a result. With Lexi and Iyslander racing to the top and Briar being laid to rest, we could be staring down a complete overhaul. What happens when the ice melts and the steam-powered wheels start turning? Lexi earned her day in the sun, but all good things come to an end, and we could very well be entering a new era of Flesh and Blood…