We've invited some guest writers to contribute to fabtcg.com for the Skirmish season. Alex Truell is known for his work as an editor at the Rathe Times, and his monthly articles series titled Thoughts and Baubles. This is the fourth article in his metagame series, discussing the third week of Skirmish Season 4 events.
If Skirmish season has shown us anything, it’s how many heroes are legitimately viable. In the first three weeks, 17 different heroes have won Skirmishes, and 15 of those have won more than once. The only classes to go unrepresented on the podium are Merchant and Shapeshifter. The Top 5 heroes for number of wins all represent different classes: Runeblade, Guardian, Warrior, Brute, and Wizard. And as you’ll see shortly, some of the less represented heroes are rewarding players with unexpectedly solid performances.
For the past 2 weeks, we’ve been looking at the cumulative statistics for the heroes of Skirmish season. For week 3, we’re going to do things a little differently. In addition to looking at cumulative wins and conversion rates, we’re also going to break down the week-to-week results. That’s because this week has showcased some fascinating movement, with some heroes seeing drastic improvement over the course of Skirmish season and others losing ground as the season wears on.
The Way of the Warrior
Many believed that Kassai would be the diamond of the season; but while the Cintari Sellsword has been putting up reliable results, she hasn’t managed to captivate the general public to the degree she’d require to pull ahead of the pack. Kassai saw a massive drop in play during week 3, falling from 245 appearances to 155. She continues to maintain a stable win conversion rate- her overall 11% hasn’t changed across the weeks- so it’s really just the decline in play rates that holds her in third place.
Dorinthea has also seen a dropoff in play rates this week; her previously stable 75 appearances fell to 42, and only 2 of those managed a tournament win. Her overall win conversion rate, which began the season at 11.8%, has slipped to 7.8%, pulled down by a 4.8% in week 3. Dorinthea has always held a reputation as a hero who could spike any given tournament if players were unprepared for her, so the drop in appearances could simply be a meta read; but it may also be a reflection of Kassai’s popularity, with Warrior faithful opting for the Volcor mercenary over the Solana soldier.
Whatever the case, it’s clear that Boltyn will not be showing the ladies how it’s done. In three weeks, he’s make 42 appearances, and has only found his way to the Top 8 in 9 of those.
Big Fish in Small Ponds
Ninjas have been unremarkable throughout this Skirmish season, but in week 3 we got a glimpse of their former glory. Ira’s appearances have been staying fairly level, but this week she broke the copy/paste streak with 5 wins, up from her consistent 2. The bigger story, however, comes from one of this season’s least represented heroes. Katsu has claimed a win! As Benji hasn’t been able to find another after week 1, this puts them on equal footing once again- though if you compare conversion rates, Benji’s 121 appearances give him a meager .8% win rate, while Katsu’s 44 appearances now translate to a 2.3%.
Also swinging their stats with a low population? Chane. Averaging just 36 players per week, Chane has steadily grown his win rate, and in week 3 converted appearances to wins at a rate of 10.5%. That pulls his overall Skirmish season conversion rate up to 7.4%, rivaling notable mid-tier heroes Dorinthea and Rhinar.
Last week, it had looked like Briar might be making the same play, but it collapsed in week 3 when she claimed only a single win. She made about 25 less appearances than the prior two weeks, which may have played a part in the collapse of her rally; she now sits at an overall conversion rate of 4%.
Changing the Narrative
Last week, Dash was looking like a rising star; but while she added to her legacy in week 3, it also showed signs of a plateau among the current player pool. Despite a climb in population, Dash claimed 7 wins- one fewer than last week- locking her overall win conversion rate at 8.8%. Don’t take that the wrong way- Dash is still putting up fantastic overall results! But when she climbed from 2 wins to 8 wins between weeks 1 and 2, I thought we were seeing a groundswell. Instead, it seems we had found the range of variance.
In fact, the hero who’s rising right now was hiding his success behind numbers. Rhinar has seen his weekly win conversion rate soar, from a 3.3% in week 1 to an 11.7% in week 3! In week 1, Rhinar appeared 92 times, but by week 2 he’d swarmed to 151. That had made it seem like Rhinar was just throwing himself at the wall enough times to break through to the top. But week 3 reversed the trend, with appearances dropping to 103- while actually improving his number of wins! Judging by conversion rate, Rhinar is now the 4th most successful hero of week 3.
Watch the Throne
Overall, the Elite 5 remain the same: Viserai, Kano, Oldhim, Iyslander, and Kassai maintain double digits conversion rates, and together make up 77.4% of tournament wins. But if we look specifically at week 3, we have some interesting movement.
In week 3, Kano has the best conversion rate, turning appearances into wins at a rate of 17.6%. Wizard, as a class, is technically demanding, which limits the number of players confident enough to run him in a tournament; but it looks like, for those who take the time to learn him, the rewards are there. Kano won 13 tournaments this week, with only 74 appearances.
Viserai, therefore, has slipped to a number 2 position. While he’s still claiming the bulk of tournament wins (37 in week 3), his high appearance numbers means 194 Viserai players went home without a title.
At number three, Oldhim holds the line as a powerful gatekeeper who can’t keep arcane users from getting past him. His win conversion rate spiked this week to 14.9%, but his number of of wins remained essentially the same; don’t expect any changes with him.
As mentioned above, Rhinar’s week 3 performance rocketed him into 4th position (and 5th strictly by win count).
Below Rhinar, we find the rest of the Elite we expect. Kassai lands in 5th for win rate and 3rd for win count; she’s been comfortable here the entire season. A tenth of a percentage point behind, Iyslander continues to impress with a 10.9% conversion rate from a tiny population of 46.
And at the tail end of the double digits, Chane sneaks in at 10.5%, expanding our week 3 Elite pool to 7 heroes.
Make a Move
The fourth and final week of Skirmish season 4 is happening now! This is the last chance to make a name for yourself with an unlikely hero! If you’re looking to do something unexpected, here are your heroes to focus on:
Bravo has continued to claim 2-3 wins a week, so if you’re interested in claiming a win with the original Guardian, you should be in a decent position to do so. Bravo has the advantage of on-demand Dominate, and can play a more aggressive game than Oldhim. His blue-pitch predisposition lends itself well toward countering the arcane heroes so prevalent at the top tables.
Lexi has managed a single win for the last two weeks now. Her Ice affinity is a huge boon against decks that already rely on delicate pitch ratios, though the Ranger class is also known for delicate ratios (of a different sort).
Prism has also become a formulaic fighter, claiming 2 wins a week for the past two weeks. Prism was known for being a powerhouse during the ProQuest season, but her Blitz performance has been less impressive. Still, she’s well positioned to deal with Oldhim and the Wizards- the former via auras, the latter via phantasms.
Levia has managed to win at least once every week, and currently boasts a conversion rate of 5.3%, largely due to her limited population. When the cards come up right for this Shadow Brute, she can be simply overwhelming to face. You’re making a statement when you claim a win with her.
Kayo should also be able to find a win. Rhinar has become a major player, and Levia grabs wins every week; Kayo is even more capable of an explosive assault. His biggest weakness, of course, is the volatility of a dice roll; you need to build your deck in such a way as to weather the off turns as well as cash in on the high rolls. (I’ve written about doing precisely this with Kayo over at Rathe Times.)
Azalea, I’m convinced, has all the right tools to counter the top performers. The hardest part of playing the original Ranger in Skirmish season is the need to preserve life. You’ll need to find the perfect mix of arrows, buffs, and defenses to overcome the field. Glory awaits whoever refines her deck and pilots her to victory.
Data Doll might be the ultimate badge of honor. I’ve got no tips to offer on this one, nor a line on a meta lane she could occupy. I just want to see someone make it happen!
One more weekend. One more change to prove your mettle and claim your prize. I wish you all the best- but in the midst of intense competition, don't forget to enjoy the game, and the great community we’re building around it.
Alex Truell is a competitive Flesh and Blood player and author of content relating to gameplay and strategy. The opinions expressed in the above article are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Legend Story Studios.