Skirmish S4, Week Two Metagame

8th Apr 2022 Alex Truell

We've invited some guest writers to contribute to 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 third article in his metagame series, discussing the second week of Skirmish Season 4 events.

From the time I was asked to write this article series, I have been looking forward to writing Week 2. At this point, we can really begin to see some patterns emerging. The rust has been cleaned off, the unknown of new heroes has been overcome, and players have seen- and had the opportunity to react to- the new Blitz landscape in the wake of Everfest’s release.

Last week, we looked at the heroes who had shown up in force for their big debut. Incredibly, we had 6 different heroes who were already converting appearances to wins at rates of 10% or higher. Armed with that information, players went into week 2 with a wide variety of contenders, and created new paths to victory. This week’s report covers 173 Skirmish events from across the globe, for a running total of 332 Skirmish events so far this season.

(A quick note: I had some requests to incorporate Living Legend updates into my report, but unfortunately that data is not available at the time of writing. It should be available here by the time you’re reading this, however!)

This week, we’re going to discuss the Skirmish landscape as it’s shifted from week 1 to week 2. We’re going to look at who’s honing their craft, who’s losing ground, and who’s waiting for their moment. We’ll examine the forces that may be driving those changes. And we’ll speculate on what the next two weeks may bring.

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Icy Hot Runeblood

Our elite performers moved forward into week two without one of their own. Fallen behind that 10% conversion curve is the original Warrior, Dorinthea. While she still made 75 appearances and 37 Top 8 placements (nearly identical to last week), she only came away with 4 tournament wins, down from 9. That was enough to sink her overall conversion rate to 8.6%, and while that’s still respectable, it’s no longer elite.

But there’s a much bigger story here about upward movement. Last week, Iyslander made the cut by the grace of rounding: her 9.8% conversion rate was a standout, and made her the underdog story of week one. But this week saw further refinement from 57 Iyslander players, who managed to claim 27 Top 8 spots and convert those into 8 tournament wins. Overall, Iyslander now boasts a win conversion rate of 12%, placing her above Oldhim, Kano, and Kassai!

Blitz has always been a Wizard’s format; but now that there are two of them, more players are finding strategies within the class that fit their playstyle. Iyslander may be bringing some unexpected heat, but Kano is still the hot pick. With a larger population, Kano is winning more tournaments, even with a slightly lower conversion rate (11.5%). Wizard has finally reached a critical mass of threatening finishers; and in Blitz, a single combo turn can close the game.

While the Wizards' conversion rates may be impressive, they don't tell the whole story. When you apply Iyslander’s 12% conversion rate to her limited appearances, she’s only claimed 4.2% of the Skirmish crowns. Popularity is still a major player in the meta, and you cannot deny the popularity of Viserai. The tragic hero of the Runeblade class holds a commanding 31% of the wins so far, fueled by a 16% conversion rate.

According to last week's Living Legend update, Viserai is now at 83 points, which as best I can tell is an 80 point gain from Skirmish season so far. While he picked up more wins in week 2 (57 vs. 39), he's not putting up the kind of numbers it would require to attain Living Legend status this season without a major increase in momentum. As Ira has found it hard to gain traction this season and Oldhim is staying true to his glacial nature, I expect the season to end without anyone reaching LL- and with Viserai leading the rankings.

Oldhim continues to teach players that slow and steady wins the race; and while his win conversion rate has dipped to 11.7%, he’s basically held steady at 29 wins this week (down from 31). His declining win conversion rate is due to an increase in players without a corresponding increase in wins. Oldhim is a hero who rewards you for experience; you can’t simply pick him up after seeing good results online and expect you’ll learn as you go. Oldhim’s lines of play aren’t intuitive, and if you don’t know when and how to pivot to offense, you’re likely to go to time. But for those who learn him, Oldhim is a hero capable of withstanding arcane onslaughts from Wizards and Runeblades alike. His place in the upper echelons of Skirmish season makes sense.

Kassai is holding strong but gaining no ground, steadfastly maintaining 13% of the field and a 10% win conversion rate. It wouldn't surprise me to see this remain fairly consistent throughout the Skirmish season; Kassai presents a reliable play pattern, but one that largely works its plan no matter the circumstances. There is little room to adapt her to the meta; she simply pushes forward with her gameplan, and when she executes it properly and quickly, she wins. The strategy works; Kassai has claimed almost 16% of the wins so far.

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Reckless Resistance

Who’s rising up to challenge these consistent performers? A hoard of Brutes, for one. Rhinar has been showing up in force; and while he can only claim a 5.8% conversion rate, the sheer quantity has been able to net him 11 wins. Rhinar made 151 tournament appearances; above him, Viserai showed up 340 times, Oldhim 294, and Kassai 245. Rhinar’s ability to Intimidate defenses out of enemy hands while swinging massive amounts of damage is only held back by his reliance on good draws, ideal discards, and random chance never turning against him; it makes sense that Rhinar would require a massive population to achieve widespread success.

In contrast, Dash has turned 66 appearances into 8 tournament wins, converting at a rate of 9%. If that story sounds familiar, it’s because that’s how Iyslander found her position in the upper echelon. Dash has all the hallmarks of an underdog story; and with a proven track record from the past, there’s no reason to think she can’t pull it off.

The Shadows are creeping in from the edges and carving out expanding positions in the meta. Chane saw slightly less representation in the player pool, but those piloting him were more successful at claiming the winner’s podium in the end; Chane now has 4 wins to his name, up from 1, for an overall conversion rate of 5.7%. True to Brute form, Levia angled an increased attendance into better performance, and claimed 2 wins.

Briar is improving, with a 50% increase in Top 8s from last week and 5 wins to call her own. Like Chane, she’s managing this without meaningful changes to her population, which has sat just below 70 each week. The biggest factors that may hold her back from continued improvement are, unfortunately, outside of her control: first, that other decks’ adjustments for the Viserai matchup are likely to be effective vs. Briar too, and second, that many Runeblade players will simply opt for Viserai over Briar, in the face of the former’s reliable success.

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Untapped Potential

We’re still in the early days of this return to Blitz, and some decks are still working out the kinks. But there are signs of early success among these unconventional picks, and room to make a name for yourself piloting them.

Azalea dropped from 16 appearances to 13, but those that stuck with her are getting better results, claiming 4 Top 8 spots this week. Rangers require a unique set of skills to play properly; and because there’s no sideboard for the deck in Blitz, they must bring a little bit of everything from their extensive array of targeted arrows, leaving them with arrows in hand that aren’t suited for the matchup they’re facing. For those who love the archer archetype, Lexi is a less specialized Ranger, and managed to claim her first tournament win this week.

Katsu also did more with less- with the same 13 appearances, Katsu managed 6 Top 8 appearances. Though he's still unfavored among the three Ninjas available, the inverse relationship between population and performance suggests we may be seeing more skilled pilots- or that the class is adapting as the meta becomes more clear. Meanwhile, Ira essentially went Copy/Paste with her stats from last week, while Benji couldn't nab a 2nd win this week.

Prism is showing more promise, and has real results to show for her efforts this week. While the population dipped slightly and Top 8s fell from 25 to 15, Prism did manage to take 2 tournaments this week, which puts her on the same Week 2 standing as Bravo. In fact, the two look remarkably comparable this week, and I wouldn't be surprised if Prism surpasses Bravo in both popularity and performance next week.

For those betting on the dark horses, Genis Wotchuneed landed a Top 8 this week. Shiyana showed up four times- again- and hit Top 8 once- again. Valda dropped from 22 appearances to 17, but made Top 8 six times. And if you were backing Kavdaen, he had a bye this week.

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Surveying the Battlefield

If you’re planning to spike the meta with a deck targeting the biggest names on the battlefield, here’s what that looks like:

Viserai decks make up 17% of the meta; and when you add in Chane and Briar, you’ll find 23% of the field is Runeblades. Wizards comprise an additional 10%, meaning that one-third of the meta deals arcane damage- it’s important to bring your Nullrunes.

Guardians claim about 18% of the meta, but most of that is Oldhim’s share. Similarly, 18% of heroes this season are Warriors, with 13% of those being Kassai. Both of these classes are known for dense armor, making it easier for them to block critical on-hit effects- even when they come paired with Dominate.

11% of the meta belongs to Brutes; and while Rhinar leads the pack with 7% of those appearances, Kayo and Levia are still fairly prevalent. You’ll need to be prepared to mount a robust defense in the early turns of the game, when Brutes can afford to play more recklessly.

The other 20% of the meta is divided between Mechanologist, Illusionist, Ninja, and Ranger- with maybe half a percentage point for the Merchant and Shapeshifter classes. These are the classes primed for legendary victories; the surest way to get yourself noticed is to win an event with an under-represented hero!

Skirmish Season 4 has set a very different stage for our heroes; and while some names are familiar from the ProQuest season, others have been uniquely able to find footing because of the Blitz format. I look forward to seeing how the stats continue to evolve with another week of play. Will the Brute population continue its rampant growth? Is Iyslander’s star still rising? Are we seeing an early prototype of a remodeled and more powerful Dash?

Until next week, thanks for reading, and 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.