• Quinlan Cantrell

Top 4 Meta Defining Decks -- Post EB09

Welcome to the first of Vision’s new video series segments through our website and YouTube channel! Each video will be accompanied by an overview article, so if you are catching the train to work and don’t have any headphones, but you want to catch up on what Vision is releasing, here is your chance to read what the video is about! This video is all about the Top 4 meta defining decks in the standard format up to EB-09! This video is not necessarily a Top 4 tier list for standard, however. The way Bushiroad handles balance is typically by releasing power creeps. There is a reason the the Q4 original decks aren’t meta anymore, but some of the cards are still used! For example, original Overlord + Waterfall Kagero decks are VERY rarely seen, but you will see Overlord in the Great variation and you will see Waterfall in the Blademaster build! So, this means that as Bushiroad releases new decks, the more recently released decks are often fairly meta defining. So with the release of EB-09, did the meta shift much? Or are the old decks really defining where we are at? Let’s find out as Quinlan takes you through the Top 4 meta-defining decks of the current standard meta! The link to the video is at the bottom of this article!

What makes something "Meta-Defining"?

Before we get into the actual breakdown of what the Top 4 meta-defining decks are, let’s talk about what “meta-defining” even means. Meta-defining is exactly what is sounds like, a deck or card that sets the pace for the meta, or IS the meta. Typically the strongest decks in Vanguard are often the most meta-defining, but that is not always true. For example, we can all remember a time where Bermuda Triangle completely dominated the meta. BT was incredibly strong, and had nearly every tool they needed to consistently overpower all of the other decks. It defined the meta because it was by far the strongest deck at the time. However, with the release of a few decks that have tools to combat Bermuda Triangle (Messiah, Narukami, Shadow Paladin, and of course the strongest deck of them all, the restriction list), Bermuda became less meta-defining, as other decks became more prominent. In this video we will break down a few aspects that make each deck on the list meta-defining, such as representation in tournaments, as well as what tools each deck has to set the pace for or combat the current meta. So without further ado, I present to you our Top 4 list!

#4: Narukami

Coming in at the number 4 spot is Narukami for a number of reasons. In America, Narukami remains a fairly popular deck, despite no longer being a top 3 deck. Narukami has one of the strongest board clear skills in the game aside from Murakumo. The ability to bind single targets by choice, or bind entire front rows is incredibly disruptive and forces you to play differently in the meta because of it. If a player carelessly swarms the board, where in any other match they wouldn't have been punished, Narukami has many tools to make you regret that decision and make your board disappear very quickly, losing all pressure. Decks such as Shadow Paladin and Royal Paladin that require specific units for their "gimmicks" (Blaster Dark and Blaster Blade, respectively), are forced to play differently, as once their key units are bound, they have no way to retrieve them. Calling two BD or BB at a time is just asking for certain doom.

Not only does Narukami have strong board removal, but it has the ability to end the game very quickly. The current meta is incredibly fast and aggressive. Because of this, players will often mulligan back a PG for their combo pieces or early game rush units. If one does not have a PG in their hand going against Narukami’s first grade 3 turn, and they rode the infamous Gauntlet Buster Dragon, they might just take a speedy fast L when that Narukami player swings with VG as big as 53K with 3 damage, and you don’t have any interceptors. 

Aside from Gauntlet Buster Dragon critical pressure shenanigans, Narukami naturally has a solid matchup against Accel clans. Current Accel decks have a way to get units out on to the board easily, or for low resources, so often times Accel players will call full, or partially full fields every turn. Gauntlet Buster Dragon can easily remove large fields, and every enemy Accel circle adds 5K and one critical to the Vanguard! The current meta is Accel heavy with clans like Pale Moon and Murakumo having high representation. Since Narukami has options to deal with the onslaught of Murakumo’s full field, and naturally acquires more power and criticals when swinging against Pale Moon, it can still hold its own in the Standard meta.

Now with that, understand that Narukami is #4 on the list for a reason: it still struggles heavily in the meta, and cannot REALLY keep up with the stronger, more meta-defining decks. But, because it is so popular, especially in America, we felt it was fair to at least include it on the list.

#3: Shadow Paladin

The edgy paladins that kill their friends to fight for themselves are back, and hot! With the release of Illusionary Revenger, Mordred Phantom, Shadow Paladin saw a surge in power and in representation across all regions! Shadow Paladin is certainly one of the strongest decks in the format and can consistently get the pieces it needs to pressure their opponent until their end-all final turn! So what makes Shadow Paladins meta-defining? Well Vision believes that Mordred REALLY solidifies the “win by second Grade 3 ride” meta. Since Mordred is racking up Force markers, and cards like Danger Lunge Dragon are an intimidating late game threat, if your deck can’t take out Shadows by their second Grade 3 ride, your deck is probably not fast enough for the current meta. This is even more exaggerated in the American meta where players love to play more aggressive and go for those “final turn” plays as early as possible.

Not only does Mordred really define the Grade 3s, but it is currently the best Force deck, which sets the pace for other Force clans and decks of similar playstyles. Whether players admit it or not, in competitive card games, players will often drop decks for decks with similar playstyles that yield better results. Another way that Shadows is meta-defining is that since the release of Phantasmal Steed, there has been much less Bermuda Triangle and Neo Nectar representation. Part of this is that the decks don’t keep up as much with meta, but also because a number of players switched to Shadow Paladins, since the deck is a very similar playstyle, but just much more relevant.

Now that we have looked at our thunder dragons of doom and our edgy boys of death, what can possibly be more meta-defining? Well I present to you, number 2 on our list!

#2: Pale Moon

The circus ladies are back and swinging! In their previous form, Golden Beast Tamer would work in junction with Jumping Jill and Nightmare Doll Alice to have intricate combos and get off 9-11 attacks a turn. In their new and improved form, it just takes Silver Thorn Dragon Tamer, Luqier, 2 counterblasts and a dream to define this meta. Luquier has the unique ability to spit out a full field of units for the cost of counterblasting 2, and then using Silver Thorn Beast Tamer, Doriane at the end of turn allows the Pale Moon player to protect all of their units and draw 2-3 cards. That's the basics of the deck, but how does that define the meta? Well, Pale Moon has a solid search engine and draw engine that allow it to play at a very quick pace. One defining factor about the deck is that there is no restriction about your opponent being on Grade 3, or having a Grade 3 in soul to pull off its big combo. This means that if the Pale Moon player goes first, your opponent is sitting on a 9k/10k base, you can be swinging with a full field 4-5 attacks that are all swinging for about 30k or more. Not only does this establish a very fast paced meta but it forces decks to play the Pale Moon player's game. Typical Pale Moon lists will run about 3-6 counter charging units total, so once the Pale Moon player hits 2-3 damage, if played correctly, the player can get the Luqier skill off every turn until their opponent is dead. This defines the meta because it forces the opponent to play different to combat the Pale Moon playstyle. Decks that prioritize removal aren’t very effective, decks that play slow aren’t very effective, so what is? This is how Pale Moon defines the meta, it defines the meta as aggressive, and if you can’t keep up with the card advantage, large numbers, multiple attacks and consistent field building of Pale Moon, your deck doesn’t fit in the meta.

So if Pale Moon sets the pace, is hyper aggressive and consistent, and performs well in most matchups, what can define the meta better than them? 👀

#1: Murakumo

The Murakumo meta is back after many sets! I think most of us can remember the time where Zanbaku lock was the most terrifying and oppressive deck in the game. To be fair, in its time, it was the only deck that really interacted with the opponent (besides Megacolony). But now, Murakumo is back with just about every single tool in the game. Before talking about how it defines the meta, let’s take one brief moment to talk about why it is one of the best decks in the current format. Murakumo has solid pacing, an engine that can search out one ofs, the ability to multi attack with many different units, the ability to generate large numbers on the field that easily hit through triggers, full board control for low cost of soulblasting a Grade 3 (which you can soul charge into), and solid ride targets. So you might be thinking, wow that deck has a lot of tools, well you are right, that deck.. Has a LOT of tools!

Now, aside from what Murakumo is capable of doing, why does it define the meta the most? In Vanguard, as we mentioned earlier, the meta is OFTEN defined by the deck that dominates the most, or has the most tools to deal with all matchups. Since Vanguard is matchup heavy, and is controlled by a series of power creeping sets, Murakumo is currently at the peak of the meta. One of the big reasons Murakumo is so versatile is that it can search through its deck like a tool box and run one-ofs that are good in many situations. The agency this deck has combined with its ability to put a lot of pressure and deny the opponent's pressure makes it insanely strong. Fantasy Petal Storm, Shirayuki forces your opponents to be safe about how they choose to attack, and even eliminates the threat of some decks entirely. A deck like Ezel can hardly function in a Murakumo heavy meta because often times, a few defensive triggers shut down Ezel turns. Against Murakumo, Shirayuki acts as a defensive trigger, and most Murakumo players will always have one in hand due to the Shirayuki search and recycle engine. This of course applies to most Accel decks, and even Force clans that have multi-attacks such as Mordred. 

Murakumo can accomplish the same task as Narukami, but for far less resources, and much easier. Murakumo can remove an entire field for the low cost of soulblasting a grade 3. This provides immense board control, and decks that require specific pieces have to play much more conservatively under fear of losing them back into the deck, much like they would against Narukami. While shuffling back into deck means they can be searched again, expending more resources, it also affects their chances of hitting triggers -- more normal units in the deck means a lessened chance of hitting triggers, statistically.

Murakumo may be the strongest deck in the meta, and is certainly the most influential. The deck is very difficult to play around and players must consider the Murakumo matchup when building their decks or choosing what deck they play at an event.  This is why we at Vision believe it is the deck that has the most influence on defining the current metagame.

We'll be producing more video content in the future, so if you enjoyed, be sure to let us know! If you have anything you'd like to see in specific, leave some comments, and stay tuned for what's coming in the future! Here is the link to the video: https://youtu.be/_W99-A2qNA4

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