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Strategy

Know Your Role!

How to win more and lose less
Part 1 – Know your role!

It’s always good to know your role in pretty much every aspect of life, like knowing yourself, this concept is a crucial part of playing strategic card games. Playing MetaZoo, one of the first things to think about when your opponent plays their first card is to determine what deck they are playing and what role you’ll be taking in the match. Are you the proactive aggressive deck or the controlling reactive deck? Only once you know can you formulate a successful gameplan for that match. Knowing what role you should play in a matchup can lead to victory while failure to do so greatly increases your chances of defeat.

During the period of endless Water deck mirror matches, knowing your role was a deciding factor in your success. I had an extremely high win-rate with Water mirrors because many of my opponents did not apply this concept and on one turn would try to play reactive and the next turn they would turn on the aggression and play proactively. Ultimately you wanted to play the proactive role and make your opponent expend resources answering your threats by playing their Loveland Frogman first or fall too far behind on board presence. That’s why cards like Loveland Mailman became a staple for Loveland Frogman mirror matches because playing a turn one Water Baby of Massacre Rock into a turn two Loveland Mailman was enough aggression to punish the Loveland Frogman decks that were more focused on being reactive and trying to control the field with turn three Wallowa Lake Crustations and holding Dampens.

Below are two different Loveland Frogman decks, one trying to play proactively and one trying to play more reactively. Both Loveland Frogman lists are different by a large margin because each deck is playing a different role. The Loveland Lockdown version doesn’t play Water Baby of Massacre Rock or Loveland Mailman, instead the deck plays more reactive cards that try to protect Loveland Frogman. The proactive Loveland Frogman deck has more low aura cost cards as to apply early game pressure and fill up the field with beasties that have more utility. Water Baby of Massacre Rock and Loveland Mailman would also prove to be very good in other matchups that weren’t very good at playing a reactive role such as Dark decks that relied on Napa Rebobs as well as Fearsome Critter Forest decks, thus cementing itself as the best deck in the format by putting 3 copies in the top 8 of Collect-A-Con Orlando and being both the 1st and 2nd place deck.

Loveland Lockdown

Beasties (8)

1 Flying Manta Ray
2 Loveland Frogman
3 Wallowa Lake Crustacean
2 Chessie

Spells (9)

2 Index
2 Bookmark
1 Powerup Red
2 Flood The Earth
2 Dampen

Potions (12)

5 Lightning In A Bottle
5 Smokey Spirits
2 Exquisite Stew

Aura (11)

11 Water Aura

Loveland Beatdown

Beasties (14)

1 Flying Manta Ray
1 Oklahoma Octopus
2 Loveland Frogman
3 Loveland Mailman
3 Water Baby Of Massacre Rock
3 Wallowa Lake Crustacean
1 Chessie

Spells (5)

1 Index
1 New Years New Beginnings
2 Bookmark
1 Flood The Earth

Potions (11)

5 Lightning In A Bottle
4 Smokey Spirits
2 Copy Cup

Aura (10)

10 Water Aura

AGGRO

Some decks are made to be the beatdown deck and some decks are built to be transitional based on what they play against. An example of a deck that is primarily built to be the proactive beatdown deck is the Fearsome Critters Forest deck.

Fearsome Critters


Beasties (17)

6 Roperite
5 Gumberoo
4 Axehandle Hound
1 Squonk
1 Hodag

Artifacts (3)

1 Chaos Crystal
2 Forest Gods Amber

Spells (7)

1 New Years New Beginnings
2 Bookmark
1 Powerup Red
2 Absorb Aura
1 Growth

Potions (7)

5 Lightning In A Bottle
2 Exquisite Stew

Aura (6)

6 Forest Aura

One of the problems with decks like Fearsome Critters is that it’s a linear deck that just focuses on being the proactive beatdown deck and is unable to pivot to the role of being reactive. Generally once Fearsome Critters lose board control because their beasties die or they weren’t able to fill their field up fast enough, the deck would start to falter and have to play defensively, relying on drawing a Growth or New Year’s New Beginnings to win the game. This is the Achilles’ heel for the aggro archetype, while it is powerful and potent in the early game, it often runs out of cards to play in the late game. The good thing about Fearsome Critters is that it is extremely consistent due to the cheap card draw such as bookmark and the Tribal Boost effect making each Fearsome Critter hard to answer and a real threat. Fearsome Critters is exactly what a player taking an aggressive proactive role in a match wants to be doing. ‘Going wide’ by playing a large amount of beasties that grow more powerful due to how many are in play and having added utility in the form of Roperite removing flying from a beastie or Gumberoo being able to bounce pages while also being resilient in combat. This has made Fearsome Critters the best aggressive proactive deck in Metazoo to date.

CONTROL

Control; some people hate it, some people love it. For me, control is one of my favorite archetypes to play In any TCG. While combat is the focal point in MetaZoo, there are some control decks that have been played and the one in particular that we all know is Loveland Lockdown. Loveland Lockdown is the perfect example of a control deck because it uses it has the user use the caster’s lifepoints as a resource while playing as a pure reactive role using pages like Loveland Frogman to lockdown beasties with sleep, stalling the game with Smokey Spirits and using Wallowa Lake Crustacean as a resilient blocker or a form of card draw by attacking and destroying beasties. In the late game Loveland Lockdown wins with finishers like Chessie or Flying Manta Ray, and in some versions even use Powerup Red. This is exactly what control wants to be doing, get into a long and drawn out game of attrition with the opponent and have them exhaust all their resources while you continue to build yours with card draw and removal, eventually out-valuing them until playing your big finishers to end the game.

One of the big weaknesses that control decks have is aggressive decks that go wide with a lot of beasties and fill up the board, like Fearsome Critters. In many cases, decks like Fearsome Critters can take advantage of how slow the control deck starts and overwhelm them before they have the chance to stabilize. In the example Loveland Lockdown list, you can see that the only real turn 2 play is to play Loveland Frogman and follow it up with a turn three Wallowa Lake Crustation to stall long enough to play Flood the Earth. Control decks have always had an issue when trying to keep up with aggressive decks, and that is why many control decks usually play more early game answers to the aggressive decks in the side-deck.

If control decks can withstand the assault from the aggressive decks, they are usually heavily favored to win because their beasties are just large and they generate too much value for the ago deck to keep up with. That’s why Flying Manta Ray plays an important role in the example list of Loveland Lockdown, it is a powerful attacker that makes an instant impact but also is crucial for not only protecting your other important beasties with Flight but giving them more damage as well. Chessie also plays a key part in the end game for Loveland Lockdown, usually being the finisher of choice while also accruing more card advantage when played. Once control gets to that late game point, they turn from a control role that reacts to what the opponent plays to a more proactive role, attacking their opponent relentlessly to close out the game.

Loveland Lockdown (Updated)

Beasties (8)

1 Flying Manta Ray
2 Loveland Frogman
3 Wallowa Lake Crustacean
2 Chessie

Spells (11)

2 Index
2 Bookmark
1 Powerup Red
2 Flood The Earth
2 Tidal Pull
2 Dampen

Potions (11)

5 Lightning In A Bottle
4 Smokey Spirits
2 Camouflage Potion

Aura (10)

10 Water Aura

MIDRANGE

Midrange is essentially right in between the roles of aggro and control, having a deck that is extremely flexible and can change roles between proactive and reactive with ease. You can have a more midrange control deck that plays the reactive role to start and then flip the switch to a aggro gameplay with beasties that generally cost more than 2 aura.

A fan favorite and prime example of a midrange-aggro deck is the Dark Napa Rebobs deck. Usually the deck starts with playing Napa Rebobs and going wide with more beasties or cards like sinister shadows with a mix of removal like Deathbeam or Hateful Demise. Then the deck starts taking control of the game with cards like Blister Promo Mothman and Wendigo, which also can act as finishers in certain scenarios.

Bobbing For Bananas

Beasties (14)

1 Indrid Cold
1 Jersey Devil Cryptid Nation
1 Mothman Nightfall
1 Mothman Blister Promo
6 Napa Rebobs
4 Vampire Mercy Brown

Artifacts (3)
1 Chaos Crystal
2 Blood Ruby

Spells (10)

2 Bookmark
1 New Years New Beginnings
1 Powerup Red
3 Death Beam
3 Bloodlust

Potions (4)

4 Lightning In A Bottle

Aura (9)

9 Dark Aura

Here’s a midrange-control version of dark that does not have the early game of Napa Rebobs, but has more of an early stall game mixed with removal and takes advantage of having some of the best midrange beasties in the game. Cards like Wendigo, Promo Mothman and Jersey Devil all present a lot of utility, evasion, and value in many aspects. Fear is a fantastic trait that allows tempo swings in games, meaning you play your fear beastie and successfully return an opposing beastie back to their hand, then they have to spend aura replaying it while you continue to build your field. Tempo is extremely important in Metazoo since it’s a game based mainly around combat and less-so around non-beastie cards. Midrange decks are the kind of decks that can switch from being a reactive role to a proactive role fairly easily, but if and when you choose to switch will decide the game.

Inevitably Dark

Beasties (12)

1 Grim Reaper
1 Awful
1 Indrid Cold
1 Jersey Devil Cryptid Nation
1 Mothman Nightfall
1 Mothman Blister Promo
1 Wendigo
2 Shadow People
3 Spearfinger

Artifacts (2)

2 Blood Ruby

Spells (10)

2 Bookmark
1 New Beginnings
1 Powerup Red
4 Hateful Demise

Potions (6)

5 Lightning In A Bottle

Aura (11)

11 Dark Aura

COMBO

While I enjoy control and midrage, my absolute favorite type of deck in any TCG is ccccccccombo! Typically it’s the most unfair type of deck in games and I always want to play the most unfair deck there is. Inherently a combo deck abuses a powerful synergy between cards, usually to win the game quickly. However, combo decks can play in multiple styles, much like midrange can be more controlling or aggressive. MetaZoo thus far has really been missing a really good combo deck. Gaasyendietha has been the only way to play anything that is close to a combo deck but due to Gaasyendietha being so fragile with no evasion and no way to gain evasion through traits, it’s been impossible to build a competitive combo deck around it. With Wilderness’s release, there were a couple cards that changed this. So, I present, the first combo deck of MetaZoo that is competitive top tier deck:

Torrential Storm

Beasties (9)

4 Chessie
5 Water Baby of Massacre Rock

Artifacts (4)

2 Mermaid Scales
2 Megalodon Tooth

Spells (13)

2 Bookmark
1 New Beginnings
1 Powerup Red
3 Tidal Pull
2 Flood The Earth
3 Torrential River
1 River Of Time

Potions (5)

5 Lightning In A Bottle

Terra (1)

1 River

Aura (8)

8 Water Aura

 

Combo decks usually have one game plan, do something extremely broken that wins the game. The Torrential Storm combo deck relies on drawing through your entire deck and playing Chessie plus multiple lightning in a bottles in one turn to win the game. The rest of the cards in the deck are enabling that plan. Torrential River serves as a great tool to clear the board of opposing beasties and it can also deal enough damage to your opponent that you don’t need to rely on so many Lightning in a Bottles to win the game. River of Time is a fantastic card that is extremely playable in this deck due to the Torrential River being better when a River terra is in play. Since we play the River terra we must play a card that lets us have an extra turn for only one aura most of the time, but is also really good if you want to play a bunch of cards like Aurafacts first and then play it so that you get use of them the next turn.

Combo decks have a huge advantage over control decks, and this deck has a very good matchup against decks like Loveland Lockdown and anything that takes time to develope their gameplan. Combo decks do have a weakness against decks that are fast aggressive decks because it takes time for combo decks to setup their gameplan while the aggro decks just apply pressure every turn forcing the combo decks to sometime overextend and lose because of it. Combo decks generally play the reactive role early, like how Torrential Storm has to use Torrential Rivers and Flood the Earth to stop the aggression from other decks so that it has time to dig through the deck to combo off with Chessie and Lightning in a Bottles.

After playing card games for 20+ years, knowing my role in matchups has been paramount to winning games. Knowing when to switch from a proactive to a reactive role is crucial and I hope that this article has helped you determine this before and during gameplay. Another very important aspect to all of this is predicting a metagame and what to do for an expected metagame, which is what I’ll cover in my next article.

Thank you all and may the ZOO be with YOU!

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