State of the Meta, July ‘22:
The Death of a Frogman
Greetings my fellow Casters and Humanoids! Welcome to the first State of the Meta; a series of articles I’ll be putting out once a month through Caster Society to inform competitive Zoo players of which spellbooks are on top, what’s changed, and why! I won’t be publishing deck lists in this series, since this is intended to be more of an overview of the Meta (so if you’re looking for deck lists, go check www.castersociety.com/spellbook ). OK, let’s get into it! Who is on top? Starting with the very important question; WHO KILLED FROGMAN?
That’s right, it only takes one glance at the top 10 from the Caster’s Cup 2022 to see that Water did not take the cake. This is the first time Water hasn’t placed top 5 at a tournament since October and it’s no accident. The reign of the Frog has come to an end and it’s almost entirely due to the appearance of one new beastie… or should I say 3 new beasties; Radioactive Hornets. These nasty boys were introduced in the Wilderness set and it didn’t take players long to figure out that a 3-for-1 lightning beastie with Flight was exactly what the doctor ordered for taking apart Water decks.
Remember that Lightning has an Aura Advantage on Water, meaning all damage dealt to Water Pages will be increased by +20. That’s huge. That means that 1x Radioactive Hornets, a set of 3x beasties which normally swing for 10 damage will swing for 30 damage each onto a water page. That’s up to 90 damage on a water page for the expense of 1 Lightning Aura!! Can we say OP? Chessie is not happy about it. Also, with the “lead” Hornet inflicting paralyze on its attacks, there’s a 50% chance that the opposing beastie will lose it’s attack and be unable to defend itself as you send the rest of your Hornets (or your other lightning beasties) into the paralyzed target to finish it off. In the words of every pokemon game ever, “… IT’S VERY EFFECTIVE”. This is also the situation with another wilderness newbie, Phantom Car, who has fleet and swings for 50 at Water pages, bidding a swift goodbye to Chaos Crystal, Mermaid Scales and Megalodon Tooth on turn 2. All of these advantages work to cripple the control of any top tier Water spellbook and have forced many professional players who’d stuck by Water for months to change their tune to Lightning before the Caster’s Cup, spurring the return of what is pound-for-pound the best combat beastie in the game, Quetzacoatlus.
It’s wild to think that just a few short months ago, Water was top 3 at every tournament and Lightning was fighting to make top 10, because now the tables have completely turned. Piloting a Loveland Lockdown spellbook against Lightning Flyers right now feels almost hopeless, since the hornets provide too many targets for frog’s power to keep up and all flying beasties are unaffected by Flood the Earth. A Flood can destroy their Terra and Aurafacts but that’s about it… unless you can play a First Anniversary Celebration the turn before you flood, removing flight and bringing them within range (a viable strategy, but one that requires a little setup).
So what does this mean for future tournaments? Well, it means that Aura Advantage in Metazoo is VERY real and that anytime an Aura type takes the crown and becomes the new Meta, it’s going to immediately attract the attention of the Aura type(s) it is weak against. The Water Meta has led us to Lightning, and now the Lightning Meta will lead us to Earth. With spells like Rock Rain, Earth’s Binding, and some of the strongest beasties in the game (many with burrow or protection from status effects like Frank Shaw’s Gargoyle), the more players convert to playing Lightning, the more viable Earth becomes. 3x Earth Aura and a Rock Rain can kill a Quetz, dealing 90 damage with Aura Advantage. 1x Earth’s Binding will kill every Hornet and Dingbelle token in the arena in one fell swoop AND it will strip Quetz of Flight and First Strike for the turn, making them vulnerable to attack. Tbh, in the same way that a top tier water deck struggles to even have a chance against lightning flyers; lightning flyers struggle to have a chance against Earth Mid Range. But that brings us back to our earlier point; Aura Advantage Matters. If Earth can defeat a Lightning Deck with ease, what is Earth weak against? Oh that’s right (lol), it’s Water. And yes, Earth is very weak to Water, especially Flood the Earth. So, we find ourselves in an Aura Triangle. If Lightning is on top, play Earth; If Earth is on top, play Water; if Water is on top, play Lightning. Simple, right? Not so much. As casters become aware that one deck will not remain on top for long, I expect us to see many more “splash” and “hybrid” decks who attempt to find the balance between running mostly one aura type and a strategic splash of another (like Easton running Lightning with Hateful Demise or Khai running Lightning with Dampen in the Caster’s Cup Finals).
Finding the balance between “value” pages of different Aura types is going to be the key to success in future tournaments. It’s time to get creative with those Prism Aura and Side Decks. Just playing “the best aura type” is not going to work anymore, imo. If you know everyone is bringing Lightning to your local event then you know that bringing Earth will significantly raise your chances to win… but as that catches on and more players convert to Earth spellbooks, we’ll see Water decks begin to perform well again. The competitive cycle has begun *gong* and I’m curious to see what the release of UFO will do to it. With the right injection of Cosmic or Dark pages, we could see this Lightning-Earth-Water cycle be broken… but it won’t be easy. Since the introduction of competitive play, Lightning and Water have been battling for the top spot due to the pace they can set and the amount of answers they provide. Cosmic and Forest Aura spellbooks can match the pace, but they struggles with the “answers”, or removal. Hopefully that can change!
Which Aura types do you suspect will be on top in the coming months? It certainly would be interesting to see Cosmic rise to the top after the UFO drop. Considering the fact that it has no Aura weaknesses, I think if Cosmic becomes Meta, it will be tough to beat. So much to think about!
We’ll wrap it up here today. I hope you enjoyed the first in the State of the Meta series and I can’t wait to see how things change in the next month. I’ll tell you what- I may not be playing Loveland Frogman right now… but I’m leaving him out on the desk because he IS going to make a comeback before long. Mark my words.
xo, moldy (@moldypotions on Instagram)