History of Spoils Constructed format
by Terence Dorman
Check here for part 1.
Check here for part 2.
I'm wrapping up my History of Constructed Spoils this week by diving in to the Seed: Children of the Lingamorph metagame.
Seed was a long awaited set and the spoilers got a lot of people talking, so when this set finally hit the streets it changed everything we knew about the game.
Seed is generally considered to have had a dramatic increase in power level when compared to First Edition, and this is certainly evident in the decks that emerged.
Seed: Children of the Lingamorph
Seed caused the most interesting shift in the metagame because it created another format. At the time, Tenacious Games was promoting a lot of “Seed Only” events, meaning most of the competitive tournaments did not allow the use of First Edition cards. While this upset some players, it did provide a fascinating new format.
When it comes to the Seed-only format, three decks stood out amongst the rest. Due to the limited number of cards in the format (220) and the power of the Warlord trade, Arcanist/Warlord, Banker/Warlord, and Gearsmith/Warlord were really the only viable constructed decks.
These decks all operated on the premise that playing Gideon and Adriel usually amounted to victory. In the Seed-only environment this was usually true, the only thing that mattered was how you went about locking up that victory.
For Gearsmith/Warlord the idea was peppers. Both H07 P3pp3r and P3pp3r 0f 1n54n17y provided ways to attack multiple times in a turn with one Gideon. If you could find a way to clear the opponent's blockers, possibly with a well timed Noble Sacrifice, this could mean a one turn kill. Just a Gideon attacking twice due to H07 P3pp3r can deal twelve damage on his own without breaking a sweat. This doesn't factor in any other attackers or gear you may have, so you can imagine the power this deck demonstrated.
Arcanist/Warlord focused just as hard on Gideon and Adriel but went more for the slow burn than the fast kill. Manipulating some of the great control cards provided to Arcanist decks, such as Wanton Wizard, Evanesce, and Encumber, the Arcanist/Warlord wanted to keep the pressure on while controlling board state and using the same tactics over and over via Wanton Wizard. One Noble Sacrifice is certainly annoying and game changing, now imagine four Noble Sacrifices all being used with the same copy of the card. This type of tactic re-use was so strong it is still being used by many decks today.
Rounding out the Seed only Metagame was a Seed-only version of the popular Montgomery Blatherscythe deck. While certainly not as strong as it's “open” counterpart, Monty decks were still relevant in Seed-only as Monty was probably the best way to keep Gideon and Adriel on the board. Players operating this deck didn't have to worry about their pressure disappearing if Gideon and/or Adriel died, meaning they could maintain an aggressive play-style even when their board was empty. Add in the fact that Banker had some of the best Seed-only kill cards and you have an extremely competitive deck.
The open format, however, saw more viable decks than just these. The decks listed above were extremely prevalent with the addition of First Edition cards and remained in the competitive scene once the trend of Seed-only events ended. That didn't stop other powerful decks from emerging, however.
One such deck was the revival of mono-Rogue steal decks. With the addition of Headhunting, Hustler's Comeuppance, Pant Swipe, and Palm Glom, a deck that was formerly considered low-tier jumped back up the ranks. Similar to recent Ass decks, this build could survive by never playing any characters of its own, with the notable exception being Martial Artist. The entire idea was to steal steal steal, and this deck did it wonderfully.
Strength In Numbers returned stronger than ever with the addition of Seed One. Adding in the new powerhouse cards of Gideon and Adriel only helped the already fast and already powerful deck. Now it had characters that didn't die under certain conditions, meaning the deck could attack with even less fear than it previously did. Of all of the decks throughout all of the metagames, Strength In Numbers is probably the one that will survive well into future metagames.
Capitalizing on the strength of the Warlord trade, mono-Warlord decks emerged all over with one thought in mind: beat the opponent into submission. Manipulating the ridiculous curve afforded to mono-Warlord decks (first turn Gideon+Adriel, second turn Deadly Striker, third turn Dragon Archer), mono-Rage was all about dropping cards and turning them sideways. This deck was effectively the precursor to the popular Rage Sligh decks that exist today, although it was a bit slower than the Seed Two counterpart.
Rounding out the Seed One metagame was an interesting Gearsmith/Banker build that manipulated 313373 M3ch4n1c to create a never-ending army of One-Legged Hopping Pogo-Bears. The Pogo-Bear is one of those cards that is powerful on its own and annoying to get rid of, barring straight item removal.
Having that card keep coming back from the grave is even more annoying. The M3ch4n1c was essentially a 3 cost way of putting the Pogo-Bear back into play whenever he was needed. Add in some Banker revival (Postmortem Debenture) for the M3ch4n1c and you have Pogo-Bears that never go away. Simple and effective.
Unless something has slipped my mind, that about wraps up my history lesson. Of course, there is more history to be made, and I look forward to coming back to this article series in the future. Maybe later this year, after Shade of the Devoured Emperor has sunk in, I'll take the time to revisit the Seed Two: Gloamspike's Revenge era and all of the nasty decks that came out of it.
Until then, though, keep coming up with new ideas to change The Spoils metagame so I have more to write about!
Check here for part 1.
Check here for part 2.