Saturday , 20 January 2018
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Player Level 4 Episode 2: Shapers…what Shapers?

Player Level 4 Episode 2: Shapers…what Shapers?

Welcome to Player Level 4: where we take your game to the next level!

This week Kit and I bring you the most recent tournament results along with our special guest this week, mnmike2002! Raidrinn is also back to join us on our adventure through the metagame. Let’s get started!

Thanks and we’ll see you next week!

About foxhull

I'm 23 year old college student and avid gamer. I recently returned to the competitive Magic scene but spend all my time playing SolForge anyway.


  1. Sorry, guys, but if you’re actually arguing that shapers are not obscenely overpowered in unheroic (they’re obviously fine in regular construted), you’re simply being idiotic. There’s no way to race them before they take over the game at PR3 and there’s no way to go “over the top” because guess what, with the card pool available they *are* the best lategame.
    I love your content, but you’re ridiculously biased. Games mostly come down to whoever draws more shapers early in the game. I’m not sure if SBE can track data in such a way, but I’d LOVE to see how often Top4 players played shapers whenever they had a chance to. My guess is at least 90% of the time.

    Also to continue the “biased” topic, I literally laughed out loud when I read the title of the article a couple days ago: “Bracket #18: Success Isn’t Necessarily Legendary”.
    You could have written that when Raidrinn won the 1st tourney with a single legendary I believe, but when you’re trying to argue that Hope’s deck is “Zombie Tribal” even though it ran 12 legendaries and had a Zombie subtheme, you’re just being obtuse. It’s obviously not yet clear whether optimal decklists will be 3x Zimus, 3x GG Devouver, 3x Lyria or 3x Keeper of the Damned, for example, but it’s reasonably likely to be the case.
    Few people are arguing that shoving as many legendaries into the same deck is automatic success, but acting as if top tier decks won’t have ~10 legendaries in their respective archetypes is silly.

    • You’re entitled to your opinion. Doesn’t mean you need to go around insulting people because you disagree. If you want to have a reasonable discussion, by all means, go ahead. As it stands right now I’m not going to bother reading your post because it’s all vitriol.

    • To me, it’s interesting that you can argue that Shapers are obscenely overpowered in unheroic, but fine in regular constructed. Sure, there may be more “solutions” to Shapers in a regular constructed tournament, but there are also far more ways to abuse them. I don’t think anyone on my staff would say that Shapers aren’t very powerful cards, regardless of the format. What you’re choosing to ignore, however, are a few key points we’re often trying to highlight. That being 1) People are building successful decks with little to no Shapers in them (see the deck list that Zrandles brought to the Unheroic tournament last weekend) and 2) building a deck with Shapers in them doesn’t really restrict your deck construction (which is a classic example of an OP card). There are quite a few different deck types that happen to play Shapers, but aren’t focused on them. There are also decks that require the use of Shapers in a very specific way for victory. So, while a powerful card (and perhaps one that is shaping the current meta), they’re not stifling people’s deck construction options in any way. That’s an important point to highlight.

      And, since we’re on the topic, I’m very, very glad my writers are all biased (a point you seem to not care for). I don’t think you can write for a site such as this and not have your biases. That’s actually a good thing. How else would we create positive discussion in the community if people didn’t take a stand on a particular topic? This isn’t to say that we avoid looking at facts; we’re very much in tune with what’s going on in deck construction and tournament wins. Everyone has a choice on how to interpret that data. Obviously, you think we’re all idiots. We think we have a pretty good understanding of what’s going on, else we wouldn’t even bother to share our thoughts.

      Also, on the legendaries topic, I would argue that if you think all top tier decks are going to have about 10 legendaries in them, you’re being pretty silly yourself 😛 Zombies and Robots are not going to be the only decks to dominate this meta; they’re just the most obvious decks for people to build (and happen to be very legendary-heavy).

      • To everyone: My comment was really asshole-ish, apologize for that. I never said I think all of you are idiots. I get that you want SF to succeed and are trying to present it in a positive fashion, I just get a strong feeling of very clear “oh the game is amazing no matter what!” bias which I find dishonest.

        To Racecar0: The fact is that ~90% of decks in the tourney played shapers. We can’t really say whether people just have them in, but don’t necessarily play them at almost every opportunity, but from my experience I see most people level at least 3-4 shapers during Player Rank 1.
        It’s true that in a lot of decks they aren’t a part of any strategy necessarily, but that’s even worse from my perspective. I got paired vs a guy with a bulkwark bash robot deck and I was like “ok, this is quite cool!”. And then he played 4 shapers during PR1. There was no “deck” to speak of. It was just shapers and then random spells to trigger said shapers, exactly the problem Strangah pointed out. I don’t find that fun whatsoever, but maybe it’s just my problem.
        The only way to settle the dispute would be to look at some kind of data of how often top players play a shaper whenever they had a chance to. I’m reasonably sure that % is FAR higher than any other card in Unheroic format.

        Yeah, in one of the unheroics Zrandles got 2nd. In this week’s tourney, however, the people without shapers got crushed. If I recall correctly I’m quite sure I had the best record without any shapers and I went 5-3, however, I started out 0-2, 1-2, 1-3 which in turn gave me slightly weaker opponents to come back and finish with a winning record. Another guy who only ran 2 steelshapers went 6-2.

        When I say top tier I mean completely optimally constructed decks with no budget concerns whatsoever. Not that many people in the community have the ability to be able to construct any deck they want. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see when the official tourneys start and people have to pay money to enter them. My guess is that in half a year optimal decks will have at least 8-10 legendaries, mostly heroics in other slots and possibly some filler rares.
        Which again, is fine, that’s how TCGs work at highest level, I just find it silly when some of the writers try to pretend it won’t be the case just to increase the image of the game to the outsiders.

    • Top 8:
      Mattf – 1 legendary
      hadesblade – 2 legendaries
      PTKTempo – 6 legendaries
      Paragon – 8 legendaries
      Hoywolf – 0 legendaries
      darnaudov – 0 legendaries
      Raidrinn – 2 legendaries
      Ximane – 7 legendaries

      Count of decks with 10+ legendaries in the top 8: 0
      I can see that clearly we were wrong in our assessments, and should have stated even more clearly that legendaries do not win games, since clearly our simple “leaning” in one direction wasn’t leaning far enough.

      Also, it’s interesting the number of people who ran 10 or more legendaries that didn’t top 16. I’ll have to get the numbers on that as well

      Also, hope’s deck ran 8 (that is EIGHT) legendaries – and he chose not to run lyria (he has them). Please dont arbitrarily throw out numbers that are 50% higher than the actual number used. It leads to people who don’t bother doing the research themselves just taking your word for it, and thinking that you actually need a playset of legendaries to play this game.

      • I know this is stealing mnmike’s thunder a little bit, but to pound the point home that we obviously were “being obtuse” about our viewpoint on Legendaries: there was a total of 15 legendaries in all of the Top 4 decks. That’s less than 4 Legendaries on average in each deck. I certainly recognize that the deck that actually won the tournament had the most legendaries of the Top 8 bunch, but I think anyone who actually understands how competitive play works will be looking beyond first place finishes for what makes a “good deck”. The fact that two of those top 4 players in an 86-person tournament were playing 0 and 1 Legendaries makes a HUGE statement.

      • Actually looks like we were both wrong by the same margin, just looked it up

        Hope ran 10, Jmanthethief ran 9, PTKtempo ran 10, HolyLlama ran 7. This week’s tourney was quite different though, that’s true.

        My point is that I don’t think it’s in any way fair to write titles like “Success isn’t necessarily Legendary” when you’re analyzing the tourney in which Top4 had 10, 9, 10, 7 (!) legendaries and some of those guys would have clearly ran more if it wasn’t for card availability issue. It looks biased to the point of a parody from my perspective.

        In general, making comments about the meta or long-term top tier decks is hard right now because:
        1) the sample size of the tournaments we had so far is far too small to draw an objective picture. Same way you could have said that legendaries aren’t necessary after Raidrinn won with just 1, I could say that they are necessary because the next constructed tourney had 10, 9, 10 and 7 in the top4. Once we have had like 10 tourneys we will see a better pciture.
        2) most of the community are only constructing decks they can construct, not the ones they necessarily would like to due to card availability issue.

        A lot of legendaries DO indeed need decks to be built around them to be most effective which means that if you don’t have the critical mass (i.e. 3-of) of particular legendary, you probably can’t build said deck. It doesn’t mean that those legendaries aren’t powerful or won’t see play when more and more people increase their collections.

        What do you think would happen if, let’s say, SBE organized a 1000$ tournament in a week and turned on the “god mode” for everyone so that every player has access to every card for the tourney?
        Do you really think *most* decks wouldn’t have 8-10 legendaries or that it wouldn’t be correct to do so?

        I get that it’s annoying when a bunch of outsiders come into the game and scream about legendaries being OP when they’re most likely losing due to other mistakes, so it’s a natural inclination to try and defend the game. I just don’t like when you’re writing these joke-worthy titles when you could have found a lot more objective ones.

        • Actually, the numbers we were pulling were just fine. They just came from yesterday’s tournament, not the week prior’s.

          So, here’s the deal. Trying to predict what this game is going to look like in 6 months is, frankly, unreasonable. Neither you nor I know for sure what SBE will do. If there’s one thing I’ve learned trying to cover this game over the course of the last year or so, it’s that SBE is going to do what they think is best, regardless of whether or not fans think it’s right or wrong. So, what do we do instead? We cover what’s happening right now. It’s actually dishonest to try and do anything otherwise, I would think. Trying to report that 6 months from now the game is going to be specifically different in some way than what’s going on right now is pure speculation. Instead, we look at tournament results, we listen to complaints from the community, and we give our extremely biased opinions and suggestions on the matters currently at hand.

          Right now, people are worried that they need to have bunches of legendaries to do well in competitive play. This is obviously not the case. Again, we never say that having a bunch of Legendaries (or playing Shapers in Unheroic) doesn’t help you win games. No, we definitely understand that those things *do* help. What we tell people, though, is that there are others who are doing well in spite of that. The common community feeling is that it’s impossible to do well unless you fall into those categories. We don’t believe that to be the case as week after week, tournament after tournament, someone proves that to be incorrect.

          That’s why we talk about it all the time. People are getting themselves into a rut very early in this game for absolutely no reason. We’re just showing that, as of right now, that rut doesn’t exist. Plenty of skilled players are shooting past those with legendary-filled decks (we’re talking that “about 10” mark you’re talking about) while playing decks that are relatively easy to build (0-2 legendaries). You cannot deny this is happening. We certainly don’t. On the contrary, we find it quite exciting.

          • Most of that comment except for the “his week’s tourney was quite different though, that’s true.” was directed towards this part:

            “Also, hope’s deck ran 8 (that is EIGHT) legendaries – and he chose not to run lyria (he has them). Please dont arbitrarily throw out numbers that are 50% higher than the actual number used. It leads to people who don’t bother doing the research themselves just taking your word for it, and thinking that you actually need a playset of legendaries to play this game.”
            I guess first time around I counted GG predator as a legendary.

            Other than that, ok that’s fair. I guess the people who shout the loudest may indeed think that without 10 legendaries you can actually never win, which obviously isn’t the case.
            And again, I apologize for the unnecessary insults.

  2. Just thought I’d reinforce the toolbox-style deckbuilding. You only need 2 cards in your hand to be good every turn, so the cost of playing some situational silver bullets is super low. I hope the idea catches on because it’s one of SolForge’s unique traits, and I’d hate to see a top 8 with every decklist being a stack of 3-ofs, because that’s super boring.

    • Also, just got the premium pack like a bajillion years after it launched (maybe cause the lowercase L looks like a 1?). Contained Xithian Shambler, Firefiest Uranti, Static Shock, and Mossbeard Patriarch.

  3. I would like to echo a few things that TheCable was addressing. Firstly, the power of Shapers in the entire card pool is fair and just. In no way would they be considered more powerful (in their optimal role) than Grimgaunt, Scorchmane Dragon, or Chrogias (in their optimal roles). However, in the limit of the community’s UnHeroic scope, they are easily more powerful than every other card. (I would make one asterisk to point out Necroslime’s power level as quite near that of Flame/Darkshaper, and higher than Steel/Lifeshaper.)

    To explain how I see it, I’ll provide a few examples from the games I played earlier today while streaming. These in no way represent the entire field of games, and are a very small sample size, but should illuminate a fundamental problem I have (and I think a lot of people have) with these cards. I am one of the ones that has refused to play Shapers despite their great success. While streaming, I was thinking of how I could go the other way with my feelings and use them as a mockery of the rest of the field. At first, I was going to simply put in 6 Shapers from 2 factions and then have my watchers simply pick the other 24 cards, no matter what they may be. This was quickly passed over for a much more interesting idea: singleton. I assembled a Nekrium/Tempys deck with 6 Shapers and 24 one ofs. I took the most useless one ofs I could to try and make the deck as weak as possible. I played Dr. Frankenbaum with no Abominations, no removal, do nothing cards like Nether Embrace and Disintegrate, defenders like Glacial Colossus, Lightning Brand, Vanilla creatures, generally what I believe people to look at and consider a ‘bad deck.’

    Except, it had 6 Shapers. I queued up a couple of matches and was (after Player Level 1) dominating the board as I played every Shaper I could and then a mediocre creature of spell along with their triggers. Not only was I beating other Rares and Commons, there were many games against Grimgaunt Predators, Echowisps, etc. that were simply competitive and won.

    I don’t mean to suggest that Shapers be banned from Unheroic tournaments in the future, nor that they need to be nerfed or adjusted to fit the wants of the community (which I believe aren’t a consensus). All I’m saying is, it’s quite absurd from my point of view to believe that Shapers are anything but the most powerful cards/deck in the Unheroic format.

    Final note: In Unheroic, there are a sum of 5 creatures (Scavenger Scorpion, Storm Caller, Zombie Infantry, Deepbranch Prowler, and Corpse Crawler) with base stats that can beat a Shaper in combat. 5 more creatures have abilities that can place them in a position to beat Shapers in combat: Spring Dryad, Death Seeker, Blight Walker, Necroslime, and Shardplate Delver. And then there are a couple of others like Darkheart Wanderer that have extraneous methods of defeating them. 9 of the 10 cards I mentioned are in Nekrium or Uterra. While there are other answers to them, they currently garner an advantage against almost every card played to stop them.

    • Thanks for the commentary – we do agree that the Shapers are powerful, there’s no doubt about it. The thing is, you don’t HAVE to play them in order to be successful, but not playing them does force towards certain strategies. However, the biggest thing is that over time, as the card pool increases, their comparative power level will decrease as newer answers emerge. However, they will be as dominant as we let them be. I actually think people are using them as a crutch to prop skill level.

      Very good points sir. I appreciate the comments!

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