Hey gang! It’s The Rum Ham with a quick writeup on the first season of ranked ladder after Global Launch. If you didn’t already know, every 2 weeks the Legendary Arena gets reset: Every player over 3000 Trophies is set back to 3000 Trophies and excess trophies are earned as Legend Trophies. No one knows what Legend Trophies do yet, but in the meantime I am happy to collect as many as I can.
This piece will be a reflection of the top archetypes seen in 3000+ meta. I spent nearly the entire season in the 3400-3700 range, finishing just over 3900. These are simply my opinions, I would love to hear other opinions and disagreements from other top players! I’m stuck in the airport for a 2 hour delay so strap in, this is a long read.
Summary of the Meta:
I think it’s fair to say that Siege decks (as opposed to Beatdown or Control) were the most powerful archetype. X-Bow and Mortar were commonly seen by top players, as it was incredibly difficult to penetrate a jungle of defensive towers. Elixir Collector became one of the most common cards (I could have listed it in every archetype) simply because it was a way to store Elixir for the future while letting your opponent’s existing towers time out. Even Control deck found themselves needing to generate 10+ Elixir pushes to crack the defenses of Siege decks.
In fact, if it weren’t for the introduction of Dark Prince and Princess I think the season would have been skewed even further. A brand new archetype (to us pre-global players) emerged with the duo of Prince and Dark Prince, a 9 Elixir wave with the power to knock a tower down nearly as quick as they charge.
I’ll cover what I perceive as the best Beatdown, Control, and Siege archetypes of the last season. Instead of exact deck lists, I’ll cover the core cards and strategy and use a section at the end for common ‘filler’ cards in the archetypes.
Beatdown Deck of the Season: Golem Slalom
- Golem (or PEKKA)
- Elixir Collector
- Pick 2 of Baby Dragon, Bomber, Wizard, Princess, Musketeer
- Pick 1 of Tombstone, Tesla, Inferno
Beatdown feels like it’s not in a great spot right now. Defensive strategies are so powerful that the only way to crack the shell is with a 15+ Elixir push that rolls through their forest like Hexxus from FernGully. Ideally the push is so strong you can march all the way to the 3-Crown.
The first order of business is to set up an Elixir Collector and your defensive buildings. Playing Golem is going to put you down to 2 Elixir at most, so having some form of defensive infrastructure prevent losing a tower when you cast your Golem. Unless there are special circumstances, the Golem (sometimes PEKKA, rarely Giant Skeleton) should be played as far back as possible to save up Elixir.
While the Golem is slowly slaloming down the lane, use flexible 3-5 Elixir cards in your deck to defend against enemy pushes, and aim to play an AoE attacker behind your Golem as it reaches the bridge. The natural predators of Golems are big swarms and Inferno Tower. Wizard / Baby Dragon / Bomber help with the former, and playing Minion Hordes or Lightnings of your own would counter the latter.
Control Deck of the Season: Two Princes
- Dark Prince
- Pick 1 of Wizard, Baby Dragon, Musketeer
- Pick 1-2 of Arrows, Fireball, Poison, Rocket
- Pick 1 of Cannon, Tesla, Inferno
In the early days of the season, it felt like Double Prince was everywhere! People originally perceived it as a strong Beatdown strategy because the Princes happen to compliment each other (Prince is countered by small swarms but good vs. single targets, Dark Prince is good vs swarms and weak vs. single targets). As it turned out, spending 9 Elixir on two units without support was counterable, especially given that Beatdown decks could drop a Golem (or even better, PEKKA) to absorb the Prince charges.
Double Prince control evolved from the idea that just casting two Princes wasn’t going to be good enough, you had to pick your spots. Setting up a defensive building first would lead opponents to building up large waves. Filling the deck with defensive spells that doubled as finishers for Towers proved effective at killing these waves while also providing an opening for a Prince or two to steal a Tower.
This archetype also existed with Hog + Freeze replacing the Princes. Some archetypes would run Mirror for even more deception!
Siege Deck of the Season: Weapons of War
- Pick 1 of Rocket or Lightning
- Pick 2 of Cannon, Tombstone, Tesla, Inferno
- Pick 2 of Barbarians, Minion Horde, Goblins, Skeletons
Popular Filler Cards:
Elixir Collector is arguably the best card in the game when Siege is the strongest deck. It appeared often in Control decks as a preferable play to running weak waves fruitlessly into defenses. It even appeared in many Siege decks as a mirror-match advantage, as they could be placed in the middle to absorb Mortar or X-Bow shots. Since Siege mirror matches don’t involve a lot of bridge-crossing, whats the difference if it attacks or not?
Barbarians and Minion Horde were popular defensive Troops that often counterattacked well. A Minion Horde would normally kill or severely damage Princes or Barbarians before the Arrows landed. Princess emerged as a popular Troop to counter Minion Hordes while forcing the Siege decks to use some Elixir to stop her from ruining their defenses from afar. Minion Horde could also catch an X-Bow + Barbarians play off-guard and take down 11 Elixir for only 5!
PEKKA found a home in decks as a counter to Double Princes. For 7 Elixir, PEKKA could absorb both charges, kill both Princes, then swagger over the bridge with a decent bit of health left to tank.
Lightning and Rocket became very popular as a trump card to Elixir Collector (kills it before you gain an Elixir, and if you hit a Tower as well that’s ~600 damage for 1 Elixir!) and X-Bow. Lightning was especially necessary for Golem decks to handle Inferno Towers.
My Best Deck (3.5 Average):
- Baby Dragon
- Minion Horde
- Elixir Collector
This is a modified version of Derek Cheung’s (#1 player) deck he posted on YouTube
. I swapped out Zap for Arrows and Spear Goblins for Princess. I felt Princess was too important to leave out – she functions like a 2nd Mortar while also being strong against Minion Horde. Opponents who placed buildings in the center (to block Mortar shots) would find that building pinged by Princesses placed in a similar spot on my side. I upgraded Zap to Arrows for the same reason – Zap doesn’t kill enemy Princesses.
This deck felt very strong against Double Prince decks and PEKKAs due to Skeletons, but struggled against Golems (especially if you couldn’t get a Minion Horde to stick – Horde + Cannon are your best counters). Musketeer could also be icky because she outranges Cannons and doesn’t die to Arrows.
What to Change for Next Season?
I am very excited for the next balance update (whenever it is announced) as I think there are more changes to be made for a more balanced meta. The game is pretty balanced, but I think
It’s crazy to think that X-Bow has been nerfed 3 different ways and still remains one of the strongest cards in the game. I feel the Elixir cost needs to be increased, even if that means returning some stats to it. Golems and other big cards that can take a Tower solo tend to cost so much that you are made vulnerable when you cast it. The combination of sitting safely on your side AND having 4-5 Elixir to protect it (in addition to whatever other buildings you have) seems a bit oppressive. 7 or 8 Elixir puts it closer to the high-risk, high-reward card it should be.
There are a handful of anti-Siege cards that could use a buff too – Royal Giant most notably. This new card has really cool mechanics, but is just a mess of underpowered stats. Less HP, Less Damage, Higher cost than Giant (which itself doesn’t see high-level play) makes him more of a Royal Jester. The good news is that since he feels mechanically strong a simple increase of damage or HP or both could do wonders for him and provide an anti-Siege tool for swarmy Beatdown decks.