The “Meta Insight” series covers the differences between popular ladder decklists, showcasing the core cards of each of the archetypes (“deck skeletons”), as well as various optional inclusions and tech cards.

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Daria Rune

The core of Unlimited Daria decks hasn’t changed much since January, with the main changes being, of course, Mysterian Knowledge being limited to 1 copy, as well as Timeworn Mage Levi somewhat falling out of favor, being replaced by Magic Owl in some lists. With 2 copies of Mysterian Knowledge gone, the majority of Daria players adopted the next best spell that generates another spell, Golem Assault. Ese’s list is the unconventional Daria D-Shift build that follows in the steps of Hasu Rune, so it strays from the regular Daria skeleton.

Early game

Compared to Rotation Daria lists, Unlimited has 2 extra options as far as 1-drops go, Angelic Snipe and Commence Experiment. Angelic Snipe is usually played as 2-3 copies, but is one of the first cards to consider cutting when you want to include something else. Commence Experiment is somewhat rare since Daria decks in Unlimited can’t afford to run Concentration and as such it only discounts your Golem Assault tokens. Mystic Ring is also a reasonable 1-of that can be used to shuffle one of your Darias when you draw two or more at the same time. Of course, good Shadowverse players always hit the ~3% probability of redrawing the Daria you just shuffled with your Mystic Ring, but if you’re not quite on that level yet, you can consider running Mystic Ring.
In the area of 2-drops your options can be split into followers and reactive spells. The most common options for 2-drop followers are Timeworn Mage Levi, Magic Owl and Conjure Golem, as well as an occasional Craig. As a rule of thumb, most Daria lists pick 2 out of those 4 options and run 5-6 total copies of those cards. The prime reactive spells are cantrips such as Kaleidoscopic Glow and Magic Missile, but you can opt for 1-3 copies of Wind Blast as well. Angelic Barrage is an old-fashioned anti-aggro tech card that also falls into the category of reactive spells, utilized in Lycoris’s list.

The payoff

The premium spellboost targets in Daria are Oogler, Fate’s Hand, Blade Mage, Daria and Chimera. The most common options for extra spellboost “payoff” are Enchanted Sword and Flame Destroyer. Another wacky option here is to try and play Daria and Dimension Shift in the same deck, cutting Blade Mages for 3 copies of D-Shift, which is showcased in Ese’s list.

The matchups

The main reason for Daria’s popularity is its great matchup against Vengeance Blood, one of the most popular decks in the format. The rest of Daria’s matchups are even or slightly favored, with the only exception being very fast aggro decks like Aggro Forest and Aggro Sword which have a more consistent early game and can run Daria over.

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D-Shift

Some cards in the D-Shift skeleton can be cut from the deck, namely Angelic Snipe, Golem Assault and Sorcery Caches, but for the most part these are the core cards seen in most D-Shift lists. Out of the provided decklists, Galcia’s list is the unusual Flame and Glass D-Shift build which differs from the regular D-Shift decklists. To add to that, Momotaro piloted a somewhat uncommon Unlimited deck that is Dirt Rune to #14 ladder spot, but since there isn’t enough Dirt Rune decklists for a separate section, it is included here.

Early game

The early game options of D-Shift are almost identical to the ones seen in Daria lists. D-Shift lists have more uses for Commence Experiment because they usually include Concentration, which can get a miniscule bit of extra value from its Earth Rite effect.
Another difference is that D-Shift is, for the most part, a reactive deck, so followers like Timeworn Mage Levi and Conjure Golem are not that common in D-Shift lists. On the other hand, Wind Blast is a mainstay in D-Shift because it contributes to its gameplan by clearing the board. In a similar vein to Commence Experiment, Silent Laboratory is occasionally played in D-Shift as an activator for Golem Assault and Concentration.

Midgame

While D-Shift can’t boast the same explosive tempo swings as Daria, with extra spells like Concentration and a 1-2 of Sorcery Cache it can occasionally pull off swing turns with spellboosted Chimeras, Wind Blasts and Fiery Embraces. An interesting tech card in D-Shift is Petrification that helps against Atomy, not only neutralizing Lord Atomy itself, but also messing up the “rez pool” of Ceridwen so that Atomy doesn’t get reanimated on turn 5.

The heavy hitters

The most common finishers for D-Shift are Flame Destroyer and Giant Chimera. The advantage of Flame Destroyer is that it can sometimes be played for tempo, while the advantage of Giant Chimera is that it does more damage. With that said, D-Shift doesn’t necessarily need any of its finishers to win games, occasionally D-Shift can simply gain board advantage with Chimeras in the midgame, or use the Golem Assault tokens for a Dimension Shift turn. Alternatively, you could try out Galcia’s Flame and Glass D-Shift list. The advantage of Flame and Glass is that you can play Harnessed Glass and evolve it to deal with a board of Bats/Fairies/etc. You may ask: “Why wouldn’t you just evolve Magic Owl instead? And if you want to deal with wide boards of weenies, can’t you just include Angelic Barrage or something?”. You’re not wrong, there isn’t much reason to play Flame and Glass D-Shift apart from the novelty factor.


In general, D-Shift is unfavored against basically every popular deck in the Unlimited format, but its saving grace is its favored matchup against Atomy Shadow and Daria Rune, mainly due to the inclusion of 3xWind Blasts and Fiery Embraces. Of course, D-Shift still stomps any slow deck like Ramp Dragon or Control Haven/Blood, nothing really changed in that regard in the last 2 years. Slow decks aren’t really common in the format, partly due to the presence of decks like D-Shift and OTK Roach Forest, and partly due to being unable to actually deal with Daria Rune/any non-Control Blood archetype/Atomy Shadow/Aggro Forest because, for example, decks teched against Aggro Blood/Forest will do worse against Vengeance Blood/Daria/Atomy and vice versa.

Dirt Rune matchups


Dirt Rune is not particularly popular in Unlimited, and for a good reason: the archetype is unfavored against most of the decks in the format, and the decks that Dirt Rune beats on (Midrange Shadow/etc.) are not all that popular either. All in all, Dirt Rune is a considerably better deck archetype in Rotation.

Aggro Blood

Most of the cards in the Aggro Blood skeleton are present in the majority of lists, the only cards which are occasionally swapped out are Snarling Chains (replaced by Hungering Horde) and a copy of Carabosse (replaced by Imp Lancer).

The other wolf problem

With Blood Wolf being limited to 1 copy, Aggro Blood decks started including other 2-drops, the most common 1-for-1 replacements being Spiderweb Imp and Baphomet. Alternatively, some players instead included different sources of reach like Demonic Strike and Dance of Death.

Bats, bats, we’re the bats

The defining feature of Aggro Blood is the “bats package” consisting of Vampy, Summon Bloodkin and Night Horde. Other bat cards (Veight and Vampiric Fortress) don’t have quite enough oomph to be played in the Unlimited format. Vampiric Fortress saw some fringe play before Chronogenesis, but Blood has received a new aggressive tool in Savage Wolf, which for the most part has the same purpose and is easier to utilize.
Other early game tools of Aggro Blood are very standard strong Blood cards like Yurius, Baphomet and Snarling Chains. Apart from Savage Wolf, there are no Blood 3-drops that Aggro Blood would really want, so in the 3-drop slot your options are Angel of the Word and the less common Purehearted Singer.

The midgame

Aggro Blood is usually very light in terms of midgame tools, the only standard ones being Night Horde and Carabosse. With that said, Dance of Death is very common in Aggro Blood as a 2-of, and Demonic Strike is also occasionally played, both as additional sources of reach. Another card that has been popping up is Imp Lancer, which is played as a 1-of in some lists, either replacing a copy of Carabosse or being played alongside it. Yocchy has even tried a 1-of Demonic Storm, which serves as an over-costed source of reach and can occasionally make do as an AoE as well.

The matchups

Aggro Blood is the second most popular and one of the better performing decks in the Unlimited format, being favored against most of the decks in the format with the exceptions of Daria Rune, Vengeance Blood and Aggro/Neutral Forest. Aggro Blood is likely to become even more popular with the chest event going on at the moment, so it can be said that the Blood Wolf change didn’t manage to change the deck in any meaningful manner. What changes can even be made to limit the deck’s power? Perhaps, a limit on Yurius or Razory Claw/Savage Wolf could do the trick, since it would also be relevant in Vengeance Blood, another strong Blood deck in the format. We’ll see soon enough.

Aggro Blood

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Midrange Vengeance Blood

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Control Blood

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Vengeance Blood

A few cards in the deck skeleton can be cut from the deck, namely Ambling Wraith (in Dark Airjammer lists), as well as Baphomet and Blood Wolf. Emeralda can be cut from lists running Carabosse, as seen in Teke’s list. In addition to the Vengeance Blood, this section also features Rizer’s Control Blood build, because there are not quite enough Control Blood lists to make a separate section, it is included in this section instead.

Wolf. Brad Wolf

The change to Blood Wolf is even less noticeable in Vengeance Blood than Aggro Blood due to the deck being more midrangey. So, which cards replaced Blood Wolf in Vengeance Blood? The most common “replacements” are Savage Wolf and Baphomet that have become core cards in the deck. Players have also tried other 2-drops like Lyrial (early on after the patch) and Boy Who Cried Wolf, the latter being played in 幼女信者’s list. The player’s name is literally “rorikon” and he still prefers to run Boys? Ironic.

Early game

The 1-drops of Vengeance Blood haven’t changed much after the patch, the most common options are still Ambling Wraith and Cursebrand Vampire. Goblin is also an option if you want more than 6 1-drops. The rule of thumb here is that decks with Dark Airjammer usually run fewer 1-drops (if any at all), while decks without Airjammer can afford to play 6 or more 1-drops.
In the 2-drop category the only real variance between lists is the amount of Baphomets and Hungering Hordes. Hungering Horde is usually played as 2 or 3 copies, while Baphomet can be anywhere between 0 and 3, with most lists running 2. While it isn’t a real 2-drop, Mask of the Black Death is also somewhat common in Vengeance Blood, allowing to get out of range of opponent’s reach, or play Belphegor without losing health. A similar defensive card is Blood Moon, played as a 1-of in Satan’s list, allowing to play discounted Diabolic Drains earlier and activating Dark General/Emeralda/Belphegor without being below 10 health. Right, played as a 1-of in Prince of Darkness’s list, you can’t just say “Satan” in a Christian meta report. My apologies.
The 3-drops of Vengeance Blood haven’t changed much since January, Savage Wolf, Angel of the Word and Purehearted Singer are the most common choices. With that said, Disagreeable Demon is also a somewhat uncommon defensive option for the deck, run in Yuukurito’s list. Disagreeable Demon can even be a 4/3 on turn 3! No, that never really happens.

A decent 5 to a strong 7

The main split between Vengeance Blood lists is between running Dark Airjammer or not. Doing so allows to have a good follow-up to a turn 4 Belphegor, while not doing so allows to have a better curve due to having extra 1-drops, since you’re not concerned about making the Dark Airjammer pool worse. You can also consider cutting Emeralda for Carabosse, making the deck have more staying power in longer games at the cost of losing tempo.

The matchups

Vengeance Blood is a very well-rounded deck, doing great against most of the popular decks in the format with the only exception being Daria Rune and OTK Roach Forest. The deck is particularly favored against aggressive decks like Aggro Blood, Sword and Forest due to having a strong early game and strong tempo tools like Scarlet Sabreur and Diabolic Drain, which provide some healing as well. Vengeance Blood is an interesting deck in the meta because it is very favored against the best performing deck (Aggro Blood), but is unfavored against the most popular deck in the format (Daria Rune).


What about Control Blood?

Control Blood overall is a worse deck than Vengeance Blood, being even more favored against aggressive decks, and even having Revelations for the Daria matchup, but it literally loses 80% of the games to D-Shift and OTK Roach. The deck is a lot slower than Vengeance Blood, which also makes it somewhat inefficient for ladder. Rizer’s deck is an example of a common Control Blood list, with Burly Axewielder being a tech card and Wardrobe Raider being somewhat unorthodox, the usual card played in that slot is Righteous Demon, but Wardrobe Raider isn’t bad by any means. Control Blood hasn’t received any new tools with the release of Chronogenesis, so the deck is very similar to what you would see before the expansion.


Atomy Shadow

The core cards in Atomy Shadow don’t include the “reanimate package”, more on that in the following section. Most of the provided Atomy lists contain the “reanimate package”, with the exceptions of クサナギ’s and Yukigran’s lists. In addition to Atomy lists, there is also Shinn’s Midrange Shadow list, discussed in the last paragraph of this section.

The reanimate package

A very common inclusion in Atomy lists is the “reanimate package”, consisting of Gloomy Necromancer, Ceridwen and an expensive follower (Zeus or Mordecai). Ceridwen would be played in Atomy even without the other reanimate cards, because getting a free 8/8 from her evolve effect is still an insane payoff, but in games where you can’t play an early Atomy, using Gloomy Necromancer on an expensive follower is another avenue of high-rolling that can be useful in Atomy Shadow. Sow Death, Reap Life is somewhat uncommon in Unlimited because of how dreadfully slow it is, however, Yuu’s list still includes 2 copies of the card.
With that said, the “reanimate package” is not exactly necessary, for example, クサナギ’s list is more of a mix between a conventional Midrange Shadow deck and Atomy, with Aisha and Eachtar. Have you ever heard about Demonlord Eachtar? Well, it’s one of the best cards in the game in the 7-cost slot even after getting nerfed, so it stands to reason that it makes for a reasonable inclusion in Atomy as well. Another approach to the idea of excluding the “reanimate package” can be seen in Yukigran’s list that runs a lot of different aggressive tools like Phantom Howl and Cerberus.

Early game options

Some common early-game inclusions in Atomy aside from the ones present in the deck skeleton are Haunted House, Andrealphus and Little Soulsquasher. Wandering Bard Elta is also sometimes seen in Atomy lists because it denies the negative fanfare of Lord Atomy, allowing you to play Atomy without destroying anything. Zombie Party, an extremely common card in other Shadow archetypes, usually isn’t played in Atomy Shadow because it doesn’t put anything on the board and its enhance effect is too slow for what the deck is trying to do.
In the realm of 3-drops, Skull Ring is absolutely essential because it allows to pull off turn 3 Atomy fairly consistently. If Atomy ever gets hit with a nerf, it would probably involve limiting Skull Ring to 1 copy per deck in the Unlimited format. Other 3-drops can either be card draw like Purehearted Singer and Goblin Mage, or cards that improve the high-rolling potential like Frozen Mammoth and Bone Chimera.
While not exactly being an early-game card, it should also be mentioned that Ceres of the Night is a lot better in Unlimited than in Rotation, because it helps the unfavored Aggro Blood matchup and generally has more utility in the faster format.

The matchups

A large part of the Atomy Shadow matchups against popular decks are either slightly unfavored or even, in particular the deck loses badly against Aggro Blood/Dragon and D-Shift. That being said, Atomy is incredibly dependent on going first; in most matchups the winrate improves by 10 to 15% by going first instead of going second. Against decks that already favor going first like Aggro or Vengeance Blood, the winrate literally doubles depending on which player goes first (e.g., at the time of writing, Atomy Shadow vs Vengeance Blood, the winrate going first is 61.4%, going second is 29.5%).

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What about Midrange Shadow?

Midrange Shadow wasn’t a particularly good Unlimited deck even before the Thane nerfs, and has become even worse after the nerfs. As an example of what an Unlimited Midrange Shadow deck looks like, you can use Shinn’s list that is more or less the same deck as its Rotation counterpart, with the only Unlimited cards being Death’s Breath, Skull Beast and Soul Conversion; as well as Necroassassin being swapped out for Ceres due to the nature of the format. The good matchups of Midrange Shadow are control decks (Ramp Dragon/Control Blood) that can’t keep up with Skeletons inside of Skeletons. Midrange Shadow also does fairly well against OTK Roach Forest due to the aforementioned inclusion of Death’s Breath and the general ability of the deck to create sticky boards.


Aggro Sword

In the provided deck skeleton, the 2 cards which can sometimes get cut are Oathless Knight and Palace Fencer. Most of the provided decklists are Aggro Sword lists, with the exception of Fran’s and きさま’s Midrange Sword builds, as well as Ura’s “Control” Sword build.

1-drop, 2-drop

An average Aggro Sword list is already chock-full of 1-drops, but there is one optional 1-drop that can be added as well, Goblin. To add to that, Mentor’s Teachings is not really a 1-drop because you can’t play it on turn 1 (if you’re going first, and if you’re going second you’re probably losing already), is a reasonable inclusion, in the absolute worst scenario it at least cycles itself.
Apart from the extra copies of the 2-drops already present in the deck skeleton (Oathless Knight, Palace Fencer, Centaur Vanguard and Princess Vanguard), a reasonable 2-drop is Bladed Hedgehog. Despite the fact that Hedgehog encourages trading and as such contradicts the gameplan of the deck, it is still a great card against bats/fairies/etc.

Red drop, blue drop

Among the 3-drops run in Aggro Sword there is a clear tendency of hitting the opponent’s face on the same turn that the card is played. Those cards include Novice Trooper and Princess Juliet. Of course, there are also Neutral 3-drops that do damage on the same turn they’re played, Angel of the Word and Angelic Knight, but they’re not as good because they only do 1 damage, which is 50% worse.
An interesting inclusion that has been popping up in Aggro Sword is Shadowed Assassin which is a bit of a win-more card, however, with an early curve as consistent as Aggro Sword’s, a lot of the time Shadowed Assassin can land on 2 or 3 followers, preventing your opponent from interacting with the board.
In the 5-drop slot there are 3 main options of Albert, Kunoichi Master and RTA. Most players run 1 copy of RTA, but playing 2 is not unreasonable either. If we consider an average Aggro Sword game, then by turn 5 you would have drawn 8-10 cards, depending on whether you went first/second and if you played Mentor’s Teachings. For simplicity’s sake, let’s consider the scenario with 10 drawn cards. The probability of your RTA fizzling out (drawing more than 1 Juliet) is 14.88%, while the probability of having your RTA in hand by that time is 25% when playing 1 copy (duh), and 38.46% when playing 2 copies. The probability of drawing both your RTAs (so the second one fizzles out) is 5.76%. To summarize, there is some risk involved, but in my opinion, playing 2 RTAs is a little bit better.
Some other options include great red cards like Demonic Strike and Dance of Death, as well as Alwida’s Command, which has some red elements on the otherwise blue background. Well, to be fair, Dance of Death is more of a pink card, but nonetheless there is a clear correlation of red cards helping the aggressive gameplan.

The matchups

The reason to play Aggro Sword is its favored matchup against Daria and its great matchup against Atomy, as well as its great performance against slower decks like D-Shift and Dragon. The deck is unfavored against Aggro Forest and Vengeance Blood.

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What about Midrange Sword?

The main reason for playing Midrange Sword in January was its great matchup against OTK Roach Forest, but after the Aria changes the OTK Roach has become a lot less prominent in the format, so Sword players shifted to a more aggressive archetype. That being said, Midrange Sword, while not all that popular, is still one of the better performing decks in the format. The glaring weakness of Midrange Sword is its matchup against all 3 of the Unlimited Rune archetypes.


OTK Roach Forest

The only cards that are occasionally cut from the deck skeleton are Ancient Elf and Elven Princess Mage. In addition to OTK Roach decklists, there is also Muteki’s Path to Purgatory Forest build, discussed in the “Please stop asking about PtP Forest” section.

Early game

In the 1-drop slot there are 2 commonly played amulets competing for the same spot in the deck, Firesprite Grove and Spring-Green Protection. They do similar things, but Firesprite Grove is better against aggressive decks while Spring-Green Protection allows you to cycle your bounce effects for card advantage.
The 2-drops are pretty much the same among all of the Roach lists because the deck can’t play any other 2-cost followers other than Rhinoceroach in order to have no Goblin Mage RNG, but one unusual option is Pixie Mischief, a neat tech card against Atomy Shadow.
Other optional early game cards that can be included in OTK Roach lists are Magical Fairy Lilac and Starry Elf. Lilac helps matchups like Daria and Atomy and is not that great against decks like Aggro Blood/Sword/Forest. Starry Elf usually pulls Wood of Brambles or Firesprite Grove, both of which are great against token decks like Aggro Blood and Forest.

Midgame

The initial instinct of many Forest players after the Aria change was to replace the Arias with Elven Princess Mage and it is still a card that some players use in the deck as 1-2 copies, however, a few players have dropped EPM completely in favor of other cards.
The 4 premium midgame cards in OTK Forest are Crystalia Aerin, Will of the Forest, Cassiopeia and Dance of Death. Out of these 4, the card that is played in every list as 2-3 copies is Aerin, while the other 3 can be somewhat interchangeable. The rule of thumb here is to choose 2 out of those 3 options and play 4-5 total copies of those cards, for example, 2xWill/2xCassiopeia or 2xDoD/2xWill or 2xDoD/2xCassiopeia, and so on. In addition to that, popo_pad plays 2xCrystalia Tia/2xCassiopeia, so there is even a fifth option.

The matchups

Despite the relatively low playrate, OTK Roach Forest is the best performing deck in the format. The deck is still unfavored against Midrange Sword/Shadow and Aggro Forest, but has a good shot against any other deck in the format. To add to that, Roach Forest can get overrun by Daria Rune. Of particular interest here is OTK Roach Forest’s good matchup against both Vengeance and Aggro Blood. With that said, the slow nature of the deck combined with a relatively high skill floor of the archetype keep the popularity of Roach Forest in check. After the Aria change the deck lost a lot of consistent turn 7/8 lethal opportunities and isn’t really as effective for grinding points anymore.

What about Neutral Forest?

Neutral Forest in Unlimited is more or less comprised of the same cards as in Rotation format, with the only common Unlimited-specific inclusion being Unica, usually played over Feria. The main weakness of Neutral Forest is Atomy Shadow, but the archetype has a good performance across the board otherwise due to having solid early game and well-statted Ward followers. And ETA is still an amazing card against most proactive board-centric decks that don’t go too wide on the board, which is, well, most of the Unlimited format. Against the rare reactive decks in the format (Ramp Dragon/D-Shift/Control Bloood/etc.) the B&B is a pretty huge boon as well.

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Aggro Forest

In the Aggro Forest deck skeleton, the only cards that are occasionally cut from the deck are Insect Lord and Water Fairy.

Early game

For the most part, all the Aggro Forest lists include the same 12 1-drops and 3xAirbound Barrage; in addition to that, the other included 1-cost cards are usually geared towards increasing the damage of Rhinoceroach combos, such as Nature’s Guidance and even Angelic Snipe, the latter used in いっしー’s list.
The 2-drop slot also is mostly set in stone, with the only other occasional inclusions being Leaf Man, Rayne, Blessed Fairy Dancer and Sylvan Justice. The first 3 are somewhat win-more cards that are great when you’re already ahead on the board; on the other hand, Sylvan Justice is a card that helps you catch up when behind.

Midgame

The midgame options for Aggro Forest include Beetle Warrior, Fairy Driver, Ariana and Ipiria, as well as an occasional Dance of Death. The most common card among the first 4 is Fairy Driver that is played universally in all Aggro Forest lists, while Ariana and Ipiria have a bit of a split, with some players running playsets of either Ariana or Ipiria, or a 2/2 split of both. Beetle Warrior has somewhat fallen out of favor, I personally haven’t seen a Beetle Warrior in some time, but it is still a reasonable card in the deck.

The matchups

Aggro Forest is one of the best performing decks in the format at the moment, being slightly favored against most of the deck in the format with the exception of Midrange Sword. In particular, Aggro Forest does great against Aggro Sword and Aggro Blood since it can fight for board really well against decks with aggressively-statted followers. For that reason, Aggro Forest can be described as the anti-aggro aggro deck.

Storm Haven

It can be argued that Pinion Prayer as a 2-of is a core card in Storm Haven, however, a few players have cut Pinion Prayer so it’s not included. The first 4 provided decklists are the conventional Storm Haven lists; ぷちけ’s list is a hybrid Summit Temple Storm Haven build; Uni’s and Zest’s decks are the Control Haven build.

Early game

The premium Haven 1-drop is, without a doubt, Globe of the Starways, but Pinion Prayer is also a common inclusion in Storm Haven. Akasaka has also tried Featherfall Hourglass, which can either serve as a 1- or a 3-drop.
In the 2-drop slot there is almost a 50/50 split between Snow White and Mainyu. Snow White is better against aggressive decks because it can trade 2-for-1 with 2/1 2-drops and/or activate Heavenly Hound on turn 3, while Mainyu is tricky to remove and is better against reactive decks like D-Shift Rune or OTK Roach Forest, for example.
The 3-drops available to Storm Haven include Divine Birdsong, Angel of the Word and White Tiger. Birdsong is the premium 3-drop, while White Tiger and Angel of the Word phase in and out of lists. Angel of the Word is occasionally replaced by Star Torrent, a tech card against Aggro Blood/Forest.

Midgame

There are 2 different 4-drops available to Storm Haven: Priest of the Cudgel and Birdkeeping Disciple. Priest of the Cudgel is the more reactive option that can sometimes net extra value against Shadow, while Disciple is a more proactive option that is better when going first. Tribunal of Good and Evil is dropped from most Storm Haven lists in favor of Dance of Death.
March Hare’s Teatime and Garuda are both premium cards in Storm Haven and are usually run as 3-ofs in most lists. Dark Jeanne is somewhat meta-dependent, but since the card is great against aggressive decks and can double up as a finisher, most lists run 2-3 Dark Jeanne. Taurus the Great is occasionally played as a 1-of, but is overall a fairly slow card for the format. Taurus the Great? More like Taurus the Alright.

What about Control Haven?

Slower Haven archetypes that include Themis usually do pretty well against Daria, however, they lose to Vengeance and Aggro Blood pretty badly, not to mention the auto-lose matchups like D-Shift and OTK Roach, decks that are geared towards beating slower decks in general. If you take into consideration the length of games of Control Haven, it becomes obvious that Control Haven is not a great fit for ladder games. That being said, if you want to try Control Haven, I would recommend looking at JCGU decklists like Uni’s and Zest’s, which are conventional Aegis lists. In addition to that, there’s a Summit Temple list from ぷちけ that is a mix between the conventional Control Haven with Aether and some elements of Storm Haven.

The matchups

Most of the Storm Haven matchups are even or slightly unfavored, however, the strength of the deck lies in its ability to include AoE cards like Dark Jeanne and Star Torrent without compromising its gameplan, which makes matchups like Aggro Forest/Blood/Sword Haven-favored. AoE effects in an otherwise aggressive midrange deck are backbreaking for those token-based archetypes. The archetype does amazingly well against Ramp Dragon for fairly obvious reasons, since Midrange decks with a lot of reach and high-health followers are very annoying for Dragon to deal with. With that said, the overall sample size of Storm Haven games is fairly low, the deck is on the verge of about 2% presence in the meta across the entire month, which makes the variance extremely high, so take the data with a grain of salt. Not a whole lot of people play Haven in Unlimited.

Storm Haven

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Storm Haven

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Storm Haven

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Storm Haven

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Storm Haven

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Storm Haven

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Hybrid Summit Haven

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Hybrid Summit Haven

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Hybrid Summit Haven

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Control Haven

JCGU S4 Vol 2

Control Haven

JCGU S3 Finals

Dragon is the least popular of the 7 classes available in the Unlimited format, with its most played archetype, Ramp Dragon, sitting squarely at 44.2% winrate. So, at a glance, Dragon is completely unplayable in Unlimited and shouldn’t be played outside Rotation, right? As it turns out, if you gaze long enough into the Aggro meta, the Aggro meta will gaze back into you. As they say, if you can’t beat them, join them. Following this exact (?) reasoning, ShiGe has reached the #5 spot on the Unlimited ladder with the Aggro Dragon list showcased here. For the sake of comparison, there is also Three_ten’s list provided here. Three_ten is another Aggro Dragon enthusiast that has played a lot of Aggro Dragon in January.

What’s the deal with Aggro Dragon?

The main strength of playing Aggro Dragon is its ability to flood the board with cheap followers similar to PDK Dragon lists, but without the “slow Dragon package” with Sibyls, Dragon Oracles and Fervors. The main change compared to the earlier Aggro Dragon lists is the lack of defensive cards like Sibyl and Rahab, which allows the deck to have more proactive early game cards. The aforementioned improved early game allows the deck to utilize cards like Phoenix Rider Aina and Hippogryph Rider as finishers. There isn’t nearly enough data to gauge the deck’s matchup spread, but its overall winrate on Shadowlog is 55.3% with 254 total games. Granted, all those games could be from ShiGe himself, but, nonetheless, the archetype is showing a lot of potential, be it from the surprise factor or the actual strength of the deck.

What about Ramp Dragon?

Just like in the Rotation format, Ramp Dragon is really good against Daria, but the rest of its matchups leave a lot to be desired. Not only does the deck lose to anti-control decks like OTK Roach and D-Shift, it gets run over by most aggro decks as well. As it stands, the powerlevel of Ramp Dragon decks in Rotation and Unlimited is more or less the same, however, the other decks in the Unlimited format are a lot more unfair in many aspects. If you’d like to see what an Unlimited Ramp Dragon deck looks like, check out the “Ramp” tab for one of the decks from JCGU S4. The deck has essentially 4 Unlimited-specific cards, with Aiela, Dragon Knight played alongside the new Aiela, and Genesis Dragon replacing Azi Dahaka. Lucifer is pretty optional in that list. It’s more or less a Rotation deck with 3 extra ramp cards, which just doesn’t seem quite enough to really push the envelope of the Unlimited Ramp Dragon.

Aggro Dragon matchups

The matchups of Aggro Dragon bear a striking similarity to Aggro Blood, the deck can outpace a lot of slower decks like D-Shift Rune/Atomy Shadow/Roach Forest/etc. The main advantage of Aggro Dragon compared to Aggro Blood is its better matchup against Vengeance Blood, the most popular deck in the format, and Aggro Blood, the third or fourth most popular deck in the format (depending on used metrics). Well, it’s a little silly to compare Aggro Dragon’s matchup against Aggro Blood, since Aggro Blood obviously doesn’t have any sort of matchup against Aggro Blood, but you get my point. The emergence of Aggro Dragon is very similar to the rise of Aggro Forest’s popularity back in October as an answer to Vengeance/Aggro Blood. And no, that word is not a reference. If I had 1770 opportunities to make that reference, I would only go for it 13 times.

Aggro Dragon Skeleton

Aggro Dragon

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Aggro Dragon

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Aggro Dragon

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Aggro Dragon

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Aggro Dragon

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Aggro Dragon

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Aggro Dragon

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Ramp Dragon

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Ramp Dragon

JCGU S4 Vol 2


Ramp Dragon is not particularly good at dealing with most of the decks in the format. Just like in Rotation, Ramp Dragon does well against Daria Rune, but that’s about it as far as good matchups of Ramp Dragon go. For this reason, Ramp Dragon has a low playrate in Unlimited since the very start of Chronogenesis.

Stats corner

This section is a representation of the meta trends based off the recent Shadowlog stats. In the matchup table below, rows represent the player’s deck archetype and columns represent the opponent’s deck archetype. For example, if you’d like to find out the details about the matchup of Vengeance Blood against Daria Rune, find the intersection of the “Vengeance Blood” row with the “Daria Rune” column. Hovering over specific cells in the table shows additional details about the matchup like the total number of games, for example. You can sort the table in descending order of any of the rows/columns by clicking on the sort buttons on the corresponding rows/columns; as well as exclude/isolate specific parts of the table with the selection tools. To revert back after making changes to the table, you can use the “Undo” and “Reset” buttons below the table. Some of the deck archetypes are not included in the matchup table due to low sample size, the cut-off point is at 3% of total presence in the metagame. To get an idea of which decks are popular (and have a large enough sample size as a consequence), you can refer to the Class distribution, as well as “Deck Archetype Map”, both of which are provided below the matchup table. The deck archetype map also shows weekly changes in the relative playrate (which is equal to the frequency of a particular archetype divided by the frequency of the most popular deck archetype, Vengeance Blood) and win percentages of every archetype. Hovering over the specific parts of the histogram or points on the map shows additional info about the corresponding deck archetype.