Hi Casters! Today I wanted to focus on a general principle that will help you build your deck in any format, but I will be referring to the Terra Only format in this article. A simple starting point for deck building is to identify cards that are meta defining. I think the term “meta defining” gets thrown around a lot when referring to strong cards, but what I’m referring to is cards/strategies that will force every deck in the format to need certain cards/strategies to beat them (rather than strong cards that surround those) or force them to not include certain cards/strategies. It’s possible and even common at times for these cards/strategies to not even see a lot of play, but will still have a large impact on what is needed to build the “best” deck. At the end of the day, these cards build the foundation of high level deck building and shapes how the game evolves.
To build a better understanding of what constitutes a meta defining card I’d like to give an example of some cards most players are familiar with; Loveland Frogman and Wallowa Lake Crustacean. Competitive Metazoo was once a water dominated game. Loveland Frogman and Wallowa Lake Crustacean were two of the largest contributors to this early meta as they invalidated a LARGE portion of the Beastie options at the time. They crippled most strategies and when considering the aura cost/card resources it would take to deal with these cards individually, the end did not justify the means. Lower cost Beasties were invalidated by Crustacean while higher cost Beasties were invalidated by Frogman in a way where the exchange was way too brutal for the opposition. The equation in this example is about as simple as “my deck cannot play cards that aggressively lose to these two cards (most non-water cards)” + “I need the most efficient ways of dealing with these cards (water cards)” and thus water became the main viable option. This foundation carried over into the future as lightning was able to play a strategy/cards that didn’t get crippled by these two and had efficient ways of dealing with the problem cards, thus leading to a lot of competitive success.
Fast forward to modern times and we reach the current Seance meta. These cards still shape the way people build their decks, even when water is nowhere near as prevalent as it used to be. However, there’s several new additions to the equation. I think one of the most meta defining cards to emerge in this set has been Burning Effigies (appearing in a variety of red burn decks). By creating three individual sources of unblockable damage for the cost of just two aura, it makes it very hard for any slower deck to keep up with the tokens. The two generalized options are destroying them with spells and attacking them with Beasties. Unfortunately, using spells is almost never going to be an efficient way of dealing with the tokens because the aura cost/card resources it would take to deal with the tokens isn’t going to be a favorable exchange outside of things like Flood The Earth (which still needs to line up properly and have your opponent play into it). This leads the best and simplest deck building solution to be including low cost Beasties that can efficiently attack the Effigy Tokens.
With the solution of low cost Beasties in mind there’s at least a few options for every color but the rest of the deck still needs to line up well with the old equation and be able to deal with a meta full of lower cost Beasties flooding the board. Now we have several decks that seem viable to solve the issue like Ice Worms, Lightning (ol’ reliable), Water (probably with Water Baby of Massacre Rock), Cosmic, and even Fire itself. The line of thought starts to evolve from a meta defining individual card to a more universal strategy of playing a lot of low cost Beasties/sources of damage. I think the best deck is yet to be discovered in the Seance format, but the solution seems to be the inclusion of low cost Beasties that are the most efficient sources of removal against that of their own (without losing the inclusion of a way to close out the game).
I hope you found this article helpful! It’s hard to fit every card or strategy that’s going to have an overarching impact on what you can/can’t play into one article so if you’d like a more detailed write up on individual cards in the current meta or any other content you’d like to see please let me know in the comments!