Late last month Corey Burkhart posted news on the main Hex site about an update to the Watch / Ban List:

Lazgar’s Vengeance was added to the watch list for both Standard and Immortal.

Today I am not going to spend much time speaking to Lazgar’s in terms of Immortal because we do not have nearly as much data available for this format. That being said – with all the powerful things you can be doing in Immortal, such as killing on turn three with Hideous Conversion, I think Lazgar’s Vengeance is probably fine there.

What I really want to focus on today is Lazgar’s Vengeance and how it impacts Standard. To start, let’s look at the objective data. I am going to choose to focus on the data from the Bash events today as opposed to mixing in ladder results. The primary reason for this is that the ladder tends to reward people who play more as opposed to winning more. This means aggressive decks, like the ones that want to be playing Lazgar’s Vengeance, are often slightly overrepresented on the ladder.

Getting down to business – how has Lazgar’s been doing in the Bash events as a whole? The last three Bashes had a total of 287 players in them. These players registered 455 copies of Lazgar’s Vengeance between them. This gives us around 125~ players out of 287 people, or about 44%, showing up with the powerful Ruby action in their deck.

While the popularity of a card is certainly important, how well those players did with that powerful card is also relevant. From these three events we had a total of 56 players who finished with a record of 5-2 or better. Among these 56 players there were 24, or 43%, that were playing Lazgar’s Vengeance. Based on these numbers alone you could likely make a strong case that Lazgar’s Vengeance is not too powerful for the current format. It had almost exactly the expected conversion rate of copies played to copies in successful decks.

That being said, you could also make a reasonable argument that nearly half of the field registering some form of aggressive deck with Lazgar’s Vengeance is a problem. While there are at least two distinct Lazgar’s Vengeance decks, Redlings and Mono Ruby, they are very similar in strategy when it comes to how their games play out.

Past the decks powered by Lazgar’s Vengeance the next most popular decks in the last few Bash events were Diamond Sapphire Control and Blood Wild Deathcry with 60 and 24 copies respectively between the events. While the Lazgar’s Vengeance based decks have had the expected performance, it is actually the Diamond Sapphire Control decks that have been over performing in the current metagame.

The 60 copies of Diamond Sapphire Control in the three Bash events converted into 18 of the 56 top finishing decks for the events. To compare the percentages like we did with the Lazgar’s decks: Diamond Sapphire Control has 21% of the decks played in the last three Bash events while it was 32% of the most successful lists. This is a sizable over performance for the control archetype, but honestly not one that surprises me.

Control decks tend to thrive in narrow metagames and that is what Lazgar’s Vengeance has happily been creating. All of the decks that could do a good job of beating up on Diamond Sapphire Control, fold in half against the Lazgar’s Vengeance decks. This leaves the Diamond Sapphire Control deck largely unchecked in a format populated with Ruby cards.

I have heard a number of people note similar data about Diamond Sapphire Control, but draw a different conclusion than myself. They have fired back with the idea that Diamond Sapphire Control is actually the problem in the format, naming cards like Psychic Ascension and Dark Heart of Nulzann as being the real issues. I disagree with this assessment.

Diamond Sapphire Control’s dominance is a response to what Lazgar’s Vengeance is doing to the format. It is only as powerful as it is because of what Vengeance has done to the metagame. I think if Lazgar’s Vengeance was removed from Standard, not only would the Ruby decks become weaker, but Diamond Sapphire Control would also be brought down to a more moderate power level as it readjusts to try and answer the wider variety of decks that would rush in to fill the space that had previously been all Ruby aggressive decks.

Wrapping Up

All in all I think the decision to ban Lazgar’s Vengeance could go in either direction. On one hand I would not call the current format unhealthy. Lazgar’s Vengeance is one of many different powerful cards that a variety of different decks lean on to be competitive. We have competitive aggro and control decks, while there are fringe midrange decks such as Blood-Wild Deathcry that are reasonable choices as well.

Outside of the Deathcry deck, however, Lazgar’s Vengeance makes most other midrange decks unplayable. I find this sad because midrange decks tend to be some of the most fun to play in TCGs. They provide a wide range of game play, from long interactive games, to ones where you get to take an aggressive role. The decks featuring Lazgar’s Vengeance are all looking to have short brutal games that end quickly.

The last thing that I think is important to factor into the decision on if a card should remain legal in a format is the gameplay experience it creates. I think of all the powerful cards that decks in the current format are built around, Lazgar’s Vengeance creates the gameplay experience that feels the worst. Not only is it a powerful one sided blowout that becomes free for doing what aggro wants to be doing anyways – attacking – but it is the type of card that could easily scare new players away from spending more time exploring Hex’s constructed format.

What do you think? Does Lazgar’s Vengeance deserve to bite the bullet or should we keep the one sided sweeper around until it rotates with set 10 a year from now?

Let me know in a comment below.

Cheers,
~Jeff Hoogland

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Jeff
Jeff is a professional gamer who enjoys the competitive aspects of HEX: Shards of Fate. Constructed is his preferred format and he is always looking for that new piece of technology to give him a leg up on the competition.

11 COMMENTS

  1. I am one of those in the camp that think the real problem is DS control. I can argue that DS control prevents midrange more than LV does. There are several midrange decks that can fight with the current LV decks:

    DW or RD Ardent. Remember when DW ardent came out and fed on the mono-R angus decks that was “too good”? It ripped it apart with 4/6 crusaders and other effecient troops that was slightly bigger. Cant play this anymore due to DS control.

    Mono Wild. Carn, Mightsinger, Croc. Just has slightly bigger and more effecient troops thans most LV decks. But alas has no game vs DS control so not even really explored.

    BW Goot (not the ton of constants version). Can have a good bit of lifedrain to have game vs LV decks (high infin, archon). DS rips apart this deck though.

    The problem is DS’s effective cards answer very generic threats. Into the Unknown, Runebind, Dark Heart dont just target LV decks, but everything. Basically it a ton harder to come up with a troop deck that can beat DS control that it is to find a deck that beats the LV decks.

    • You can very easily apply this logic in the other direction. I have Ruby-Sapphire Control, Blood-Sapphire Control, three flavors of escalate combo, a reanimator shell, and a DW Ardent deck that are all great against SD Control.

      They all get chewed up and spit out by the aggressive Ruby decks though because they can’t put blockers into play because they just get cleared out by Lazgar’s Vengeance.

      • I was mainly referring to what is stiffling midrange decks that you referred to in your orginal article. Sure we can go round and round about what counters what an how the meta game will shift if one deck was no relevant.

        I will leave this discussion with one thought. In the Set 6 meta, we still has LV decks but was a very healthy format. We had Redlings, WR Ardent, Kagu, Bride decks, and Control. DS control deck was mainly kept in check by Rectory as Runebind and Into the Unknown was not a thing yet. It was a very healthy format and midrange Kagu won the Mid season CCS. So we add all these DS control cards that stiffles midrange decks, but all of a sudden LV is the problem?

        • Wish there was a way to edit comments. Forgot to mention Mono Saphire Empress as a set 6 meta deck that did fine even in the face of LV.

  2. Good article – I’ve been pondering about this, but do you get the sense that they made Runebind so powerful (i.e. 1 cost) largely to combat aggro decks since they curve so well?

    I personally believe that if aggro wasn’t as strong, Runebind would not have came out as is, which is another card some people may consider as too good/versatile but was made perhaps as a necessity due to the current meta.

  3. I think Lazgars should be banned. I agree with DS control being around just because of lazgar’s and with a ban other type of aggro decks, ramp decks and other forms of control will appear.

  4. The ladder meta actually does matter. Its a different kind of meta but its the meta we spent most time playing in. Also to increase the sample size you could add the fiveshards.
    That being said probably D/S does perform even better.

    The more important question than pure performance though is the game experience the players have. Do they enjoy playing in the meta (and you see that the ladder meta does become important here)?
    What do players joining the constructed scene think? The last paragraphs of this article are the most important ones therefore imo. I agree with all that.

  5. I am glad to read your analysis. I have been performing some number crunching in the past week in order to extract the power level of cards, champions and shards in each tournament (results will be made available soon), and no matter what angle I was using to look at the data, I just couldn’t see this super domination of Lazgar’s Vengeance that everybody was talking about. Your article is in line with the results of my data analysis, and that reassures me.

  6. I think that DS is far more oppressive against the meta than Lazgars is. As Novi noted, back in set 6, there was a highly diverse metagame with multiple types of decks being relevant. Lazgars was present during that entire time. Indeed, the modern redlings deck, at least the one Jeff posted to the main site, literally has zero set 7 cards in the main deck, outside of 2 slow dual shards, which are just reprints of an old card. I fail to understand how Lazgars would be oppressive now and not then, when the main deck it’s part of has literally gained nothing from the addition of the new set. The very fact that LV-based decks are reaching top-8s in proportion with their participation in swiss, and DS is significantly outperforming theirs points at the problem lying in DS and not LV.

    If anything is crowding out midrange decks, it’s DS, for a couple reasons:
    1) Their new tools are universally good against any deck. Into the Unknown, for example, not only can deal with, say, all the Emperor’s Lackeys in redlings, but can deal with all of the Eclipses in Goot, and so on. Runebind is the same way, especially in combination with Dark Heart.
    2) The addition of the Fateweave mechanic, especially in combination with Guidance, has made the draws in DS too reliable. Just look at the resource totals of DS now compared to set 6. Bobinchese’s deck that won the last bash had 22 resources in it. That’s entirely because of fateweave and guidance. How many did DS used to use? 25? 26? That’s several extra deck slots that can be used for answers, and removes most of the potential for the deck to get shard screwed or shard flooded. Having all of the draw that comes with being sapphire, plus the ability to tailor those draws to the type of card needed at any given match state gives a level of reliability to DS control that no deck in Hex has had before. Combine that with a full 3-4 card slots of space it can use for answer cards, and we have a problem.

    Ultimately, I think the current DS deck fundamentally breaks the rock > scissors > paper model, since all of the answers it has are good against both midrange and aggro. LV didn’t oppress midrange out of the format before set 7, and I don’t think it’s what is doing it now. If anything needs to be looked at, it’s not Lazgars, it’s the extreme reliability of DS, and the universality of its answers.

  7. The dominance of Control is the result what lazgars do to the meta. Lazgars narrows the field and thats where the control shines ..
    Even in set 5 where cotrol was techincaly alsmot out of the field because how fast fromat was Thufir built S/D contorl which crushed the field. Because all poeple played was ruby and wild so it wasnt that hard to counter. Why the decks wasnt ” found” eariler but at the end of the format? Probably becaus there was no reasons for it. No weekly 1k incentive to tune the lis like we have now.

    Ruby decks got upgrades from last format. It has sabre tooth it has cackler it has phoeniex. They are stronger. ANd they make all decks who beat S/D control unplayable. S/D is no where near unbeatable .. \Its just if u choose to crush s/d decks lazgars decks will crush you. Theres no deck which beat both of them. If LV gets banned all mid range decks comes back and S/D control cant control of them. Especialy the sockets decks are very hard for S/D control to beat.

    • OH and i completly forgot about the Empress part. The deck got nerfed. Warpsteel shadowsworn was so good in that deck in last format but its so bad now .. It is sitl is in a deck becaise its not completly useless but its awkward a lot of times ..
      AS a person who played the deck for 3 seasons i can say i always felt favored against lazgars deck last format in the past but not anymore .. my deck si wekaer and they got new cards good against me. . its not a good match up anymore.
      Seems like some of you completly forgot that not only D/S changed…

      Hw come you talk about breaking the r/p/s model by D/S … IN that model mid range beats on agro … lazgars makes agrro rotflstomp midrange …

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