The closed beta is here & therefore Hirooo and I made the decision to write a 1vs1 PvP deck overview. This may help you as a new player to find a deck that fits your style and makes PvP more enjoyable from the beginning, but also be informative for you as a veteran since we will give you an overview about all the different matchups with some detailed analysis.
What do these deck descriptions contain?
1. Basic deck descriptions where we point out major strengths and weaknesses and show a viable deck for the faction.
2. Comprehensive matchup discussion.
3. Final overall rating about the strength/usefulness for new players and in a competitive environment
1. Deck example
Pure Frost is a very defensive oriented faction, but also very dominant. War Eagles are one of the most powerful T2 units and with proper support they'll ensure air control for you next to every game. Your units are strong and your scaling into late game is fantastic, but your units are slow and expensive, which can give you some trouble in certain matchups. Especially in T1 the lack of a swift unit can get exposed really hard, therefore you may have alot of trouble acquiring map control. The risk of playing Frost is pretty high, but the reward can be great too since there are really easy matchups for you if you manage to survive the early stage of the game.
2. Matchup discussion
So, how does this rating work?
This will go from the easiest matchup (1) to the hardest matchup (9) for each faction. In addition to that the matchups are divided in 3 categories: easy, advanced and difficult matchups. The matchup description follows afterwards.
(1) Pure Frost vs Pure Fire
This is one of the most onesided matchups in Battleforge! Survive the T1 and the game is yours. Skyelf Templar destroys Skyfire Drakes and War Eagle exterminates every single other Fire T2 unit. There is honestly not alot to say about the T2, since it's so heavily Frost-favoured. But you shouldn't play too hesitant since Pure Fire has a shot to win the game in T3. Juggernaut is still one of the most powerful T3 units overall.
(2) Pure Frost vs Fire Frost
First Frost has a limited amount of playable units and you have a way to counter every single one. Shielddrakes are still not strong enough to give your Skyelf Templars any sort of trouble and if you control the air you can apply so much pressure, it's even possible to turn around games with a big power disadvantage from the early game. Your T3 is superior too, so this is one of the easiest matchups to play. If you have trouble dealing with Rageclaws consider using Icefang Raptor as a counter.
(3) Pure Frost vs Fire Nature
The early T2 is slighty Fire Nature favoured. Your opponent will win trades on an open field with Ghostspears/Skyfire + cc, but if you stay in a defensive position you shouldn't get in trouble at all, because Stormsinger is a really good allround counter. From the mid T2 stage you start to outscale Fire Nature heavily. War Eagle + Defenders is a deadly combo, because Defenders are really strong counters to Skyfire Drakes and they are suuuuper hard to kill with their ability. If you add Area Ice Shield Defenders get up to 3700 effective hp (that's more than a Juggernaut btw). Skyfire Drakes will die to them super fast, because they have low hp and the L bonus damage makes even the low dps Defenders relevant against them. And if there are no Skyfire Drakes left Defenders are still annoying to deal with. You can't use hurricane against them anymore, so there will be constant damageoutput against the powerwells, which prevents them from repairing too. Your opponent dies slowly and he can't do anything to prevent it.
(4) Pure Frost vs Pure Nature
Your advantage lies within the T1. Frostmagespam is next to unbeatable against nature if you manage to get a critical amount of units (7+ Mages with Icebarrier & Homesoil). This changes the dynamic of this matchup dramatically. Unless the map is extremly big you should be able to prevent instant T2 aswell, because nature has no M/M counter and as long as the mages are splitted against incoming cc there is no unit left to deal with Frostmages (S Units get knockbacked & Deep can be kited very well due to Frost Bite). Only Treespirits can be a little bit tricky, but if you manage to time it well you can build up Ice Barriers between the shots to block the incoming damage. If your opponent reaches T2 you are at a disadvantage, because Frost has alot of trouble against the pure Nature core cards (Deep One / Energy Parasite / Shrine of Memory). Your core unit (Wareagle) is also pretty inefficient because Parasite Swarm can just take it over and then the Nature player can support the Wareagle with his heals & cc which is really dangerous for you (same stuff applies for skyelf templar). So be careful about the use of T1 towers (Primal Defender, Mark of the Keeper) as they may work as a stalling tool in order to reach the critical T2 stage.
(5) Pure Frost vs Bandits
While most fire splashes tend to struggle against the mighty air control Bandits does surprisingly well against Frost. The reason for this is pretty simple, because Bandits has more tools to remove War Eagles and Skyelf Templar from the map. Windhunter is an excellent unit and combined with well splitted Darkelf Assassins pure Frost starts to struggle a little bit. Your advantage lies within your reliabilty. You have builing protects and cc to withstand big attacks, while Bandits has ... well ... nothing apart from Aura of Corruption as a 40s zoning tool, which is decent against the slow Frost units, but usually still not enough. While this matchup goes still in your favour, it may be tougher than the previous ones.
(6) Pure Frost vs Shadow Frost
There are no real advantages for each faction. Shadow Frost has Darkelf Assasins & Stormsinger to remove your units, but on the other hand there is no Shadow Frost unit, that can put you under alot of pressure. In the late T2 stage multiple War Eagles with appropiate support start to be a little bit better, but these games often reach the T3 stage. This is why you should try to secure as much mapcontrol as possible in T1. On some maps your T3 spots may get denied, because Shadow T1 is faster than Frost and superior in dazed fights, which can lead to a big problem in the late game. Curse Well may be insanely powerful in this specific matchup and almost guarantees a T3 win, if you don't bring it into the figh by yourself.
(7) Pure Frost vs Stonekin
Aggressor is kinda annoying since he knocks back your War Eagle. Stormsinger & Spirit Hunters are really efficient against air units in the early T2 stage. Stonekin has what it takes to prevent you from excecuting succesful attacks, especially because Stonekin has superior cc. Once 2 of the most defensive decks in Battleforge meet each other things are going to be really boring and your win condition as the Frost player usually is either T1 or T3. Most Stonekin Decks are lacking strength once the games reaches T3 as they don't invest too many slots into it.
(8) Pure Frost vs Pure Shadow
Pure Shadow can give you a little bit more trouble, because it has 2 big powerspikes. The first one is in the early stage of the game, where Shadowmages delete pretty much everything and the second one is the Harvester spike. Against Frost the first spike is actually even more important. Shadowmages & Darkelf Assassins are really hard to remove and can delete single units pretty efficiently. Nether Warp can be used to dodge Cold Snap or War Eagle screams and heal up Shadowmages when they attack and since Shadowmage & Darkelf Assassins are pretty high dps units you may even lose powerwells at this rate. If you survive the early T2 stage Wareagles take control over the game again. Since most Shadow units are pretty cheap it will get harder to split them up later into the game which makes the Wareagle's abillity way more efficient. You can also deal with an incoming Harvester really will due to lyrish knights & frost bite, but never underestimate him. If you are at a disadvantage (doesn't matter if it's temporary or permanent) the Harvester can seal the deal and close out the game by himself. A sweet trick in this matchup is to cancel out War Eagle screams in order to bait out a Nether Warp dodge attempt.
(9) Pure Frost vs Shadow Nature
For some of you maybe a little bit unexpected, but Shadow Nature is the most difficult matchup for Pure Frost. Darkelf Assassins and Nightguard supported with nature cc are really really dangerous and can deal with nearly everything pure Frost has to offer. The Shadow Nature player can pretty much ensure to steal your War Eagle and take out the Nightguard safely afterwards. Shadow Nature has everything it takes to beat Pure Frost in the early T2 stage and is therefore the hardest matchup out of all 9.
Let's start with the competative rating, but first I'll sum up the most important positive and negative aspects of Pure Frost.
+ Very solid deck with many advantageous matchups
+ One of the strongest Air control decks
+ solid choice against most meta decks
- Vulnerable in the early stage of the game
- No mapcontrol due the lack of a T1 swift unit
We talk about one of the stronger decks for sure, but since the T1 can get heavily abused on some maps it's sometimes really risky to play pure Frost. You would lose map control, T3 spots or in the worst case scenario you would end up on Uro where you can't even take a single well without a dazed fight, where you are probably going to lose.
Final comp. rating: 7/10
New player experience:
For new players Frost may be a very solid, but also a pretty boring choice. It has great upsides due to the strong scaling (means you don't have to be proactive and take risks to win games), but it's slow and the T1 can get abused pretty easily, especially when you are an unexperienced player.
Final NPE rating: 5/10
1. Deck example
If you want a deck with offensive strength, this deck provides it. Insanely high dps units & spells and an immense siege potential with firedancer. In addition to that pure Fire has one of the best T3 units also known as Juggernaut, which leads you to alot of wins against people who may be even superior to you in terms of skill. Your downside is the lack of deck variety. The amount of viable cards is insanely limited and you end up with only M ground units in T2, which is a problem in the pure Frost matchup, where War Eagle exists as a massive M Unit counter.
2. Matchup discussion
(1) Pure Fire vs Shadow Nature
This matchup is pretty easy to play. Shadow nature has no L unit and this means they have nothing to apply alot of pressure against you. Only well coordinated early attacks with the cheap nature cc's may give you some trouble, but if you don't lose immediatly you will just outscale your opponent pretty safely and you can set up unstoppable attacks afterwards. Wildfire is a really nasty card against Shadow Nature since it removes the low hp units while protecting your units in offense & it does alot of damage against the power wells over a good amount of time (therefore it's impossible to repair them). And if you are a toxic player you can use cliffdancer in this matchup too. The only way to remove them is aura of corruption, which is hella expensive and not power efficient at all.
(2) Pure Fire vs pure Nature
Nature is pretty helpless against your offensive strength. You need SoM + Deep One + permaheal to get anything done as a Nature player and before this happens he's usually already dead. It's so hard to remove the Fire units especially at the mid T2 stage, while your damage output against powerwells is massive. Nature mostly has low dps units and their cheap burrower attacks are easily defended by Enforcer. Skyfire Drake onehits Energy Parasite which leaves you in a really comfortable position in this matchup.
(3) Pure Fire vs Shadow Frost
The praised shadow frost deck at number 3, what a surprise. But pure fire does insanely well against it. Enforcer is superior to Nightcrawler and Firedancer are really hard to remove. This gives you a solid advantage in offense and without a cliffdancer counter in Shadow Frost you can litereally destroy people. It's a really "lame" playstyle, but super efficient. The only thing you need to be worried about are the L Units. Mountaineer is really hard to remove, it sometimes feels even impossible. But keep in mind he costs a huge amount of power and if you manage to dictate the tempo of the game you can take your opponent down before you get into an uncomfortable position. In T3 Juggernaut may be the best tool in the game to break through a Timeless One Defence, so even scaling is on your side.
(4) Pure Fire vs Bandits
Bandits is a little bit tricky for you. Skyfire drake + Life Weaving is pretty nasty against pure Fire and pretty much Bandit's trump card in this matchup. Apart from that both of your decks are super offensive oriented. The difference: pure Fire has the stronger offense. In T3 Juggernaut is still superior to Soulhunter or nerfed Sandstorm, so this matchup still goes in your favour.
(5) Pure Fire vs pure Shadow
Tricky matchup and pretty much 50/50. In the early T2 stage Shadow has the advantage due to the high effiency of shadow mages on a low void level. But in mid T2 pure Fire starts to shine. Lavafield demolishes the Shadow units and you can apply constant pressure with your high dps attacks and destroy alot of power wells. But if you fail to do alot of work at this point you will reach the late T2 stage. And from that point on Harvester takes over. You can't take him out without losing at least a power well or an orb, even if you are ahead. So chose the right moment to attack or you'll lose. Once Harvester is out he will drop at least one well and it won't take long up until the next one is about to appear.
(6) Pure Fire vs Fire Nature
Also a pretty specific matchup, maybe not as complicated as the one against Shadow. At the early T2 stage Ghost Spears + Skyfire Drake is really hard to remove, because your own Skyfire Drakes get oinked and die without dealing damage at all. Ghost Spears are M Counters and stronger on a low void base than scythe fiends. Since Pure Fire has no S or L ground units in T2 it's really hard to play against these kind of attacks early on. Later in the game you'll have an easier time, because you will regain air control on a higher void level, since Skyfire + Oink can be countered by an immediate double Eruption (155power vs 150power) now and you can attack with Ravaged Scythe Fiends and keep Ghostspears away from you with Wildfire support, which leaves you in the game leading position.
(7) Pure Fire vs Stonekin
Stonekin has really strong and solid units to remove the pure Fire units in the early T2. Stoneshards are insanely strong against you and are pretty much the main reason why Stonekin is ranked here as one of the more difficult matchups. Stormsinger + cc stands a small chance against the Enforcer, but he is still the strongest T2 M unit, so your only problem are still the Stoneshards. Stonetempest does knock back M Units which can be troublesome at some point, but you can remove him with Scythe Fiends + Skyfire + Wildfire (in case he gets permahealed) at the later gamestage. While Stonekin does well in defense, there are no high dps units, that can translate this stability into pressure. And believe me, even the strongest defense doesn't stand a chance if pure Fire reaches late T2.
(8) Pure Fire vs Fire Frost
Here we are. The First matchup that doesn't go in your favour. Shield drakes are a big threat in the early game, but what really pressures you the most in this matchup is the Mountaineer. Mounty + Skyfire applies huge pressure and also scales very well into mid T2 so you have alot of time to beat the Fire player before he starts to get enough power to set up his own attacks. In the late T2 stage the pure Fire dps just gets to high and you'll roll over your opponent like in every other matchup. If you manage to get up to a 7-8 wellbase during the T1 stage you may consider skipping T2 entirely. Fire Frost has no tools to fight against Juggernauts in T3, which can be very important on big maps, that allow uncontests tech ups.
(9) Pure Fire vs Pure Frost
This is the most difficult matchup for you. I will be honest, you are at a massive massive disadvantage. As already mentioned in the Pure Frost section War Eagle deletes all your ground units, while Skyelf Templar gets rid of your Skyfire Drakes, because of the massive difference in combat stats. You can carry Global Warming in your deck to make this matchup at least a little bit easier, because it hard counters Area Ice Shield, but even then this matchup stays as the hardest one. Mortar Tower is pretty overpowered against Frost T1 though, which may give you a chance to win the game before it gets to T2 on some maps.
Pure Fire summary
+ Insane offensive potential with long range, high dps units
+ Best M/M unit in the game (Enforcer)
+ high dps spells who can have a great zoning effect
+ Super solid matchups against most meta decks esp. Shadow Frost
+ One of the strongest T3's in the game
- Relies on an extended T1, because you need a high void level to be efficient
- struggles against some underplayed deck like pure Frost and Fire Frost
- struggles in defense against L units and its counters are next to useless in offense
Pure Fire does really well against against the meta decks and since some of these matchups are ridicilously easy pure Fire is one of the strongest decks for ranked games. From the moment on where pure Frost & Fire Frost start to get more popular pure Fire will decrease a little bit in popularity, because it really struggles alot against strong air control. But in the current meta pure Fire is in a perfect spot and extremely powerful.
Final comp. rating: 9/10
New player experience:
If you are really new to the game pure Fire is maybe not the best choice. It requires a really extended T1 to make scaling into higher void stages easier and this is difficult to excecute in some situations. In addition to that pure Fire struggles against L-units and as a new player L-Units often seem overpowered and it's really frustrating to lose against this type of playstyle. Therefore I don't think you should play pure Fire to learn the basics of this game. But if you reached a decent level you can play the deck and achieve some wins even against some players who are in theory better than you.
Final NPE rating: 5/10
1. Deck example
Pure Nature is one of the most interesting decks in the game, but it's also one of the weaker ones. There is some sort of variety in terms of deck building since there is also the Root-deck, but since this is inferior to the classic version I will make my matchup descriptions based on the stronger SoM/DO/EP deck. In fact pure Nature is one of the weakest decks, not because of its T2 matchups, but because your T1 is utter garbage against Phasetower and Magespam (Treespirits can kind of neutralize Mages at best, but they are shitty designed themselves and don't give you a freewin either in T1 since Icebarriers can block their damageoutput). Your late T2 is actually top tier with Deep One + Surge of Light and the huge powergains through the voidmanipulation thanks to Shrine of Memory. But reaching that stage is sort of difficult in most matchups. You have no M/M counter in T2 which causes huge problems. Therefore you mostly try to avoid taking to many powerwells, so there isn't alot of room for your opponent to attack, while you keep yourself relevant through Energy Parasite up to the point where your Shrine of Memory is ready to go and you can take over.
2. Matchup discussion
(1) Pure Nature vs Fire Frost
This matchup is pretty easy. Pure Nature is a hardcounter to Fire Frost, since it's able to remove all Fire Frost units in the early stage of the game and in addition to that Parasite Swarm is a huge threat for these big 100+ power cost units. Stormsinger is the only one that can cause you some trouble in the early T2 stage, but you can safely build your SoM and wait for your big Deep One attacks and there is nothing to prevent this as the Fire Frost player.
(2) Pure Nature vs Bandits
Bandits has some tools to give you a run for your money. Rallying Banner attacks are pretty efficent and can overload your cc. Also Windhunter are pretty difficult to remove for you, since they have that S knockback against Spirit Hunters & Parasite Swarm, but since the knockback was pretty unreliable and buggy you still have a good shot against them. Apart from that you have solid units to remove the bandits attacks and good cc to make pressure yourself with Burrowers. That leaves you with a solid advantage in this matchup.
(3) Pure Nature vs Shadow Frost
Don't get me wrong here. Pure Nature does really well against Shadow Frost in T2. But there is one big Problem. Phasetower. Like honestly, Phasetower is legitimatly broken against Nature. On maps like Elyon or Whazai you can pretty much sacrifice the T1 immediatly against a strong Shadow player who uses him. It's so frustrating to lose games because of this and you should consider playing Primal Defender because of this. In T2 you have a good shot, since EP/SoM/DO is really really efficient but you need to close out the game in T2, because in T3 you will just lose to Timeless one and Lost Grigori.
(4) Pure Nature vs Pure Frost
Pretty similar stuff as the Shadow Frost matchup. Your T2 matches really well against pure Frost, but your T1 and T3 are straight up worse. You can neutralize Frostmagespam with Primal Defender to an extend, but without that you are done. Attacking very quickly is always a good idea, as you may be able to remove some of these Frostmage charges in early skirmishes, to delay the breakpoint, making a Defence slightly easier. But apart from that you are left in a pretty desperate situation. A well splitted Frostmagespam can even take down an early T2 attempt, therefore your possible options are pretty limited.
(5) Pure Nature vs Stonekin
This matchup is kinda funny, because both of you have the tools to smash the other one. Nature can't deal with Burrowerspam due to the lack of an M/M unit (Ghost Spears & Spirit Hunter can be perma cc'd), Stonekin on the other hand can't block Energy Parasites and if your opponent doesn't carry Aggressor in his deck, your Deep Ones will destroy him entirely. Always keep in mind that your T2 scaling is superior, but in T3 you'll have a hard time. Overall this matchup still does go in favour of stonekin since it has the stronger T3 and the possibility to play a superior T1 (Frost T1 > Nature T1).
(6) Pure Nature vs Fire Nature
Fire Nature is really aggressive and hard to deal with. Pretty much the same deal as against every nature splash. Your opponent has the tools to defend against Burrower. In the meantime your are screwed against them, because you lack an M/M unit. Fire Nature also has a very good counter to Energy Parasites since Skyfire onehits them as already mentioned, but you can still use your Energy Parasites to force your opponent to play the way more expensive Skyfire Drake at a spot where he is useless for a while. It's a timewindow you can abuse to launch a powerful attack with a temporary advantage on the other side of the map. It's pretty much your only chance to be succesful at the early stage of the game. Apart from that your job is to survive the game up to a point where SoM starts running. Gladiatrix is just an average L Counter, so Deep One + Surge of Light is pretty powerful against Fire Nature, especially when your Shrine of Memory provides so much power. But due to your heavy weakness in the early T2 this matchup is still Fire Nature favoured.
(7) Pure Nature vs Pure Shadow
Pure Shadow is really tricky to play against, because you can't really deal with Shadow Mages properly. Especially Magespam + Nether Warp is really dangerous in the early game due to the lack of an aoe damage spell in pure Nature. In addition to that Shadowmages can deal really well with early Burrower attacks and oneshot Energy Parasites. Your win condition pretty similar to most other matchups, you need to survive the early T2 stage. Harvester is powerful against Nature though, but you can defend against him either with Deep Ones, who pull him away from your orb or with cc chains (oink -> root -> rogan kayle ability -> oink = 1min cc). But at some point you have a way to launch an own attack. Deep Ones are really powerful in offense since Knight of Chaos is just a mediocre L counter. Therefore you are next to unstoppable in case you survive the early stage of the game and start to pressure by yourself and keep in mind: Even if alot of these matchups look pretty bad in the first place alot of people don't use their powerspikes to close out games which is a great advantage for you as a Nature player, because your powerspike lies within the first activation of your SoM.
(8) Pure Nature vs Shadow Nature
Okay, now things get really terrifying. Alot of Shadow Nature players use burrowers and as we already learned pure Nature tends to struggle against them. What makes things even worse is the fact, that Motivate empowers Burrowers by a wide margin. Your wells drop nearly in an instant. On the other hand your Deep One is pretty much useless, because next to every Shadow Nature player uses Nightguard in his deck and she is super efficient against Deep One. The Shadow Nature player has counter cc to make sure he can catch your Deep One and his ability will make it even easier to kill the Nightguard afterwards (in this case the Shadow Nature player can also use the Deep One ability to catch her). Your only shining light is the Energy Parasite. Shadow Nature can't remove him before he gets his ability off and this is really important and the only tool that can keep you in the game. But still this matchup is one of the most difficult ones to play.
(9) Pure Nature vs Pure Fire
Pure Fire, we meet at last. As I already said: You are just helpless in the mid T2 stage against pure Fire. Your units don't have an outstanding damageoutput, therefore it takes time to remove the high dps pure Fire units. In fact that is too much time to save your powerwells. At least Deep One can deal with cliffdancers to an extend due to his ability and your late T2 scaling is superior, but reaching that stage without dying is quite a challenge. Splitted Skyfire Drakes will put up a very powerful defence against anything you may try to throw against Fire T2
Pure Nature summary
+ Great scaling into late T2
+ Can win games through voidmanipulation, even when you're down by multiple wells
- weakest T1 in the game
- lack of an M/M counter in T2
- very DO/EP/SoM reliant
- very unreliable
Pure Nature has alot of abusable weaknesses in the early game and therefore you often get punished before you manage to reach the point, where you are able to control the game. But Shrine of Memory should never get underestimated, because he gives you so much additional power, that you'll be able to pull of some incredible comebacks. Overall the deck sadly still can't compete with the top tier meta decks and it also struggles against other Nature splashes, because they can set up Burrower attacks with Hurricane support, which is really difficult to play against.
Final comp. rating: 3/10
New player experience:
Pure Nature may be a very interesting and micro intensive deck. But if you really want to be a successful player please stay away from it at the beginning. Nature T1 is the weakest and also the most complex T1 (unless you choose to play Treespirits zZz). It's way more useful to learn Shadow & Fire T1, because they are way more versitile and also easier to understand. Pure Nature in fact has alot of bad matchups and gets exposed by turrets like phasetower which is honestly really annoying. In addition to that pure Nature is a really specific deck, therefore it's very hard to translate the stuff you learn with Nature when you are playing different decks later on.
Final NPE rating: 1/10
1. Deck example
Shadow Nature is my personal favourite deck. It's one of the most aggressive ones (at least you have to play it that way if you want to have some sort of success) and in my opinion it's one of the most skill intense decks aswell. You've got no L unit to rely on in offense, neither do you have any building protects or high defensive capabilities. Your strength lies within strong split attacks with spammable high dps units like Nightcrawler, Darkelf Assassins or Burrower. The cheap nature cc spells & Shadow's Motivate are the perfect support for these type of attacks which makes Shadow Nature super dominant in the early/mid T2 stage and fun to play.
2. Matchup Discussion
(1) Shadow Nature vs Pure Frost
Pure Frost is pretty easy for you. As I mentioned earlier in the Pure Frost section Darkelf Assassins & Nighguards with the superior nature cc are your key to success. Frost dominates due to its strong air control, but you can take deal with it. War Eagles are countered with ease and then there is not alot left for pure Frost to be a serious threat.
(2) Shadow Nature vs pure Nature
This matchup was also discussed already. Burrower + Motivate are huge in offense & Deep One is pretty much a nonfactor due to Nightguard, who is amazing in the Shadow Nature deck. Some top level Shadow Nature players decided to exclude Burrower in their decks, which makes this matchup a little bit trickier, because your offense isn't as powerful anymore. Energy Parasite is your biggest enemy and if you don't pressure properly you may get outscaled in the later stages of the game, so don't get lazy. Your units are cheaper, your units are faster! So close out the game as soon as you can.
(3) Shadow Nature vs Bandits
You are in a great position in this matchup. Burrower with cc support are really painful for your opponent. Even just Darkelf Assassin spam with proper support is really powerful, because it removes the strong air units from your opponent and his only Darkelf Assassin counter are his own Darkelf Assassins, who are really susceptable to your Hurricane. Big Rallying Banner attacks can be completely removed with a sweet Shadow Phoenix + Nightcrawlernasty (or Burrowernasty) combo. Most of the time your Shadow Phoenix will even come back to life afterwards. Overall a pretty easy matchup to play due to the fact, that Shadow Nature has an efficient way to remove every potential threat from the Bandits deck.
(4) Shadow Nature vs Shadow Frost
This matchup is also pretty easy. You have the same core units (Nightcrawler / Darkelf Assassins / Amii Phantom (she is similar to Stormsinger)), but your cc support is better, therefore you have the distinctive advantage. Your early/mid T2 is way superior and you can set up constant pressure up to a point where your opponent get's overwhelmed by your units and he loses the power to keep his powerwells up. You just have to be proactive and micro your units well and you will win due to the superior support tools, but if you just wait for things to happen Shadow Frost will outscale you and you'll end up in a T3 where the dynamic of the matchup changes dramatically.
(5) Shadow Nature vs Fire Frost
Still a favourable matchup for you, but a little bit harder as the previous ones. After Stormsinger got buffed Fire Frost got a really nice increase in terms of deck strength. The other units in this deck are pretty expensive. Accordingly, Shadow Nature has a pretty solid advantage in the early T2 stage due to cheap & strong units with cheap cc support. If the game goes into a higher void level you need to be aware of Mountaineer with Ravage & possible Disenchant support. It's really difficult to remove him, so make sure your Nightguard timings are on point, because if you mess it up you are in big trouble. Getting the Mountaineer can be really useful, because a combination between Stormsinger & Skyfire drake is a really solid counter against your Nightcrawler/Burrower and a Mounty would increase your offensive potential by alot.
(6) Shadow Nature vs Stonekin
There was a period of time where Stonekin was litereally the hardest matchup for Shadow Nature out of all decks. But 2 big things changed, that turned the outcome of this matchup. First of all Razorshard got nerfed. This card used to be able to deal with every S or M unit in the entire game and Shadow Nature doesn't have an L-Unit. The second important thing is the introduction of Amii-Phantom. In it's melee form she's a hard counter against many Stonekin units, because Amii-Phantom is litereally a spammable swift Mauler. In her ranged form she is pretty much as strong as Stormsinger (Amii Phantom has even slighty better stats, but inferior support spells in Shadow Nature). Games would end up in a Stormsinger vs Amii Phantom spam, which is kinda weird, but Frost Bite & Homesoil leave Stonekin with a slight advantage in this matchup.
(7) Shadow Nature vs Pure Shadow
Pure Shadow feels kinda unfair to play against. Nighcrawler, Burrower, Darkelf Assassins. All these units lose really hard when they face Shadow Mages. As long as the Shadow Player doesn't run out of charges he will always defend himself against these attacks with great success. He won't be able to attack by himself in the early T2 stage, because Shadow Phoenix offers great AOE damage and Amii Phantom is very strong in this matchup, but honestly the Shadow player doesn't have to launch strong early attacks, because he can just win the game over superior scaling. With his abillity and proper buffs you can't remove Harvester with Aura of Corruption. While Darkelf Assassin spam + cc may be the best way to remove him, you need a big well distance in order to kill the Harvy in time. If you struggle to much with this defence Rogan Kayle is a good addition to create cc chains, that can deal with a Harvester, but apart from that Rogan is an entirely useless card, so decide wisely, if you really want to include him. From a leading position an Amii Phantom spam is able to stop a Shadowmagespam since you can you an oink to set up an engagement. With their melee mode they can disable ranged attacks, which perfectly works against Darkelf Assassins and Shadowmages. Nightcrawlers are a big threat, but for that you can switch some of your units into range mode and kite well due to the slow.
(8) Shadow Nature vs Fire Nature
While the previous matchups were all decent for you, the upcoming ones are truly difficult. Fire Nature has a really big advantage over Shadow Nature. Skyfire Drake & Scythe Fiends may be availabe in decks like Bandits or Fire Frost too, but in a Fire Nature deck their efficency increases tremendously. I guess this showcases the true power of the nature support spells. Fire Nature often struggles against larger units, while Shadow Nature doesn't have any of them. For your defense: Burrower + Skyfire attacks are really hard to defend at some point and therefore Fire Nature has an easier time in defense and also in offense and is the superior deck in this matchup.
(9) Shadow Nature vs Pure Fire
As I already mentioned this matchup favours pure Fire heavily. Enforcer just destroys Nightcrawler, Burrower & Amii Phantom. Your only card with a decent value in this matchup are Darkelf assassins, who can do alot of work with cc support in the early T2 stage. But as the game goes on aoe damage spells will take them out and while you have a really hard time to attack, pure Fire just crushes your defence. Your units get countered by Enforcer & Wildfire, your cc is weak against Rallying banner attacks (btw. wildfire can constantly damage power wells during cc periods so there is no chance to repair them in time) and Firedancer is really hard to remove for you, especially over cliffs.
Shadow Nature summary
+ pretty much the best early T2 in the game
+ has alot of easy matchups aslong as you make proactive decisions
- does very poorly against pure Fire & Fire Nature, who are pretty popular
- poor scaling into late T2 stages due to the lack of L units (Shadowphoenix doesn't count btw.)
Shadow Nature does well in alot of scenarios and if you play the deck well you can crush your opponents in the early stage of the game, which is great, because your aggressive gameplay gets rewarded. Sadly the deck struggles alot against all meta decks apart from Shadow Frost. This kinda prevents Shadow Nature from reaching a top rating here.
Final comp. rating: 6/10
New player experience:
If you are a new player, Shadow Nature is maybe a little bit too difficult for you. It's definitly one of the harder decks to play, but on the other hand it teaches you how to play aggressive and spending time to learn the deck is kind of rewarding. In addition to that Shadow T1 is really good for a beginner in PvP, beacuse its basics aren't as complex as Nature T1 for example.
Final NPE rating: 6/10
1. Deck example
Fire Nature is probably known as one of the most solid decks, because it has pretty much an answer for everything. Strong counterplay in T2 against S & M units and also sort of decent against L & XL units. In addition to that you've got some sweet ways to launch efficient attacks against nearly every deck. Overall the deck is really fun to play with a big variety in T2, which is its big strength.
2. Matchup discussion
(1) Fire Nature vs Bandits
Bandits struggles alot against Burrower with cc support. You can use this to your advantage and destroy power wells for free. Your deck is better in all aspects at the T2 stage. Stronger units in offense, more counterplay in defence and great air control due to Curse of Oink. Since Bandits tends to spam many units due to the low costs of Darkelf Assassins & Nighcrawler Lavafield has a higher efficency in your deck especially since you've got Surge of Light as a solid counter against these AOE damage spells unless they are perfectly timed. Your T3 is inferior, cards like Sandstorm destroy your orbs & wells in an instant, so make sure to close out the game in T2 to win without any big risks.
(2) Fire Nature vs Pure Nature
Your early T2 is superior due to Burrower attacks and the lack of an M/M counter in the pure Nature deck. Just make sure to use your Skyfire Drakes well to get rid of these annoying Energy Parasites and you are ready to go. I guess I repeat myself a little bit at that point, but pure Nature starts to get rolling, when SoM starts running, so finish your opponent off or try to take out at least as many powerwells as possible before that happens. If you use your huge advantage in the early T2 stage this matchup isn't even remotely close.
(3) Fire Nature vs Pure Shadow
Alot of your strengths comes with Ghostspears / Skyfiredrake + Lavafield / cc support. Pure Shadow tends to struggle against that, especially in the mid T2 stage, because all these low hp units are kinda vulnerable to lavafield, especially Shadowmage. You need to be aware of flanking units to prevent a nasty suprise against your Skyfire Drake. Your defense against Harvester is also pretty nice due to the highly efficient Root & Disenchant combo. Just leave some Skyfiredrakes and a Gladiatrix behind that and they will take the Harvester down before he reaches your powerwell/orb. The shadow player needs superior micro to win this matchup, which implies, that you are in a pretty good position here.
(4) Fire Nature vs Shadow Nature
In this matchup your defense is straight up better, which leaves you in a very comfortable position. You have good ways to counter Nightcrawlers, Darkelfassassins & Burrower and in case your opponent overcommits at some point you can lauch insanely powerful counterattacks, that are way harder to defend for the Shadow Nature player. Fire Nature is just overall solid and Shadow Nature has some distinctive weaknesses (No big unit in offense, unreliable defense since most units are susceptable to cc), that can be abused and this turns the matchup heavily in your favour.
(5) Fire Nature vs Pure Fire
You shine in the early T2 stage with Ghostspears + Sykfiredrake, while your opponent will outscale you in late T2, where Scythefiends + Ravage + Wildfire take over and delete your power wells one by one. Since I've described that matchup already in the Pure Fire section here is a short, but important tip for your decisionmaking: Since Pure Fire scales with high void power you should actually try to play your T1 accordingly to avoid this game stage. In other words: Play a short, but aggressive T1. Try to get a small advantage, but then don't hesitate and make your fast transition into T2. Your position here is favourable already and if you've got a small lead in T1 you can use this to snowball and finish the game. If you still struggle in this matchup consider the addition of vileblood in your deck, because pure Fire struggles against L units, especially the ones with high dps against building.
(6) Fire Nature vs Fire Frost
This gets kinda interesting. The tricky matchups for Fire Nature are the 4 Frost splashes. While some of you may think it's because of the building protects, that's actually not the case. Double Burrower attacks used to be really power efficient against Frost splashes, because the cc support was usually cheaper than the amount of power, that had to be invested to keep the power wells alive. What changed the dynamic in alot of these matchups, especially in this one was the Stormsinger buff. She allows you to defend Burrowers way more efficiently in the early T2 stage and is simultaniously strong against skyfire drakes with that gravity surge ability. Stormsinger defense in the early T2 with a transition into shielded scythe fiends & drakes mid T2 and a Ravaged Mounty late T2 is really hard to deal with.
(7) Fire Nature vs Stonekin
The second ugly matchup. Stonekin can be really nasty when it reaches a critical unit mass and Stormsinger allows you to reach that state. Your Burrower/ Scythe fiends / Skyfire Drake attacks are at least kinda dangerous and Mauler can deal with some Stonekinunits like Stone Tempest, but you are still at a disadvantage. Stonekin has an insanely good defense thanks to cheap cc and building protects and this allows your opponent to either stack up a big T2 army with the powerful stonekin units (especially the Crystal Fiend support is annoying at that point) or scale into a strong Timeless One T3.
(8) Fire Nature vs Pure Frost
Pure Frost can give you alot of trouble. You need to use your advantage at the early T2 stage. If your opponent is too greedy and goes aggressive in the early T2 stage you can outtrade him with Skyfire + Oink. Add Ghostspears into the mix and as long as you split them well against Frostmage knockback you can start to attack and apply alot of pressure. You need to get a solid advantage in the early T2, otherwise you'll end up getting outscaled. Defenders are so painful to deal with as a Fire Nature player. If they get mixed up with War Eagle & Skyelftemplar and Area Ice Shield support you have no way to clear these units without losing wells / orbs. The moment you are in a defensive position against Defender the game is over. 820hp + 660hp with 60% damage reduction are more effective hp (3700) than a Juggernaut (3550) can offer. If your War Eagle and your Defenders are well splitted your powerwell will get attacked constantly and you have no opportunity to repair it. Skyelf Templar & Defenders destroy Skyfire Drakes and War Eagle deals with every type of M unit in your deck. Ghostspears don't have enough dps to take out Defenders in time and at some point a Frostmage gets into the mix which will give you even more problems. Since your T3 is also not strong enough to crack the pure Frost defense you need to win the game in the early stage or you'll have a bad time.
(9) Fire Nature vs Shadow Frost
This matchup doesn't even feel that bad. You can apply pressure with Burrowers in T2 and as long as you carry Mauler in your deck you can sort of deal with the Shadow Frost attacks, which may give you the impression you are in an even matchup. The thing some people don't realise is the fact, that Shadow Frost is like a ticking time bomb. You may get a favourable trade here and there, but at the end both of you will just well up together and suddenly the game goes into T3. At this moment you are dead. End of the game! You need to kill your opponent in T2, otherwise you will just lose. Due to Stormsinger alot of the early Burrower pressure in T2 is gone and you have only one timewindow in the late T2 stage with splitted double Burrower attacks supported by Skyfire Drake. If your opponent defends your attack successfully you lost the game. Finishing off a good Shadow Frost player is truly painful. Your micro has to be on point, otherwise your Burrower will get sniped by Stormsinger + Frostbite before you can retreat.
+ Very balanced deck with no big abusable weakness
+ insane diversity in T2
- Very slot instensive in T2, which results in a small T1/T3
- Bad matchup against Shadow Frost
Overall Fire Nature is a really good deck for ranked games, beacuse you have an allround T2 to deal with so many different possible scenarios and you have no real "autolose" matchup. Shadow Frost is really tough though, which is a big Problem, beacuse it's also one of the most played decks.
Final comp. rating: 7/10
New player experience:
If you are a new player I would suggest you to play this deck. It teaches you the basics of the game, is really fun to play and due to its versitality you can learn how to use your specific units in specific situations to understand how to counter unittype X. Fire T1 is also really solid and its basics aren't really complex therefore you've got an ideal learing experience with this deck. The only small downside would be the fact, that its defense is a little bit harder to play compared to Frost splashes, but your great, cheap cc makes up for that a little bit. Still I would recommend you to play this deck, if you are a new player (But you should play a bigger T1 than the one in the deck example, because it's really hard for a new player to win without Thugs/Sunderer against T1's like Shadow).
NPE rating: 10/10
1. Deck example
Pure Shadow is one of the more unique decks, because it has Shadowmage & Harvester in T2, who are vastly different from classic T2 units and give pure Shadow 2 big powerspikes, that can be used to win alot of games. You lack hard-cc in this deck, but you have the highest dps/power Unit & the only XL unit in the entire T2 as a trade off. The deck surprisingly didn't see alot of play in the top ranks, but I guess in the low/mid ranks everyone loved the Harvester and I've seen people in the forums aswell who seem to be addicted to this unit. One of the weaknesses in pure Shadow is the fact that Shadow Mage has got only 12 charges. For this reason you shouldn't waste them otherwise your strongest T2 unit isn't available anymore at some point in the game.
Note: The voidmanipulation (FoF Balsa) type deck is excluded from our analysis, because I despise this type of gameplay where you just play voidmanipulation into Harvester into voidmanipulation into next Harvester until you either win the game or lose due to the huge permanent power loss if you mess up your attacks.
2. Matchup discussion
(1) Pure Shadow vs Bandits
Both of you lack cc, but you've got Shadowmage to outtrade all Bandits units at the early T2 stage. The only troublesome attack for you is pretty much Sunderer + lw or buffed Scythe Fiends with Lavafield support at a high void level. But you can play Knight of Chaos to delay these kind of attacks or just use a Nightguard as a threat for these bigger units. If you play your Harvester the game should be won anyway. Just make sure to use nether warp to dodge aura of corruption and then there is nothing left to kill the Harvester in time bevor he takes down wells and maybe even orbs too.
(2) Pure Shadow vs Pure Nature
You have good tools to deal with pure Nature. Shadowmage + Nether Warp (Green) is really hard to deal with as a Nature player, therefore you can apply alot pressure pre SoM to close out the game. Harvester is also a really good tool to snowball a lead and close out the game, but keep in mind that cc chains with Rogan & the Deep One ability exist and therefore there are ways to defend against your Harvester if you are in an even position. Use your superior T1 and early T2 to create leads, pay attention to Energy Parasites and finish your opponent off with Harvester, if he isn't dead already. With that gameplan you should win this matchup unless your opponent is alot better than you or prepared a cheesy counterstrategy.
(3) Pure Shadow vs Shadow Nature
Shadowmage works as an allround counter in this matchup and as long as you don't waste your charges you should be able to control your opponent at every stage of the game. Harvester is pretty hard to defend for Shadow Nature and therefore you have perfect conditions. Just make sure you don't spawn your Harvester to aggressive. An instant root aura will make your Harvester disappear in a second. Even with lifeweaving your opponent just needs to invest 175 power into the aura and the Harvester dies immediatly and you can't even use Nether Warp because Ensnaring Roots will keep the Harvester in place.
(4) Pure Shadow vs Pure Frost
Shadowmages + splitted Darkelf Assassins are the key to success in this matchup. You can maybe even add a Nightguard into the mix to deal with War Eagles and you are ready to attack. You have a solid advantage at the early T2 stage and as long as you use it you will end up winning, but always be aware of the fact, that Lyrish Knights can deal with your Harvester and pure Frost has a superior T3, so as long as you aren't too passive you should be fine in this matchup.
(5) Pure Shadow vs Fire Frost
Fire Frost can't do to much against you aswell. Shield drakes / Scythe Fiends are kinda okay against pure Shadow and this is pretty much the main reason why Fire Frost is here in the ranking, but it's not enough to really put you in danger. Fire Frost rarely uses Frostbite, Lyrish Knight or Homesoil, therefore your Harvester will be really damn effective. Gladiatrix & Skyfire drake won't stop the Harvester and especially not without reliable cc. Coldsnap has a cast animation which is more than enough time to dodge it with nether warp and get your Harvester in position to destroy powerwells/orbs and win the game.
(6) Pure Shadow vs Stonekin
The difficulty in the matchup is pretty much card choice depended. Stonetempest & Razorshard can give your Shadowmages some trouble, you won't be able to attack early at least. Removing big Stonekin attacks can be pretty annoying too, because you can't use aura of corruption against stonekin since the stonekin player would just use the Aura for himself as protection to build up offensive Cannon towers. These turrets are also used pretty regularly in stonekin decks and combined with the strong nature cc it's really freaking annoying to play aginst this type of deck. A buffed Harvester is your chance to break the defense. You can add up Corpse Explosion in your deck to push up the damage even further, which helps to overload the building protects. While this matchup is really annoying to play it's still not too hard after the Razorshard nerf.
(7) Pure Shadow vs Pure Fire
As I mentioned earlier, this matchup is all about timings. As long as you hit your right timings to attack there is not alot of counterplay left for your opponent. Pure Fire can't deal with shadow mages in the early T2, pure Shadow can't deal with pure Fire attacks at the mid T2 stage and pure Fire is doomed against Harvester. Since I've talked already about the T2 in the pure Fire section I want to add something about the T3. If the game reaches the T3 stage pure Shadow is in a favourable position, beacuse nether Warp can entirely counter a Juggernaut stampede. In addition to that you have alot of counter play against the Fire units regardless if you go for pure Shadow to play Voidstorm or play Frost in T3 and use Grigori who can disenchant the Juggernaut. Still this matchup is overall 50/50, because it doesn't reach the T3 stage most of the time.
(8) Pure Shadow vs Shadow Frost
Shadow Frost is really annoying to play against. Darkelfassassins with Frostbite & homesoil support are really hard to deal with, even when you play Shadowmages. You could litereally defend a Harvester with that. Pure Shadow gets into a good spot when you get a temporary advantage at some point and translate this into an immediate Harvester attack. Since you can dodge cold snap with Nether Warp there is no time left for the Shadow Frost player to recover. At that point you can close out the game. Be aware of the fact, that Shadow Frost will destroy you in T3 so make things work in T2. The matchup is btw. even harder if you face Lyrish Knight, who can deal with Harvester and blow up mages with Lyrish nasties.
(9) Pure Shadow vs Fire Nature
Skyfire Drake in combination with cc is the most difficult thing you have to deal with as a Shadow player. With proper support for them you are under alot of pressure. There is some micro stuff you can do with your Nether Warp to make advantageous trade like warping out of Lavafield or using Nether warp on your Harvester in offense to dodge Ensnaring Roots by prediction (if this works you litearlly win the game off that). Splitting your units against cc & Lavafield is also really important. As long as your Mages are well positioned you can take down the Skyfire Drakes (A motivated Mage onehits a Skyfire Drake btw). This matchup is super difficult for you to play, but you've still got a good chance to win it as long as your micro is on point.
Pure Shadow summary
+ Great dps deck with huge offensive potential
+ Crushes alot of the weaker decks
+ Shadow Mage is one of the best cards in T2
+ Has no "terrible" matchup (40/60 in the worst case vs Fire Nature)
- The most difficult matchups are against the most played decks
- Shadowmage may be really strong, but its charges are limited
I feel like pure Shadow was sort of underplayed by most top players. The deck has really solid matchups and even tho the meta decks are a little bite more difficult to play against there is still a good chance for you to win it anyway. Shadow Mage is a great allround counter and Harvester is just ideal to snowball your advantages.
Final comp. Rating: 8/10
New player experience:
Pure Shadow is a really good deck to start with. Shadow T1 is pretty ideal to start with and the basics of your T2 aren't that hard to learn (Shadow Mage has a great efficiency in lower elos even without insane micro skills). Harvester is also really powerful in low elo games, because alot of people have no clue how to defend against him, while it's pretty easy for you to execute this type of "strategy". You will end up winning alot of games in the lower ranks just because of that, which makes playing this deck even more enjoyable. No cc and the missing building protects are the big downside, which is the only reason why pure Shadow doesn't get 10 points in this rating.
NPE rating: 9/10
1. Deck example
*Some stuff in this deck seems to be quite questionable in some situations, but there is no optimal Bandits deck, that can deal with all possible scenarios in the different Tiers.
I will be honest at this point. Now we talk about the weakest deck out of all 10. Bandits does really poorly against alot of decks and has many abusable weaknesses. The biggest one is actually the lack of defensive capabilities. You have no cc at all apart from Aura of Corruption as a zoning spell and no building protects either. Simple Burrower attacks with cc support can be insanely dangerous for you if you let them come too close to your power well without any reaction. Your offense is kind of solid, you can do massive Rallying banner attacks in T2 and you have a pretty reliable T3 with Sandstorm.
2. Matchup discussion
(1) Bandits vs pure Frost
This is pretty sad, but you don't have a single easy matchup. If you play Bandits expect things to get really difficult at a higher elo. Pure Frost is still the best deck you can play against, because your Drakes combined with Darkelf Assassins offer strong counterplay against Air units and without its War Eagles pure Frost tends to struggle. It's still hard to get through the pure Frost defence, especially with Northstar the deck is such amazing defensive capabilities with a great scaling into T3. So try to get a decent T1 lead, which can be pretty easy on some maps against Frost and try snowball with your strong air control.
(2) Bandits vs pure Nature
Nature has the advantage in this matchup, but it's honestly not that big. You can't defend against Burrower attacks and Energie Parasites are a distraction for you, beacuse it forces you to play Skyfire Drakes at unfavourable positions where they are isolated and bind 100 power for the duration of the attack. But you aren't helpless in this matchup. Nature T1 is weaker than Fire T1 and substantially weaker against Shadow T1 so try to secure an advantage at this stage of the game and translate this into aggressive Rallying Banner attacks in T2. Since you are able to spawn undazed units at any given time it's really easy to overload the cc and take down power wells. I personally prefer a Shadow T1 Bandits deck in this matchup, because Shadow matches well in T1 against nature and you can play Nightguard as an L counter, who is better against Deep One than Firesworn, because you can pull the Nightguard with your DO after the swap.
(3) Bandits vs pure Fire
Your ground units are vastly weaker in defence and in offense. Your only chance of surviving against Fire is air control. The crucial spell, that can help you alot in this matchup is life weaving. In combination with skyfire drake it's really good against pure Fire, because there is no real efficient way to beat it as long as you time it well. The easiest way to remove skyfire drakes is usually Gladiatrix or Skyfire Drake + Eruption, because that can burst them down and you technically spend just the 75 power, because your Gladi / Skyfire will remain witch full hp. But if you play the Life Weaving just a split second earlier, your skyfire survives and you can get rid of the counterunit leaving you with a 100 poweradvantage in the best case. But make sure your timing is on point. If you use life weaving to early disenchant comes into play and using it to late is the worst case scenario. If the Eruptions hits before your lifeweaving you won't even get a good trade out of this because, your drake will be at 75 (62) hp if Lifeweaving just blocks the Skyfire (Gladiatrix) hit. Therefore your Drake will just die with the next hit.
Advice: In case you still struggle in this matchup you can add Rageclaws in your deck, they match really well against all these pure Fire M units.
(4) Bandits vs Fire Frost
Fire Frost is actually the easist out of the 3 remaining frostsplash decks, because you can deal well with its units. Darkelf Assassin spam combined with Nightguard against these 100+ power units is efficient, so you have at least a good shot at winning. Your defensive capabilties are still nonexistent though and a straight wellfocus + cc will put you in danger if you don't react to incoming units in time. So keep in mind that you are still at a big disadvantage.
(5) Bandits vs Fire Nature
Curse of Oink is the card that kind of decides this matchup. It provides superior support for Skyfire drakes compared to pure Fire and helps you alot in every situation. You can delay attacks to save your wells, you can protect your units in offense against every type of unit. You lack cc and this is why you are at such a bad position against alot of decks. Your deck lacks synergy and in the meantime Fire Nature is such a well rounded deck, with no big weakness. That makes it superior to your Bandits deck.
(6) Bandits vs Shadow Nature
As I said in the Shadow Nature section, Darkelf Assassins with superior cc support are really hard to deal with and if Burrowers are added into the mix you just run out of time. You need a substantial T1 advantage to survive the early T2 stage and afterwards you need to use you AoE damage (Shadow Phoenix / Lavafield / Aura of Corruption) to reach the T3 stage, where you have an easier time.
(7) Bandits vs pure Shadow
Litereally every single unit in your deck gets destroyed by Shadow Mage. This is pretty much your main problem, because you can't apply any sort of pressure in the early / mid T2. And when you finally reach that point, where your attacks could be potentially successful, you will end up against a Harvester. Your defence against it is sort of mediocre with Darkelf Assassin spam combined with Disenchant against potential buffs. You can clear the Harvester, but usually not without tribute. That will put you at a serious disadvantage against pure Shadow.
(8) Bandits vs Shadow Frost
Here comes the good old Shadow Frost deck. Darkelf Assassins, Stormsinger, Cold Snap, building protects. Getting around this defense is really hard, and honestly from an even position it's even impossible against a good Shadow Frost player. But you still need to make your Rallying Banner attacks work with some magic, because otherwise you will just wait for your own death. The classic Shadow Frost T3 is just better and you will just get outscaled if you can't snowball. In case you fall behind at any given point, you will slowly get behind even further up to a point where the game is just over.
(9) Bandits vs Stonekin
In T2 you will stand no chance. Stonekin has like everything you want to have. Building protects and the insane nature cc combined are so incredible efficient against a deck, that has none of those. Stonekin has better units to deal with you anyway, so there is not alot you can do at the T2 stage. You actually have to abuse the fact, that Stonekin has to chose between the unreliable Frost T1 or the weak Nature T1 and decide the game there. Either win entirely or play such a long T1 to raise the void level to a point, where you are able to litereally skip the entire T2 stage. Otherwise I don't see a way how a skilled Stonekin player could lose in this matchup.
+ Alot of possible deck building options (can even be played with both, Shadow and Fire T1)
+ Strong Air control thanks to the drakes and Darkelf Assassins
- At a high level you will lose next to every game due to tons of unfavourable matchups
- Has no defensive capabilities (No proctects, no cc)
- There is no optimal deck, that covers all possible scenarios and matchups
- Has no special units or combos who make the deck worth playing
Bandits does really poorly in 1vs1. As long as you are a really experienced player you can use your skill to cover up the major weaknesses in the deck and reach a high rank in the ladder, but if you're up against really strong players like in tournaments for example you won't get far at all. Bandits is the worst out of all decks and without proper cc support from a teammate in 2vs2 you will end up losing power wells against ridiciously weak attacks. The deck is simply outclassed by the other ones in so many aspects. Just your offense is pretty solid, therefore you need to snowball hard if you want to win.
Final comp. Rating: 0/10
New player experience:
If you are new to the game don't start with Bandits. You will regret it at some point. The deck is really hard to play in T2 and if you reach a somewhat decent rank you will lose games against people who are technically speaking worse than you. And if your opponent does well it feels sort of impossible to win which is really frustrating. The only upside I can see with Bandits is the fact, that you've got the choice between Fire T1 & Shadow T1, but this doesn't make up for anything.
NPE rating: 0/10
1. Deck example
Fire Frost is pretty much the deck, that gets overlooked all the time. The amount of people who played the deck was really small and I feel like many many players didn't recognize the strength this deck gathered due to the Stormsinger buff because of that. Stormsinger as a reliable M/M unit was like the last missing part of a pretty strong PvP deck. Fire Frost has strong, expensive units and good support for them. The most common tactic in this deck is probably Frost Sorceress + Skyfire Drake, which gives you very good air control. The weakness in this deck is the fact, that it doesn't have a reliable offense against certain decks (especially the ones, who can handle the Mountaineer).
2. Matchup discussion
(1) Fire Frost vs Bandits
Bandits has 5 matchups that are harder than Fire Frost, but it's still the easiest one for you (just think about this for a while). As long as you pay attention to incoming Nightguards and respect the strength of Darkelf Assassins in the early game you should be fine in this matchup. Your attacks will be successful anyway later, especially if you apply pressure at multiple positions, beacuse the only defence Bandits offers is Aura of Corruption. Apart from that you can just cc counterunits and destroy the powerwells.
(2) Fire Frost vs pure Fire
A really valuable strength in this deck is the good matchup against pure Fire. Shielddrake gives you superior air control and with mountaineer you have a really strong mid T2 power spike and pur Fire doesn't have the units to react properly, which leaves you at a really advantageous position. Stormsinger adds some safety to the matchup, because you can kite Enforcer in the early T2. Your late T2 & T3 in general is weaker, so get a solid lead or close the game out before you reach that stage.
(3) Fire Frost vs Stonekin
Fire Frost matches well against Stonekin. Scythe Fiends are a really good removal against the S units and stuff like stonetempest couldn't knock them back properly. If you use Frost Sorceress to support them they are a true force against stonekin and since Aggressor wasn't included in alot of Stonekin decks Mountaineer is also a big big threat. Stormsinger would deal with early Burrower attacks and But stonekin does still have some awnsers. Stoneshards are really high dps units to deal with scythe fiends if you don't support them adequately.
(4) Fire Frost vs Fire Nature
Due to the Stormsingerbuff this matchup got turned in your favour. Mounty & Shielded Skyfire Drakes are solid ways to attack (supported Scythe Fiends are also sort of hard to remove) and Stormsinger allows you to defend against Burrowers. Things just get a little bit annoying, when Fire Nature gets to attack with alot of units at multiple positions, because Stormsinger can't clear them fast enough. So make sure you are the first one who attacks when the voidlevel starts to rise too high.
(5/6) Fire Frost vs Shadow Nature
The previous matchups were pretty easy to deal with, but the upcoming ones are really hard. Shadow Nature does pretty well against Fire Frost, because Nightguard is such a big threat for your 100+ power units. Unlike Bandits, Shadow Nature has the tools to make these Nightguard swap succesful with its cheap cc. With all these highly efficient low cost units/spells Shadow Nature gives you a really hard time at the early T2 stage. Stormsinger isn't enough to compensate in this case.
(5/6) Fire Frost vs Shadow Frost
Shadow Frost and Shadow Nature are pretty much tied in terms of difficulty. Shadow Frost isn't as hard to deal with as Shadow Nature in T2, but against Shadow Nature your goal is pretty much to survive, while Shadow Frost tries to survive against you! If you don't make your Mountaineer attacks worthwhile you will end up against a stronger T3 and lose. Stormsinger & Darkelfassassins are really strong in a defensive position, because they defend well against Skyfiredrake. Scythe Fiends get slowed with Frostbite and therefore it will be pretty easy for the Shadow Frost player to kite them. Mountaineer is your only way to success, because alot of Shadow Frost players don't play Nightguard in their decks. But keep in mind, that Shadow Frost can use Mountaineer aswell and stay focussed!
(7) Fire Frost vs Pure Shadow
Shield Drakes with Lavafield support are pretty decent against pure Shadow, but this matchup is a ticking time bomb. As I mentioned in the pure Shadow section Lyrish Knights aren't included in the traditional Fire Frost deck. This leaves you with huge problems against Harvester. Since your units are already pretty expensive you will most likely be unable to apply enough pressure to prevent the Harvester from beeing played and without the proper counterunit you will end up losing most likely.
Advice: If you play Frost T1 you can include lyrish knight, because you have Homesoil, Ice Barrier and even Frost Bite to support them. This makes the matchup easier, but usually Frost T1 is inferior, because it's just unreliable and you lose matches based on map-rng.
(8) Fire Frost vs Pure Frost
This matchup is horrible. You have next to no options against superior air units, a strong defense and a superior T3. Even distinctive T1 leads won't help you to survive this matchup unless you can close out the game entirely. So all I can tell you here: If you want to win you need to play way better than your opponent.
(9) Fire Frost vs Pure Nature
Pure Nature is also really annoying to deal with. You can stop early Burrower attacks, but you can't really attack yourself. Your expensive units are vulnerable to Parasite swarm and a combination out of Ghostspears and Spirit Hunters will deal with the rest. While this happens the pure Nature player can build up his Shrine of Memory safely and wait until it's ready. If it starts running prepare yourself. The permahealed Deep Ones are coming.
+ Strong air control with Shield Drakes
+ Good matchups against popular decks (Stonekin, pure Fire)
+ Isn't as bad as it used to be, because with Stormsinger a reliable M Counter got added to the deck
- Does really poorly against some decks (especially pure Frost & pure Nature)
- really expensive Units (vulnerable to unit swaps)
- using Frost Sorceress properly at mid/late T2 stages is really difficult and micro intensive
Fire Frost has alot of difficult matchups, but most of them aren't as bad as they used to be. The Stormsinger buff was really good for this deck and the good matchup against pure Fire makes the Deck attractive for higher ranked players because there were quite alot pure Fire mains up in the ladder. But you can't call this deck reliable, because there are some matchups, that are just awful. You sometimes can't even close games against pure Frost with a massive T1 advantage.
Final Comp. Rating: 5/10
New player experience:
As a new player Fire Frost might not be ideal for you. Fire T1 is honestly great and Stormsinger and Mountaineer are really easy to play, but the Frost Sorceress micromanagement is really difficult and the deck isn't as strong as the top tier ones. On the other hand playing a frost splash is easier, because they are more forgiving in many situations. If you exclude the Frost Sorceress the deck is easy to play, but because of that it just gets a pretty low rating.
NPE rating: 4/10
1. Deck example:
Stonekin is one of the most boring but also most powerful decks. It slowly builds up in strength and overwhelms your opponent at some point in the game. The T2 is honestly one of the strongest ones and the combination of crowd control and building protects leaves you with an insanely strong defence. The card diversity was also pretty good, so some matchups may change a little bit dependend on the cards you use in T2.
2. Matchup discussion
(1) Stonekin vs Bandits
Massive defensive capabilities vs no defensive capabilities. The T2 in this matchup is incredible onesided and there is no way you can lose this as long as you don't get destroyed in T1. Burrowers with proper support will destroy wells pretty fast, especially with home soil.
(2) Stonekin vs Fire Nature
The following stonekinmatchups are pretty similar, so there is not alot to talk about. It's mostly about using your strong defense to stall the game into a gamestage, where you end up winning, which is generally speaking the T3. Against Fire Nature it's pretty easy to reach that point because of Stormsinger + cc and that pretty much sums up the entire matchup.
(3) Stonekin vs Shadow Frost
This matchup favours you too. Your Burrower attacks are sort of power efficient, but not a big threat for Stormsinger + Darkelf Assassins. Your advantage lies within the fact, that stonekin can match the big Shadow Frost T3. Therefore you don't get outscaled and there is no pressure for you to be offensive, which makes this matchup much easier.
(4) Stonekin vs Shadow Nature
The Stormsinger vs Amii Phantom matchup. Honestly the one who micros his M/M unit better wins the T2. Apart from that there is not too much Shadow Nature can do to pressure you too hard. In T3 you will win this matchup so there is no reason to be overly aggresive.
(5) Stonekin vs Fire Frost
Also a pretty managable matchup. You need to respect shielded Scythe Fiends and Mountaineer. But you have stoneshards to deal with the Scythe Fiends and the Mounty can be perma cc'd by Aggressor. Apart from that you are ready to outscale your opponent.
(6) Stonekin vs pure Frost
Since Aggressor can deal with War Eagles there is not alot Frost can do to attack. But honestly you can't do alot either in T2 so this game will end up in T3 aswell. But pure Frost has a powerful T3, so don't underestimate it.
(7) Stonekin vs pure Nature
This is the first matchup with a different game pattern. Playing against pure Nature is way more aggressive oriented. Nature struggles against Burrowers and you have to use this to your advantage and finish your opponent off before he gets to activate his Shrine of Memory. Energy Parasites are really annoying to deal with for you and keep the Nature player often in the game and therefore this matchup is one of the harder ones for you.
(8) Stonekin vs pure Fire
Your units are more efficient in the early stage of the game while pure Fire scales really well into the late T2 stage. You want to avoid the late T2 or at least go with a solid advantage into this gamestage, because otherwise you will be in trouble. Given the fact that your T3 matches well against Pure Fire, because Timeless One + Stonewarrior is incredible against XL units it's not the worst thing to scale. You can use your early T2 advantage to reach this stage as safely as possible. Stoneshards are really efficient against all these pure Fire M units and as long as there isn't enough power to use wildfire support you will win many T2 skirmishes and that advantage can be used to survive the late t2, where the pure Fire attacks get to powerful.
(9) Stonekin vs pure Shadow
You lack a serious XL counter and therefore Harvester is really hard to counter. Sure you could consider playing with Lyrish Knights, but most of the time you don't have the slot. In case you still want to use him you will be at a disadvantageous position in different matchups, keep that in mind. Shadow Mage + Nether Warp is also a serious threat, because most of your damage is damage over time, which is way less efficient against Shadowmages than burst damage. Razorshard can be useful to make this matchup a little bit easiert, but with the classic stonekin deck you will have some trouble here.
+ Really strong defence with strong cc and building protects
+ Very good T3
+ Has the least bad matchups out of all decks
- Apart from Burrowers + homesoil there aren't many ways to play aggressive at T2
- You are forced to play either Frost or Nature T1, who are unreliable and risky
Stonekin is definitely one of the top decks. Especially after the Stormsinger addition there is litereally nothing, that gives you trouble at early T2. You don't have many "freewins", but on the other hand you can pretty much handle every deck and with your strong T3 scaling this is a big advantage. Your T1 is honestly your biggest weakness and the main reason why Stonekin is not ranked as the strongest deck here. Nature T1 is too weak and Frost T1 way too unreliable due to the lack of swift units.
Final competative rating: 8/10
New player experience:
Pretty much the same stuff applies for newer players. The T2 is really strong and also really easy to play, but Nature T1 is way to complex to start with and Frost is also not the best T1 to start with. But with the massive CC and the strong defence in general stonekin deserves some credit.
Final NPE rating: 5/10
1. Deck example
Shadow Frost was one of the most played decks in PvP ... for a good reason. The deck is the most solid one with no big weakness and an outstanding defence. You may struggle a little bit in T2 to set up efficient attacks that don't include Mountaineer, but this isn't a serious issue, because your T3 is fantastic and therefore you aren't forced to be aggressive. It's already enough to defend efficiently against your opponents attacks and build another powerwells up to a point where you can afford to switch into the T3 stage, where you'll most likely win.
2. Matchup Discussion
(1) Shadow Frost vs Bandits
Bandits is really easy to play against. Your units in T2 are equally strong if not even a little bit better and you have access to crowd control and building protects. Your T3 is superior and in T1 you always stand a chance with Shadow T1 against any given colour. Just look out for Nightguards if you decide to go for an attack with Mountaineer.
(2) Shadow Frost vs Fire Frost
Fire Frost is also really easy to play, because you aren't really forced to make proactive decisions. You just need to defend incoming attacks and scale into your superior T3. As long as you stay even in T2 there is nothing you need to fear in T3 (Brannoc is only a dangerous if you are already behind). In T2 you can defend Scythe Fiends & Skyfiredrakes easily with a combination out of Darkelf Assassins and Stormsinger with Frost Bite support. The only card, that is sort of dangerous for you is Mountaineer, you really need to pay attention here and get rid of them (in case you have Nighguard in your deck this is pretty simple). But since you've got Coldsnap and building protects you should be able to save your powerwells in time and go for a counterattack with your own Mountaineer afterwards.
(3) Shadow Frost vs Fire Nature
This matchup got pretty easy after the Stormsinger buff. You can defend Burrower attacks with a very high efficiency in the early game and establish a very solid lead, that can be used to transition into a T3, where Fire Nature doesn't stand a chance. The only gamestage where you are sort of in danger is the late T2, where splitted Burrower attacks with massive nature cc support are powerful enough to overload your building protects, so make sure to reach the T3 as soon as possible, because Timeless one can deal with a massive Burrower push, if the Fire Nature player decides to rush you at that point.
(4) Shadow Frost vs pure Nature
You are heavily favoured in T1 and T3, but at a disadvantage in T2, therefore it's important to use the right timings to win this matchup. In T1 Nature is really vulnerable and unless the Nature player plays Primal defender (which is pretty rare, but possible) you can solely win games with Phasetower, who is overpowered. He can usually apply his splash damage consistently in a fight against nature units and does more than 1000 dp20s for 60 power. His hp pool is also insane in defense (1200) and even after the port in offense the 600hp are still high if you keep in mind, that nature has no T1 unit with bonus damage against buildings. For more in depth information you can check out my Shadow T1 guide (insert link), because the T1 is really important in this matchup since the T2 is nature favoured. Deep One is really hard to deal with if you don't play Nightguard in your deck and there is no reliable Energy Parasite counter in your deck. In addition to that Nature can deal with your S and M units really with (Ghostspears and Spirit Hunter do a really good job at this point) and Mountaineer gets either destroyed by Deep Ones or taken away by Parasite Swarm, so make sure to establish a solid advantage in T1, that either wins you the game entirely or allows you to scale into T3 before nature manages to get a big voidpool and an activated Shrine of Memory.
(5) Shadow Frost vs Pure Frost
Your advantage is usually the fact, that you can deny alot of mapcontrol against Frost in T1, mostly important T3 spots, because your T2 is sort of equal. Darkelf Assassins and Stormsinger deal fairly well with War Eagles and this is Pure Frosts core unit. On the other side Shadow Frost doesn't have the tools to apply pressure in T2 either which leads to T3 fights, who decide the games. But in case you've got a map like Elyon for example you can block all T3 spots and win the game off that, because War Eagles may be able to deal with T2 units, but if Ashebones & Grigoris come into play they will struggle even with a power advantage. In case the game goes into T3 vs T3, cards without any counterplay are more valuable. Since both Frost Frost Shadow and Shadow Frost Frost have access to some of the strongest T3 units, cards like curse well can make the difference in this matchup.
(6) Shadow Frost vs Pure Shadow
You honestly have the tools to deal with pure Shadow. Darkelf Assassins, are so efficient against this deck and in combination with Stormsinger you can defend every sort of attacks. The only thing that can sort of outsustain this damage for a while is Shadowmagespam + Green Netherwarp, but this tactic is very susceptable against Nightcrawler- or Lyrish Knight-Nasties. Harvester is also usually not successful against you, unless the Shadow player has a lead already, because Frost Bite is really valuable against Harvy. He needs such a long time to reach the Power wells/orbs while Darkelfassassins or Lyrish Knights deal so much damage against him and if the Shadow Player decided to port him forward he loses the chance to dodge coldsnap which slows the Harvester down even more. Your T3 is superior as usual and therefore your winning condition.
(7) Shadow Frost vs Shadow Nature
Shadow Nature has a distinctive advantage in the early T2 against you. They have similar units (Nighcrawler + Darkelf Assassins + Amii Phantom vs Night Crawler + Darkelf Assassins + Stormsinger) and superior cc which allows your opponent to set up massive attacks against you. Therefore this matchup is pretty much a survival game, because in the later T2 stages low hp unit spam gets countered by AoE damage like Shadow Phoenix, Aura of Corruption or Nasty, because it's impossible to split all these units and in T3 you will simply win the game of Timeless One beeing able minimize the incoming damage while it's way harder to respond to your attacks.
(8) Shadow Frost vs Stonekin
Stonekin can be a really nasty matchup, because its defensive capabilities match your power in T2 and even in T3. Therefore this matchup can be really hard to play and sometimes you have to make sure to win the game based on your score, because you can't finish off your opponent in 30 minutes. On smaller maps you can avoid this by winning the game in T1 which is kinda the most reliable option to beat stonekin, because Shadow has a big advantage over Frost on alot of maps and Phasetower wrecks nature (it's also useful against Frost, don't get me wrong here).
(9) Shadow Frost vs Pure Fire
This is the only matchup with a distinctive disadvantage for Shadow Frost. Enforcer is superior to Nightcrawler and Stormsinger which allows the Fireplayer to protect a Firedancer who shoots constantly at your power well and forces you to spend power into your building protects, which leads to very unfavourable trades. In case the Firedancer is able to abuse a cliff as protection you are pretty much done. And in addition to that Juggernaut is insanely strong, even strong enough to break through a Timeless One T3. Your only shot at winning is a short, aggressive T1 with a transition into an early Mountaineer attack since Pure Fire tends to struggle in defense against L units (No cc and just mediocre L counter).
Shadow Frost summary
+ No weak gamestage
+ Insane T3
+ Very forgiving since you don't have to be proactive most of the time
+ Alot of easy matchups
+ Very flexible and well rounded defence (cc + ranged high dps units + building protects)
- low pressure T2
- Bad matchup against one of the most popular decks (pure Fire)
Shadow Frost is next to pure Fire the top deck in PvP. It does great in nearly ever matchup and is strong at any given point in the game. Sadly its only weak matchup is against its biggest rival pure Fire. Otherwise the deck would be in the best spot out of all possible 1v1 decks in Battleforge.
Final Comp. rating: 9/10
New player experience:
Shadow Frost is the perfect deck to play if you intend to climb in the ladder as a new player and even at the higher ranks it's one of the strongest decks to play with its opressive T3. No major weakness and the possibility to play a viable counter against nearly every incoming attack (with the small exception of cliffdancer) make it really easy to play. The high late game scaling is also really good, because you don't have to be proactive in T2. The high defensive capability makes the deck really forgiving and it's one of the decks to start with.
Final NPE rating: 10/10
At this point the deck overview is finished. I hope you can get some valuable information out of it, we put alot of efford into creating this list (Writing 15.000+ words took some time ^^). In case you have any questions regarding some factions or matchups feel free to ask us.
Hirooo & RadicalX