Official Marketplace: Top 20 Cards (Analysis & Insights) – WK 7 & 8

Commentary provided by card game enthusiast, Luci Kelemen.  

We’re back after a short break, just like Nimble Pixie! That’s right, the amazing Amazon which was booted off the charts for the first time last week has made an immediate return, alongside a bunch of other old friends which we’ve previously seen in the top 20. 

In fact, last week marked the first time new cards accounted for less than half of the cards on the list (not necessarily in terms of volume but slots occupied), suggesting the market is beginning to mature – and with that in mind, we’re making certain changes to this column in order to make it even more useful (and hopefully interesting!) going forward.

Topline observations

  • With more predictable patterns emerging, we’re moving this column to a fortnightly schedule 
  • There’s been a trend in players buying up lower rarity versions of top cards 
  • Correlation between card balance updates and Marketplace popularity  

All around me are familiar faces

It’s interesting to breakdown the impact of balance updates on a metagame: a certain portion of the playerbase immediately flocks to the shiny new goodies while some take refuge in the ol’ faithful archetypes which were left untouched by the latest round of changes. 

In that sense, it was interesting to see how Week 7’s top selling cards were surprisingly familiar. In fact, only nine of the cards were newcomers with six returning from previous weeks’ top twenty lists.

By an odd coincidence, the top three cards all have names which begin with B: Blessed Jackalope, Balance Ethereals and Back-Alley Vendor took gold, silver and bronze respectively. Rolling Watcher is just behind them at #4 due to its flexibility and the growth in popularity of Atlantean Deception in the early days of this decade. 

Nimble Pixie has returned (#7) (which, alongside Sharpen snatching #17, suggests a temporary resurgence of hyper-aggressive War decks around that time before the slower, Onslaught-focused builds took over the meta). 

Other notable returners were Nephthys Guardian (#9) and Runestorm (#13) this time around. Interestingly, none of the cards which returned directly between weeks 4 and 5 stayed on the first list of the new year, and the same was true going from weeks 7 to 8, suggesting a cyclical nature of interest in these tools, one that’s perhaps predicated on balance changes.

Nephthys Guardian

In fact, all this doesn’t mean that the market’s completely stabilized: just when it seemed like we’ve got a good grasp on what the top tier sellers are, the latest set of stats for Week 8 has painted a completely different picture, one which has been very clearly influenced by the recent balance changes made in the game, which saw a new War archetype skyrocket at the expense of Deception. Notable newcomers are Eager Gryphon, Out of Its Misery, Portal Wrangler and Rebirth Planetar suggesting a change in the meta.

Lacking Legendaries: the rarity crunch continues

Week 7 marked the first time in the history of this column where no Legendary cards made an appearance in the top twenty, a trend which continued into Week 8 as well. 

This makes sense: the deckbuilding restrictions mean you’ll always need less of them than you would of any other card, and their specialist application also makes it less likely that you’ll use them across multiple different decks. Here’s a list of the legendary cards which were in the top 20 list on the opening week and made a return at some point so far:

  • Avatar of Magic
  • Avatar of War
  • That Which Aches
Avatar of Magic

And here are those that haven’t:

  • Jason, Medea’s Muse
  • Hercules, Son of Zeus
  • Odysseus, Tried Victor
  • Tyet, Heir To The Sky
  • Odin, Endless War
Odysseus, Tried Victor

The difference is night and day in terms of their metagame relevance and the breadth of their potential application, even if none of them were featured on the Week 7 or Week 8 lists of top 20 cards. 

This does indicate a shift: we went from ten commons to thirteen between the two weeks, with seven to five rares and three to two epics, suggesting the “simpler” cards with wider application (and greater relevance in terms of accessibility) are becoming more popular over time. Of course, the prospect of flux and fusing in the near future may also be driving some of this momentum and inevitably this is also being regularly reflected in their prices. 

Looking ahead: balance changes and content releases

All this is well and good, and yet, everything will be disrupted in the near future with the release of Trial of the Gods (slated for soon™). In fact, this will make the preceding Marketplace activity all the more interesting: right now – at least in most cases – the sort of cards on these top twenty lists had direct relevance to the meta breakers and the way the top decks changed over time, either due to player innovation (like December’s Midrange Light decks) or the consequences of balance changes. 

For instance, the Week 8 charts were topped by Eager Gryphon, Black Rhino and Raving Fan, the latter two already present on Week 7 as well. The other cards which managed to stay on the list, albeit at the cost of multiple slots? Back-Alley Vendor (falling from #3 to 12), Respected Jarl (#10 to #15) and Rolling Watcher (#4 to #16). As the little roller fell, Pyramid Warden rose by eight spots to #9, the powerful neutral early-game tools seemingly trading places on the list.

So right now, we are still mostly judging these market movements in terms of immediate gameplay considerations, with speculative/bonkers moves like the A Real Man phenomenon taking a backseat. However, with the inevitable extra attention given to the game (plus all the more cards to speculate about in terms of potential strength and future relevance), activity is anticipated to spike around the time Trial of Gods is released.

As such, you can expect a whiplash effect of all this. When does the speculation start? Will players stockpile cards they expect to do well in some form after the landscape completely changes? The closer we get to the new release, the more likely it is to see interesting developments even just with the existing sets, and it’s going to be an exciting prospect to follow up on this matter. 

Meanwhile, the balance changes also seem to provide enough of a kick to shake things up. Nevertheless, to make sure there’s always enough data to discuss and topics to cover, we’ll be giving this column a bit more room to breathe with a fortnightly schedule. I have no doubt there’s going to be a ton of interesting stuff to look at in the next installment!

~ Luci Kelemen

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