Discard in the Current Meta

cvhIf you've been reading my articles for a while, you probably already know that watching trends as the metagame constantly evolves is very interesting to me.  Looking at what types of cards are being run in different decks and then comparing those numbers to months past is one of my favorite things to explore in Kaijudo.  This article will follow along that idea, specifically in regards to discard.  Cards that allow you to discard cards out of your opponent's hand have been used throughout the game's history and don't look to ever stop being useful, but in this article, I'll be taking a look at the specific cards people are currently using to accomplish this task and why they might be more effective than other options.

The first truly "discard heavy" meta that Kaijudo went through was probably the Dragonstrike Infernus meta.  Current control decks were just starting to take shape as Light/Water/Darkness variants began tearing up the first ever Kaijudo Master Challenge season.  A lot of these games turned into a race to [ccProd]Skull Shatter[/ccProd], which was an important card not only in the control mirror match but also against the popular Greed Dragons.  As an out to [ccProd]Skull Shatter[/ccProd] and an additional tool against the dragons, players began packing on the copies of [ccProd]Razorkinder Puppet[/ccProd].  The control mirror match, in addition to being defined by the multitude of great finishers Dragonstrike Infernus gave the deck, were still mostly about those two cards.  If you could get to Shatter first, you would be in a good position, but you couldn't have your opponent play [ccProd]Razorkinder Puppet[/ccProd] and discard it; if you played your own [ccProd]Razorkinder Puppet[/ccProd], you could discard theirs, but what happens if they're holding on to two Puppets and a Shatter?  That scenario actually did happen to me, and it didn't bode well for me winning.

[ccProd]Mesmerize[/ccProd] came along shortly after, and for a while, it was simply added in with an already deadly discard lineup in control decks.  It certainly helped against the more aggressive decks.  However, this was about the time when tempo decks really started to gain popularity in the form of Megabugs, so the giant control lists that I and a bunch of other players were piloting got phased out pretty quickly.  Players who razorkinder puppetwanted to run discard had to do so in a way that was viable across the board.  [ccProd]Mesmerize[/ccProd] was a good example of this, but having a card like Skull Shatter in hand against a deck that can outpace you anyway won't do you much good, especially with the onset of [ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd].  ARG's Bobby Brake proved that discard in control was still a force to be reckoned with, and he did it with a lineup of three [ccProd]Fumes[/ccProd] along with the standard [ccProd]Mesmerize[/ccProd]s and [ccProd]Grip of Despair[/ccProd]s.  [ccProd]Fumes[/ccProd] was nearly forgotten about in the time of the Puppet/Shatter wars, and probably for good reason; in a meta where both players' hands were always large, you either wanted to discard their entire hand or discard the card that could discard yours.  In a meta where aggression was thriving as well as other control decks, [ccProd]Fumes[/ccProd] came in as a cheap, balanced option.

Where is Discard Now?

We have a continuously expanding array of options available to us when it comes to discard.  The latest set, Shattered Alliances, finally gave us random discard in the form of [ccProd]Spire Puppet[/ccProd] and others, as well as [ccProd]Maddening Whispers[/ccProd].   Whispers itself is interesting because of how much fear it instilled in the community upon being previewed - people were seemingly stunned that there was a card that could generate a raw +1 so early in the game without any specific board requirements.  Luckily, it's proven itself to be a perfectly healthy card, in part because of cards like [ccProd]Cyber Scamp[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd], which punish players for relying on spells.  Laws turns Whispers into a very, very mediocre one-for-one that should probably only be played if you know what cards they're holding, and the threat of your opponent getting free creatures is often enough to convince you to make another play.

The types of decks on top have to also be taken into consideration when looking at which discard options are the most viable.  In the DSI meta, with slow decks everywhere, Puppets and Shatter were at their prime, but today's meta is a lot more diverse as the card pool continues to expand.  There have been instances of control decks and ramp decks winning, as well as dragons, tempo and rush all being top contenders.

Against Dragons: Dragons have taken to running a full playset of [ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd], one of the more problematic cards for discard strategies. [ccProd]Mesmerize[/ccProd] is still an MVP in this matchup though, since it can discard their finishers and even potentially pick away at copies of [ccProd]Nix[/ccProd] before they hit the battle zone.  [ccProd]Maddening Whispers[/ccProd] can almost single-handedly win the game for a control player, but only when Laws isn't on board.  That being said, it's a gamble a lot of control players are willing to take because of the high payoff.  [ccProd]Spire Puppet[/ccProd], a solid option in many matchups, is only slightly less solid here because of the importance of [ccProd]Herald of Infernus[/ccProd].  Early game, it's sometimes in the control player's best interest to simply not summon anything with less than 5000 power.

Against Rush:  The only discard options that matter against any rush strategy are the ones that you can live to play.  [ccProd]Mesmerize[/ccProd] against mono-Light is live before any of their Evolutions are (whether you're on the play or draw), but summoning a blocker can sometimes take precedence.  [ccProd]Spire Puppet[/ccProd] is also strong here since it will probably be taking away their last card in hand if they have been playing creaturesMaddening Whispers to that point, and then attack over their small tapped creatures to help you regain your footing in the game.  Bobby Brake's Leviathan Control from the Summer Championship used a similar strategy with [ccProd]Mesmerize[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Fumes[/ccProd], which is one of the reasons his deck had such an unbelievably strong rush matchup despite the general lack of blockers and large card count.  Expensive discard, like [ccProd]Maddening Whispers[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Skull Shatter[/ccProd], is typically worse in a faster meta.

Against Tempo: Discard can be the bane of a tempo player's existence, but with the addition of [ccProd]Cyber Scamp[/ccProd] into the card pool, decks like Megabugs and LWD tempo can now run six cards that make spells a pretty bad idea most of the time.  A [ccProd]Mesmerize[/ccProd] or even [ccProd]Maddening Whispers[/ccProd] is still a strong play if Scamp or laws isn't going to punish you, as discarding in-hand copies of those cards in addition to things like [ccProd]General Finbarr[/ccProd] and [ccProd]The Hive Queen[/ccProd] is so valuable, but [ccProd]Spire Puppet[/ccProd] is the card that really shines.  It comes down early enough to be effective against opposing creatures, and has the potential to steal the best card out of the tempo player's hand.  Truth be told, the puppet reaches peak usefulness against decks like that, and in a meta with Bugs and LWD tempo taking many top spots, control players are catching on to that fact.

The Control Mirror:  I'm including ramp decks in this description because of their similar goal of reaching the late game and dropping bombs.  Cards like [ccProd]Razorkinder Puppet[/ccProd] are still as good as they once were in this type of matchup; the one big difference is the lack of [ccProd]Skull Shatter[/ccProd] in a lot of builds.  Players have found it too narrow with all the rush and tempo around, as well as [ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd] seeing play in just about everything.  With [ccProd]Squillace Scourge[/ccProd], control players got a way to discard entire hands and a basic game-ender.  If your deck is all about pushing to the late game, you'll have to fight with cards like [ccProd]Eternal Haven[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Squillace Scourge[/ccProd] is going to allow you to take away your opponent's options as well as lock down their battle zone to go for game.

With the above decks being the current strongest in the format, it's no surprise that [ccProd]Mesmerize[/ccProd], [ccProd]Spire Puppet[/ccProd], [ccProd]Maddening Whispers[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Squillace Scourge[/ccProd] have all being seeing a good amount of play.  Throughout future sets, I have no doubt that we'll see even more ways to discard cards, and it's important to look at current meta trends and decide which options are the most viable.  We have a balanced and diverse meta currently with many different decks winning, so control players will be looking for that balanced discard suite to help across the board.  Choosing which discard abilities to include is just as much of a meta call as deciding how many blockers to run or which removal spells you should use, and hopefully this article gave you some things to think about regarding the subject.  Feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts and until next week, Play Hard or Go Home!