It’s that time again! The time when we discuss all the crazy things going on in the meta of the arena and what it all means. So let’s get rolling!
There’s A War Going On…
The first thing many of you have probably noticed is that there’s a war going on between two groups that WANT the meta to be two different things.
On one side, we’ve got those people who see the following image and get sick to their stomach. They hang Dracoceratops picture on the wall and throw darts at it. Let’s be honest, some use a flamethrower. To heck with consequences.
And there’s a completely fair argument for this. People call it cheap, or say it requires no skill or that it’s a one-trick pony that can’t be countered.
Proponents of Dracoceratops and Dracorex Gen 2 have a different opinion, however. They say it’s perfectly counterable. For them, being counterable isn’t stopping it from doing what it does (coming in to clean up a dinosaur that you thought wasn’t going to die), but instead by killing it AFTER it does it’s thing. Strategies like bringing in Thoralodosaur with that massive crit chance and ability to one-shot Dracoceratops, while also setting Thor up for even more damage and an instant stun if it doesn’t kill the bugger. Or bringing in something like Indoraptor, doing a ton of damage and potentially one-shotting DC, while simultaneously freeing up a first turn Defense Shattering Rampage if the opponent tries to save Dracoceratops and bring in something else.
Or there’s the very clever pinning strategy, where you use a pinning dinosaur with SLOWER speed than Dracoceratops to keep it locked down where it is. For instance, Diorajasaur and it’s super slow 108 speed can use pinning strike repeatedly to keep Dracocera locked. If Dracoceratops tries for the Acute Stun, because it’s faster, Dioraja takes no damage and just doesn’t get to pin it on turn 1. If Dracoceratops tries to regenerate, it will go first and Diorajasaur can do damage AND pin it in place for two more turns. Really, if anything slower just repeatedly pins DC, you force the opponent to lose a dino they don’t want to lose. Or of course, you’ve got the Dilorachierus move, where you burn your distracting strike and get to follow up with a stunning rampage and rampage and run on whatever poor soul comes in. That’ll take about 80% off pretty much anything.
Point is, sure there’s no way to stop Dracoceratops from doing the one thing it does. But there’s plenty of ways to make someone pay for doing it.
It’s really less hatred of the mighty Thor and more hatred of what it represents. Teams that use Thor are generally focused on kicking out as much damage as possible, as fast as possible, in hopes of completely decimating the opponent with crits and massive attacks.
These are the players who want an all out heavyweight punch-fest, like the meta used to be prior to all those pesky swap-in moves.
But like any war, we didn’t get here overnight. There were certain conditions that really set this up. First, the fact that from 1.4 forward we had swap-OUT dinos with massive attacks. Primarily, these three culprits:
You see, the best way to utilize a team of four is to get one swap for free without taking damage, so swap out’s made perfect sense for a high-octane offense. It was a way to save a turn, and still do massive damage. Thus, these three monsters found a place on most every team in the top 500 or so of the arena.
But this is unique — because had these three dinos not been perfectly suited for High Damage play in addition to swap-in play, we wouldn’t have seen 1.5 evolve like it did.
Because even though the raptor meta died with 1.3, what didn’t die was being fastest. And using Dracorex Gen 2 to swap in and punch a new dino in the face PRIOR to them using any move became the new “fastest” speed. Thus it has a lot of power.
So with 1.5 we saw the strength meta win out hands down with a few proponents of DG2, but there just wasn’t enough heft to make the swap in meta work. So most people used Dg2 as a closer or as a “compliment” to a very high-octane team.
With 1.6? It’s far less clear.
Who Wins The Meta War?
In every game I’ve ever played, there’s really only one dominant meta at play. There’s some thing that everyone must incorporate into their strategy in order to be effective.
For instance, when we did our stats breakdown from the last tournament, there were four or so MUST HAVE dinosaurs that really determined whether or not your team could hold it’s own in the highest arena tiers. This was pretty clear when we analyzed the top 100 and found four dinos in the 97% owned and in team lineup category. Utarinex was a big one. If you didn’t have it, you were losing matches because of it. Back in 1.2 it was an overleveled Velociraptor or Pyroraptor, etc etc.
But even with variation, there was a certain play style that was MOST effective with each installment of this game. We had the “Raptor” meta of 1.2 where everyone literally needed a raptor (or a few) to win the speed game and destroy opponents. We had a very tank-heavy meta in 1.3 or 1.4 (can’t remember which) when Stegodeus was mind-bogglingly powerful and none of the chompers could really stop it due to that massive Armor Piercing Rampage it would kick out.
And 1.5 set us up for where we re now. It is now seemingly viable to run that same style of high-octane offensive team, while equally as viable to run a swap-heavy team utilizing Dracoceratops, perhaps even Edmontoguanadon or Stygidaryx or even the combo platter of both Dracoceratops and Dracorex Gen 2. The possibilities of chains/combos has increased dramatically, giving the swap meta more teeth than it had in 1.5.
So while there’s still a lot of common ground for both of these metas, what we’re now seeing is a battle for which play style can defeat the other. If you focus on sheer power, will you win or lose to the team that focuses on swap in stuns, swap in shattering rampage, swap in invincibility, etc. Or do the swappers have the edge?
It’s hard to say. And honestly, these two metas may be balanced enough to both really exist for a while, which is really fascinating AND really challenging.
Perhaps one of these two competing metas will win out over the other. Perhaps the best scenario will be some combination of high-octane offense mixed with swap in play. Swap-in play seems to be balanced in such a way to prevent this, however. The fact that swap-prevention occurs when you swap in and the fact that Dracoceratops and DG2 cannot easily swap out (with a hit and run move) without allowing something new to come in and take massive damage means the two strategies are at odds with one another.
So it will be interesting to see how this all plays out and which strategy ends up being most prevalent in the arena. I personally enjoy the swap-in meta because its more controllable from a user side (and less RNG dependent) than the all out slugfest of high crit-chance trades. You can still beat a swapper by extending out the game as long as possible (aka not taking two early losses and forcing the game to go on until they’ve exhausted their three dinos and don’t have anything left).
We’ll see how it all plays out and which meta holds a place as the dominant meta. What do you think? Are you seeing the same types of successful strategies in the arena?