Author: Kevin Cote
What’s up, Casters!
My name is Kevin, your friendly MetaZoologist, or official MetaZoo judge. When most people think of MetaZoo, they think of the amazing art and collectibility of the cards. However, I’m here to tell you competitive MetaZoo is POPPING OFF! Not only is playing MetaZoo accessible via Tabletop Simulator, but incoming players can be a part of a growing legacy. The deck builds and strategies players develop will be studied for years to come, so join in while you can!
This series will be focused on teaching all aspects of competitive MetaZoo. This includes deck building, side-decking, strategies, tactics, and more. I’ll also pull examples from real matches, particularly official tournament matches. If you’re new to competitive MetaZoo, this is for you!
To start this series off, it’s imperative for players to understand the current metagame as is. Fortunately, only three main archetypes have taken up the spotlight. I recommend you start playing MetaZoo with any of the decks I mention, as they are all fun and teach the metagame.
Without further ado, I present to you a brief introduction to the Big Three!
The Big Three
The “Big Three” are what I call the premiere decks of MetaZoo’s first set, which would be Forest Tribal Boost (shortened as “FTB”), Quadruple Quetzalcoatlus (also known as “Quad Quetz” or simply “QQ”), and Lava Bear Barrage (or LBB). Only variations of each archetype have made it to the top four of sanctioned tournaments. Though each deck may seem different, they each share key traits:
- Consistent Win Conditions: Each deck can reliably pull off their win condition(s).
- High Damage Output: All decks can deal 150+ damage to opposing Casters each turn.
- Adequate Coverage: Even in a “losing” matchup, all decks maintain some versatility to answer common threats (i.e., Gumberoo, Quetzalcoatlus, etc.).
It’s also worth noting that besides Aura-Specific cards, the Big Three synergize well with staple cards, such as Bookmark, Lightning in a Bottle (or LiaB), and New Year’s New Beginnings (or NYNB). We’ll cover these essential staples in a later article.
As I go through each deck, I’ll also include an example deck you can try for yourself! Just remember that these archetypes aren’t stagnant. You’ll see modifications of these decks, not only in card choices but in mixing aura types as well. For instance, FTB can harmonize with several aura types to create new playstyles, like Forest/Spirit or Forest/Water. I like thinking of these archetypes as the basis of damage in MetaZoo. Players can then tinker The Big Three based on their game plan.
With these attributes in mind, let’s take a closer look at each archetype!
Forest Tribal Boost (FTB)
The king of Fearsome Critters, FTB is all about overwhelming with high numbers. FTB wants to quickly maintain board control and attack with cheap Beasties. Card players who love “zoo” decks will be familiar with this aggro archetype. FTB works well because of Tribal Boost, an ability that provides bonus health and damage to Beasties of the same Tribe.
One-drop Forest Tribal Boost Beasties are usually easy to destroy. Yet, they can be tough to remove once a Caster controls about four or more at the same time. That’s because Tribal Boost’s bonus is a multiplicative effect. We can calculate the total amount of bonus Life Points and Damage Tribal Boost gives with a simple equation: X*(10*[X-1]) ,where X equals the amount of Tribal Boost Beasties in the Arena. That means if you controlled five Tribal Boost Fearsome Critters, Tribal Boost would give a cumulative bonus of 200 Life Points and Damage! No wonder why Forest is on top.
While Forest has one of the largest card pools in the base set metagame, a few cards build the core of most FTB decks:
- Gumberoo: Gumberoo is a semi-indestructible Beastie that reduces all combat damage to zero. If you’re not playing a Big Three deck, you won’t have a fun time.
- Roperite: The Convert trait makes Roperite the backbone of Forest’s swarm potential. Combine a turn one Roperite with Lightning in a Bottle(s) and you’ll start the stampede in no time.
- Squonk: While only a one-of per Spellbook, Squonk is one of the best one-drop Beasties in the game. An early Squonk is crucial in removing threats like Aura Crystals (i.e., Eternal Snowflake, Chaos Crystal, etc.) and potent Beasties (i.e., Lava Bear, Giant Salamander, etc.).
- Growth: One of the best cards in the game, drawing five cards is a win condition in its own right.
To show off Forest’s swarm potential, check out Peazful’s turn below, where he gets out three Gumberoos in one turn!
As promised, below is an example of a FTB deck.
Not a fan of swarms? No problem! Let’s see if the next deck can give you a spark.
Quadruple Quetzalcoatlus (QQ)
Quad Quetz, or QQ as I like to call it, is arguably the most dominant deck in the metagame. Along with FTB, QQ has hit both final matches of the first two official tournaments. QQ plays around Quetzalcoatlus, one of the strongest Beasties in the game. Due to First-Strike, Quetzalcoatlus functions both as an amazing attacker and defender. A QQ player’s goal is to stall until the first Quetzalcoatlus hits the Arena. When Quetz is out, clear off the enemy board, and hit for face once uncontested.
QQ plays differently from FTB, favoring a mid game power spike versus FTB’s aggressive tempo lead. We generally see QQ decks pop-off after turns four to five. But that doesn’t mean QQ can’t rapidly overrun. Drawing into one or two aura crystals (specifically Lightning Glass and Chaos Crystal) can allow a Caster to contract Quetzalcoatlus turn two. If this happens, it can be very hard for the opposing player to come back. QQ is also graced due to Lightning’s amazing support, having access to Aura Ramp and the best status effect cards in the game (namely Lightning Bolt and Paralyze).
Below are the star cards you’ll see in any QQ deck:
- Quetzalcoatlus: The legend himself, Quetzalcoatlus can solo carry a game if played well.
- Ball Lightning: A fantastic two-drop that provides aura ramp and an early to mid game attacker. It even has paralyze, which can clutch you a fight versus something like Gumberoo!
- Dingbelle: A multiplying Beastie that can secure a win when you’re ahead. Sometimes Quetzalcoatlus isn’t enough. Thus, Dingbelle plays as a secondary carry in many QQ decks.
- Paralyze: Instants have been powerful in every card game, and MetaZoo is no exception. Paralyze can neutralize any attacker before they can wreak havoc, including enemy Quetzalcoatlus’.
In the current metagame, QQ versus QQ tends to be one of the most tense and “fifty-fifty” matchups. The last two turns of PapaJohn vs Froztyz seen below demonstrates matchup’s pressure.
As promised, below is an example of a QQ deck.
Still not feeling it? Let’s bring up the heat with our final deck!
Lava Bear Barrage (LBB)
The newest kid on the block, Lava Bear Barrage (LBB) has proven itself to be a top contender. A new ruling in the game established that Lava Bear’s 4th wall effect can activate with a makeshift volcano. While this ruling may change in the future, it has settled Flame’s place in competitive play.
LBB acts like an aggro and combo deck hybrid. The core of LBB is of course Lava Bear, which can deal a whopping 150 damage turn one with a Lightning in a Bottle. The LBB player jumps between two styles: consistently dealing bursts of damage to the face, or swinging with everything they have immediately (i.e., hitting for 450+ damage in a turn). While LBB may seem more simple to play than FTB and QQ, this cannot be further than the truth. LBB players must make the right choices to maximize their potential damage. Even mistargeting a Fireball can cost you the game. Every page counts for LBB’s playstyle, so Caster’s need to be on point.
Here are the hottest cards you’ll see in LBB decks:
- Lava Bear: The magma in LBB’s eruption, Lava Bear deals the highest damage to aura cost in the game, bar none.
- Giant Salamander: Since you can only have five Lava Bears in a deck, you may need a back up attacker. Giant Salamander is here for you! While Giant Salamander’s maximum damage of 100 is lower than Lava Bear’s, having 20 more LP is nothing to scoff at.
- Piasa Bird: Lightning has Quetzalcoatlus, Flame has Piasa Bird. Piasa Bird makes Fireballs that cost nothing and one-shots Gumberoo for breakfast.
- Fireball: Simple yet effective, Fireball is the removal players deserve. Cast it versus Gumberoo, while removing pesky Chaos Crystals as well.
With everything said, the sky’s the limit for LBB. Check out Delver’s turn in the video below, where he dealt 800 damage in one turn!
As promised, below is an example of a LBB deck.
And that’s a quick look at the Big Three! There’s still a lot we haven’t covered about these decks, including how to play versus other Big Three matchups. However, you should have a better idea of what deck you want to play competitively and what you’ll be facing. Until next time Casters, I’ll see you on the Battleground!