Mikey Mouse Club #11 – I Hate THE META!

When my kids and I first started playing in the weekly Lorcana league at our usual FLGS, it had incredible turnout- the first couple of weeks had attendance upwards of 80 players. This is an absurd number of players, but this is a larger, highly-regarded shop that is very much a destination for many Atlanta area game players. The league was absolutely thriving, and I was delighted to attend an event that was attracting the most diverse and inclusive crowd I’ve ever seen in my many years of participating in and hosting organized play events. The vibe was welcoming, friendly, and fun. Many players had never played any TCGs before, and many barely had more than a starter deck to play the game with. The store graciously gave out two packs to every player that stayed for all three rounds, which was a tremendous help at a time when product was hard to come by.

But when those packs dried up, the event changed. The shop shifted to offering $25 store credit to all players that won three rounds, $15 for 2, and nothing for 1 or 0. Within a couple of weeks, attendance plummeted to as low as 7-8 players. And it wasn’t hard to see why- with cash on the table, the entire good times vibe was gone and THE META (echo) prevailed. Folks that were coming in with scraped-together decks, decks that were full of favorite rather than necessarily good characters, and slightly-modified starter decks had absolutely zero chance of finishing in the money because a handful of players were absolutely crushing everyone with either the Amber/Steel Steelsong or the dreaded Ruby/Amethyst net decks. If you weren’t playing either of these two decks or teching specifically against them, you were practically a no-show. God help you if you weren’t running 4 Elsa, Spirit of Winters or couldn’t get ahold of 4 Be Prepared.


Speaking with some regulars that stopped coming confirmed what I thought- THE META (echo) killed a lot of interest in the game, at least at the league level. Those first time players were frustrated and disheartened, feeling that you had to be a “Mr. Suitcase” (to nick an old MTG term) to be competitive. With money on the table rather than packs or OP prizes, nobody wanted to play fun decks or try new strategies. It was netdeck or nothin’.

Between this and playing against the flippin’ Pawpsicle deck a billion times on Pixelborn, I’ve come to strongly dislike THE META (echo) and the impact it has had on Lorcana at the competitive level. So many cards are dubbed “unplayable” and many strategies simply aren’t viable- including many that are hard-coded into the game’s card design. It sucks, because many characters and concepts are shunted to the side in favor of shark-y, killer decks.


Listen, I know, I’m practically the same guy that has been shaking his fist angrily at THE META (echo) since the MTG competitive scene took off in the 90s. I’m shouting into the void, and virtually nothing will ever change. People want to play to win, and the very nature of TCGs means that some cards and combinations of cards are going to be more efficient at doing that than others. It’s not reasonable or desirable to ask players to play with weak decks or to nerf powerful rare cards. So what do terrible players (such as myself) do?

The quick answer is to not play in competitive environments, period- at least not constructed events and especially not X-K events where X is a dollar amount. Just like in MTG, constructed events encourage netdecking which, to be completely honest, I think sucks and flies in the face of what makes TCGs fun. I believe many players new to Lorcana showing up to leagues were buffaloed when players with $500 worth of TCGplayer.com singles showed up.

But there again, whaddya do? Drafting became so popular with MTG, I think, specifically because it forces players to play with suboptimal decks and win through wits, wiles, luck, and a couple of lucky pulls. There’s still a meta (smaller echo) that defines certain archetypes and what the must-pick and fodder cards are. But the construction of a deck from random cards generates a very different play environment that rewards play rather than acquisition and cloning netdecks.

In a way, it’s unfortunate that Lorcana did not launch in such way that drafting was viable (nobody wanted to draft $15.99 Rise of the Floodborn packs) but it’s also unfortunate that Ravensburger hasn’t specifically promoted or supported drafting or sealed deck play as the best way for new players to get into the game. They really should, and they would do well to offer a draft product for those of us who don’t want to deal with THE META (echo).

Another step Ravensburger might do well to take is consider a restricted list. Many would slate A Whole New World to be candidate #1 for it. I don’t believe any cards are so egregious as to be banned outright, but I think the homogeneity of THE META (echo) could be helped simply by limiting some of the most powerful and disruptive cards. That wouldn’t stop the netdecking or certain deck types from rising to the top, but it would even the playing field a bit for those who are trying to do something different.


Our shop is doing an Into the Inklands starter deck tournament this launch weekend and I’m stoked for it; the one they ran for Rise of the Floodborn was lots of fun and it attracted a large crowd. THE META (echo) doesn’t exist for these events further than picking whichever cards come in your booster pack to add to the starter cards. But this format really is only good for one event, and then next week it’s back to the league grind and probably getting beat down by the new Amethyst Jafar/A Whole New World combo or that accursed Morph/Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo thing that will likely define the game for the next three months.

Next time: Into the Inklands Reviewed!