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This Meta You Speak Of

What is it? I keep seeing it thrown around in here, and it almost wants to make sense. It just isn’t quite clicking in my brain though. I tried searching, but all I found were just posts talking about it (generally all some variation of “the new meta is broken”, each multiple months apart).

Please help - I want to complain about it being borked too, as soon as I find out what it is :wink:

Dessert Mantis/Dust Devil/Archer Class - Valkyrie - Justice - Queen Mab
+2 blue, +1 Yellow, -1 Green Banner

Or anything with Manticore + Bone Dragon.

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Meta is a term that is used to reflect one level of abstraction, or put another way it is when you discuss a subject’s discussion and not the subject itself.

So, you could plan a generic defense of XYZ. But if you want to talk about what defenses are popular, you aren’t talking about the game itself but how people are playing, so that is considered a meta-discussion.

To give another example, consider an HTML page on a website about kittens. When you look at the page, it is about our feline friends. But there is also information about the HTML page itself, such as creation date, author, version used, etc… and that is called meta-data because it is information about the data that is about kittens, not about the kittens themselves.

In the context of “the meta is broken”, it generally is used to mean so many people are thinking about how people are doing attack/defend, and one setup is so much better, that you don’t have much room to deviate without being at a disadvantage.


Yeah - I’ve been a web developer in some form or another for about 16 years; I kinda-sorta understand “meta” based on those terms (both HTML and databases). Just didn’t quite get it in this context.

So, the game is moving gems around on the board; the “meta-game” is organizing teams to optimize what happens when those gems get moved around. Is that close?

This seems almost like discussing strategy in sports - i.e. in a baseball game, when do you bring in a closer vs. a long reliever, as opposed to “hit the ball and run”. I may well be off base with that analogy. No pun intended.


More like if the Yankees knew that their in-division rivals’ main batters were weak against curveballs and went out of their way to field more pitchers with a strong curve. It isn’t simply knowing “the game”, it is using information about your games and what you’ll face, and acting accordingly.

You see it more in football, a team will build a strong run game, their division opponents will draft/trade for a stronger run defense, then someone goes for a good QB/Receivers, so teams adjust


Ah! It’s getting much closer to making sense now I think. Maybe. I think.

Either way, thank you - that’s definitely sinking in a bit better.

The term meta means the most popular standard. As stated above, the dragon soul team and the bone dragon team are the standard in offensive teams right now. Also called flavor of the month.

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From all the other games I’ve seen it use, when meta is used about some game topic, it’s used to show the best way of playing it. Well maybe not the best way, but the way that the most people find to be the most efficient and therefor the most players are doing that thing. In GoW meta teams are the ones that are most used during a previous period of time. In hearthstone that would be the most used deck types - and the reason they are used is because they are most efficient=have higher win rates then other decks(for example freeze mage, midrange shaman etc.). For league of Legends meta jungling would be starting golems>red buff>blue buff. Or gromp>blue buff>red buff. It maybe isn’t the best way to jungle, some prefer to counter jungle, some like to earlt gank, but its a way 90%+ of players are doing. Doesn’t mean it is the most efficient, maybe a better way could be found, but until it is, it’s the way players consider to be the best and they will follow it until they come up of a better way.


It’s used in the context of Magic: The Gathering too, and the interesting thing about “the Meta” is that it is self-correcting if given the proper tools. If say an aggressive strategy becomes predominant, changing your deck to include cards that fullfill a similar function as your current cards but are better against an aggressive strategy will mean that the aggressive strategy will have a more difficult time to compete and automatically its standing in the meta will decline.

Those proper tools are not really available in the context of GoW as a) the defend AI is ill-equipped to handle most strategies and b) it needs enough options for similar cards that differ in how effective they are based on the opposition.

Not sure it is even possible to provide those tools at all.

M:tG is a good source for a lot of theorizing about Gems of War too.


The first time I heard people talking about was also in a M:tG context. Basically, in a rock-paper-scissors environment, if you know that rock is going to be very popular in the next tournament, you may want to bring paper (gross oversimplification).


You guys use alot of words to describe the simple formula of Meta=unvariable optimalization=collective hardcounters. Also called using faceroll ‘op content’. You only get a meta in an environment that lacks balance .

I’d like to hear about a game that doesn’t have a meta :slight_smile:

You mean a game that has an active meta, metas are inevitable but if they get stuck requiring development course of action something is overpowered rather than evolving by player redirections such as antimeta. Antimeta is still a bottleneck that gets narrowed down as it goes untill nerfs are made though. Its all about space.

Well I tried to point out that every game has its meta. That’s how things work.

Yes but a meta is always a sign of there being no balance, thats why it only exists in either games that are released with lacking balance or games that are in a constant changing developement course, such as gems.

Now how this developement course is practiced decides if its a changing meta or a static one. Right now were in a static one with BD still not being nerfed, and ofcourse sometimes devs make the mistake of creating hard counters to something that is op rather than nerfing the op thing creating new problems but ive explained this before in several threads.

Best meta=deckbuilding decides antimeta and changes dont create new imbalances (changes as in new cards to the roster)
Horrendous meta that gets as narrow as the butt of an autumn imp=create cards with hardcounters against meta, creating powercreep and inevitably making the game lightning paced oneshot decided (what you have now with BD already)

Card is weak against the meta? Let players figure out and build a deck around it. Dont for instance overload it with hardcounters to the meta. That should be how the game works because thats the way its fun.
Waiting every once in a while for a new op card to hoard and dominate with isnt, its braindead dumbed down decline of gaming what it is.

Thats why designers shouldnt listen to biased players asking for buffs when they compare their decks to the meta. Only when its about something that is clearly unbalanced (in the minus) compared to the collective.

Lets take peasant, nobody would use it even if BD/manticore etc didnt exist.


Yep. Gems evolved from a game with infantry and tanks to a game that’s a race to see who can launch their nukes first.


Was getting some tea and editting my main post now and then.


Right now the “meta” is “how to oneshot the other team before they oneshot my team pref with cards that can round 1 get things going and decide the match”

That means all cards with 1: Devour. 2: Empowered (both toxic features to gameplay)
Then people started building 3x behemoths to go against such teams… so (and thank god only few cards have this trait) Impervious became the ‘created out of necessity’ countermeta (so not a deckbuilding antimeta)
But that didnt really hit off as bigly as mana deprivement strategies because as i said only few cards have that trait… and that should stay that way because otherwise its going to get very onesided from hereon with everyone using 4 impervious troops mark my words.

So now were at people trying to prevent the oneshot cards from every getting a hit in with mana deprivement like drain especially which is why manticore was so hot since he had very low costs to begin with and drumroll empowered (not anymore but beside the point)

How can crew fix this?

Replace devour’s oneshot abillity by just it taking half of all stats of the selected enemy troop to stop people arming against the 1 spellcast = matchdecided factor.
Delete impervious from the game and create two sets of traits that both block a different 3 status effects at once so you dont turn cards into 100% uncounterable.
Stop making more cards with oneshot mechanics such as deathmark, rng aside the only effect it has on players is that they feel sabotaged after putting ages work into building up their deck.
(the feeling of sabotage/unfairness is THE cause of anger caused by videogames, not violence)
And for the love of god do not ever put mana drain on a low mana cost or empowered troop again.

Last few new card designs were absolutely brilliant save for that they are not ever going to be viable untill shit like BD and the above is nerfed.

So gems of war is on the right track, in a sense.

p.s. IF they dont want to nerf BD in any way (which they really, REALLY should) Then atleast create more cards with 0 armor like the zxzxztscxzdg whatever its name is)
And to prevent true damage to take over a static meta again, up the life regen on traits for cards that have it. 1 life per turn isnt even useful in early game. Make it atleast 3 or 4.


Well said @wskill. Also really like your suggestion about more troops with 0 armor. I rode KoS like crazy from early to mid game, then I got my BD and now I desperately want to build teams with KoS, for no other reason then nastalgia, and I just can’t because they essentially fill the same deck need, but BD is the late game KoS. Period.

One LEGENDARY should not COMPLETELY replace another LEGENDARY’S role in the late game, this is the clearest evidence of imbalance in my opinion.


Oh, dearest Don, that would require competition to not exist. Or any optimal strategy whatsoever. It would require a game to not only be non-competitive, but also require competitive players to not exist.

The “Meta” is simply the “most effective tactic available”. No, that is not where the term came from, it has its own roots, but that is a good way to conceptualize it and explain what it means. And it fits as an acronym. Which is a coincidence. But this is NOT a post about linguistics, it is one about the metagame, the concept of metagames, and the inevitablity of one.

Incorrect. You get metagames in a game that lacks perfect balance. In order for there to be no most effective tactic, all tactics must have the same exact value, result, outcome, odds of winning, etc. This is just not possible, without having a game that only has one single tactic or way to beat it, like a block-pushing puzzle from Legend of Zelda. There must be only one correct answer. Otherwise, there will be different answers, and where there is diversity, there is difference.

While I would like to say that it is possible for two completely different situations to be equal, that would simply be impossible. One will always be better at doing something than another, or else they are the same. Unless you’re talking about Mass Effect 3’s ending. I’m not getting into that. That leads to a very depressing thought train about inevitability and I don’t want to go there.

But my point is still that if things are different, which they must be, there will always be times where one is more effective than the other. And that, in itself, is the birth of a meta. Given two roads, one longer and one shorter, would you choose the longer to get to the same destination? That is why metas exist.

A metagame is not a sign of not having balance, but rather not having perfect balance, which is unobtainable, and even if it was, it would stagnate games.

Quite frankly, saying “tl;dr” about someone else’s posts is hypocritical of me, but you wrote a lot and seem to be repeating the same stuff, so I skipped everything you said after that quote. Just like you probably skipped this part as well. (Hi, Zubo!) But my stuff is incredibly long and I know this is hypocritical but I don’t have the attention span to continue reading this. Instead, I will point you in the direction of an Extra Credits video about the concept of “perfect imbalance”.

Also please have a nice day


I’m not sure you can say that a well-balanced game would stagnate considering that there’s still people playing Starcraft competitively.