Ursula's Return Early Analysis - Review of the Top 4 at Challenge Chicago

Lorcana Challenge Atlanta and Lille gave us our first real look at the paper competitive Lorcana metagame. Chicago a few weeks ago added the much anticipated Ursula's Return to the format. Questions were asked about whether Ursula herself, Diablo and/or Sisu would make their way into the top decks. Let's dig down into the top 4 decks to see which new cards made it to the forefront of the game.

Previously in the Atlanta top 8 we saw a very similar deck at the hands of Alexandru Tibirna. Unfortunately, his list wasn't quite powerful enough to take down the ever popular Ruby/Amethyst Control decks running rampant in the format. That being said, Brian found the cards to help push this deck to a new level. Ursula's Return offers the addition of the very powerful Diablo - Devoted Herald. Diablo does everything you want in a card. It offers card advantage, an evasive clock to win the game and matches up well with Bucky - Squirrel Squeak Tutor due to it also being a Floodborn character. Diablo is the kind of character that can take over a game almost single-handedly. 

In addition to Diablo - Devoted Herald we see Diablo - Malificent's Spy make its way into the deck. A handy card for shifting the Devoted Herald in on turn 2, but also allows you to plan ahead by looking at your opponent's hand. You can plan when and how to use your removal spells as well as figuring out how to go about taking on the matchup. 

The other handy card to make its way into the deck is We Don't Talk About Bruno. Great at removing a threat temporarily, but also can end up being a hard removal spell in conjunction with Bucky and his Floodborn friends. 

Overall it's a very solid combination of cards and I'm sure Emerald/Steel is here to stay. Will Diablo - Devoted Herald remain top of the pile going forward? There's a good chance it will. However, it's fragile enough that the metagame could move in ways to deal with it. 

Jordyn switched the Steel element of the deck with Amethyst, offering a far more tempo based game. As we can see Diablo - Devoted Herald is back. However this is a very different build to the Emerald/Steel Floodborn style deck seen from Brian. As I say Diablo is a solid card!

Here we see a lots of characters that can challenge well, whilst slowing your opponent's questing down. To aid with the tempo element we have Jaq - Conoisseur of Climbing preventing lore accumulation from your opponent. Alongside all of the evasion, it allows the questing race to swing in your favour. 

Pegasus - Gift for Hercules and Pegasus - Cloud Racer offer two evasive threats with the Cloud Racer also helping to protect your board. Pegasus - Cloud Racer also offer the handy upside of finding a way to deal with opposing Diablo - Devoted Heralds.

Finally we come to Ursula - Sea Witch Queen. In combination with Ursula - Deceiver it's a great way to disrupt any song package or just allow you to "Be Prepared" by removing it from opposing hands. Alongside that upside, it can also help to bring a 7 drop threat down a touch earlier. Additionally, the Sea Witch Queen exerting opposing characters can help deal with characters like Diablo with the one-two punch of exerting Diablo followed by a Cloud Racer finishing Diablo off.

It'll be interesting to see how this deck develops as it has a lot of tools at its disposal to deal with opposing threats whilst also putting pressure on your opponent from a lore perspective.

If you like big creatures, then you'll love Ruby/Sapphire Ramp. The top end is filled out with cards like Maleficent - Monstrous Dragon and Tamatoa - So Shiny!, whilst the other cards keep control of the board as you get to eight or nine Ink. 

We'll kick things off by looking at Great Stone Dragon. You're mostly relying on opposing removal/game play to banish your cheaper characters such as Hiram Flaversham - Toymaker. Left unchecked he can take over the game, so it's likely your opponent will want to deal with him. Additionally, you have Maui - Hero to All, who will likely trade off with a character or two before being of use by the Great Stone Dragon

In a similar vein to Maui we have 4 copies of Brawl to help deal with the early game from opposing decks. The perfect answer to Diablo - Devoted Herald and Flynn Rider - Frenemy. It's becoming a staple of the Ruby decks of the format already.

Finally we have the addition of both copies of Sisu. Sisu - Emboldened Warrior offers a way to combat opposing Flynns, but also can act as an early way to deal with opposing threats, followed by being added to you inkwell through the Stone Dragon. Also she can lead to shifting in Sisu - Empowered Sibling, the perfect way to clear the board whilst offering a quick clock with her 3 lore. 

Overall some great additions to the deck, which is a solid option if you're into your ramp/control builds. Sweep the board and rely on your huge threats to finish the game off. 

Finally we have the age old classic of Ruby/Amethyst Control. A fine selection of cards that keep the board clear whilst gaining incremental card advantage. We see cards such as Brawl and Sisu - Emboldened Warrior again in this deck, but let's take a look at the other new options for the deck.

Flynn Rider - Frenemy is a card I've mentioned earlier in the article. Flynn offers a great opportunity to accumulate lore quickly once you've gained control of the board. He fits perfectly into this deck where you can jam him down as soon as you've gained control of the board, then kick back and relax whilst Flynn does the hard work. A solid threat that will end games quickly. 

The other addition here is a rather innocuous Magic Broom - Illuminary Keeper. Whilst only a mere 1-power character, the Broom offers a way to trade it for a character early on or gives you a redraw later in the game.

That rounds out the top 4 analysis from Chicago. Lots of variety on show and room for a developing meta. The next stop is Bochum in early July where we'll get to see whether these strategies streamline further or whether something new emerges from the shadows of this top 4.