Meta Check – Paris Win Rates

Meta Check – Paris Win Rates

The Paris Grand Kotei was the final tournament before the release of the upcoming Phoenix clan pack. At PAX South, the new Scorpion Dynasty-Go deck was unveiled. At Cork, despite meta cards added, players just weren’t ready for it. Paris, then, was the first real chance for the clans to challenge this powerful Scorpion deck. In the end, the Scorpion played by Jakub Irzyk remained victorious and undefeated, but is there more to the story? We look at the numbers and have some comments by Jakub himself.

Some quick background on the data. – This is taken from the spreadsheet of pairings shared online by the organizers. This included Day 1a, Day1b, and Day2 but none of the side events. Looking at whether a player went up or down in the next pairing I was able to work out who won. Notably, this means there was a manual step where mistakes could have happened. One of the pairings on Day 1a was not uploaded, resulting in that and the previous rounds from Day1a being incomplete. Jakub on hearing I was having some trouble worked out 60 out of the 67 pairings using, I assume, witchcraft. The below is what is left. I should also note that unlike the Cork Kotei I did not make it to the Paris Kotei, so my commentary is pure speculation. Jakub, on the other hand, has a slightly more informed opinion. Apply salt to taste as required.


Compared to the Cork Kotei,  Crab’s matchup was much better against Dragon and Scorpion but dropped considerably against Crane. As Dragon and Scorpion are considered the benchmarks to beat, this shift is a good thing overall and suggests that Crab decks are adjusting to the environment.

Pierre le Masson who made it into the top 16 of Cork once again made an appearance at Paris pushing Crab through to the finals. His Unicorn splash decklist made a few changes from Cork to try to improve the Scorpion matchup but didn’t push him over the line. Orian Gissler ran his own take on the same theme. Orian was top 16 in the Madrid Kotei as well so we’re starting to see top performers who consistently place high.

I have seen a few players speculate that Crab are making a mistake locking into the Unicorn splash, but it’s hard to argue with results and the Unicorn splash decks have consistently placed top of clan.

Day 2 Crab players used Unicorn, Scorpion and Crane splashes. The most popular (Unicorn) achieved best results. Talisman of the Sun is great against clans that want to break strongholds. Spyglasses should fix the card shortage after bidding low against Scorpion, but it doesn’t work in practice. All Crab/Unicorn players lost to Scorpion on day 2. Crab/Scorpion decks usually use A Fate Worse Than Death and Meek Informant. Other options are Calling in Favors and Backhanded Compliment. Scorpion splash gives an advantage in the already good Phoenix match-up and mirrors. It looks like Scorpion splash struggle against Crane and Scorpion. Crab/Crane deck with Political Rival to defend against political conflicts and make political attacks with covert achieved good results against Scorpion. The Crane splash gives Crab both offensive and defensive tools but cannot answer Haughty Magistrate.

– Jakub


Crane have pretty good win rates against all but Crab and Scorpion, which unfortunately is not enough to push them over the edge. Compared to Cork the Crane win rates have improved pretty much across the board suggesting the Crane community has worked out what they need to do. The top Crane decks seem split between Scorpion and Dragon splash. There was a hope that the Crane decks would be strong against Scorpion and would be able to knock them out. The win rates don’t reflect that, however, on Day 2 only one Crane deck played by Alessandro Apicella faced against a Scorpion deck, and the Crane deck won. Dragon, Phoenix, and Crab put an end to those Crane dreams though..

Alain Laugier made the top 16 in Cork, and here he is again in the top 8 in Paris. I expect we’ll be seeing his name again in future tournaments.

A lot of players expected that Crane would stop the Scorpion at Paris Kotei. We can see a huge difference between the Cork and Paris Kotei Crane’s win rates. The reason is simple – practice. A lot of players chose Crane as a good answer to the popular Scorpion deck and polished the Crane piloting skill. Overall win rates don’t confirm Crane has a good position against Scorpion, but we have to admit that Day 1A was dominated by Crane and Dragon with no Scorpions at the top. The most popular splashes (and the only in Day 2) were Scorpion and Dragon. Scorpion provides additional event cancellation, attachment hate, and solves the big guy issue. A Fate Worse Than Death and Calling in Favors helps a lot against Crab, Dragon, and Phoenix. Dragon splash (obvious choices: Mirumoto’s Fury and Let Go) is still useful against Crab, but not as good as Scorpion. Let Go is a better answer to Cloud The Mind than Calling in Favors. Mirumoto’s Fury allows Crane players to defend early with low investment until Guest of Honor and Kakita Yoshi appear.

– Jakub


Dragon managed to make top 4 in this tournament and top 4 at Cork. Eventually, they hit the Scorpion match-up and get knocked out. Despite efforts to meta against Scorpion, usually with Censure and Finger of Jade, the win rate between Cork and Paris for that match is essentially unchanged suggesting it is not working. That said, there is an argument that the key to the Dragon vs. Scorpion game is play-style rather than cards. If that is the case, those Dragon players have worked it out aren’t making it to tournaments.

Crab splash remains the choice for the top decks. The core of the deck is relatively locked in for Dragon, but the 2 Dragon decks in the top 16 still had some variations. In his decklist write up Josselin who made top 8 at Cork and top 32 at Paris addresses some comments that have circulated about the quality of Dragon decks played at Paris. While I disagree with the defense of his 45 card conflict deck, it seems clear that the difference between making the cut and not is player skill and not minor efficiencies between card choices.

Dragon’s win rates from Paris looks worse than from Cork. Results against Crab and Lion were 16 percentage points worse, -10 against Crane, -2 against Unicorn. The win rate against Phoenix is still around 50%. The only match-up looking better than in Cork is Scorpion (2 pp increase). Regardless of overall poor Dragon’s win rate, we saw 7 in day 2. In my opinion, Dragon is in a good position, allowing individual great players to constantly achieve great results. Decreasing amount of Assassinations helps 2-fate dragon characters like Agasha Swordsmith and Niten Adept do their great job. On the other side popularity of A Fate Worse Than Death gave the Niten Master hard times. It looks like all the Dragon players start creating decks from 3 Pathfinder’s Blades, 3 Reprieves, 3 Mirumoto’s Fury and 3 Let Go. All of those are solid choices but playing with a single splash, and less than 20 events in conflict deck greatly limits the tricks and make opponent’s cancel’s targets obvious choices.

– Jakub


Lion’s performance was pretty poor this tournament with only 1 qualifier from day 1a and 2 challengers making it to the second day. Interestingly, Lion seem to have recent match-ups against Dragon and Crab who are some of the top clans. They also have the best match-up of any clan against Scorpion, even with Crab at 47%. It is certainly possible that if those Lion players had managed to get out of the mix into the top brackets, they could have gone all the way.

The top Lion deck was a Crane splash by Jean Cochard giving 3 copies of Voice of Honor, 2 copies of Political Rival, and 3 copies of Steward of Law all of which seem great options for the Scorpion matchup.

It looks like Scorpion results placed Lion in an awkward position. Lion achieved the best win rate against Scorpion (47%, the same result as Crab). From the other side increased amounts of Censure made fighting for Imperial Favor and using For Greater Glory harder. All Lion players from day 2 increased the amount of small guys in dynasty. The only 3+ fate characters played constantly with 3 copies are Akodo Toturi, Honored General, Kitsu Spiritcaller and Lion’s Pride Brawler. Conflict decks are crowded with military boosts (A Legion of One, Banzai!, Charge, Way of the Lion) making defending military conflict pointless. In the result, it’s easier to race with Lion than use defensive approach. Crane splash grants Lion possibilities to defend political conflict with Political Rival or threat break in political conflict. Voice of Honor helps a lot with playing Charge, For Greater Glory or defending small characters from Assassination. The second choice, Dragon (great for 6 out of 7 clans), solve the best answer for Kitsu Spiritcaller and grant defensive tech in the form of Mirumoto’s Fury to buy a bit of time in the race.

– Jakub


Phoenix win rates dropped slightly when compared to Cork in all match-ups apart from Scorpion where there was a 10 point increase but that only brought them up to 43%. The top Phoenix decks were piloted by Jean-Baptiste Laroche with a Dragon splash and Nicolas Vaurette with a Lion splash who both made it into the top 8 losing to the two finalists. Notably, Nicolas did not run any Kaede or Tsukune opting for cheaper characters to make the deck less vulnerable to A Fate Worse Than Death. Jean-Baptiste played a Shugenja focused deck that could utilize Supernatural Storm while Nicolas opted for more of a Courtier focus with For Shame!

Given the natures of the two top decks, it looks like Phoenix have multiple viable options, something that should get even more interesting as their clan pack hits.

Current Phoenix matchups (two hard, two 50/50 and two good) doesn’t help them achieve 6 wins in 7 rounds. Two out of four Day 2 Phoenix players made their way up to top8. I consider it as a good result. The best thing about Phoenix decks is diversity. Comparing top 8 players, Jean-Baptiste Laroche and Nicolas Vaurette, decks we can see a lot of differences. Only Earth province (Public Forum, the best tool to use Display of Power) is the same in both decks. There is a difference of 17 cards in the Dynasty decks and 19 cards difference in Conflict decks. In terms of deck-building, the amount of good choices in Phoenix beats all other clans and it will be greatly increased within 3 weeks. Paths to the top are open for Phoenix players, they just need to find them and follow. Samuel Benies was able to achieve 6-0 in Proving Grounds at Paris.

– Jakub


Scorpion win rates have tempered somewhat since Cork. The Scorpion win rate against Crab is down 11 points, Crane 10 points, Dragon dropped 2 points, Lion dropped just 1 and 1 point, Phoenix dropped 10 points, while Unicorn dropped 22 points! This could be attributed to players getting more experience and learning how to play against the non-standard style. This good news! Suggesting we are capable of learning and growth 😉

Despite all of this, the Scorpion win rate remains strong.

Interestingly the top 3 Scorpion decks all included at least one copy of Censure. Marcos Yerga Gomez who made top 16 also was in the top 16 of the Madrid Kotei.

Scorpion kept high win rates against all other clans. All values are lower than in Cork, and it’s due to the response from the community, both by learning and changing decks to beat Scorpion. The greatest strength of Scorpion is not only high win-rate but consistent across all clans (56%+-3%). It’s the result of the versatility of Scorpion cards (a lot of them can be used defensive and offensive) and the possibility to win both via honor and by breaking the provinces. The downside of using honor as a resource is playing all the time on the edge, losing focus will lose the game and staying focused during all 12-13 games at big tournaments might be exhausting. Close win rates between clans against Scorpion just shows that each one have tools against it (Crab: Watch Commander, Crisis Breaker, Hida Kisada, Crane: Guest of Honor, Kakita Yoshi, Test of Skill, Dragon: Kitsuki Investigator, Restoration of Balance, Lion: dynasty characters, For Greater Glory, Phoenix: stronghold on dishonored characters and gaining imperial favor, Unicorn: Captive Audience, Spyglass, Windswept Yurt) and Scorpion have answers to those tools. The whole match is based on how and when tools and answers will be used. Only 3 out of 9 day-2 Scorpion players were able to enter to TOP 16. The most popular splash is all the time Dragon, but 3 Day 2 players used Crab. Pathfinder blade is a great tool against Dragon and Lion, Reprieve lets the Charged or Ambushed characters stay longer. Other options are: Rebuild for a bit of holding toolbox and defensive tech, or great 1-2 fate characters.

– Jakub


Unicorn performance at this tournament was much improved although still poor. Shockingly Unicorn have a positive win rate against Lion and pushed a 44% win rate against Scorpion. Cynically I’m inclined to believe these relate to games that were happening on the lower tables where things are wild and unruly. We’re also looking at a very small sample. Still, one Unicorn player Romain Verdier did manage to go 5-2 in the swiss which is an impressive feat.

Both Unicorn challengers chose a different path. Romain Verdier splashed Scorpion for control options, while Andre Rinn chose Lion splash for a more aggressive playstyle. We can’t say the problem with poor Unicorn performance doesn’t exists but it slowly work in favor of Unicorn. Players are inexperienced in the game against Unicorn. I’m waiting for dedicated Unicorn player who is not afraid to invest more time to achieve great results than with any other clan.

– Jakub



So what happened? Obviously, Scorpion managed to stay on top, but there was movement. Clearly, players adjusted and attempted to find strategies to beat them. In some cases, it worked, but over an extended tournament the averages won out, and Scorpion stayed on top. It does appear some decks could have positive win rates against Scorpion, but we never really got to find out as those decks lost to non-Scorpion decks. Presumably, the specialization required to beat Scorpion left them weaker in other match-ups.

One really good sign was the number of familiar names from Cork and Madrid. The names I’ve listed were only from the top 16, and there are some excellent players that managed to make the top 32 in multiple tournaments that haven’t been included. These are dedicated players who persevered and practiced to hone their game. It is good for the game because it shows that skill is an important factor and those good players will consistently place.

This was the last tournament in the Imperial environment. Next, we move into the Phoenix season. The Phoenix clan will be in a pretty unique place where they will be the only clan with a clan pack. This will shake up Phoenix decks, but for other clans, the change will be minimal especially where splashing Phoenix cards is not viable. We’re going to have lots of time to master that Scorpion match-up!

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6 Replies to “Meta Check – Paris Win Rates”

  1. I’m not sure if it is possible but I ran numbers last week using the same data set. Results were similar but without jakub’s witchcraft. Lion were 1 game under .500 using my data set and algorithms but either result is clearly with the margin of error. So mostly just confirming that from what I checked, the math/assumptions look pretty good

  2. There is an error on the Unicorn entry. “pushed a 54% win rate against Scorpion” but the grap show 44%.

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