The Ladder is the rank system for the multiplayer aspect of the game, the Battlefield. It utilizes two unique components: A rank-based matching system and the ability to run 4 different armies at the same time.
Due to the high customizability of armies in the game, the metagame of the Battlefield is highly sophisticated, playing out more like a complex version of scissors-paper-stone with dominant strategies in certain tiers. A strategy that works at tier 3 may eventually be unable to cross a certain threshold at tier 4, but work well again in a higher tier.
Refer to Strategies for a more in-depth look at each common strategy used.
A brief description of the strategies found prominent at each tier is as below (updated as of 23/7/2013)
Tier 1, Wood Challenger Edit
Largely badly equipped and formed armies. Newbies and bad strategies can be found here. Easy to beat with a simple archer rush or "Tutorial Strategy". Recommended that the player grind a few stone starters or iron starters before entering ranked battles.
Tier 2, Wood Contender Edit
Players who have either edged their way into tier 2 with bad strategies, or inactive players who have dropped out of tier 3. Still not much of a difficulty with any decently thought out strategy. May encounter small and badly equipped tank-knights.
Tier 3, Wood Veteran Edit
The going gets tough! This tier is where majority of players meet their first hurdle in the Battlefield. Consisting of a large variety of strategies, some well equipped and others just lacking cards to move to the next tier, it may take some luck to clear this hurdle for players who have not amassed a decent collection of cards to create their army with.
Notable effective strategies that will begin appearing in this tier are Tank Rushes, Caster Stalls, Archer Rushes, "Tutorial Strategy", Musketeers, Behemoth Do-It-Alls.
Good breakout strategies include a mix of archer/caster stalls and good use of the few niche cards players would likely have at this stage.
Tier 4, Steel Challenger Edit
Players who have reached tier 4 are largely those who have edged out of tier 3 using a more effective strategy or with well-equipped armies. In tier 4, players will begin to meet niche strategies such as Caster Rush and Lifesteal Knight that require specific item counters or a well-equipped army to counter.
Notable effective strategies to play here are Caster Stalls and Buffed Archer Stalls, which play out well against both niche strategies.
Tier 5, Steel Contender Edit
Tier 5 is where legendary items begin showing their ugly head. Ranging from anti-caster equips and Ceriphyrian/Ultra Mech Knights to Ultima Staffs or global nuke stalls, the strategy here is to obtain higher level cards to create an efficient niche strategy that can break through the tier. Stalls that do not have enough damage behind them will fall easily to regenerating Mech Knights, while armies badly equipped against magic will be taken out in seconds by a variety of casters. A notable strategy is the single-file army, horrendously effective and painful to watch.
Notable effective strategies to play here are dependent on the enemies that one is currently facing, as tier 5 has a variety of strategies that are not easily countered by a single strategy. Notably, players with buffed archer rushes, necro items and anti-caster items find themselves quickly rising up the ranks.
Tier 6, Steel Veteran Edit
Tier 6 is the land of the undead. Necro strats become popular at this stage, as they are capable of creating permanent fights with Mech Knight that stall enough for heavy casters to do their work, while at the same time creating infinite cannon fodder to deal with frontline-caster strategies. Well equipped Ultra Knights may become a huge problem, as they have a large amount of health and are difficult to take out without adequate damage.
More often than not, players are actually stuck at this stage as they do not have the correct equips to deal with necromancers. Anti-caster equipment is now almost a necessity to easily break out of this tier, and caster strategies will likely be battling themselves forever here.
- EDIT: Meta has changed and now most Tier 6 units are Ultra-Shield knights. Too many players with items stuck in this meta of using poor heavy knight strategies.
Tier 7, Copper Challenger Edit
Niche strategies and fully-equipped players find themselves in the ultimate showdown of skill in tier 7, where unique counters such as global poison have broken their way through the multitude of casters in previous tiers. Tier 7 is unique in that half the games are anti-caster knight rushes or archer stalls, with the occasional global stall strategy certain casters with Ultima staffs are still successfully pulling off.
The shiniest strategy here is in fact a simple buffed archer stall, as powerful equips such as Orc Leader's Crowns and Gordakar's Plate present a cheap way of gaining damage to deal with Knights and other defense/resist based strategies (supported, of course, by anti-caster items, hence rendering both prominent strategies ineffective)
EDIT: A few rounds with an army indicate that majority of players in tier 7 are now playing Arhalath's Vest Knight strategies, which can be devastating if you do not have enough damage to take them out.
Tier 8, Copper Contender Edit
At this point, players would pretty much have every item in the game, but are surprisingly going to be employing the exact same strategies: Players clinging on to fully equipped Knights, with the occasional smart Imra'ilh's Mace pickup; Players relying on successful buffed archer stall strategies, eventually disappearing from this tier and moving on. Some smart players may choose to remove the buffs from their archer strategies and install stalls with singular knights, realising that the counter to both buffed archer stalls and knights is actually a compromise between both.
The efficiency of the archer stalls is also tested here, as players who spam single ranged weapon types or stick with poor choice of stalls drop out of the ladder.
Tier 9, Copper Veteran Edit
Tier 9 features an endless version of tier 8, with the difference being that archer stall strategies are now purely that; no buffs, just a multitude of different ranged weapons shooting at different timings. First to take out the stalls win!
The breakout strategy for this tier is surprisingly simple: as players have stopped using caster strategies almost entirely, a return to caster strategy easily takes out half of the archer stalls that have removed their anti-caster equips, while the other half is likely to only have one or two anti-caster equips. Counter this with 2 or more ultima staffs and plenty of caster armor, and a small stall should be able to set the player up for a quick run of wins all the way to tier 10 and beyond.
Notably, players lucky enough to have hoarded enough Ultima staffs can employ "2s GG" armmagedon or solar flare strategies on the badly equipped archer stall armies, easily winning through the entire tier in under 10 minutes.
Tier 10, Silver Challenger Edit
By this point opponents are using spells heavily, often keeping their spellcasters in a single row or two with numerous guards in front, though you will encounter the occasional trio of melee fighters, a few high-powered units with equipment such as King's Necklace of Death, Battle Armor, OkKoraz Sword, and Ultima Shield. One of the most annoying strategies you'll encounter are those who have spellcasters raising skeletons so that they can never be reached.
A great strategy to breeze through this level is using the Imra'lh or Zamaroth Mythics with a lot of Shapeshifters, since the Shapeshifters count as any unit type. This gives all Shapeshifters 10 light or dark attack, and 10 defense for each Imra'lh or Zamaroth Mystic you are using. Giving each Shapeshifter in your front rows a pike will allow them to use their high-powered attack without being hit so they live longer. A single powerful unit in back and some static orbs or an anti-magic shield on a back unit can also help reduce the danger of spellcasters. A variation on this strategy should carry you through this and the next tier.
Tier 11, Silver Contender Edit
A Shapeshifter-based army should have little difficulty here, although you will begin encountering the occasional annoying stall tactic addressed in Tier 12 that will cause you to take losses.
Tier 12, Silver Veteran Edit
This is the first tier that should start giving a Shapeshifter army trouble because of a very annoying stall tactic where players use enough units with Immortal Armor on the top 2 rows that a single powered unit can never win. Even if you manage to destroy the rest of their army, the Immortals will keep respawning so that when one dies another revives at the exact same second.
An adjustment of some kind, such as a few well placed archers in the top 2 rows or even several rows (to kill spawning Immortals quicker), may be necessary to get through this tier.
Tier 13, Gold Challenger Edit
Surprisingly, this is an easier tier than tier 12. Every single battle is virtually identical, two maxed out units in the middle using OkKoraz Hammers with a single caster/archer in the back row, probably the method used to get through the previous tier. I only noticed 2 players in this tier, and two, Gantakun and Drawser, use the same method mentioned every time. However, Shapeshifters destroy this very quickly, and the tier should be breezed through, I did not lose a single battle on this tier.
Tier 14, Gold Contender Edit
This tier continues the pattern of 1-2 powerful units in the center, though now there are variations, sometimes multiple archers or magic users in the back, and in one case a full vertical row with Misform Mystics surrounding the powerful unit. All of which is more or less irrelevant since there's nothing here to stop a Shapeshifter pike army. I lost only one battle on this tier, to someone else using a Shapeshifter army as well, with dozens of Shapeshifters guarding a single unit with Armageddon Staff.
Tier 15, Gold Veteran Edit
The best players fortunately moved on to the next tier it seems, and some 30 Shapeshifters, most with pikes, and 3 Imra'lh/Zemaroth Mythics were enough to get me through this tier. You will be lucky to make it through this tier, however.
Tier 16, Platinum Challenger Edit
It requires a serious adjustment to get through this tier, a balanced combination of Imra'lh or Zemaroth Mythics, Rhigar Mythics, lots of Shapeshifters/Vermin, Machine Catapults, and Living Bows or Imp Muskets. All opponents now are using armies with Shapeshifter/Vermin variations and ranged units in the back.
Tier 17, Platinum Contender Edit
A popular strategy here seems to be using Umenth Mythics to speed up casting speed with powerful weapons that destroy all units on the field. Just from my initial impression, beating this level may require either a similar strategy, or blitzing top and bottom lanes while using anti-magic items such as the Time Slow Ring, Anti-Magic Field, and Static Orb. They put the spellcasters at the very back of a top or bottom row with only a few units in front to guard. Shapeshifter/Vermin armies will not work here.