March 07 2016 Monday at 12:14 PM

Duels Diaries Week 32 - Tourney results, insights and a top tier list

Hello Duelers,

While I haven’t been able to follow the XB1 double elimination tourney or the Steam Showdown as closely as I would like, I have been having a good time compiling the stats from the events, and I have been shocked by some of the results!

The iOS event has completed the dark rounds, and now decklists are public.  Each deck had to play twenty-one games of round robin, so we have plenty of data to add to our records.  The only Gruul Ramp deck in the field rose to the top, followed by the only other Ramp deck of any kind in the field.  Two Thopter decks contributed a lot to the Thopter results, plus we had a Dimir Husk deck, a Grixis Control deck, a Rakdos Thieves deck and an Azorius Aggro.  The cut to top four was anything but clean, with a three-way tie for 4th place, and now there is a wildcard round for those three.  If the brackets are done the standard way, I will play DJ0045 and his Dimir Crats list, which KO’d me 3-0 in our Round Robin match, and the winner of the three-way-tie playoff will face the undefeated Annuj and his Gruul Ramp deck.

Annuj’s deck is worth talking about, it went undefeated in matches over six rounds -

4 x Gatecreeper Vine

3 x Rolling Thunder

1 x Nissa, Vastwood Seer

2 x Radiant Flames

4 x Nissa's Pilgrimage

3 x Zendikar Incarnate

2 x From Beyond

4 x Mwonvuli Acid-Moss

2 x Outland Colossus

2 x Chandra's Ignition

1 x Greenwarden of Murasa

2 x Oran-Rief Hydra

1 x Oblivion Sower

2 x Nissa's Renewal

2 x Plated Crusher

1 x Omnath, Locus of Rage

1 x Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

6 x Mountain

12 x Forest

2 x Cinder Glade

2 x Rootbound Crag

1 x Canopy Vista


3 x Jaddi Offshoot

4 x Fiery Impulse

2 x Twin Bolt

2 x Reclamation Sage

1 x Woodland Bellower

2 x Gaea's Revenge

1 x Plated Crusher

First up, this tournament has sideboards.  If you aren’t familiar, in Duels a sideboard is a pre-selected list of cards that players can substitute into their decks in between games in a match.  The first game is always played with the registered original sixty cards, but sideboard cards can be added and/or swapped into the deck between games.

Sideboarding favors the already-favored Gruul Ramp deck, because it can leave all the anti-aggro cards in the board.  When running Gruul Ramp, I constantly faced a dilemma - do I run Fiery Impulse and/or Twin Bolt and/or Jaddi Offshoot?  If I don’t run them, I will just lose to Red Aggro and Thopters on some draws.  Running them makes the deck stronger against those builds, but running other big threats makes the deck stronger against control, midrange and other ramp decks.  With a sideboard, Annuj can leave all the anti-aggro cards in the board and just load up on threats for the control, mid-range and ramp battles.

I like the return of Zendikar Incarnate/Chandra’s Ignition to the deck (only a return because I recently made the switch back, some folks may have never left).  Since Thopters refuses to die as a strategy, lets do the thing that scared them the most in Duels Origins - turn four monster, turn five Ignition.  

I can’t argue with sending Gaea’s Revenge to the sideboard.  Revenge is great against blue control decks and Jund, but it is bad against aggro and Thopters.  The slower the format, the better Revenge is, but I expect players will have caught on that they can’t beat Ramp by being slow.  Oran-Rief Hydra and Plated Crusher keep the threat level high, and they provide more targets for a massive Ignition.

I would caution players about taking this deck out for a spin, because you will likely struggle against aggro decks that are more common in pubbing.  Annuj has hedged his game one against ramp decks and control decks, while planning to win games two and three vs aggro after loading up on Jaddi, Fiery Impulse and Twin Bolt.  If you are playing the deck against the randoms, you will want to balance it out by keeping some amount of Impulse/Jaddi/Bolt in the main deck.

A ton of surprises hit me in round two of the Steam Showdown-

Temur Midrange defeats Sultai Fog

Jund defeats Gruul Ramp

Sultai Control defeats Red Aggro

I would have called these the other way and been very wrong.  Especially on Jund.  Props to Grimric - I hated on his deck and so far he is 4-0 and looking great.  I can be, and have been, wrong, but this one is still a shocker to me.

Steam Showdown undefeateds as-of the end of round two -

Simic Tempo

Jund Ramp

Jund Crats

Jund Crats

Gruul Ramp

Sultai Ramp

The XB1 double elimination event has a 2-0 winners bracket that looks like this -

Sultai Fog

4 Color Control

Red Aggro

Sultai Ramp

After punching all the data into my spreadsheet (HERE), we get a lot of numbers.  Let's peruse them shall we?  How about a list of the decks with at least ten games played and their results (win/loss record, win/loss ratio) -

Thopters - 39-38, 51%

Jund - 23-25, 47%

Gruul Ramp - 36-13, 73%

Dimir Control - 3-8, 27%

Azorius Aggro - 14-17, 45%

Sultai Control - 4-12, 25%

Esper Control - 11-17, 39%

Jeskai Tokens - 11-7, 61%

Naya Ramp - 8-9, 47%

GW Ramp - 9-10, 47%

4 and 5 Color Ramp - 8-12, 40%

Simic Tempo - 7-7, 50%

Temur Midrange - 4-6, 40%

4 and 5 Color Control - 6-4, 60%

Red Aggro - 9-10, 47%

Abzan Ramp - 4-6, 40%

Sultai Fog - 8-7, 53%

Green Ramp - 5-5, 50%

Rakdos Thieves - 7-20, 26%

Dimir Crats - 14-12, 54%

Grixis Control - 10-11, 48%

Simic/Sultai Ramp - 21-10, 68%

Only a handful of decks have winning records after at least ten games, and they are Thopters, Gruul Ramp, Jeskai Tokens, 4 and 5 Color Control, Sultai fog, Dimir Crats and Simic/Sultai Ramp.

I should also mention that Jund Crats is knocking on the door.  With eight games played, the deck is currently 8-0.

While there are more games to play, and there is surely more to learn, here are some observations-

Gruul Ramp and Simic/Sultai Ramp are the only decks that currently win over 66% of their games, or in other words they statistically survive a best two-out-of-three environment.  If stats are to be believed, the top tier of decks only include Gruul and Simic/Sultai Ramp decks.

I still have a bone to pick with Thopters, an open wound of sorts, because Hakeem used it to knock me out of the HAKI.  Continuing to pick at the open wound, Thopters is 3-7 against Gruul Ramp in competitive play, which matches my playtesting results exactly!  Too bad for me that two of those losses came in the semis.

Aficionados of Red Aggro warned me that the deck isn’t that good since B4Z dropped, but I continued to believe in the deck.  Well, the numbers tell me that Red Aggro is anything but top tier, with a lackluster 9-10 record in competitive play.

Gruul Ramp stands apart as clearly the best ramp deck, and splashing blue appears to be the second-best option.  4-5 Color Ramp, Golgari Ramp, Temur Ramp, Naya Ramp, GW Ramp and Abzan Ramp all sport sub-five-hundred records, and Green Ramp is 50/50.

Crats, Thopters, Tokens, Tutelage are the only non-Ramp strategies with records above 50%.  Not good news for traditional aggro players.  This implies you have to play “creative aggro” to win.

Decks that are very popular but have certainly not performed in competitive play -

Jund, 48%

Sultai Control, 25%

Esper Control, 39%

4 to 5 Color Ramp, 40%

Red Aggro, 49%

Rakdos Thieves, 26%

One reason I track this stuff is to separate fiction from reality.  I see many of these decks get played so often, and I lose to them sometimes, so I always wonder what I am missing as I try to replicate the results.  Or I just don’t do much testing, such as with Red Aggro, and I just assume it competes at a certain level because I have lost some games to it.  The numbers help set us straight.  Nobody has really made Esper work, Sultai Control hasn’t found footing, Jund is pretty average, adding fourth and fifth colors to Ramp hasn’t improved it, Red Aggro loses as much as it wins to all types of opponents, and Rakdos Thieves decks are generally bad.

Tier One for the current meta - Gruul Ramp and Blue Ramp

Tier Two - Crats, Thopters, Tokens, Sultai Tutelage, Simic Tempo, Four Color Control

Tier Three and under - Lots of things, but worth noting - Red Aggro, other Ramp decks, Esper, Sultai and Jund control lists.

If entering a tournament before the April update, or if you are just trying to get some games in and earn some gold, stick to the top two tiers for best results.

I will be posting more entries throughout the week with Shadows speculation, Oath card confirmations, my current deck box (the decks I play the most), and a Duels to Watch list.  I am going to try splitting these different topics up instead of piling them all into one big blog post, and hopefully you lovely readers will enjoy a more segmented approach.

Thanks, as always, for reading :)

<3 CGB

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