March 28 2016 Monday at 11:27 AM

Duels Diaries Week 35 - Tourney Dueling until the very end

Sorry about last week.  I honestly had the entire post ready, and it was scheduled to go up on Monday morning.  When I checked on it on Wednesday, I was disappointed to see I posted it in the Haunted Flower News Blog, not in the Duels Diaries blog.  There is literally nothing in the News blog.  So I moved it over, by the time I did much of the information was out of date as the organized Magic Duels tournaments continue to march along.  No rest for the wicked, I am back to get all of you up-to-date on competitive Magic happenings with another Duels Diaries entry -

iOS Tournament

Still unconcluded as a result of yours truly being out of town.  In the semi-finals, Auunj’s Gruul Ramp dispatched a game LionBerry and his Thopters list.  The finals is Moss on Moss, Blue Ramp vs Gruul Ramp, and I am sure we will get the best-of-five match played in the next few days.

XB1 Double Elimination

The first XB1 double elimination tournament has concluded, and the champ is smokeyalaterz.  After falling into the loser’s bracket early, smoke ran the table through tough competition, and in the finals his Green Ramp deck finished off MrNiceGuy’s Red Aggro decisively with a 6-2 overall record.  The numbers are surprising, as “big dumb Green” proved dominant against Red Aggro, a deck with a good history of slaying giants.  Congrats to Smoke.  I posted his interesting take on Green Ramp last week, but if you want another look here it is - CLICK

Not satisfied with completing one battle, the participants promptly regrouped and launched another tournament -

Participants and deck archetypes go like so -

Smokeyalaterz - Black/White Control

Steely Danno - Naya Ramp

Legendofchiang - Blue Ramp

Immortal Reborn - Temur Midrange

Divinevert - Abzanchantments

tHaTsSoBlAzIn - Jund Ramp

MrNiceGuy248 - Red Aggro

xxUNBEATABLExx2 - Gruul Ramp

Peepysqueeps - Red Lands

Tsh1rt - Bant Tutelage

Donachaid - Red Aggro

No Sympathy - Izzet Thopters

Now I have seen a lot of decks registered for these events that have made me think “Is this a joke?”, but here we have a deck that I really do suspect to be a joke from the court jester of Magic Duels himself, the horse-headed one, PeepySqueeps.  Here is the list -

1 Acid-Moss with no green sources?  30 lands?  Ulamog with no ramp?  Peepy has yet to play, but if he knows something about big red that the rest of us don’t the joke may be on us.  He made a lot of doubters scratch their heads with that Jeskai Tokens build from the Hakumite.

Steam Showdown -

The top eight have been declared and the playoffs have started.  Here is who made the cut -

Kryder - Gruul Ramp

Yondar - Simic Tempo

Boh - Red Aggro

Spaunshadie - Jund Crats

Grimric - Jund Ramp

Light - Sultai Control

Darkshock - Jund Crats

Legend - Red Aggro


A lot has already been made on the forums of the lack of Acid-Moss, and Ramp in general, in the top eight.  Of the registered decks, I classified 46% as Ramp strategies, and only 25% of the top eight decks use Ramp strategies.  That is a drop-off, and not really what was expected.  Supplanting the Ramp menace as the best performing archetypes as percentage of top eight vs percentage in the field are Red Aggro (66% made top eight) and Jund Crats (100% made top eight).  The Jund deck is a deck I have been on since before B4Z got its XB1 release, and back then I had great results vs ramp with the deck despite the three color base.  Somewhere along the line I stopped trusting my own results, and I never ran it in an event.  I also thought that Chandra’s Ignition + Nantuko Husk was too cute of a combo for a competitive environment, like Willbreaker and Rogue’s Passage, but I have been proven wrong, and after running the combo in my Crats list for a while I am certain it is the real deal.

Despite the overall underperformance of Ramp, we still have a Gruul Ramp deck on top of the standings.  I see a lot in common with my run in the Hakumite and Kryder’s run here.  Both of us have a lot of experience with Ramp.  While others may find it boring or degenerate, and only use it to grind gold, opting for more “interesting” decks for their gaming pleasure, I know that Kryder and I both put a lot of time and thought into playing our decks, and the experience translated to results in both cases.  Sure, it doesn’t take a lot of strategy to win and double and triple Moss game, and that is where Ramp gets a bad reputation, but those games don’t happen as often as folks like to remember (it is a bias thing).  Playing any deck at a high level, whether it be Ramp or Red Aggro or Thopters, takes a certain amount of mastery, and just because a deck has powerful cards or gets played alot doesn’t remove the need for some level of familiarity.

Not to be outdone, two other decks waded through the Ramp field to make the playoffs - Simic Tempo and Sultai Control.  Simic Tempo doesn’t shock me.  I’ve written about this deck, and I feel it fits a certain niche, even as I don’t have love for it.  Sultai Control does shock me.  This is a deck type that I have had no trouble smashing into the ground with B4Z dropped.  Sultai Control strategies in the stats have a win/loss of 37.5%, and that includes Light’s results.  Light is clearly a worthy pilot, and he managed to swim the seas of Red Aggro and Gruul Ramp which both look like nasty matchups, so he gives me the impression that he has a lot of experience with the deck and may be a cut above the average in experience and play skill compared to other Sultai pilots.

Finally, I get to eat my foot with regards to Grimric and his Jund list.  I gave this deck the lowest grade in my preview post of any decks in the event, and here it is in the top eight, having beaten both Gruul Ramp and Jund Crats (two of my favorite lists) along the way.  I still don’t buy in, I couldn’t replicate this success in my games with the deck, but it doesn’t matter what I can or can’t do or what I think.  Congrats to Grimric on the top eight and best of luck to him and the rest of the competitors.

For decklists, here is a link to a previous Duels Diaries - Click Here

Now is as good a time as any to reflect on the competitive results of deck archtypes.  I know that dividing decks into tiers using this format is in some ways fundamentally flawed - it doesn’t take into account card differences within archetypes and has no way to compensate for player skill or experience - but why keep data if you never plan to draw any conclusions?  So see the data, and don’t worship it, just read it :)

Tier One

Green Ramp - 23/8 - 74% - smaller sample, powered by Smoke’s championship run

Gruul Ramp - 56/22 - 72% - large sample at this point, deep runs in all three major events

Jund Crats - 15/6 - 71% - Small sample, great results against major archetypes between two players

Tier Two

Jeskai Tokens - 11/7 - 61% - Small sample, single pilot

Blue Ramp - 26/20 - 56%

Simic Tempo - 16/13 - 55%

Red Aggro - 29/25 - 54%

Average Tier

Thopters - 46/42 - 52%

4 or 5 Color Control - 13/12 - 52%

Grixis Control - 50%

Orzhov Control - 50%

Temur Ramp - 50%

Below Average Tier Notables

Jund - 27/33 - 45%

Azorius Aggro - 14/19 - 42%

Sultai Control - 9/15 - 38%

Esper Control - 13/20 - 39%

Naya Ramp - 10/13 - 43%

G/W Ramp - 11/13 - 46%

4 or 5 Color Ramp - 9/16 - 36%

Abzan Ramp - 7/16 - 30%

Sultai Fog - 14/15 - 48%

Dimir Crats - 13/15 - 46%

Rakdos Thieves - 8/22 - 27%

As we wind down the Battle for Zendikar season, in what feels like the longest wind-down ever, it is as good a time as any to reflect on the format.  This format will easily be remembered for one card -


The card that launched a thousand forum posts…

Seriously, for a while it seemed that you couldn’t talk about playing Duels without turning it into an Acid-Moss conversation.  Is it too powerful?  Is it even good?  Should it be banned (um, yes)?  Will anything ever be banned (um, yeah)?  Is any other deck even good?  Can you play three or more colors?  Does Green have to go into every deck to make it good?  It seemed to never stop.  As the tournament results have showed, Acid-Moss is a card that forces better deck building, but it doesn’t have to dominate the format.  Sometimes you keep a sketchy hand and double-Moss is just game, but most of the time you can build your deck well and still have a fighting chance against an Acid-Moss.  I often felt like when I won against double and triple Moss games that I had won with a mulligan to four, and it happened about as often, but it did happen.  Eventually I grew to treat Moss as just part of the randomness of the game, and I came to value cards like Gatecreeper and Pilgrim’s Eye more than other cards that would be more powerful in those slots because they kept my mana in working order.  We will remember this format for Moss, but I think that those of us who came out without a fear of the Moss but an understanding of how to beat it are stronger for the experience, and we will need that strength to face what is coming…

<3 CGB

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