December 13 2015 Sunday at 10:54 PM

Duels Diaries Week 20 - Zendikar has come to the iOS, but will the players show up?

Hello Duelers,

I have to open with some gratitude - Thanks to Kryder for all the data for the meta tally, and thanks to DJ0045, without him I doubt I would have anything to write about.  Read on for more.

So it finally happened.  After I wrote my B4Z primer on Thursday, I actually took a nap for the first time in my adult life, because I wanted to be Dueling all night when the update hit.  I awoke around 6:40 pm EST to find the update available, and I got right to it.

By the time I was awake with the update downloaded, Hakeem928 was streaming on Twitch so I fired that up on my computer and watched his brain overheat from choosing cards for his Simic deck, while on the side I cracked my packs and I built all the decks I have been testing for the last week-and-a-half.  My wife left for Denver on Friday morning, and I had/have the house to myself for the weekend, so I have indulged myself in an all-you-can-eat Magic buffet.  Magic World Cup and SCG Coverage on the TV, Twitch streamers and YouTube videos on the computer and an iPad Mini, and of course Duels on the iPad.  I went nowhere and did nothing but enjoy my favorite past-time with minimal distraction for nearly four days, all culminating in today's Duels Diaries entry.  I will now unload all the things I have learned from this Magic filled weekend.

First things first - either something is wrong with my connection, or the three to four months of connectivity issues has destroyed the iOS player base.  I know from personal experience that reconnecting to the server after the glitch caused you to lose all your gold and cards, it happened to me and I had to contact Wizards customer service, sit on hold for 40 minutes and wait two days to get it back.  Those with less patience and persistence may have downloaded their new update and connected to the server only to find their collection and gold hoard gone.  

The net result is that it takes a ridiculous amount of time to find a game in ranked, and if you do find one the games are sometimes very bad.  On Friday I spent 14 hours looking for games.  I played 19 total games. That is in the ballpark of an hour of "Searching for players..." for each game.  It got better each day.  Saturday I got to a game about every half hour.  Today it has taken about ten minutes per game.  So things are improving, but the games are not.  I have mostly been paired against players with just starter decks in ranked for the last day.  I have seen very few B4Z cards in my ranked matches.  

My preparation with paper cards has paid off, the best decks I've built did crush the competition as I'll get to.  I just really don't enjoy casting Ulamog to exile Razorfoot Griffen and Sky-Eel School.  Imagine playing Friday Night Magic with a top 8 list from the Pro Tour vs a bunch of sealed decks.  Hopefully the player base rebuilds.

In the meantime, my love for the game got rescued by DJ0045, who many of you know from NGA.  I used iOS Gamecenter to invite anyone I knew to play Duels, because finding a game was so frustrating, and DJ responded and we ended up playing a lot of games over the weekend.  He is a good player, and he generally has smart builds, so each game was well above average for Magic Duels in terms of quality competition and I learned a lot.  But before I dive into decks, results and general format info, let's take a look at the meta brought to us by personal experience, watching Twitch and YouTube, and info sent to me by Kryder.  If you would like your experiences added to the data, just write down what colors you played against and email the list to by the end of each Saturday or early Sunday morning.

Deck Week 3 W3 Meta
Gruul 34 9.16%
Red 31 8.36%
Sultai 27 7.28%
Golgari 26 7.01%
Selesnya 24 6.47%
Dimir 21 5.66%
Izzet 21 5.66%
4 and 5 Color 19 5.12%
Simic 17 4.58%
Azorius 17 4.58%
Rakdos 16 4.31%
Orzhov 15 4.04%
Junk 13 3.50%
Green 12 3.23%
Boros 12 3.23%
Esper 11 2.96%
Abzan 8 2.16%
Jund 8 2.16%
Mardu 7 1.89%
Naya 7 1.89%
Grixis 6 1.62%
Black 5 1.35%
Temur 4 1.08%
White 4 1.08%
Blue 3 0.81%
Bant 2 0.54%
Jeskai 1 0.27%


The meta is getting even healthier with time.  Last week we had our highest game count yet, 371 games, and not one color combination made up more than ten percent of the meta.  All types of Gruul, monsters, midrange, landfall, aggro and ramp, combined to lead the pack, making up 9% of decks.  Red Aggro fell from 14% of decks last week to just 8% this week.  Sultai and Golgari continue to show up in force.  Sultai is almost all made up of controlling planeswalker decks, with Fog Mill and Aristocrats only showing up four times combined.  Golgari is mostly an updated control deck from last season, with about 20% of the total being Elf decks with hardly anything changed at all from B4Z.  Filling out the top five is Selesnya, which is all green/white ramp except for two g/w aggro builds.

You can go down the list and see all kinds of shards and guilds represented.  The trend from last week has continued, players are over the rock/paper/scissors of Ramp, Red and Monsters, and are playing whatever their heart's content.

I will say it again like I said it last week, you can play whatever you want in the format right now and probably have fun and win some games.  That said, even in a diverse meta like this I strive to separate the best strategies from the merely good ones.  There are a lot of options, especially in linear aggro (allies, elves, thopters, vampires) to curve out and smash face, but the best decks right now are interactive and show up with the right threats and answers to control their own destiny.  

You'll notice in the middle a line called Junk, at 13 occurrences (3.5% of meta).  This is not about a color combination, this is about getting paired against a rank zero player who is basically running the origins starter box and not much else.  Razorfoot Griffin?  Junk.  Sky-Eel School?  Junk.  Accursed Spirit?  Junk.  Goblin Piker?  Junk.  Battlefront Krushok?  So much Junk.  When someone is playing their first game of Magic at a sever card pool disadvantage, I don't want to count this as a Selesnya deck, or an Azorius deck, because I don't see this as a conscious entry into the meta.  I classify these obvious first-timers in the Junk section, and I am sorry if that sounds harsh.  Everyone recalls their early days of Magic and thinks...."Yep, Wall of Wood, that was junk".  So if the deck falls into Junk, that is something I put in a class by itself.  Doing this lets you also trust that the rest of the percentages are influenced by players running real decks, usually sixty cards, that they either built or netdecked, and either way some thought went into it somewhere along the deck's journey to this game.

Let's step away from the meta at large and get into some personal results.

In the early weeks of a new format, I build the decks that I expect to be strong and I pick one and play it with a double elimination clause - two losses, and I change decks.  We just see how many wins we can pile onto those two loses.

First deck, Gruul Ramp - 16 and 2.  This deck was the must-beat deck in my gauntlet, so I had almost 100 games of practice in before the update came out.  Right out of the gates, I still believe it is the best deck in a wide open meta.  It has just enough answers to hold up against aggro, a late game that destroys midrange and requires the right set of answers from a control deck.  It adds up to plenty of wins.  The deck was eventually dethroned by losing two-out-of-three to a U/W Tap Dancer strategy.  One thing I learned this week is that in general I have started keeping hands that are very slow, sometimes with no action before turn three.  If the format still plays plenty of aggro decks, even of the not-red variety like U/W Tap Dancer, keeping such hands on the draw is just being too greedy.  I don't actually think the U/W deck is good against ramp, I think that I kept a few draws that were just too slow.  I still recommend the big bad ramp deck, and I still recommend Gruul for your colors.  I firmly believe mono-Green ramp is foolish.  I only have eight red cards in my Gruul Ramp deck, but they all make a huge difference in how the games play out and they all have such a better impact on the game than, say, Elvish Visionary.  As I wrote last week, Rolling Thunder is the true breaker-of-armies.  This card can wipe out the board, wipe out a planeswalker in the process, or just win the game.  G/W ramp has nothing that really compares, Tragic Arrogance and Planar Outburst are great but they don't do the same job with respect to targeting players and walkers.  Emeria Shepard is a card I am struggling to appreciate currently.   When it sticks around, it just wrecks the game, but it is really hard to resolve it and get action out of it.  A lot of set-up, while you could just be casting Rolling Thunder and crushing a whole side of the board.  Red/Green Ramp is still where it's at, and as far as I'm concerned we still haven't found a solution.  Here is the list, with only the minor change this week of -1 Gatecreeper, +1 Elvish Visionary because you want to draw Creeper, but you really only want one, and some percentage of the time Visionary is just as good.

3 x Fiery Impulse
3 x Jaddi Offshoot
3 x Gatecreeper Vine
1 x Elvish Visionary
2 x Radiant Flames
4 x Nissa's Pilgrimage
1 x Nissa, Vastwood Seer
4 x Mwonvuli Acid-Moss
2 x From Beyond
2 x Outland Colossus
1 x Oblivion Sower
1 x Greenwarden of Murasa
2 x Nissa's Renewal
2 x Gaea's Revenge
1 x Omnath, Locus of Rage
1 x Desolation Twin
1 x Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
2 x Rolling Thunder
2 x Rootbound Crag
1 x Canopy Vista
2 x Cinder Glade
6 x Mountain
13 x Forest

The next deck that jumped into the pilot seat is what started out as Five Color Ramp/Control, which I have written about in the past.  Kryder and I have both been working on builds of this for a few weeks, and he as a video on his YouTube channel with the deck.  As I have mentioned before, mute the audio for the good of your ears - Kryder's Channel

I have played a lot of games with this, and over time I made plenty of changes.  While a five-color theme is fine, I thought the deck was over-stuffed with mana fixing.  It needed to be, because so many cards cost BB or WW, even in the splash colors.  At one point I only had three black cards in my deck, but they all had BB in the casting cost.  I saw an opportunity to improve the mana in the deck and improve the overall card quality in the deck by cutting a color.  The deck went on to be called Not Black, because it had everything but black of course (don't read into it please.  I make lots of black decks, I love black decks, I don't try to keep black cards out of my decks OK!).

3 x Jaddi Offshoot
1 x Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
4 x Gatecreeper Vine
2 x Twin Bolt
1 x Rolling Thunder
2 x Pilgrim's Eye
1 x Nissa, Vastwood Seer
3 x Natural Connection
2 x Radiant Flames
2 x From Beyond
4 x Brilliant Spectrum
1 x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 x Kiora, Master of the Depths
2 x Planar Outburst
2 x Angelic Edict
1 x Greenwarden of Murasa
1 x Oblivion Sower
2 x Nissa's Renewal
1 x Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
3 x Plains
2 x Island
3 x Mountain
6 x Forest
2 x Cinder Glade
2 x Canopy Vista
2 x Prairie Stream
4 x Evolving Wilds

At the core it is a Four Color Green list, with the best removal, card draw and planeswalkers being borrowed from other colors on account of the great mana-fixing Green offers.  I can imagine some of you may call it short on win-cons, but I promise it is not.  When going Ulamog isn't enough, the deck actually plays out well as a token snowball.  Just grab a Gideon Emblem and leave a From Beyond on the table to drive a control deck crazy.  An awakened Planar Outburst can also end a tense game out of nowhere.  Sometimes finding the right card for the job isn't about which is absolutely better, and we see that in the case of Pilgrim's Eye and Natural Connection.  Sometimes you want to keep a hand without a Forest, Pilgrim's Eye can let you do that.  Sometimes you want to react to Acid-Moss at instant speed, or you need to get to Planar Outburst, and Natural Connection is your spell.  Sometimes you need a flier to chump block and defend your planeswalker, and Pilgrim's Eye is up to the task.  While Natural Connection is likely a better card, playing a mix vastly improves your options for those occurrences when you have both in your hand.

The deck finished 17-2, putting up the most wins so far.  It also beat all manner of foes, eventually folding to a Mardu Allies list piloted by DJ and a Selesnya Aggro god draw.  For as awesome as these go-big strategies are, sometimes you draw the wrong half of the deck, find none of your removal or sweepers and just get rolled.  It happens, but again, I think I picked up a bad habit of keeping hands that don't interact within four turns, and I need to stop that.  I recommend the list, it is a blast to play and feels like a fun toolbox with some of the best cards in the game.  Like one of my standard decks, it is a pile of rares and mythics, it just can't be too bad.

The next deck into the captain's chair is Red Aggro.  Honestly, I don't love running Red Aggro, and I felt really bad about it when it was taking me over a half-hour to find games.  Search for thirty minutes, win in five turns, search for another thirty.  All that said, I don't shy away from playing a deck that I believe to be good just because I don't like it.  Playing a deck is one of the best ways to understand it, so you can play better against it, so you can beat it.  Play enough of a deck, and when you play against it you feel like you can tell exactly what is in their hand from the way they play, because that is how you would play it.  Red Aggro kicked out ten wins and two losses, basically losing to itself.  You know the hands, they work out all the time but this time the draw came out all wrong.  Like a one lander with Glory Chaser, Foundry Street and Titan's Strength and lots of great two drops that never draws a second land in ten turns.  Or the hand with a Glory Chaser, two lands, a Call of the Full Moon and a bunch of burn spells.  No way you mulligan that, and you come out swinging but the opponent plays Blisterpod into turn two Fleshbag Marauder and you never draw another creature for the rest of the game, just three Infectious Bloodlust's off the top.  In each game it feels like what the opponent had really didn't matter, you'd have smashed them with one or two different cards.  Anyway, here is my Red Aggro right now -

3 x Goblin Glory Chaser
4 x Foundry Street Denizen
2 x Fiery Impulse
4 x Titan's Strength
4 x Dragon Fodder
2 x Twin Bolt
2 x Abbot of Keral Keep
3 x Ember Hauler
4 x Mage-Ring Bully
2 x Call of the Full Moon
4 x Infectious Bloodlust
1 x Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh
2 x Exquisite Firecraft
2 x Touch of the Void
1 x Akoum Firebird
3 x Looming Spires
17 x Mountain

The changes are fidgets for the most part, trying to find the right mix of Fiery Impulse, Touch of the Void, and Twin Bolt, and trying to decide if Ember Hauler is good enough.  I've seen enough to believe he is for now.  Red Aggro is the fun police of the format.  You may want to try new strategies like Ingest and Mardu Allies, but if you really like winning you need to play something that doesn't just die to Red Aggro.

The last list that made it into the control room was Jund 'Crats (short for Aristocrats, which has more syllables than any respectable Magic deck should have in it's name).  For some reason I say 'CRATS like I imagine Lil' Jon would, all crunk and southern, like you could just growl it out there.  Got them Jund CRATS!

I gave the list to Nevius to take for a spin on Twitch, and it was an interesting one.  The deck has a lot of options and takes practice to pilot well.  I have tested with Golgari, Sultai, Rakdos, four color and Dimir CRATS lists, and this is the one I am putting my faith in.  I love it because it can play like a combo deck, and just set off a spiral of card advantage that is hard for an opponent to recover from.  OR it can play a grindy midrange or late-game control strategy, where it just removes everything the opponent plays and draws lots of cards until the combo is set up.  The combo, btw, is Smothering Abomination, a Husk and/or a lot of scions, and a board of stupid creatures.  If you put these together, the opponent is in trouble.  If they sweep the board, you can respond by drawing a ton of cards and setting it all up again.  If they don't sweep the board, you'll likely just kill them.  Act of Treason is the only red card right now, but it is a necessary splash.  Having access to so much card draw and sac outlets means Treason will do it's best work while not screwing you over by being a dead draw (the raw card-draw power of the deck can overcome having four Treason effects in matchups where they are bad).  Now, when the opponent is casting Eldrazi and other giant monsters, Treason is a vital part of those big turns that completely turn the game on it's head.  From Beyond exists to make 3 or 4 four Scions, then fetch Smothering Abomination (not all Eldrazi cost 10).  You don't want Abomination on the board without a sac outlet and at least three creatures, preferably Scions that can sac in response to a spell to draw cards.  And Liliana ticks down a lot more than it ticks up in this deck, especially for Blisterpod and Elvish Visionary.  Board presence is more important than having a high-loyalty planeswalker here.

4 x Blisterpod
1 x Vampiric Rites
4 x Bone Splinters
2 x Perilous Myr
1 x Despoiler of Souls
2 x Carrier Thrall
4 x Elvish Visionary
2 x Evolutionary Leap
1 x Liliana, Heretical Healer
3 x Fleshbag Marauder
4 x Nantuko Husk
4 x Act of Treason
2 x Smothering Abomination
2 x From Beyond
5 x Swamp
1 x Mountain
4 x Forest
2 x Smoldering Marsh
2 x Cinder Glade
2 x Woodland Cemetery
2 x Rootbound Crag
2 x Dragonskull Summit
4 x Evolving Wilds

This list sits in the driver's seat at 6-1, having lost a game to DJ's Mardu Allies where I played like a bonehead and died to Firemantle Mage.  Why?  Because I forgot that having a board presence is more important than having a planeswalker with high loyalty.  I wasn't born with all these insights folks, I actually learn most of them the hard way.  I make the misplays so you don't have to!

Along the way I found time for Casual games, after hitting the gold cap, where I tried out a wide variety of decks.  Here's some findings -

Esper Control scrubbed out of double elimination at 1-2, Sultai Fog scrubbed out at 0-2.  Esper has real mana challenges, despite all the great lands.  It wants WW on turn two, UU on turn three, BB on turn four and so on.  I have done a lot better with Dimir Control and Azorius Control, which I'll circle back to.  Sultai Fog played slow and clunky, and missing a land drop feels like a death knell.  I hate to judge too harshly on an 0-2 demise, any great deck can lose two in a row sometimes, but I feel like running blue control without putting counters to work is a waste.

I created, played with, and deleted the following -

B/W Vampires/Allies, Mardu Allies, Sultai Crats, Dimir Crats, Mono Black Control, all kinds of ramp decks, Mardu Tokens, Rakdos Burn, what feels like a million variations of Devoid decks and Ingest decks, multiple Reanimator strategies, more four and five color strategies, and probably plenty of things I am forgetting about.  

Here's the thing - you can play, and win some games with, most of these ideas.  You can put work into the list, tune it, and you'll beat all the junk decks and win against Ramp, Red and control sometimes.  You might go 10-0 and think you are on to something, but let me be real with you - these decks just aren't that good.  If you play the right cards in the right order, and the opponent has no answers or the wrong answers, they feel like decks.  As soon as you run into someone who has a few answers, and plays a deck with plenty of options and interaction, as well as a good plan for the endgame, your strategy will crumble.  From my playing, writing, watching, reading and thinking, I see these strategies as the pillars of the format if you want to play it competitively - 

- Get to Ulamog.

- Counter lots of the spells and kill all of the things.

- Create a snowball of incremental advantage, usually by activating and planeswalkers but can also include the Smothering Abomination/Husk/Evo Leap engine.  It has to be a snowball big enough that Ulamog cannot stop it.

- Kill the opponent before they do these things, burn spells optional but highly recommended.  If you take longer then six turns you are likely too slow.

Decks can employ a few of these strategies, or they can go all in on one, but if you are setting up an enchantment prison or the perfect mix of allies or life-gain triggers while the opponent has one of the four strategies above in action, you are not very likely to win.

When you look at my current top decks, Gruul Ramp is clearly on a mission of getting to Ulamog.  Four Color Control is getting to Ulamog and playing the snowball game.  Red Aggro is obvious.  Jund CRATS is also rolling a snowball, and because of Act of Treason, the snowball doesn't always stop for Ulamog.

I have some other lists in line for the captain's chair (multiple smilies intended) that I haven't ruled out yet based on some test games.  They all follow one or two of these strategies to some extent. 

Simic Tempo - Hakeem arrived in Zendikar, looked around, and said Bounding Krasis is still the best thing I can do with my mana, and brewed up a Simic Aggro deck HERE.  A peek behind the curtain - before the release of both Duels Origins and Duels B4Z, Hakeem and I have traded messages about Simic Tempo.  While I enjoy the discussions, we always come out with some differences in our builds that I find to be very important.  In this case, Hakeem isn't running any counterspells.  He has his reasons, as he'll explain in the video, and his deck does lots of things well.  I side with counterspells because I find this deck to have two core strategies - one is to win before the opponent can do anything cool, and the other is to counter the key spells that would let the opponent do those cool things.  You can play aggro without burn, and you can play aggro without counters, but I find that if you lack burn you will be a few turns slower, and if you are slower you are more likely to get brick-walled or see all your creatures die to a sweeper, and if that happens you likely can't keep your opponent from taking over.  A few key counterspells can turn the whole equation on it's head.  Really, is there a much better third turn then holding up three mana with a Krasis and a Spell Shrivel in your hand?  If the opponent has an important play, you counter.  If he doesn't you add more power to your board and you're ready to counter the next thing that happens.  That scenario in my opinion is the best reason to play Simic Tempo.

Temur Tempo - Taking it a step further, could we play the aggro game with the reach of burn spells and the counterspells from the above scenario as well?  Is that too good to be true?  Or just too good...

Originally inspired by a Nevius stream, Temur Tempo runs the best of landfall creatures, cheap interaction like Clutch of Currents and Fiery Impulse, great converge monsters like Skyrider Elf and Woodland Wanderer, instant speed interaction like Bounding Krasis, Spell Shrivel and Brutal Expulsion (yeah, that card), and burn ala Exquisite Firecraft.  We also get some big monsters if we want them, I'm currently on Outland Colossus, Guardian of Tazeem and Drowner of Hope.  If you run the landfall creatures, I recommend AT LEAST 26 (that's twenty-six) lands, this deck is nothing if it doesn't hit land drops.  The deck has only some modest testing under it's belt, but Nevius did well with his build and mine is undefeated so far, so it may make it to the pilot's seat soon.

Dimir Draw-Go and Azorius Draw-Go.  For the old-school counter it/kill it control mage in all of us, here are the laser-focused decks that work on the objective of countering lots of spells and kill all of the things.  As mentioned, I don't love Esper.  You can play it, but I think the mana will get you, and I don't think you need all three colors.  Esper can create a great blend of all the control spells, but is that blend what you need?  So far I have had great results with Dimir, but it needs more testing.

DJ did me the favor of playing a few matches against Azorius Draw-Go.  The deck went 4-1 against ramp strategies, and felt heavily favored.  The game it lost was to a third turn Nissa that went all the way to seven loyalty, and forced the game to be played in an awkward control-aggro fashion by me.  It shows that the deck has a weakness to such plays, but I think it was rather corner-case.  The other four games against ramp felt fantastic, I believe Ulamog got cast in multiple games but if they only exile lands, and you counter Ulamog, and still have a stack of counters, you remain favored.  Gaea's Revenge made an appearance, and while the deck has four Celestial Flares, it naturally didn't have one when Revenge showed up.  Fortunately Hixus was up to the job of locking up Gaea's Revenge long enough to get the victory.  DJ agreed that the matchup felt heavily favored for Azorius.  Of course, I wanted to test the other side of the coin, and we played three games against Red Aggro.  The first two games were jokes, being on the draw against Red Aggro feels hopeless.  The third game I was on the play, and it made the difference I thought it would and I pulled out a win in a situation where we both flooded quite hard.  The game also hinged on a rules interaction you red mages need to be aware of - Touch of the Void is colorless.  That means it doesn't trigger/untap Chandra if you cast it with plans to flip Ms. Nalaar.  DJ really wanted the list, so I'll unveil it here -

3 x Felidar Cub
1 x Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
4 x Celestial Flare
3 x Horribly Awry
3 x Telling Time
2 x Scatter to the Winds
4 x Spell Shrivel
4 x Inspiration
4 x Bone to Ash
1 x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
2 x Hixus, Prison Warden
1 x Disciple of the Ring
2 x Planar Outburst
8 x Plains
8 x Island
2 x Prairie Stream
2 x Glacial Fortress
3 x Foundry of the Consuls
3 x Azorius Guildgate

When your defense is so strong, you'll be amazed how many games you can win with Felidar Cub beatdown or Foundry thopters.  Yes, I still hate the card draw in this format, Telling Time and Inspiration make me sad just casting them, but if you are all in on this kind of strategy this is what you need to do.  Moving on -

Abzan - I am not ready to give up on Abzan, although most of my efforts have ended sadly.  There are a ton of options for this color combination, and I feel like I still haven't come close to testing all of them.  My current build combines a lot of great spot removal, sweepers, ramp, an Ulamog endgame as well as two snowball approaches - planeswalkers and tokens.  The control decks and four/five color decks have the means to deal with a ton of threats, to fight them back you can play the big threats like Ulamog and you can incrementally go over the top with tokens and planeswalkers.  If you get on the token train, make an emblem with Gideon and let From Beyond or Gideon himself do all the work.  The planeswalker snowball is as simple as it sounds - get a walker, defend him/her, go ultimate.  Having multiple snowballs and Ulamog on the endgame, and having six sweepers and a ton of spot removal all make it seem like Abzan should be a thing.  

That's my summary of this week's meta, the decks I am running, the decks I think are well positioned that I will likely be running in the near future, and the decks I wouldn't run.  What did I miss?  Do you have something I need to be playing with?  Send me your thoughts, I'm danno029 on Twitter and, and if you want to challenge me I'm CovertGo Blue on iOS Gamecenter.  Trust me, I welcome friend requests and challenges because (since I haven't mentioned it in a few paragraphs) IT TAKES ME FOREVER TO FIND A GAME!

As this Duels Diaries entry is a sort of weekly sermon for me and my readers, I want to wind this week down by talking about some happenings in the Duels community.  These are just things I've come across, if I miss something feel free to send me a message about it and I may mention it next week.

- Mobius returns to YouTube.  The update dropped and the salt lord himself got back in the game.  I have no qualms with his absence, I am just grateful for his return.  His videos offer a unique blend of Magic insight and Hells Kitchen Gordan Ramsey-esque rants and tirades when things just go wrong.  Regardless of how you feel about the guy, the entertainment value is high and resembles a long-lost Teknevolver meltdown.  I don't want to get yelled at so I feel obliged to point out that Mobius is a better player than Tek.  Check his channel out HERE.   

- Nevius - I have mentioned it a few times, I have to mention it again.  I am addicted to this stream.  While Nevius is good at commentary ("F#CK MY LIFE!"), and while he is kind enough to try all kinds of decks as suggested by viewers, Nevius really shines when he is playing his own deck and not talking at all, just letting the music play.  He is good at the game, you can tell he plays with confidence, and he plays very fast.  If you are a newer player, don't expect to be taught the game.  If you are an experienced player, it is a pleasure to watch compared to other Twitch and YouTube videos that can become slow from time to time.  This isn't to put anyone down, I appreciate all the Duels content I can watch, but it is a characteristic that is unique and it really works for me as a viewer.  Check out his Twitch channel HERE.  

- Hakeem - If you want something very different from Nevius, Hakeem's streams are more like a night at your local game store.  All the regulars show up from NGA, Hakeem has a few drinks and we all have good times while Hakeem smashes, or gets smashed, or both.  HERE is the Hakeem Stream.

- InfamousGemini - I have to throw this streamer in there because, really, Gemini just plays so much Duels.  Like, so much.  The stream has been on since the minute the new set came out I think.  I can't verify that Gemini has slept.  I affectionately call Gemini the mad scientist.  The decks often contain something that is unique, something I would never touch, but it seems to work for Gemini.  The play is kept at a brisk pace, but like my friendly nickname implies, there is something almost fanatic in the style that makes one wonder how closely Gemini tightropes the edge of sanity.  Gemini, whatever you have to do to get Past Broadcasts posted on Twitch, please do.  Like Aerosmith, I don't want to miss a thing. HERE is the channel.

- Tevaron - I just found this gentleman, he has a laid back demeanor and he takes the games at a smooth pace, but he knows what he is doing.  What sticks with me is his parting hook - "And until next time.... be excellent.... to each other".  A very positive spin on things.  Also I feel obliged to shout out, because when I came across his video I found he was playing my red aggro deck, and he mentioned me by name in the video.  Always nice to feel loved.  HERE is the channel.

I have the new Magic the Gathering Puzzle Quest app on my iPhone, I haven't touched it yet because there is so much Dueling to do, but I plan to.  Give it a try.

Bounding Krasis made the leap to Standard professional play in a Temur Megamorph deck at the Magic World Cup, piloted by the World Cup champions, Team Italia.  Hakeem could have told you back in July, that card is the bee's knees.

Thanks again to Kryder for his game data, I'd love to have more data.  If you want what you are seeing in your meta added to my numbers, just track what colors you battle against and email it to  Feel free to make use of the "junk" column for decks that don't act like deck's should.

Thanks to DJ for all the games, when you get to play a lot of rounds against a worthy opponent you learn so much more and it saved me from staring at the Searching for Players... screen for hours on end.  If you want to battle with me, PM me on NGA or message me on Twitter @danno029

I'm thinking of starting a Facebook group for players who also want to skip the match-making wait times and find good games with great people.  If you are interested, get at me on Twitter or on Facebook (search for

As always, sound off with comments and tell me about what you are doing with Battle for Zendikar.  What decks or cards am I undervaluing?  What is working for you?  What isn't?

This has been an awesome first weekend with B4Z.  Worth the wait?  That's a long rant waiting to happen, but I am thankful for what I have.  Until next time,

<3 CGB