August 09 2016 Tuesday at 04:00 PM

Levels and Twitch frustrations

Let’s try this again,

Man, life is so much different than a year ago.  I don’t want to turn this into a crybaby post, but I also want to get out there what is keeping me on the rails, I feel like some of my readers want to know.

Anyone who has tried to follow my Twitch stream knows that it crashes.  About 33% of the time the stream will crash when I find a game.  About that same percentage, Magic Duels will crash and I have to restart the app, which means the stream goes down, and I have to restart the stream.  This has made Twitch a lot less fun, and more of a distraction to my game than anything else.  Making a cohesive YouTube video feels impossible since I have no idea when the videos will start and end, so YouTube is likely off the table for now.

None of that explains my lack of attention to writing.  Writing is a habit, once the habit is broken it takes time and commitment to rebuild the habit.  Writers will come up with any excuse to not write, and when life is busy and crazy there is no lack of reasons to put writing off.  My life has been a fortunate one, and for the last several years my “career” has demanded little of me while still paying the bills, a situation I think all of us would love.  That has changed dramatically in the last month, and now the demands on my time are very different.  Still, I love Duels, Magic, and having some involvement in the awesome Duels community.  No, I am not a fan of forums and reddit threads, but I love Twitch, the podcasts, the YouTube videos, tournament coverage and many other parts of the competitive Duels community, and I hate losing touch with that.  I’ll try to keep writing.  I can’t promise a schedule or anything like that, please be patient with me and check back from time to time for new content.  I will try streaming on Twitch from time to time, but it likely won’t be as regular as it used to be.  YouTube is going to be neglected for a while until the stream crashes settle down (possibly with the fall expansion?).

OK, let’s try to add some Duels content to this post.  I feel like I have played the new format enough to cover the Levels of decks in Magic Duels.  Hopefully readers will find my thoughts on this entertaining and useful when building and selecting decks for ladder play or tournament play.

Levels are not the same as Tiers.  A Tier 1 deck is considered a highly competitive deck that must be considered when building other decks.  A Level 1 deck is a deck that is relatively strong, but more importantly is relatively obvious.  Level 1 decks are where most players start their brewing and begin earning coins.  Since Duels is a game tailored to new players, we can always expect Level 1 decks to be common on the ladder from 0 - 40.

Level 1 decks -

White Humans

B/R Vampires


These basic tribal turn-creatures-sideways strategies are common for newish players and experienced Magicians to build out-of-the-deckbox because they are obvious and reasonably competitive.  You have to consider Level 1 decks, if you don’t you end up with a deck with an average casting cost of 4 mana and no removal, and you get run over by the decks above.  Once you consider Level 1, you build Level Two decks that beat Level 1 decks.

Level 2 decks -

3 and 4 color Superfriends

Black/White Control

Green/Black Control

Bant Good Stuff

At Level 2, you use a mix of good removal with powerful four, five and six drops to thwart Level 1’s aggressive strategy and overpower them in the midgame.  Level 2 decks are great for laddering because you beat most new players with half-baked collections and you can defeat decent players on tribal decks.  Look at the popularity of four-color Superfriends for the last several months and you see what I mean.  The release of EMN has given us more great removal spells and decent finishers for the Abzan colors, to the point that I think Green/White, White/Black and Black/Green can all be decent Level Two decks on their own.  I also believe that most tournament participants go with Level Two decks because they have had so much success on ladder with them.

Level 3 decks -


Esper Control

Temur Ramp

Spirits and Simic Tempo

Level 3 decks take it to the next level and try to beat the Level 2 decks.  Tutelage attacks midrange and control decks full of removal by not using creatures, but instead enchantments, to threaten the opponent.  Esper Control responds to a deck full of powerful 4+ casting cost rares and mythics with a deck full of 3 mana counterspells.  Ramp goes right over the top and does things more powerful than the 4, 5 and 6 mana power cards at Level 2.  Spirits and Simic Tempo slide a non-threatening creature under the 4 mana mark, then use counterspells, bounce and tap-down effects to end the game before the power cards of the Level 2 decks can matter.

If this hierarchy looks familiar, it should.  For the most part it is the aggro/midrange/control dynamic, the rock/paper/scissors metagame.  Knowing what Level your deck falls into provides a good framework for thinking about what deck will be right for an event.  As I mentioned, I believe most experienced and creative Duelers will ladder with Level 2 decks, and since those decks are successful for them they will likely register them for the upcoming tournaments.  That would inspire me to pick a Level 3 deck that should have a decent matchup with Level 2.  Of course, if I think everyone is picking Level 3 decks, then the best call may be to go full circle and pick up a Level One aggro deck and catch all the slow decks off guard.  

If you are interested in joining a tournament, check out the NGA threads here -

Hopefully you found some of that useful/interesting.  I have played a lot of EMN Duels games, and there are the decks I still find interesting and worth tuning -

Bant Goods

Spirit Tempo

BW Control

GW Midrange

GB Control

Temurge Ramp


UR Tutelage

What great decks am I missing?  What decks should I have mentioned in the Levels discussion and what Level should they be at?  What would you play in a Duels tournament if it started today?

<3 CGB

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