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  • posted a message on Magic Duels Rank 40 decks?
    Hey Counterspell, made an account here just to comment because I can actually answer this as of late. Since I don't know where you sit in the 1-40 range, I'll give a quick rundown of a few different level ranges spanning them all as well as some broad themes and reasons for certain commonly played decks within each tier, as well as how to deckbuild and open boosters in a way that promotes efficient ascent to 40.

    lvl 1-25 range: Generally players here are rolling out 100 card fatties or throwing every card of a certain color they own into a deck because they have only just started recently and don't have the cards yet to put together a cohesive package. Typical decks are green monster powered decks, sacrifice based black decks or vampire decks, generally decks that are composed of generic themes that are common across every set. The key to escaping this range is to lean heavily into aggressive decks that don't get cute with the ways they try to win. This is because playing long-game oriented decks is generally more difficult to do without rare or mythic cards, and a typical opponent at these levels will not have as many of these cards as somebody who has put in the hours to get to rank 40. Also, cards that come down decently hard and fast are easy to find across every set, so you'll be able to build these kinds of decks efficiently no matter what set you decide to put your versus points toward first. Most red+other color decks excel here, so you have a lot of flexibility in the types of decks you can put together to satisfy the daily quests, which you should absolutely be doing to get as many cards as fast as you can.

    While we're at it, and this is generally good advice no matter what level you are in, the booster opening process follows an algorithm that only allows the opening of a certain number of mythics per x packs, depending on the set, and you can receive either a mythic or a rare per booster you open. There are more mythics per set than can be distributed if the algorithm continues this limit until all cards in a set have been opened (this is because you are limited in amount of copies of a card that you can own). What this means is that around the 90-95% completion point of a set, almost every pack you open will contain a mythic. For a few of the sets, the last 6 or 7 packs will have a mythic rare card in them. You can't get all the mythics in a set until you go through an entire set, and most of them are clustered after the 2/3 mark of set completion. SO , and this is very important, it is unquestionably more efficient to open an entire set before anything else instead of using the same amount of points across all or even just a few of the available sets. If you do not follow this rule you will get fewer mythics, and you will get them slower. The mythics in the sets used in Magic Duels are head and shoulders above most of the rest of the cards available (Planeswalkers and artifacts foremost among them). This isn't even going on to mention that each set is based around certain synergies and deck types, like -1/-1 counter manipulation, card drawing and discarding, etc, and the best decks consistently contain only cards that deepen their synergy.

    There are eight sets to pick from when using your battle points, and if you are just starting it's a good idea to briefly look through lists of the cards in each set to get an idea of what those synergies are and which set/sets you want to buy first. If you aren't new to magic and you have a feel for how you like to play, this should be a fun and quick process. If you're new, I recommend staying away from Aether Revolt and Origins as your starting point. The other sets are each part of their own two-set story (Amonkhet+Kaladesh, Eldritch+Innistrad, Gatewatch+Zendikar), which matters because if you buy all of one of the pairs first then every pack you open from the sister set will be built to add to or incorporate cards and synergies from your first set, making all of your low-level decks more flexible and allowing you to swap much of the filler out for better options within the same categories. In essence, you will have the ability to bring decks from tier 1 to tier 2 instead of simply having cards to make more types of tier 1 decks. Opening sister sets and cutting as many non-themed cards from your decks as possible is the key to reaching the next level as efficiently as possible. Speaking of,

    lvl 25-30: This range is where a few random win streaks will take you, and where consistent deck theming will keep you. Many of the same decks you saw in the past will be there, they'll just have better cards. There will also be a WHOLE bunch of new deck types, because players will have opened certain rares and mythics that enable specific synergies to go from unplayable in the low levels to excellent against them, keeping players using these types of decks above the 1-25 range. Mana ramping creature rush decks and elf spam creature rush green decks will always win against a creature rush green deck without those elements, even if they're poorly put together, so it's hard to fall back down from this point.

    By this time you're probably getting a feel for your own decks, and you probably have a bunch of them from trying to throw together specific color combinations and specific synergies to complete daily quests. That being said, much of this tier will be spent finishing out card sets, so just smash people with as many kinds of decks as you can think of until that's done. Find as many deck types as you can make and try to figure out how to win with each of them. Try looking through the abilities filters in the deck sort options if you're having trouble getting creative. Keep hunting the quests and opening card packs. This stage of your Magic Duels career should be very fun. With each deck you make, you should play it enough to have a feel for how it can win and for how each card in it adds to it. And therein lies the key to escaping this phase of the journey-- understand the point of what your deck is trying to do and cut cards that don't contribute to that goal. For example, those life gain instants that you have in your mummy deck? Get rid of them. Decks that go beyond silver ranking do not have miscellaneous cards clogging their draw steps. You should not be running an enchantment based deck that adds non-white creatures just to have that one really awesome mythic card you just picked up that would be so cool if it had Angelic Presence cast on it because it has lifelink and it would be so sick if that happened bro and you have it in there just in case fam. Further, top tier decks do not generally try to run two themes at once. If you're opening packs efficiently and putting real thought into whether or not you really need that card you just drew in that deck you're playing and the weaknesses you need to fill in that deck because everytime somebody with that one kind of deck plays you you lose, then you'll get through here easy.

    By the time you're around level 30, you may be opening your 3rd set. I suggest two options here: start on the Origins or the Amonkhet set followed by the Kaladesh set (if you didn't pick it+Kaladesh to start with). The choice is really based on the reasons for why you picked you first set. If you like more control-y, late-game oriented decks or instant/sorcery trickery, or just big creatures with game ending effects, you likely opted into a set that wasn't Kaladesh or Amonkhet. If you Picked Kaladesh or Amonkhet, you either like really powerful, explosive, unconventional mechanics, or you just like the vibes Egypt gives off. By now, you have a few decks in some of those veins, and because Origins is a massive collection of a ton of cards from many previous sets, it is non-reliant on set synergy and is mainly composed of cards that are vital to the function of certain synergies that end up being the centerpieces you build around. Specifically, many of the planeswalkers and random dragons/zombie giants/blue field enchantments that take certain decks to level 40 are in Origins, and you generally need as many of them as you can get to get to 40. Amonkhet/Kaladesh is full of some of the most efficient and reliable heavy hitters out there, and has synergies that work well with other sets. Lots of burn spells (Insult/Injury and Glorybringer are the two most reliable finishers in the burn deck that I first rode into level 40 on), and the control oriented aspects of the set integrate well with Eldritch+Innistrad particularly (see token flood in the zombies with Liliana to drop, mill options, powerful instant/sorceries, awesome options for mana ramp thru artifacts and enchantments, Champion of Rhonas to drop your most powerful late-game creature for free w/o casting it so no countering, etc). It also has some of the most powerful finishers in the game in Sovereign, Consul Flagship and the collective Gearhulks.

    Lvl 30-35 is about finishing your third and fourth sets and whittling down the size and scope of your best decks. At this point, if you want to continue to rise, you can't play around with decks that aren't polished anymore. Your decks should all be almost exactly 60 cards and you should be at the point that your decks should have their mana situation completely figured out. In this tier, there isn't a lot of junk to battle against, as everybody is now adept at removing their love for certain cards if they don't make sense. Duels will now frequently come down to the degree to which you have done that, and to simple skill at playing the actual game. You should be working with decks that you have played enough times to know inside and out. If you were to look at the board halfway through a random game, would you be able to think of exactly the card in your deck to handle this situation? You should. You need to know how to hold on until you get that card, and you need to have other options listed behind that card in your head so that you can spring on less ideal opportunities to win. In short, know your deck.

    One of the best ways to navigate this is to understand the tempo of your deck and build to its natural mana curve. Many games will now be decided based on whether or not you draw enough mana in your opening hand, and whether or not any of the non-mana cards in that hand are part of your early game setup. Keeping your decks at ~60 cards is the absolute most effective way to do that. In my aforementioned lvl40 burn deck, my ideal opening hand need only contain 2 mountains as long as it has a low-cost instant and either Weaver of Lightning or Thermo-Alchemist. Both the creatures have strong abilities that work off of instant/sorcery spells, Alchemist can be cast on turn two and I can always be reasonably certain that I can draw a land in the first two draw steps to be able to drop Weaver on turn three. Because I have three of each, most opening hands are usable, and I almost never have to mulligan. Because the deck is based primarily off of papercut damage by combining cheap instant/sorcery creature/player removal (and because I don't overload the deck with finishers and expensive cards), I can also use opening hands that are full of only land and expect to see a card I can use by turn three, right when the deck generally hits the floor and starts sprinting anyway. This way, early mana-flood is essentially negated and early mana-screw is almost always avoidable w/o a mulligan. If you do your decks right, 90% of your victories will be due in large part because the other person got somehow shafted with their opening hand and you didn't and you drew all the right cards because you already weeded out all the wrong ones. On the flipside, 90% of your defeats should be entirely because of lapses in judgment and not because of deck construction.

    It is for this reason that almost all of the decks I have seen in the 36-40 tier revolve around blue or red. At this point, you have access to a lot of good cards and you shouldn't ever draw a cards that doesn't make you say "thank god I drew this and not something else" unless it's a land. Seriously. There should be next to no bullshoot in your decks anymore unless it's specifically there to fill a gap in your mana curve and its effect is still above average. This means your deck should be mostly rares/mythics and god-tier commons/uncommons that are extremely specific to the deck you want to run. Most of the god-tier commons/uncommons that exist in Magic Duels and work well to minimize the damage of the uncontrollable (aka your opening hand and your draw steps) are creatures that work really well within your chosen synergy mechanic, and if you always draw a cheap card that works to that synergy then you stand a better chance of advancing towards your win condition every turn because the low mana cost means you'll almost always be able to cast it. This works best with instants, and the two most common level 40 decks I see are based primarily off of them. Jace and Sphinx's Tutelage along with many draw-card instants and counterspells held on reserve are by far the most common decks to make it into the 40 club, and are definitely the eventual destination on the path of any control-deck enthusiast. If you like the long game, focus your deck building on milling your opponent's deck to zero and keeping their creatures in their hands, through spell casting or through fear of the mighty counter. Burn-oriented decks like mine are the only obvious counter, because they are capable of casting more spells in a turn than can be countered in that turn, keeping the opponent's mana constantly open for fear of missing a chance to counter a direct burn for 12 damage, thus lending protection to the harmless seeming permanents that do small damage off of every instant/sorcery. I see a few hard-push aggro decks that utilize the exert mechanic from Amonkhet, a few elf decks, a few rainbow mana-fixing decks, but I usually pick their creatures off with Magma Sprays and take away their setup before I really get to see their deck move at all. I assume they're there because they outrun the overabundance of blue control decks here and thus work well situationally against them.

    So that being said, the most consistently successful lvl.40 decks are mono-colored blue or red or a combination of those two, and most top level decks rely on non-mythic artifacts or enchantments as constant engines of progress while using low-cost non-permanent cards as the fuel that keeps their powerful effect running. Sphinx's Tutelage is only uncommon, meaning there can be three in your deck, and it is typical to face a mono-blue deck that puts two of them onto the field in consecutive turns along with an overabundance of counterspells and planeswalker effects that keep the deck drawing cards and keep you milling cards. Thermo-Alchemist is the same way, but instead of making you put two cards from the top of your deck into the graveyard whenever your opponet draws a card (making instants that let you draw a card not just relevant but crucial), you tap it to do 1 damage to your opponent and untap it every time you cast an instant or sorcery (which lets you stuff your deck with cheap creature removal and even some player damage). It's easier to make this deck sputter because its engine is a creature (and more cards target creatures than enchantments), but it's a much shorter distance from 20 life to 0 than from 60 life to 0, so it ends up evening out.

    Aside from a few outliers, that basically sums up every deck in the 40 tier. The last bolded and underlined part is basically the answer to your question, and the rest of my essay is the context that shows why it happens and how you can use the knowledge of why these types of decks are consistently the ones that end up on top to make it to the very top as well.

    Hope this helped. Actually, no, I just hope somebody out there reads this, ever. Thanks if you did.
    Posted in: Multiplayer
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