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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 12:06 am 
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Yes, I know there are deckbuilding subforums for various colors and such, but what I have here is the result of months of effort, careful belaboring, and tiny tweaks. I have a deck which, given the diverse, unpredictable, and un-sideboard-able metagame we possess, might be among the top contenders. Now that the game is in update purgatory, I'd like to submit it as being among those to "solve" the game (quite a statement, I know). It can have bad beats, rough mana draws, or the very rare bad matchup (green-blue tempo is a bugbear), but no deck is perfect; this is just the closest I could get. It has answers for everything, early game threats, late game threats, and very strong synergy. It is full of powerhouse cards, and might even surprise you by some that are in the colors but left out of the list. With no further ado, I present...


Incidentally

Creatures

2 x Glory-Bound Initiate
3 x Lone Rider
3 x Gifted Aetherborn
1 x Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim
1 x Liliana, Heretical Healer
1 x Kambal, Consul of Allocation
1 x Gisela, the Broken Blade
1 x Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
3 x Bloodbond Vampire
1 x Angel of Invention
2 x Regal Caracal
1 x Angel of Renewal
1 x Noxious Gearhulk
1 x Bruna, the Fading Light



Non-Creature Spells

1 x Battle at the Bridge
2 x Declaration in Stone
2 x Aethersphere Harvester
3 x Essence Extraction
2 x Anguished Unmaking
1 x Solemn Offering
2 x Never|Return



Lands

7 x Plains
9 x Swamp
2 x Shambling Vent
1 x Westvale Abbey
2 x Isolated Chapel
4 x Forsaken Sanctuary




The deck grew out of a simple idea: use cards that have incidental lifegain attached to an otherwise useful and serviceable spell. Sure, there's stronger removal than Essence Extraction (and I'm running just about all of it), but instant speed 3 damage to a critter for 3 mana is a fair deal. Tack on 3 life and you're helping yourself in the race/tempo area a bit as well. The whole deck was first conceived around cards like that, a few even made it through the whole process (hey there, Solemn Offering).

A whole lot of iterations, tweaks, and Filigree Familiars later I had finally honed this list to not just an AI-bashing tool, but something to make me proud against players as well. I am very pleased with the results, able to deal with troublesome permanents like planeswalkers and gods as well as all the riffraff like red Sligh decks that seem so common on the lower ladder (my post, my old-school terminology).

If you like what you see, a few notes: always try to lead with a black mana source. Playing a dual-color tapland or a swamp on the first turn or two is usually correct; the chance of being able to cast a Gifted Aetherborn is too great to pass up most of the time. There is the occasional Glory-Bound Initiate into Lone Rider + tapland 3rd turn play that might just be a better gamble, but usually Gifted Aetherborn is the correct choice if available.

Speaking of Lone Rider, hold on to your energy! Don't give Aethersphere Harvester lifelink for no reason; if you desperately need the life for racing/stabilizing that's fine, but otherwise hold on to it to transform a topdecked Rider into It That Rides as One. Some plays that might not otherwise make sense are worth it to transform these into killing machines.

Bloodbond Vampire may look like junk to a pro; trust me, it isn't. With all the synergy in this deck, these quickly turn into "must chump block every turn or die" creatures, or fat blockers. While it is annoying to lose them or get them bounced, they are not "king cards" and you do not depend on them to win, they're just yet another threat that can't be ignored. If you carefully time when to play them, you can get them up to 5/5 pretty easily when they first come down, with more growth to follow.

I guess the other inclusions I feel I need to defend are Kambal, Consul of Allocation, Angel of Renewal, and Battle at the Bridge. Everything else speaks for itself, yes? Kalitas, Aethersphere, Angel of Invention, Declaration, Never, I don't need to explain these, right? Right. Kambal is not amazing in every matchup, but is punishing to control and disruption decks. In a game against a beatdown deck, he is a serviceable blocker, a warm body to pilot Aethersphere Harvester, and the occasional 4-point life swing in your favor. Either that, or he eats a removal spell and you get the 4-point life swing immediately. In any case, he's pulling his weight, and I know I've done 12 "damage" in a match against a planeswalker deck before (shame he can't hit the 'walkers, but he did cause me to win). The lone Angel of Renewal looks pretty weak against this lineup, but in real gameplay she has made a huge board impact when she comes down, triggering your deck synergies, ticking you up on tempo/racing through lifegain, and adding a quite relevant 4/4 flying body to the battlefield. She also makes a great reanimation target for Bruna, the Fading Light, along with the other angels and humans. Finally, Battle at the Bridge got the nod from me not because of player games, but AI games. I wanted just one more answer to gods in my deck, and this qualified while also synergizing. I'm not completely attached to it, but the one copy has been an adequate-to-great inclusion (two copies was... wait for it... A BRIDGE TOO FAR!).

So, comments? Suggestions? Keep in mind that this is my toolbox "ready for anything" deck that fights any random person on the ladder as well as the AI. Specific matchups might be tough (I'm looking at you, green-blue tempo), and specific metagames might lead me to make some changes (more Solemn Offering for a field full of auras, vehicles, and Sphinx's Tutelage, for instance). Shift too far towards speed and you lose some power and inevitability, that sort of thing. Anyway, this is my entry for "best deck in Duels" now that we are never getting new cards.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 5:23 am 
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Not to come off as rude, but this deck definitely is not even close to being the best deck in Duels.

The lifegain subtheme is helpful against aggro decks, but you can't turn it into a win condition out of the blue (things might look different if we had Felidar Sovereign or Aetherflux Reservoir, but what are you going to do with 50 life once you have it?). The life gain means you are a sitting duck vs. control for one or two turns longer, and I'm not even sure you could outlast strong midrange decks like Vehicles or B/G variants (Constrictor or Delirium).

You are absolutely missing ways to gain card advantage. The only cards that do that on a regular basis are Noxious Gearhulk and Bruna. Kalitas and Liliana are very situational, the tokens created by Caracal and Angel get chump-blocked easily, everything else is a 1-for-1 at best. You need at least Ob Nixilis and Sorin, preferably more.

Trust me, Bloodbond Vampire is junk. For 4 mana, you get a vanilla creature that doesn't even start out that big, and by the time it is a 6/6 or 7/7 most other 4-mana card would've won the game. Except they ate a removal spell, but that would've been the case for Vampire as well.

How do you intend to flip Liliana, Heretical Healer? A 2/3 lifelink for 3 is not good enough, but you're running exactly one sac outlet in the deck (Ayli).

Angel of Renewal is terrible; if you have 10+ creatures on the board you probably don't need the life, and gaining 3 or so on a regular basis doesn't do it either. Linvala should be better almost all of the time, or you could always run Avacyn.

You should also have a lot better answers to gods than Battle at the Bridge. 4 exile removal spells should be enough; if you want more, just run Cast Out. Gaining a little life is not worth paying 2-3 mana overprice at all.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 12:30 pm 
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Yes, it does look janky on paper, doesn't it? People always seem so surprised when I win, they hang in the game for a long time past when I've already started taking control of it.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:06 pm 
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You should take a look at the recent lifegain Deckbuilding contest thread. Some of those take a similar path. Not including planeswalkers here is a huge mistake, I think.

Modulo's right though, life advantage means nothing against decks that play a card advantage game. This will be crushed by a decent control build.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:10 pm 
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I haven't played Duels for months, but based on what I remember, I agree with modulo. Your deck's too unfocused to be good. You might beat aggro decks simply because of the lifegain, but control builds will tear you apart. You could argue that countercontrol beats Orzhov control anyway, but good midrange builds should also beat this. For example:

1) You're running Glory-Bound Initiate. This card's meant as an early drop that pressures the opponent, but your deck isn't an aggressive deck. Its value also drops since you don't have Always Watching.
2) No Planeswalkers. Cards like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Liliana, the Last Hope and Ob Nixilis Reignited are all powerful value machines that you don't have.
3) You also have cards that, objectively speaking, are pretty poor: Angel of Renewal & Bloodbond Vampire stand out, Angel of Invention is not particularly good either.
4) I'll add that in addition to Cast Out, you have Blessed Alliance as a potential answer to gods.

I would either move into the control direction (see viewtopic.php?f=61&t=17496 for examples) with more answers & sweepers, or the lifegain direction (per CardboardNomad) with a correspondingly lower curve.


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