In any game, players always have that one question, “Which character is the best?”
Aside from the arguments you had with your brother when you were five, tier lists are actually important and well-recognized. So much so that most competitive games have them.
Some are created by a self-appointed group who claim to be the best at game while others are created merely by skilled players with a platform. Mine is obviously the latter.
I have not spent months arguing against other players about which deck is better, but by playing this game competitively since release, I have gained enough knowledge to tell which are the best decks in Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012. Without further ado, here’s an in-depth review of the top tier decks and why they usually win.
Realm of Illusion
From the time the game came out this was one my favorites. The first night I played this deck over and over and did not lose once. Realm was one of the best decks before any of the expansions came out but was fairly consistently agreed to be the third best deck behind Unquenchable Fire and Blood Hunger. Obviously you can see that things have changed in my mind to move Realm up to the top tier while the others sit below it.
The first reason is Realm of Illusion received extremely powerful cards in the update. It got a much needed game winning spell in Bribery. This card is so powerful and at five mana is feasible to cast and still have some left over to protect the fatty of your choice from their deck.
In addition, Curfew saves your guys from their removal as well as comboing extremely well with Aether Adept and sometimes frustrating them if they only have one creature out.
Cultural Exchange was a terrible choice for the deck and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it run but the other three cards are staples.
In addition to these add-ons there was a change in philosophy on how to run Realm. I don’t know if others had thought of running the deck as more of a control deck with draw power and tempo before just recently but at least among the YouTube crowd that was not common. Maybe a Divination or two and perhaps Concentrate but Mind Spring and Jace’s Ingenuity were laughed at. It turns out that this deck with all those draw cards plus the card advantage from Repulse and Aether Adept can control most decks to the point where your opponent will be frustrated and you will be winning on board with a counter in hand.
All of that is just theorizing. As for real matchups this deck still has unfavorable matchups against Unquenchable as well as Zombies and March. But other than those three this deck performs extremely well against the rest of the field. The reason it makes it into my top three is because of the fact that every time you see this deck, you know that if your opponent plays it well there’s pretty much nothing you can do to win.
This deck came out as part of DLC pack three, the latest expansion. Immediately people understood its power and rated it as the best deck in the game. Players have now recognized that while it is strong, it’s not far and away the champion.
Beknighted, being almost completely without removal, is only as powerful as its creatures. It’s filled with a whole bunch of two-power creatures with amazing abilities. Knight of the White Orchid and Benalish Cavalry are two examples. 2/2 first strike for 2 is already super powerful in this format. The fact that it can also get you a land is outstanding. Benalish is good because of flanking. It makes it unblockable to most creatures the turn or even two or three after it comes out.
The deck would be fine if its two power creatures were this powerful and nothing else was significant about the deck. But, Stainless put three Knight Exemplars in there. Some decks simply don’t have an answer for Exemplar hitting the table. Indestructible creatures are a force to be reckoned with. Obviously the removal filled decks laugh at that and just kill the exemplar but it’s difficult to have to save removal for exemplar when its 2 drops are so powerful.
Either way, the biggest issue with this deck and the reason why it is in my top tier is because of protection. Black and Red can’t deal with White Knight or Silver Knight respectively. Paladin En-Vec and Mirran Crusader make six creatures with protection, giving them almost a guaranteed win in those matchups if drawn.
The last element to this deck are the few cards that give flying. Serra’s Embrace, Windborne Charge and Armored Ascension all help with the final blow against decks that manage to stabilize.
In summary, knights are amazing because of the power level of their creatures; Knight Exemplars shut down entire decks, and protection is just an excellent overall ability.
March to War
Finally, March to War is powerful but almost impossible to discuss because it can be run in so many different ways to success. Overall though, the two themes of the deck are lifegain and token production.
In March to War, lifegain actually serves a purpose. Searing Meditation allows you to completely control the board just by having a Soul Warden or Recumbent Bliss on the field. Ajani’s Pridemate quickly becomes a huge threat at the 2-drop spot.
The lifegain cards are also all multi-purposeful. Lightning Helix kills a dude, Soul Warden has a 1/1 body to it, and Solemn Offering kills an artifact or enchantment. All this results in not only you gaining life, but also board position.
Now, for the other aspect of the deck… Squadron hawk and the token makers, raise the alarm and Conqueror’s Pledge, as well as Boros Swiftblade all benefit greatly from the pump spells. For example, a standard 2/2 would become a 3/3 if a Marshal’s Anthem is on the field, plus 1 more power for that one card.
But Squadron Hawk turns four 1/1 creatures into four 2/2 creatures, contributing 4 more power as one card played from your hand. The other three work exactly the same way. The tokens also completely turn off any deck based on removal that doesn’t have board-wiping cards. You really don’t care much if they are able to kill a few of your creatures, because you will always have more in reserve. March to War so consistently beats most other decks that I certainly rate it as top tier.
Even more DOTP 2012 tier info
Check out these videos for additional insight into the best decks of Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012.