Home Editorial Balance Magic 2014: The Pure Metagame of DOTP

Today’s guest article is written by shawntown, a long-time gamer, Magic player, and writer. Not necessarily in that order.

It is a vast and varied world, Magic: the Gathering. Throughout its 20 year history, it has presented a plethora of play modes. In constructed and limited formats we’ve seen Standard, Extended, Block Constructed, Booster Draft, Sealed Deck, and others. Within this multiverse, Duels of the Planeswalkers (DOTP) is a unique format of sorts, and thus worthy of play by rookies and vets alike.

But DOTP has been derided by most of the online community, by reviewers, bloggers, and forum-posters. It’s been described as a cheap, watered-down version of a great and complex game. Its been called a “shameless whale hunt,” an attempt by WOTC to hook and funnel more suckers into the cash cows of Magic Online and paper MTG. And its been called, simply, trash–an utterly failed attempt to bring this popular game to consoles and iPads.

Whatever its shortcomings, though, and whatever WOTC had intended it to accomplish as a promotional tool, DOTP has real merit as a format in its own right. It’s a great marriage of limited and constructed, and it’s extremely accessible. Yet despite this and its growing (if slowly) popularity, there is a real lack of solid DOTP-specific analysis on the Web.

Where’s the wisdom?

When it comes to DOTP, there are a lot more questions than answers out there. I Google DOTP and most of what I find is of little help. Aside from T3 and a few others, there is a glut of bad advice on the Web. Game guides written by novices with no understanding of Magic’s core principles. Forums in which pessimists rant about all the cards and features they wish were in the game but aren’t. Arbitrary deck lists with no concrete advice on how to play the deck, or explanation as to why certain cards are included in the build over others. There is some good info available, don’t get me wrong. But not much. The reasons for this seem pretty plain.

For the most part, talented Magic writers aren’t writing on the subject of DOTP (although general Magic strategy and theory can naturally be applied to DOTP, most players in the forums are looking for DOTP-specific advice)

The majority of console and Ipad players are newbies or casual players. The top players don’t play DOTP because, whatever its merits, it is still a watered-down version of constructed-deck Magic. Don’t get me wrong, there are some damn good players online. Many of them are like me: former Pro Tour and Grand Prix players who got out years ago. We’ve only picked the game back up because DOTP made it economical and convenient to do so. There’s a whole generation of us, as well as some intermediate, rising young players. But the majority are casual or newbs, and when I say newbs, I refer not only to new players, but also any players whose introduction to Magic came through DOTP.

Fortunately, the key principles of successful Magic have not changed since I retired from competitive play. For any of you trying to find useful info on Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014, understand that the rules of Magic are the same whether you’re playing in a Pro Tour event, on your kitchen table, or on your Xbox. So instead of searching for articles about DOTP strategy, try reading general MTG strategy articles. In particular, read anything you can find about the three most important concepts in Magic: tempo, card advantage, and synergy.  And while you’re at it,  give a google to the metagame concept in Magic because, in DOTP, you are playing a pure metagame.

And that is my favorite aspect of this game, the nature of its Metagame.

Into the Meta

Before I continue, I don’t want to assume knowledge on the part of the reader. So for the uninitiated, lets explain the Meta concept. Essentially, the “metagame” is the game outside the game; its the process by which we choose which deck or cards we’re going to use based on what we expect our opponent(s) to be using. Some have called it a glorified game of rock-paper-scissors. And it is that, in essence, though it gets a lot more complex the deeper you go. To play it well requires intuition, experience, and thoughtful planning.

So now we know what it is. Why do I call DOTP a “pure” metagame? Well, in-real-life (IRL) Magic consists of over 10,000 cards. A deck can be made up of millions of possible combinations of these cards. Even in a limited constructed environment like Standard or Block Constructed (where only a few hundred cards are available), the number of possible combinations boggles the mind. Now, there may be only a handful of major deck archetypes in a given environment, but even within those primary decks there is room for wide variations from build to build.

An example: it may be a bit dated, but in my tournament days arguably the biggest and most influential card was Necropotence. Around this one card were designed so many different decks I can’t even begin to recall them all. Even Necro decks that were very similar in style and focus to one another often contained very different cards. Long story short, there were and are a ridiculous amount of possible variations.

Contrast that with the 21 decks in DOTP. There are only about 75 spells in each deck’s card pool to work with, and no card is so overpowered as to unbalance the game. Further, cards can’t be mixed and matched from different pools like in IRL Magic. So once I realize which deck my opponent is running, I’ve got a very good idea of which cards he’s using. This is why DOTP is such a pure metagame: there are just 21 possibilities, and even less when you consider that several of the decks are weak or even terrible (meaning I don’t need to metagame for these decks since they’re so weak I will beat them most of the time anyway).

So basically, if I go up against a certain deck, I don’t worry about significant variation within that deck the way I would in IRL Magic. On turn 1, when he drops a Phantasmal Bear, I know pretty much everything he’s got. I know that, he only has two Counterspell and, when tapped out,  1 Force of Will. Or if he plays an early Khalni Heart Expedition, I know how to alter my play in order to beat Mul Daya. Maybe I don’t know his card-for-card build, but I know what I need to know. This knowledge is huge, and the more I know how to exploit knowledge, the more games I win.

So in DOTP knowing what deck I’m facing is easy once the game has started. In order to take full advantage of that knowledge, let’s back up to the pregame, to understanding the environment and then building the deck accordingly.

Knowing the environment

Metagaming is all about planning to beat the most likely opposition. We get a clearer picture of the most likely opposition by knowing the tiers and rankings.

Below is my list. These are arbitrary, but based on my research and play of DOTP 2014, it’s fairly solid. (Decks are listed roughly in order of their rank versus decks in their own tier. For example, my build of AG outranks both MM and DW because it beats those decks about 65% of the time)

  • Tier 1: Avacyn’s Glory (AG), Mind Maze (MM), Deadwalkers (DW)
  • Tier 2: Dodge and Burn (DB), Lords of Darkness (LoD), Bounce and Boon (BB)
  • Tier 3: Hall of Champions (HoC), Warsmith (WS), Chant of Mul Daya (CoM)
  • Tier 4: Guardians of Light (GL), Sword of the Samurai (SoS), Sliver Hive (SH), Firewave, (FW), Hunter’s Strength (HS)
  • Tier 5: Sylvan Might (SM), Hunting Season (HS), Enchanter’s Arsenal (EA), Up To Mischief (UTM)
  • Tier 6: Unfinished Business (UB), Masks of the Dimir (MoD), Enter the Dracomancer (ED)

Again, these rankings are rough, and not totally set in stone. I’ve got more experience with some decks and matchups than with others.

The top tier consists of three decks. That’s just 14% of the available decks in DOTP. But in any competitive Magic environment, the top tier are going to make up half the field, maybe more. Because of this disproportion, if I want to win more than I lose then I’ve got to beat the top tier. This is the essence of the metagame.

  1.  How can I build my deck so that it beats the top tier at least 65% of the time (or more if possible)
  2. If I’m playing a top tier deck myself, what can I do to jack up my win % in the mirror match.
  3. Can I make all these changes without weakening my deck’s performance versus Tiers 2 and 3, or any decks that my original build was consistently beating.

Now, I cannot design a deck that will crush everything hands down. In IRL Magic, invincible decks have arisen in the past. Usually they dominated because of a broken card or combination, and the central card(s) would quickly get banned or restricted. We don’t have to worry about this in DOTP. Despite what you’re reading all over the Web, there is no dominant single deck. Tier 1 is not unbeatable, unfair or broken. Everyone who complained about goblins being broken in 2013 was wrong. And the ones complaining about Avacyn’s Glory or Mind Maze this year are wrong too.

I can’t build the perfect deck, no, but I can try to fulfill a, b, and c the best I can. Doing so will lead to a deck that wins far more often than it loses.

Busting the Beatdown

Broken or not, I was still annoyed by Goblins and Peacekeepers in DOTP 2013. Their card pools were just too strong. Great removal, great synergy and amazing tempo made for a boring meta for the first few months. What’s worse, the expansion and first 2 deck packs just added more inferior aggro decks. But then out came Mana Mastery (side note: terrible deck name. They should have just called it “Control Deck,” because that was the relevant feature, not the fact that it was 5 colors)  MM was the death knell for Goblins and Peacekeepers dominance. This is the beautiful metagame in action; all it takes is one good deck and everything changes. Since good builds run by good players (it took real skill to build and play well) of Mana Mastery won a majority vs. Tier 1, I started seeing DOTP’s other decks get played much more because a few of them were very good against MM. This set off a chain reaction. Ultimately, it produced a healthier and more enjoyable environment with more variety. Personally, I despised Goblins so much that I keyed on it. My MM build crushed Goblins about 85% of the time, but suffered a bit to Peacekeepers, against which I went 50%.

Fast forward to 2014, and it was the same story with AG and MM. While in principle I liked many of the other decks, if I wanted to win a majority of games, the top tier was it.

Then the expansion came out. I looked at LoD and thought it had a shot. But 3 builds in and I was only hitting about 55% against AG–not good enough. Then I went to DB. My first two builds were built around the Charmbreaker Devils and Wee Dragonauts, because of their great synergy and knockout potential. It turned out to be the best deck I’d yet played in 2014. Its win rate vs. AG and MM was 60%, and vs. DW, LoD, and BB, 70%.

Old trick, new twist.

Then something occurred to me which I had long forgotten (a dozen years of no Magic will do that. Before DOTP 12, I hadn’t played Magic since 1999!) When your deck has no creatures, your opponent’s non-burn removal spells become useless, dead cards–a monster advantage in game 1 of a match. Back in the day, we used to run creatureless decks all the time. But with all these aggro weenies and fatties in DOTP, the idea had apparently slipped my mind till now.

So I tried a creatureless build of DB (There are 2 Mnemonic Wall, but they’re hardly creatures). The results were pretty astounding. In addition to solid 70-80% performance vs. tiers 2 and 3, Versus AG it was a joke–85 to 90% win rate.

But it was a bit weaker against MM, only about 60%. This is where part C, above, comes in. Can I make the tweaks to beat a top tier deck without overly weakening my performance vs. decks I was already beating? The card that did the trick, as much as I hate it, was Pongify. I don’t like anything that inherently causes me card disadvantage, but with MM, it doesn’t; the Illusion creatures die when targeted. Adding Pongify and a few other minor card tweaks, and MM is now losing to me 70% of the time. Good enough.

My DB build also crushes Tiers 4 through 6. Then again, any deck worth it’s salt should beat most of these pretty handily.

Without creatures to block with, though, DW becomes somewhat of a problem. I only manage a 50% win rate against the zombies. The recurring creatures are tough, as is Black Cat and Corrupt. Since my deck tends to win with a big lategame Banefire after I’ve locked down and outdrawn my opponent, a big Corrupt getting through swings the tide and has cost me more than a couple games.

My DB build also struggles against CoM and, to a lesser extent, BB and LoD. So I haven’t fully optimized the deck list and the way I play it vs. certain decks yet. It still needs minor tweaks to address these struggles. Of course, minor tweaks still have a big impact on a deck. Adding two copies of Pongify, that’s only 3% of the deck. But over the course of many games, there is a clear shift in results.

So I will continue the metagame process and, hopefully, creatureless DB will turn out to be the best “meta” deck in DOTP 14. The challenge of accomplishing this is, for me, the most fun of all.

I’ll close with a piece of advice that I feel, based on what I’ve read in forums around the Web, is lost on many, maybe even most players of Magic DOTP.

Magic is a tricky game. You can think you’ve got it figured out, and feel pretty confident because you mop the floor with the CPU and some of your competition online. But then you run into someone with a better understanding of the game’s subtleties and it’s like you got blindsided by a behemoth. The weak player, at this point, blames the luck of the draw. Or he blames the game’s developers because his opponent’s Tier 1 deck is broken/unfair. Whenever you lose (or win, for that matter), always look at yourself. How could your deck be better? How could you apply knowledge of this year’s metagame to outsmart your opponent? And how could you have made different in-game decisions to affect a different outcome? Blaming Avacyn’s Glory or Mind Maze does you no good. Next time, play the metagame and plan to beat it.

Creatureless DB (third build), 60 cards

Land

  • 12 Mountain
  • 11 Island
  • 4 Terramorphic Expanse

Spells

  • 2 Pongify
  • 2 Peak
  • 2 Banefire
  • 4 Remand
  • 2 Starstorm
  • 3 Searing Spear
  • 2 Electrolyze
  • 2 Cancel
  • 3 Char
  • 2 Volcanic Fallout
  • 1 Invoke the Firemind
  • 3 Compulsive Research
  • 3 Sulfurous Blast
  • 2 Mnemonic Wall
28 replies to this post
  1. Good article – not sure how you are running the DB creatureless build without Draining Whelk though. That’s crazy. Headkase on Youtube has the definitive D&B creatureless build, although I love Mnemonic wall and swapped out 1 compulsive research for it.

    • The only point I disagree with that my apparent twin from another dimension makes is placing the Bant deck on par with Warsmith and Chant. Because it’s kinda bad. It’s kinda pretty bad, even without the colour screw that happens about 106% of the time.

      She says it himself in the article: Many people build their decks in order to kill many creatures as efficiently as possible. What happens when your deck is built around attacking with a single creature each turn which rarely lives past even a one point burn if the attack triggers are responded to?

      It’s not Dragons, but I feel it could stand being bumped down to tier 4. I had to play with that deck a fair lot and it’s really not that great. Likewise Enchanter’s Arsenal is at least tier 3 material if you know what you’re doing. But hey, limited experience with the decks and differing opinions.

      Otherwise, great, well-executed points, sister. You probably won’t read this, but it’s true.

  2. Agree w/ ur points Wing. A great deck can be made if we put some deep thinking into it. I’m pissed off @ wotc because it’s been 2 years of lame dimir decks. I mean, when are we getting the real dimir power. Hand disruption, single target removal, mass removal, effective card draw as well.

  3. This is a decent article; however, most people would consider Dodge and Burn to be Tier 1 – and almost certainly better than MM. The notion that there’s a build of a tier one deck that can pull off an 85-90% win percentage vs AG isn’t actually that impressive, given that the other feature of the DOTP metagame is that there are a ton of basically novice players running AG and DW (check your record vs the mirror match with any deck and you’ll probably see that these games are already very heavily lopsided in your favor if you’re playing against random opponents). You won’t really hit an 85% win percentage vs. an experienced AG player, although it will still be in D&B’s favor.

    I’d be interested in seeing an article that designed a non-tier 1 deck to beat any of the top four, however.

    Also, speaking of the meta-game, if your D&B build struggles against Chant, that’s an issue – for me Chant is the most popular opponent deck (played 225 times, vs AG at #2 which was only played 204 times). D&B shouldn’t struggle at all against Chant though; I think it’s one of the easiest matchups, but it requires running the Draining Whelks and Gather Specimens. Those cards aren’t as good against AG, but they aren’t terrible there either.

  4. I’m glad you guys enjoyed my article, and thanks to Wing for the opportunity to publish at T3.

    Good points guys. Yes, my tier list is arbitrary. It’s just been my experience thus far. It is a constantly evolving list.

    Draining Whelk might seem a good fit, and I tried it, but it wasn’t necessary as a counter, hurt me when drawn in first 12 cards of the deck, and since by the end my opponents are usually sitting with a couple dead creature removal spells in hand, it dies as soon as it hits the table. And this deck does not spend its counter magic on protecting creatures.

    @toraka – I dumped blue out of my build of the “Bant” deck as you called it. Mana problems no more. But I agree. Been playing it a bit more this week. It needs to come down a bit.

    @dh50 – you’re points about Chant are spot on, except for the one most relevant to this article: frequency of play. That hasn’t even been close to my experience. This is another Meta-in-action moment. Chant can be awesome against tiers 2 through 6 (or 60 for that matter) but if it gets beat too often by tier 1, people will play it far less often.

    I write from a perspective of tournaments, because that was all I ever knew in my Pro Tour days of the 90s. The way the Meta interacts with the PSN lobby is still taking some mental adjustment. But it’s all very fun to study. Very engrossing.

    Thanks again for the comments!
    Shawn

    • Maybe it’s different on PSN; I play on Steam, but Chant has been the most popular opponent deck for the whole year for me. The next 3 are AG, DW, and MM, but Chant is still the most played. At least a few other Steam players have reported the same. So the Whelks are pretty important for me, given that I’m slightly more likely to see Chant than any other deck.

      I’ll give your build a try sometime, though, it looks fun. I’ve been pretty set on my own build for awhile but mixing things up every once in awhile keeps things interesting.

  5. Hey Shawntown,

    Nice analysis and process thinking! Best article on here in a while… Also nice to hear from a fellow veteran of the great ice age necro wars ;) (I splashed red)

    I don’t see the dotp tiers the way you do and I would echo @dh50’s comments.
    Lots of CotMD in the iPad 1v1 meta these days, non-starter for me too. Reconsider those whelk’s… I like running a pure control variant with full counter pkg that works really well.

    You mentioned not finding a source of well reasoned analysis… You should head on over to the NGA boards for a (slightly) more elevated discourse of this format.
    Main DotP board: http://www.nogoblinsallowed.com/viewforum.php?f=38
    Dodge & Burn discussion: http://www.nogoblinsallowed.com/viewtopic.php?f=38&t=950

  6. Thanks Benzo. I’ll definitely check it out. When I referred to the majority of the online community being newbs and weak players, believe me, I was NOT talking about T3. Many of you guys really know your stuff. That’s why I wanted to write for this site!

    I really like Chant. I like any deck that turns me on to new concepts, cards, and combos. The first time I saw Artisan of Kozilek, I was blown away. Like, WOW. Sadly there are too few such decks in DOTP 12, 13, or 14. Most everything is very basic creature beat down.

    I’m curious what the community thinks: aside from Grazing Gladeheart, what other cards do you find as key to beating AG and MM. If those decks get their very common great draw and seize the initiative, which cards and play concepts have allowed you to establish board stability better than others?

    • I don’t (regularly) play Chant and the variant I do play doesn’t run the glazeharts. No, I agree with you and also think a creatureless D&B deck build is the way to go. I was saying I run a full counter magic control build that has been very successful in the meta I play in (iPad). Might be that iPad players skew more casual and control has a structural advantage… Not sure… But I am running a near ~8-9/10 win/loss against a random field. Trouble with your build for me is that it gets crushed by all the *other* players I run into playing Chant – and there are lots of them… I see it maybe 30-40% of the time. I am of course referring to casual pickup 1v1 FFA games – not structured tourneys. Anyways, I have essentially dropped to just playing this one build – reminds me of the late days of dotp 2013 and a MM build I couldn’t seem to lose with ;)

  7. I’m a pretty experienced Chant player (took it to the final 8 in the last T3 Xbox Tourney) and I don’t think Gladehearts are needed against Tier 1. They only serve to prolong the game by keeping you alive instead of trying to win the game. For life gain, the Pelakka Wurms are usually enough to bring your life total back into “safe” territory.

    Instead, I use Tangle, All Is Dust and Summoning Trap. Tangle serves a similar purpose of stalling early attackers, but is cheaper than Gladeheart and it’s stall effect is based on twice power of your opponent’s attacking creatures, not how many lands you can play, which against AG & MM can be a large difference.

    All Is Dust is an obvious control card that punishes opponents who over extend or just forces a reset of the board in your favor.

    Summoning Trap (though more useful against MM due to the alternate casting cost) acts not only as a semi-tutor, but more importantly as an instant speed combat trick, ideally allowing you to block your opponents most threatening creature.

    These still do not allow you to achieve a 65% or more win rate over Tier 1, but neither do Grazing Gladehearts (or anything in the card pool for that matter). However, the above cards make the match up with Tier 1 much more manageable without hurting Chant’s effectiveness against the other Tiers.

    • Heretics, both of you. The moose gives life, the moose gives salvation. The moose IS.

      I don’t see why you would not run a Gray Ogre that literally gains you 10 life if things are going poorly. Try outracing a Bow of Nylea, that does basically the same thing. (As well as allow you to say LOLNO to Guardians of Meletis.)

      Tangle is definitely the top card there, though Evil showed me what an Avenger of Zendikar can do. At the very least it’s two combats’ worth of chumps, at best you Landfall thrice and just kill them.

      Vigour is also a card in that category. Sure you can still be attacked and your opponent might be able to squeeze a few creatures through, but it’s not realistically going to do a whole lot.

      Ah, green mana ramp, where 7 cost bombs are used as rush defense…

  8. I don’t like or run the Gladehearts in Chant. Chant does ok against DW with just Pelakka Wurms as stall. It fares worse against AG, which is typically a turn or two faster than DW; whether I can win that or not depends almost entirely upon getting either Tangle, All is Dust, or Avenger of Zendikar out – but the Gladehearts don’t really help very much, and arguably they’re more of a hindrance. My strategy with Chant vs. AG (and DW) is to ramp as quickly as possible into creatures with ETB effects, and the Gladehearts hinder that strategy. If I’m playing them on turn 3-6, I’m playing them instead of ramp and slowing myself down. Against AG, it’s unlikely I’m getting real value from it on turns 3-6 either because it’s a decent target for Fiend Hunter, which helps the AG player keep up pressure, but doesn’t put them at risk to a nasty ETB effect if All is Dust happens.

    The counter argument is that if they’re spending removal on antelopes they aren’t spending it on Titans – but I don’t find this very persuasive. First, the smart AG player will save something for when you hit land drop 6, and they aren’t that likely to need more than 2 removal spells anyway (and they would never Path to Exile an antelope either because they don’t want to ramp you at that stage). Second, playing it early slows you down, which is basically fatal against AG. I’d much rather have the land grabbing chump-blocking 3cc elves in that spot instead. There are always situations where the antelopes help – antelope to Oracle to Primeval Titan is fantastic – but these just didn’t occur regularly enough for me when testing that build to justify it, and the antelopes only seem to help my opponent when I’m playing a slower deck than AG.

    Vs. MM, Chant has little to no shot – it’s the worst match-up by far. Gladehearts are arguably even worse here, because Unsummon means they’ll slow you down 2 turns instead of one. Chant has 3 cards for counterspells – 2 Summoning Trap and Gaea’s Revenge. I don’t run Summoning Trap though – I’ve found it to be very inconsistent (hitting a good creature maybe only 50% of the time) – plus it’s not actually that good against MM since you can only cast it for 0 from spells that counter creatures. The smart MM player will save their counterspells for Tangle and All is Dust (or Summoning Trap), and fly over or tap down whatever insignificant blockers / would be attackers for the win before Chant can do much. It’s a much better card against D&B, since they will counter your creatures – but MM won’t (or shouldn’t). Of course, Summoning Trap at end step when the MM player is tapped out, and hitting some glorious fatty is the stuff dreams are made of, but it just doesn’t happen that often, and if the MM player tapped out when you had 6 land, they’re probably holding Force of Will anyway.

    In any case, I think MM is Chant’s worst matchup by far, and I don’t think that Summoning Trap / Gaea’s Revenge / Gladehearts make enough of a difference here to justify weakening the deck vs. everything else. Others swear by Summoning Trap, so perhaps I’ve just been terribly unlucky with the card – although my opponents who have run it seem to have been just as unlucky so who knows.

    • Sorry, have to disagree with you about the Gladeharts. They have proven themselves to me time and again as amazing control engines.

      Basically, you should never gain less than 2-4 life off them. This is up to two turns vs AG or DB. Sometimes you can gain a lot more. Those turns against fliers and reach just don’t come from anywhere else except Pelakka Wurm, and you can cast him you should have won the game because you managed to ramp out to 7.

      With careful sequencing of plays, it’s not uncommon to get 12 or more life out of my little elk while they save their Doom Blade for the ‘real threat’. That buys me enough time to get so much mana I can present multiple threats or find an All is Dust or Entangle.

      However, playing with Elks means you want more forests in your deck than you might expect – at least 26 so they *always* have gas.

      With this build I favour myself against every match except AG, which is 50/50, and LoD which is a hard counter.

  9. I could disagree with elements of that tier list all day, but as he said, it’s arbitrary.

    Good points at the start, as I said before, I prefer to think of DOTP, in its purest and most ideal form, as being in line with games like LoL or Soul Calibur. A fighting game of sorts. It’s a closed format with a limited list of playable characters (decks), each with their own playstyle, tactics, strengths and weaknesses. The better players see a deck and know how to play it, memorizing all of the combos, the new players button mash, but learn what they can and shouldn’t do.

    The more they display it as that the better I think it could be. Focus heavily on uniqueness of decks, and balance of decks. Make sure they feel distinct, and for each deck there are at least 2 decks that should have an advantage against it, and 2 that should be weak against it. Again this is the ideal. Though it’s not as hard to achieve if you just take some time to think about deck construction, even just an attempt to achieve this would be noticed and appreciated.

    The other smaller thing to take from this way of looking at DOTP that would make me much happier would be to assign a named planeswalker/legend TO EVERY DECK. Nothing annoys me more than seeing a multiplayer lobby of Jace, Elspeth, Dack Fayden aaaaand Bounce and Boon…? Maybe even capitalize on the cinematic moments by giving them moving avatars to represent their deck instead of a frozen picture. You move along the deck wheel and see the character that represents each deck standing doing their dramatic “I’m so edgy” pose and upon selection maybe a brief flashy motion; Chandra’s hair igniting, Venser teleporting, Tibalt cackling (You heard me… WHERE’S MY RED CHAOS?)

    But then again, I’m optimistic and like to pretend that game developers still put forth effort rather than plop out half baked blobs of mushy flavorless content.

    • Show me one person who would Fair Blade a Mnemonic Wall.

      Then again, playing as the BNG removal spam Event Deck (I had no other standard ready deck, shut up!) taught me how expendable those Blades of Doomery really are. Blade your blocker that isn’t really in my way. Gods Willing? Well in response Doom Blade, because screw you.

  10. So what are the good sites, if any, that talk about the DotP metagame, decks, etc? I’d love to get more into the game in general but with my job and other responsibilities, DotP is the best way for me to play now so any good information I can get would be great.

  11. Fantastic article, fantastic discussion guys!

    I wrote a massive strategic writeup of the DotP14 Metagame and was going to submit it to T3, but decided no one cares so I didn’t bother. And then you posted this ^^

    Shawn I really enjoyed this piece, but you are definitely off with your Tier list. Chant of Mul Daya is Tier 1, and if anyone wishes to dispute it, add me on Steam and let’s go. Best of 7, any deck except LoD. Chant is a fucking B E A S T.

    It is also, however, a deck that requires an enormous amount of subtle play to get the most out of. It’s all about grinding out a long advantages using shuffle effects to maximise your Oracles to get the exact card you need on top of your library. In this context, the Elk is amazing. He either eats a removal spell immediately or gains me 12+ life.

  12. Hey fellas. I’ve been on a Splinter Cell kick lately and haven’t been on T3 in awhile, so I just popped in to read the new comments this morning cause I’m bored at work :)

    One common thread I’m noticing here is disagreement with my tier list. You guys are almost certainly right about that. Unfortunately, the very thing about my life that makes DotP such an ideal game for me (work, family, house, etc = no time or money for IRL Magic) also means that I haven’t had the available time to truly analyze and work with each deck. I’ve since drastically altered my thinking on several of the decks, including of course, Chant.

    It would be nice to see an article on the tier list. And not simply an article by one player–too arbitrary, as we’ve seen. I’d like to see a collaboration, perhaps an email discussion between several players to try and iron out a more definitive tier list. It occurs to, though, that there may not be much point: DotP 14’s days are numbered. Magic 2015 will be out in, what, a month? Not sure.

    So perhaps for the next iteration, DotP 2015, some of us could have a Great Tier Summit, and try to create some consensus rankings. Every tier list I’ve ever seen online has been the work of one player. But by its rock-paper-scissors
    nature, the tier list is contentious and not universal.

    So if any of you are interested in taking part in such an email workshop (for fun and a challenge, since there’s really no application for such research until there are more DotP tournaments), speak up. I’m sure Wingspantt will be game for publishing our results here on T3.

    • DotP15 ist due on the 18th of July. I mean, it’s a secret, except they said it’d coincide with the Core Set’s release, which happens to be known for ages…

  13. Oh yeah, and on the subject of Chant…

    At this point, I’ve got it at 3rd in Tier 1. Both in my matches and in my pals’, it’s performance vs. LoD, DW, and MM has been a coin flip at best, and AG was regularly beating the snot out if it. AG’s opening draws are incredibly consistent, and I still feel that it has the best card pool in 2014.

    BUT…we were only playing one specific build of Chant. More than any other deck in 2014, I have seen $more heated debate around the Web about which cards should and should not be included in a Chant build in order to best Tier 1 and the creature version of DB.

    For those of you passionate about Chant, I’d love to get a look at your builds. Post ’em or email me: shawntown@gmail.com

  14. Oh yeah, and on the subject of Chant…

    At this point, I’ve got it at 3rd in Tier 1. Both in my matches and in my pals’, it’s performance vs. LoD, DW, and MM has been a coin flip at best. Hell, I was even getting 50% wins with Sylvan Might for god’s sake! (That was probably a fluke though…3 wins in 6 games. Too small a sample set)

    And then there’s AG, which was regularly beating the snot out of Chant. AG’s opening draws are incredibly consistent, and I still feel it has the best card pool in 2014.

    BUT…we were only playing one specific build of Chant. More than any other deck in 2014, I have seen more heated debate around the Web about which cards should and should not be included in a Chant build in order to best Tier 1 and the creature version of DB. And as you’ve said, subtle play concepts are very much at work. Weak players piloting chant is like my 10 year old niece driving her dad’s Hummer.

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