When comparing decks in Duels of the Planeswalkers, as with many other things, relative matchups matter and subjective opinions are all you have to go on. Thus you must compile opinions and determine whose are wrong. Oh, and I guess some stuff about unlockable cards over time, meta changing, and other factors. Who cares. After all, who would Top Tier Tactics be if we didn’t tier things?
Note: Within their respective tiers, decks are not in any particular order, unless you want them to be.
- Dodge and Burn
When previously people hated you for playing the Angels deck, this one now serves that purpose. Admittedly, you cannot take this deck as you receive it and make people ragequit without effort. In a game dominated by the same three boring aggro decks, Dodge and Burn promised salvation and quickly took the vacated seat of the tyrant. Maybe it’s the twenty-two sweepers the deck gets. Maybe it’s the hyper-efficient spell synergy creatures and draw engines. Maybe it’s the fifty million counterspells. Whatever it is, this deck got too much of it. That’s what identifies decks in the S-tier.
- Sylvan Might
At least it isn’t hard to identify what Sylvan Might had in excess amount: Elves. It gets lifegainy dudes to stave off death from even the most dangerous of foes, fetchy dudes to keep its hand full of stuff, and finally pumpy dudes to completely overwhelm its opponent, together with a few seemingly unfair combo dudes like Taunting Elf. There are some things in this deck that you must remove, and many that you want to remove. None of your attempts will help however when the chain of creature fetchers never ends.
Firewave is easy to underestimate as its initial form is kind of bad, but it can be built into a true monster. The reason it is so high on this list is because it is a titankiller: Other than perhaps Sylvan Might, this deck has no bad matchups, and it stomps a good few of the supposedly top tier decks. It would be worse if not everyone was playing one of the decks in this list’s S-tier, but let’s be honest, that is the exact case. Thus you’ll get great results thanks to sidestepping the meta of killing whatever the enemy does to prevent it from killing what you are doing, using only creatures like the somehow never dying Chandra’s Phoenix.
- Lords of Darkness
Look. Control decks exist. I’ve seen them once. Then there’s removal spam. This is definitely the latter. I suppose you’ll need lots of killing and efficient lifegain if you can’t beat your opponent with horrifically undercosted creatures with laughably small life payments as drawbacks – oh wait. It can get problems when it forgets to kill the opponent in between murdering all of her creatures and its mirror match is even more boring than two mana-flooded Esper Control players, but that does little to decrease its pure power.
- Avacyn’s Glory
Ah, how you have fallen. Turns out all that was needed to debunk the swarm was to infest the game with the deck of twenty sweepers. This still clearly stands above all normal decks with ridiculous speed, but newer decks can match it in launching like a rocket and just murdering every threat the angels put out.
Look, it’s really hard to argue how a deck has gotten worse when it still stomps 90% of the other decks by mashing its head into the mouse with any build of cards whatsoever. Matching power with power creep isn’t necessarily the best strategy for all.
- Mind Maze
Breaking news: Things that die when targeted get significantly worse when there is an actual chance of things getting targeted. The Lord of the BS is also significantly weaker when you can murderise his copy with one of twenty sweepers. Somehow this deck just disappeared one day…
If any deck deserved to be on top of its tier, it would be this one. Its zombies are just impossible to kill for good, putting it slightly ahead of the other decks in a world where existance is just a whim. Once again, a victim of the meta shift.
- Chant of Mul Daya
It loses to a lot of things, and winning is often a race for whether you can stay alive and bring out Avenger and/or Vigour. If you can you’ll be fine, but an aware opponent can catch you exactly there. All glory to the majestic lifemoose.
Easy to disrupt, vulnerable to sweepers because all too often its Metalcraft is held up by 1/1 Myr dudes. But glance away and in come 20 damage. Oh Jor Kadeen, why will you not make love to me. Even without him though, Warsmith features a neat toolbox of many things and is reportedly the first midrange deck in Duels of the Planeswalkers that is equipped to fight in the midrange, sporting efficient dudes, stuff-b-gone removal, and plenty of Galvanic Blasts for a quick finish if it comes to it.*
- Enchantress’ Arsenal
Imagine there’s war, and nobody comes. Enchantress’ main strength is to combine lifegain, pacification, and draw to make opponents literally concede from boredom.** However, it only works because it is one of two decks where there is anything but creatures worth removing, so no one is able to do so. It also needs about five turns of setup time, so if it plays against, I don’t know, any other deck, things can get hairy. Also, why would you bother playing a deck that takes three times as long per match by default?
- Unfinished Business
Some people would say this deck is at least tier A. Those people still have to explain that it loses 5:0 to Warsmith. It is not a good deck if your opponent has any idea what she is doing and it invites poor strategies relying on magical christmas land starting hands. (In other words: Hands that contain very specific cards plus adequate mana, the type you see once per hundred games.) Yet no matter what you do, it refuses to be pretty! Then again, that is quite a big “if” in the previous sentence. When you put your mind to it, there are worse decks. Speaking of which!
- Masks of the Dimir
The thing about Magic is, if you aren’t winning at a decent rate, you have to hinder the other guy doing it. And this deck provides neither. It sports bad removal, its creature base can be adequately described as “Moroii and some”, and emptying the opponent’s hand is both slow and has no other effects that capitalise on it. Bonus gold star for mostly providing alternate uses for the discard spells, though. Now if only the deck could decide what it wants to do, evasion, discard, or mill.
- Sword of the Samurai
Jitte and some. That about sums it up.
- Up to Mischief
If everything works out, this deck is great, or at least annoying. But then they pull out Flames of the Firebrand and you are wondering where your life went so wrong. Also another candidate in the category of “Doesn’t kill fast, doesn’t control well.”
- Hunting Season
It’s probably better than Garruk’s deck. Not hard, because that deck is “Loses to AI” terrible. It just does nothing special, and there are better candidates for everything that it attempts. Boring, next deck!
- Sliver Hive
In a world of spot removal, the plague is but a peasant. What I mean by that is that slivers are the plague and no one is sad that they completely disappeared once the game stopped playing like Theros Limited and got some ways to make that dude there in particular have a shorter than regular lifespan.
- Bounce and Boon
On second thought, maybe slivers don’t deserve to be in a tier with decks like this one. Note that the descending rating of decks is not necessarily due to what they can do, but what they will do. We all know the tale of that one time you got locked by Stonehorn Dignitary and Dust Elemental. How often is that realistically going to happen? Its creatures are weak, its bouncing effects are oneshot for at best a small benefit, and worst of all you need the exact mixture to get any kind of decent value out of it.
- Enter the Dracomancer
I tried to make it work. Trust me, I tried. It doesn’t.
- Hall of Champions
“I swing for…” “Doom Blade.” “Oh. Nevermind then. You did this the last three times I attacked, are you ever going to run out?” “No.”
- Guardians of Light
It’s like Hall of Champions, except without constant colour screw and with free card disadvantage! I’ll say it now, there is absolutely no reason to play this deck over Enchantress’s Arsenal. Ajani, go back to being somebody’s living room tiger, you’re almost looking green already. Just do not play this deck, alright?
- Hunter’s Strength
And for the clear last entry on this list, we have Guardians of Light! Except that this deck is even worse in every imaginable aspect! Yaaay!
*Eat it, Finkel!
**A certain deck called Maze’s End regularly does this. No, I’m serious. This happened.