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 Post subject: Duels Diaries
PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 1:26 pm 
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Hi all,

I'm danno029 on iOS, friend me, battle me in Magic, it is so hard to fill lobbies on this platform right now!

I know most of you are waiting for the Xbox or Steam releases. I converted all my play to iOS late last year and I wanted to tell you guys about my experience with the game since it dropped a week early. I realize a lot of this info may have been covered elsewhere, but I haven't read all that to be honest, too busy holding gold! Here's the good, bad and ugly from my POV.

Day One - OMG it's Christmas in July! Download download download. If you have trouble finding it in the app store, search for "magic duels", combinations of things like Magic The Gathering and Duels Origins gave me nothing. Tag much?

I downloaded the game for iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2. Off to the races -

You get gold just for taking Magic classes? Sign me up! I coach a sports team irl, and the veterans always complain when we have to go over fundamentals at practice for new players. Now I know how they feel. After about 10 minutes that feels like FOREVER (wah) I get my tiny pile of gold.

First thing I notice, the game play is slightly faster. Not a lot, but enough that I fail to stop the timer and miss end-of-turn plays for several duels in a row. For the last two years I have grown accustomed to smashing mages from the comfort of my living room couch while watching The Good Wife and teen crap from the CW, so I had mastered the amount of time to look at the TV, look at the iPad, and a slight change to that timing threw my game way off. I had to hole up in my dojo (man cave) with no distractions to fix it and get the pace down.

When you get into the main game you get a starter deck that contains a ton of cards. COOL! I can make some synergistic decks and have something to grind with that isn't straight-up horrible. I build a deck, I play some Vs battles, I win more gold, I bash all the story modes, I am BALLIN'...

Story campaigns give you decks full of preselected cards that aren't all part of the "real" game. Similar to being Cursed Garrak last year.

... I am not Ballin'. I took my U/W flying aggro list to the web. First thing I notice, you get a "rank". This is neat. I am zero, my opponent is one. What! It is day one, and someone has already won a game more then me?!?!! I'll show this adversary who runs the Duels interwebs.....

...Or not. My very first Duel I get destroyed by a guy with turn two Jace, a bunch of flyers that are sexier then mine because of the 2/3 flash drake, and a Disciple of the Ring that leaves me with a headache from reading all that text every turn. It's day one, match one and I am being face-smashed by mythics. I think this is what people fear when they say pay-to-win, so I head to the store to cash in some gold -

And boosters are 150 gold each. So if I only want to play ranked games with full decks, and my pride says "I do!", I need to win 300 duels to unlock 30 packs of cards and make something respectable. 300 games vs Ai....here I go, let's see how long I last...

....I last about an hour and a half. Quite honestly, the power level of this game is the lowest yet. Disciple of the Ring is a great mythic, but most of the mythics aren't good. Even the planeswalkers aren't amazing. Good, yeah, but I'd take a Baneslayer, Brimaz or Goblin Rabblemaster any day. Or Pelakka Wurm, that would be awesome. So the game gets old FAST when you are trying to beat down the Ai with Suntail Hawks and various 2/2's.

I have been blessed by the gods (Gods?) with a massive iTunes gift card balance, so I take my virtual dollars to the Booster Pack store to buy virtual Gold (just like I invest in real life!). I purchase the largest block of gold (7500 for $39.99) and then purchase 50 packs. I don't want to get into the whole debate over the right price for this game, I am happy to pay for it because it has saved me THOUSANDS of dollars on paper Magic and Magic Online, and usually I honestly find it more fun. 50 packs appears to get you about 70% of the cards (someone else can do the math), I am still missing a handful of uncommons and rare but my collection "feels healthier". I make some "more real" decks (all the air-quotes showing how inbred my inner dialog has become), and I get back into ranked games.

I feel like a jerk not long after. That first game against mr. moneybags who I have seen myself become was a fluke. Most of my games are against folks just trying to get some gold and buy more cards. Every time I drop three planesalkers and other over-powered stuff I feel a little sick. So be warned, purchase at your own risk. Some fun things about dueling -

I like seeing the ranking of my opponent. I remember my tournament days, when I would have an inner snarky smile when I sat down against a ten year old (rank 0), although I sometimes lost those games.... On the other hand, I feel the rush of adrenaline when I play against someone with a rank of ten or higher, like I just sat down across from someone I know to be a renown pro.

Everyone is playing either Elves or B/R Nantuko Husk. I opened double Languish, so my wins go up pretty fast.

And then, about 8 hours into my adventures, I stop earning Gold for my wins...apparently this is happening to everyone. "Gold is down", also just like my real life investing. Seriously, this game feels sad when you can't earn gold and open more packs. I am lucky to have a big collection of cards so I have been building and testing decks to figure out what is going to make and break this meta, but I feel like I am in limbo. And quests just don't work, seriously. I have won well over ten games with a R/B deck (my current quest), but they never register. Maybe iOS comes out early so Wizards and see everything that goes wrong, hopefully you Steamheads and XBONErs will have a better release week. More notes -

I love Magic on my iPhone. It syncs my decks right up, and I can, or I COULD, earn more gold for my total from my iPhone. I am sure this will get me divorced within the year! For now, it's a blast, Magic in my pocket everywhere!

The Ai duels are worse then last year. They took away the ability to choose my opponent's deck from my own collection, so last year I could test a new build against tokens, life gain, 5 color stuff, and then play it in ranked. In Duels Origins the Ai generates a random two or three color "good stuff" deck on the fly, often with few synergies, and I won most of the games easy. Ok for grinding, but it gets boring, and the Ai sucks at Magic which isn't good.

How did they make land tapping worse? I swear if you don't carefully, CAREFULLY tap your lands, a real pain on iPhone, you always cast your spells in the worst way available.

In the past they always said the shuffler wasn't rigged, but I think they have changed the rigging. For every Duels game, it felt like you drew a lot of land. Your hand was always a big land magnet. You could run 21 or 22 lands and still draw nine lands out of eleven cards. I never ran over 24 lands. Maybe it's me, but now I can't draw land to save my life. Most of my decks are up to 26 lands, and if I keep a two lander I still can't draw into lands three and four. I had a game where I down to 27 cards in my deck, and math said 22 of those cards where lands. Crazy! Variance? It doesn't feel like it. I am about 80 games deep and I have flooded twice, but I have been short on lands about twenty times, and again, I am running 26 lands in my decks.

Be warned, I think this is a control meta. I feel dirty every time I spoil a kid's day with Twinbolt, everyone is walking right into that card, whether with a pair of 2/1's or with nimbus wings, it is just sad, like kicking someone's adorable puppy. The format is low on big, high powered threats, and the removal is decent. I think we are in for long, grindy, two-for-one games where it is hella hard to get a real advantage. But we'll see. If you read all this, THANKS, I hope you enjoyed my sarcastic sense of humor and my sum-up of the game, questions are welcome.

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 Post subject: Re: Duels Diaries
PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 1:50 pm 
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Interesting diary.
One thing I can help you with is that the archetype deck quests mean using that archetype in the deck wizard and specifically winning with that deck made in the deck wizard as opposed to your own 100% freely created deck.

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 Post subject: Re: Duels Diaries
PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 1:58 pm 
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wow, for your 5th post, this is a quality session report. Garren has some competition for fun writers on this site.

gods not Gods

lol @ "tag much??" I had trouble finding the game as well.

I think the land-tapping issue for phones HAS to be expected. You're trying to play a tabletop game on a 4.3 inch screen. It's a knife fight in a phone booh.

Really enjoyed this read. Here's my take on playing online versus others in a FTP game like this:
If you play online right out of the gates, you're going to get frustrated when you run up against players that have dropped some bank on this game. They will have a massive advantage. If you drop some bank on this game, you will feel bad or bored since most players are playing for free and don't have decks to challenge you.

I think the perfect compromise is to do what I do! I'm going to grind all my cards. Once I have all the cards, then I play online. Entering online at that point usually means there's a good mix of player skills and collections.

Thanks for the fun write up! Look forward to moar of these


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 Post subject: Re: Duels Diaries
PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 2:43 pm 
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It's day one, match one and I am being face-smashed by mythics. I think this is what people fear when they say pay-to-win, so I head to the store to cash in some gold


You fall for the bait :)
Like Black Barney said, it's better to grind all cards in singleplayer first, than go multiplayer. You don't need even all the cards, fill some gabs with other creatures.
I think a game is much more interesting, if you grow up with nothing and advance more and more, than get anything instantly and got bored because you don't know what to do, because have too many possibilities but to little knowledge about the powerlevel of the cards and builds.

I have the feeling, they don't put many fatties in the Origin coreblock (and also so In Magic:Duels), because nothing should steal the show of the Eldrazis next expansion. :thumbsup:
DotP 2014 had an green Eldrazi deck, but the green creatures where so good in this deck, the Eldrazi aren't worth to put it in and it turned out into a green fatty deck. :(


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 Post subject: Re: Duels Diaries
PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 3:51 pm 
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I prefer to spend 25 bucks now and get more cards to build with as that is almost as much fun to me as playing. Then my playing will build up gold I can use on the next expansion.

It think is BS that they released it on iOS a week before Steam as that is where the biggest player base has been... what happened to customer loyalty?!

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 Post subject: Re: Duels Diaries
PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2015 8:36 am 
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Very enjoyable read Covert. It sucks for now the gold grind is sunk with no fix as yet evident. As much as I could pay easily (and he'll the normal duels price in years past is arguably warranted - think shareware). But I digress, I was lucky with the free boosters from story and the single pack I earned from quests and solo duels (you know when the gold thing was working as planned). I cracked a Liliana and Chandra so Rakdos here we come. The elf decks seem strong but I like the sacrifice mechanic with enough ways to return creatures that have good leave the battle effects. The Perilous Myrs in particular are sweet, no shocks in the meta? No problem I will take my little 1/1 with a hidden shock when he dies for cast able 2 of any mana. I guess arguably if I trigger Liliana's ultimate the game is already won but returning the damage dealers is icing on the cake. Chandra can activate if I get the harness out and I have one enchantment that stops the life gain nonsense. I agree real expert decks are sure to be brewed and look forward to seeing them up even if I will not be able to build for a good while. I may get my deck list up so people can throw rocks at it and there is probably a similar type of build out but it's good to have a semi decent deck with the bit of luck I have had in the free boosters I have opened. I will try and find you on game centre for the add, by know way am I the strongest of players but probably better than the AI though at least the random nature of the builds means it's still fun to go up against AI just a pity it has stopped earning gold. Like you I have on iPhone and IPad Air, the iPhone release was a bonus and nice it syncs including decks between devices for one play experience!

EDIT: I cannot find you under danno029 on Game Centre

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 Post subject: Re: Duels Diaries
PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2015 10:55 am 
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Hi guys, thanks for the replies, the vibe is very good and I'm glad you found this write-up fun.

WrightJustice - Thanks for the tip, I have to decide how bad I want that 40 gold now, letting Wizards AI build my deck goes against my very nature.

Black Barney - I am a longtime reader of NGA, and I often have ideas about posting, but I rarely do it. I guess I bit the bullet on this one because I had a lot of thoughts I wanted to get out there. I would promise to post more often, but I can't, I only dive in when the inspiration strikes me, in the meantime I enjoy reading all the other posts on the site, yours included. Thanks for the props.

On the land-tapping issue, I expected it to be hard, but I want to be clear that the automatically selected land taps are the worse they have ever been. Most of the time the AI knows what you are going for and you only have to slow down and carefully tap in a few scenarios. In this game you need to be really careful with every land tap if you have any intention of casting two spells or activating abilities on a given turn. Unlike in the past, the AI will tap all our blue to cast an artifact when you have 4 blue spells in your hand and leave you with 3 untapped swamps. Once you add in variations of guild gates and other dual lands it gets tedious.

I hope you have an excellent grind, feel free to post your first week experiences here or on your own thread.

Latieon - Yeah, they got me, I fell for the bait. To earn some street cred, I have grinded out the cards in every other duals with no exceptions, and I hope you have fun doing the same. However, I never found the grind so...so....boring before. I hope you have a better experience. And maybe it was also my inability to crack any rates I was excited about. Also, I think you will find this format very slow compared to others, so the games take longer, so grinding out in a day or two with a goblins deck is unlikely (please prove me wrong!). I gave an honest accounting about my experience to share that I do feel a little dirty about buying those cards, and I feel worse smashing new players (which is the vast majority of the ranked games at the moment). I have trouble dealing with that, and I am happy to warn others that the grind may be more fun. I couldn't hack it, but I wish I had stuck it out, I just hated playing with bad cards!

-DarkShock- I have no idea why the release on iOS early, I'd like to think it isn't anything personal, maybe something with Apple's rules or their Apple agreements. I am sure they love their Steamheads, and it is not like our release is going great. We can't earn Gold right now, making the grinding a no go, and I often wait 20 - 30 minutes for a Ranked Game even at peak hours so the player base isn't swelling yet. I expect the Steam experience will be better.

SquiderDragon - I think the R/B deck is among the best out-of-the-starter box. It is very competitive for grinding, and you are fortunate to have both walkers, most people won't have those, so have a blast. Thanks for letting me know about my Game Center ID, I dug around in settings and found my profile wasn't public, fixed that now, please try adding me again, still danno029.

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 Post subject: Re: Duels Diaries
PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2015 11:01 pm 
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Thanks for the good read, Covert! You've described the reasons I'm going to invest the money in it instead of time :)

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 Post subject: Re: Duels Diaries
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2015 9:17 am 
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Greetings, danno029. I've enjoyed reading your diary. I'm also adding you on iOS. Hopefully we can coordinate some duels together soon.

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 Post subject: Re: Duels Diaries
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2015 9:18 am 
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You don't need to let AI build your deck, just use the deck wizard.

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