Magic 2014 Videogame – Ramblings

Thank fuck that they shortened the name down this year. Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers is quite the mouthful. So is that the only thing they changed this time? Of course not. Let’s have a look.

Awkward cropping is awkward.

First a disclaimer. I do not play Magic: The Gathering with real cards. I’ve never been in a position to start, nor do I have (or ever have had) closeby friends who play. But I have played all the Duels of the Planeswalkers PC games, and I watch everything the Loading Ready Run crew put out on Magic. So I guess I’m a casual dabbler.

All card images from the Card Kingdom site.

Warning: This is basically just me rambling about the deck I made for Sealed Play, and it’s not necessarily newbie friendly.

For the 2014 edition, there’s actually a bit of a story focus for the main campaign now, in addition to a new structure. You follow Chandra Nalaar’s story about revenge for something or… I don’t quite know. You’re hunting down some dude and then you do a 2-on-1 at the end, and it’s sorta similar to the 3 vs 1 format from 2013, but you don’t get a whole campaign of it. Which is a huge shame, because it was my favourite battle.

The new structure is that for each plane there are three encounters and then a Planeswalker duel that unlocks a new deck. Challenges have been moved to their own section rather than be splashed about the campaign. Of the new pre-made decks this time I found the Sliver one to be the most interesting.

But! What I am really here to talk about is the Sealed Campaign. As you start out you are given 6 booster packs of 14 cards each, and you open them one by one, looking at all the cards, and then you’re told to make a 40-card deck before you start playing. I did find out that you can add more cards, but considering the limited pool that’d probably rather weaken your deck than strengthen it.

The campaign consists of 6 duels, and for duel 1, 3 and 5 you win a new booster pack to tweak your deck with. I do wish I had thought ahead to take screenshots of each booster I opened, but I’ll have to explain my thoughts with words instead. I didn’t think I’d love it that much, to be honest. I kinda get the appeal of drafting now, and that’s a bit scary, and kinda evil.

So opening the first pack I see a mix of all the colours, and a central silly card.

Door To Nothingness

While there was a certain appeal to building a deck around a “haha, you lose” card, I don’t feel enough confidence in my skill to run a 5-colour deck. Especially not in a draft. If I had access to all the cards, maybe I could make something work. Maybe.

Otherwise it looked like the start of a decent green-blue deck, so I started to think about how that could work, and set to opening the rest of the packs. The dream of a green-blue seemed more distant, but there were the makings of a decent black deck, and a decent white deck, and some other combos I felt less certain about due to my noobness.

I have never played white or black though. I mean, I tried a white equipment deck once, and a black vampire deck once, but I wouldn’t really say I played them or felt comfortable with them. I mostly play either mono-red full of burns, or mono-green with just big creatures.

In the end I settled for throwing every white card I’d gotten in there, and among them was a Sentinel Sliver, so I decided to add the Predatory Slivers from the green pool as well. And since I already had a splash of green, why not add a few others? I threw in a couple of Oakenform enchantments because they looked great. With that in mind I added the couple of Terramorphic Expanses I’d gotten to make it easier to actually get a Forest on the field. And finally added a colourless Phyrexian Hulk because it looked neat.

Sentinel Sliver Predatory Sliver

Oakenform Terramorphic Expanse

Phyrexian Hulk

So yes, with that decided, I had 13 white mana cards (Plains), 3 green mana cards (Forests), 2 Terramorphic Expanse, 2 Oakenform, 2 Predatory Sliver, 1 Sentinel Sliver, 1 Phyrexian Hulk, and 16 white cards that I will now talk about in more detail.

See, the idea here was that even though I only had 3 Forests, it wouldn’t be that hard to get one on the field thanks the low card amount of the deck, and the 2 TEs. And all my green cards really only needed one green mana to cast, so I’d be set. The Sentinel Sliver and Predatory Slivers would buff eachother, the Oakenform would be a great, cheap buff (for those who don’t play, if you’re still reading, a +3/+3 buff is a big deal), and the Phyrexian Hulk would just be a beast.

This is all sideline stuff to the main parts of my deck though, which start off with the fliers.

Suntail Hawk Griffin Sentinel

Charging Griffin

The Suntail Hawk is quite good, since a 1/1 flier for 1 is a pretty good deal. And if I slapped Oakenform on it, it’d suddenly be a 4/4. And the Griffin Sentinel was a decent enough wall with its Vigilance (meaning it doesn’t get tapped when attacking, and can be used for both attack and defence in the same turn), while the Charging Griffin is a great harasser. I only got 1 Hawk, but I had 3 of each of the Griffins.

These guys, along with the Slivers, were really only meant to lay the groundwork until I could get my Paladins and Angel out though.

Dawnstrike Paladin Angelic Arbiter

Throw an enchant on either of those, and suddenly it’s a silly thing. The Lifelink of the Paladins is especially good, since at a mere 20 hitpoints a piece, you can get overwhelmed quickly, and the Angel was just a way of making things trickier for certain decks, while also just being a great creature to fight and defend with. I had 3 Paladins and 1 Angel.

The final two creatures I had were there largely because they were also white cards I’d gotten.

Healer of the Pride Pillarfield Ox

I actually grew quite fond of my Cat Cleric, partly because Cat Cleric, and partly due to its ability just being really neat. I wasn’t able to get one of those artifacts that give life whenever I play white, but a catwoman that gives 2 life per creature helps. The Pillarfield Ox I never really found a use for. The Paladins were just better.

To back all this up I had a couple of enchantments.

Spirit Mantle Pacifism

Protection from creatures can be very handy, since it both prevents your card from being blocked, and means you can block without worrying that you’re going to lose your creature. And +1/+1 also helps. Even my Suntail Hawk could kill a lot more stuff at 2 attack than at 1. And while I was lacking in burns to directly kill or remove an enemy creature, Pacifism is a handy way of putting one out of play. I had 2 Spirit Mantle and 1 Pacifism.

So yeah, total tally for the first version of my deck:

13 Plains
3 Forest
2 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Suntail Hawk
1 Sentinel Sliver
2 Predatory Sliver
3 Griffin Sentinel
3 Charging Griffin
1 Healer of the Pride
1 Pillarfield Ox
3 Dawnstrike Paladin
1 Phyrexian Hulk
1 Angelic Arbiter
2 Spirit Mantle
1 Pacifism
2 Oakenform

I named it White Fields, and started on the Sealed Campaign. And it turned out to be a pretty solid deck. So I quickly won my first booster pack, and had a look at what I’d gotten which might improve it.

Well, I found a second Pillarfield Ox, which was not all that tempting, but there were some definite standouts. First there was a second Sentinel Sliver, which I removed the third Griffin Sentinel to get room for. And then these two new cards.

Indestructibility Protean Hydra

First off, how can I resist turning a creature indestructible? Especially considering my lack of counter-spells this seemed like a great idea. And the Protean Hydra is just silly, and I like silly creatures. I prefer throwing it out there with like +4/+4 and then making it indestructible next turn (if I can) and use it to defend. And then for every +1/+1 counter it loses, it gains two back at the end of the turn, so it’s almost like a Hydra from greek legend. It’s probably the most out-of-place card in my deck, but I love it. To make room for these two I removed the third Charging Griffin and the third Dawnstrike Paladin.

When I won my next booster pack I decided to see if I could go above the 40 card limit. Which I could! So I decided to make it a 42 card deck instead, because that’s the kind of nerd I am.

Now I had decided that there were two cards that had to go from my deck. The Phyrexian Hulk just wasn’t working out. 5/4 with nothing special at the cost of 6 is a bit much when I’m not making an artifact deck. And the Pillarfield Ox was just dead weight.

As for new things, there were these two.

Elixir of Immortality Solemn Offering

Both of which are delicious. As I have a very small deck with almost only potent cards, being able to put my entire graveyard back into my library can essentially keep me going and competitive for ages. And it also gives me 5 life. It’s almost too good. And Solemn Offering would have been great just as a way to destroy artifacts and enchantments even without the life gain. Though perhaps a bit costly without the life gain.

Another side-effect of the Elixir is that even if I only have one of a card, I could still be able to redraw it after it has been put out of play, so long as it’s not exiled.

For my 41st card I slid in a second Pacifism, and for the 42nd I considered the Roc Egg or the Blur Sliver.

Roc Egg Blur Sliver

But for the egg I didn’t really feel like adding a defender that’d only give me a bird once it died, and for the sliver I REALLY didn’t feel like mixing a third colour into my deck. So instead I added a third Predatory Sliver.

When it came time for my final booster pack of the Sealed Campaign, there really wasn’t much to tweak any longer. I mean, these cards showed up:

Master of Diversion Safe Passage

And while they’re both pretty good, I didn’t really feel like getting rid of much. There was also a second Elixir of Immortality. My Suntail Hawk was finally retired in favour of a third Spirit Mantle. Though now as I am re-reading the actual text of Safe Passage, I think I might sacrifice my third Predatory Sliver to fit it in there. I thought it was like Fog at first, but I see now that it only prevents damage done to your side, which is MUCH better.

There, it’s done. The game downgraded my deck strength indicator by one point because of it, but I feel confident in this change. So here’s the current tally for my White Wilds deck:

13 Plains
3 Forest
2 Terramorphic Expanse
2 Sentinel Sliver
2 Predatory Sliver
1 Protean Hydra
2 Griffin Sentinel
2 Charging Griffin
1 Healer of the Pride
2 Dawnstrike Paladin
1 Angelic Arbiter
1 Elixir of Immortality
3 Spirit Mantle
2 Pacifism
2 Oakenform
1 Solemn Offering
1 Safe Passage
1 Indestructibility

So yes, I’ve had good results with this so far, enough that I feel confident taking it online pretty soon, but I am aware that it has its weaknesses. First off I have no direct damage spells, and after playing so much red I am kinda used to having some removal. Secondly I don’t have any properly huge creatures and rather rely on enchantments and flying to bypass the enemy. Thirdly it’s a small deck so it can be milled out pretty fast, even with the Elixir of Immortality. Fourthly I have no card draw, or means to play more than one land per turn, so it’s a slow builder, and if I don’t have or draw enough land early I can get boned. Fifthly I have no counter-spell abilities of any sort. I’m sure there’s more, but those are the ones that pop into my head right away.

Still, I am really happy with how I built my deck, and kinda proud of it, which is why I’ve wasted so much space rambling on about it, when it’s likely no one but me cares.

So yeah, if you’re still with me, thank you for reading, and maybe I’ll see you again soon.

~Wulf

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Posted on July 13, 2013, in Games and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Looks good, but I’d put in a few more Forests. Three, plus two Terramorphics is way too few, even if you only run five green cards. You want to skew towards a 50/50 split, especially since you only have three cards with a WW in their cost, because otherwise you’ll be very vulnerable to color screws.

    You’d have to thoroughly test it to make sure, but I’d make it more something like:
    9 Plains
    6 Forests
    2 Terramorphics

    Also, I’m counting 42 cards there. It’s a small nitpick, but you should always try to stick as close as possible to the minimum number of cards allowed (this is once again a case of consistency), in this case 40. To that extent, I already took the liberty of cutting your land down to 17 (which is the traditional amount for 40-card decks) in my suggestion above. As for the last one, I’d cut the Elixir of Immortality. It’s more of a sideboard card against decks that rely on milling, and this game’s pool is very unsuited towards that strategy.

    • But but but… I like having 42 cards. It was my goal. ;_; The answer to everything!

      I’ll consider it though. We’ll see how things progress. I’ll definitely alter my mana numbers though, thanks. 🙂

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