03/26/2012 Feature: "Duel or Die"

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This thread is for discussion of this weeks's Feature Article, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Both these decks look quite fun to play with. But a Mountain-themed deck with no Valakut, the Molten Pinnacles? Really?
Is it me or are duel decks just seemingly getting crappier with every incarnation?  Come on wizards give me cards I actually want to play with, the novelity of owning planeswalkers that are $8 and rotating in the fall won't get my $20 especially since if these walkers don't find a place somewhere they seem to be going the way of Chandra Ablaze.  Not that Koth isn't good he just isn't compared to the other four drops that red has access to in standard.
Red Landfall and Azorius Blink, just like I thought it would.


But where's Koth's Courier, Venser's Sliver, , and Venser's Journal?   Wink

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

Not having one of the fetch lands when Koth's deck has a landfall theme seems like a huge miss.

Still, the decks to seem fun, just a little underwhelming imo. 
I love that they included windreaver and torchling. Two awesome and underappreciated cards.

<a href="http://www.wizards.com/Magic/PlaneswalkerPoints/1206663433"><img src="http://pwp.wizards.com/1206663433/Scorecards/Landscape.png" border="0" /></a>

Vulshok Berserker, Battlegear and Morningstar are all astonishingly boring cards.  Combined with how badly they screwed up designing Koth in the first place (he's a blacksmith on a world of metal who does absolutely nothing artifact-related), my negligible interest in this product is entirely gone.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
It looks like it could be a fun gaming experience, which is great. But it really isn't much beyond that. By taking out the 'wow' factor such as cards from the next set, you're left with an interesting diversion but nothing that really grabs people and screams 'Buy me!'. It's never a good sign if players can buy the entire contents of both decks on the secondary market for a fraction of the cover price.
I realise that these decks are meant for the casual market and not for anyone that is likely to be posting on these forums, but do we have to keep getting terrabad cards in these things?  Elspeth Vs Tezzeret was awesome and all of these decks since have just been awful.

Come on WotC get your finger out...!
I think I'd rather die than duel with these boring turds.
Koth already won.
Venser is dead. He sacrificied himself to cleanse Karn of the phyrisis.
Abbot Pheldy OSM Mafia Awards 2010 Most Unique Playstyle Designer of Game of the Year 2010 Designer of Most Flavorful Game My achievements random hum
These decks have been strongly criticized in other forums.

I really liked the explanation of how these decks came to be. It shows why they look so poor at first glance... until you realize the fine balance of the two. We got the answer to why mulldrifter and similar cards are not there, for example. 

Still some missed opportunities: Valakut for a geomancer was perfect (but maybe it's in the next FtV...). For firebreathing creactures 3 Sandstone Warrior would have been much much better (it breathes shards....). Over Jaedit's Dragoons you could have chosen the Temple Acolyte (ok it was printed in the Elspeth deck, but it was a perfect fit). And besides Stone Giant we could have seen Bloodshot Cyclops... fling FTW! 

But I beg for the explantion of why Momentary Blink is not there with new art???????????? On theme, in color, popular, a common... the perfect candidate for inclusion and on top of that for alternate art treatment!!!
 
So...in order to ensure this deck played differently from all the other mono-red decks...you included a card that's barely playable in M12 Limited and one that was unplayable in 7th Edition Limited?

Are there seriously that few playable red cards in the history of Magic?
I'm saddened that Momentary Blink was apparently never on the table, but I can respect the rest of the design/development decisions.

Cheers!
I'm saddened that Momentary Blink was apparently never on the table, but I can respect the rest of the design/development decisions.

Cheers!



Beat me to it. This one has shouted Venser since Time Spiral, Wizards ought to be ashamed
I have no problems, I could just use a bit of time.
I appreciate the article for why card choices were made and how a delicate balance was made, but seriously there is nothing exciting in any of these decks.  The planeswalkers themselves are middling at best and the entire thing could be bought for less then retail from your local game stores bulk bin so whats the point of it all?
A landfall deck that has only two card that let you trigger landfall more than once a turn or on your opponents turn? Really? No Valakut, no teramorphic, that is horrible. Yeah I'll be playing a mountain every turn thanks to all three basic land tutors, so I'll wrecking face, turn 10. I prefer longer games, but your deck shouldn't be finally starting to go that far in.
I just realized they said in that article that they changed the order so that the planeswalkers wouldn't be overshadowed. I think that's why the decks are so boring, now you have to talk about the planeswalkers in them, they're the only half interesting thing in them.
I really LOVED the elspeth vs tezzeret one. The art, the cards, the themes...
I enjoyed the Nicol Bolas vs Ajani deck. Not for the cards, but for the alternate art and theme (i'm an Alara fan).

I expected to buy this Venser vs Koth, but when I saw the cards it has in, I thought back and doubted of buying it.
Well, it still has some really cool alternative art cards. I probably could buy it... maybe...
Then you realise it appears only in english and japanese, and the doubts dissapear. I will not buy it. I swear.

As an european player, my native language is not english, neither japanese.
If I want to have and pay for english cards, I log on Magic Online and get them. They are only available in english worldwide, which is ok.
If I want cards in my native language, I go to the store to buy them. But with this product I can't do that.
You screw things up. A casual product very far from the casual audience because you did it in foreign languages.

Yes, maybe porfessional and competitive players are ok with english cards, maybe with japanese cards too.
But the casual players, who I think this product is for, don't care about english or japanese cards.

The saddest part is that NO ONE at Wotc said why this happened. Why they canceled all the other languages that were previously announced to that product. The languages disappereared and no one told us, your customers, an explanation of this.

What a pitty and what a shame...

I hope this Duel Deck sells so bad that you never ever do it again (the cut languages thing).
Great article. Yeah, some of the card choices aren't going to appeal to many players who just want to play with incredibly powerful cards, but it seems many people miss the balance part: every timey you change a card on one side, you need to address how it affects the other side. Momentary Blink fits in with the bounce theme, but how does it play with balance? It may be too powerful, bouncing your opponent's biggest attacker without having to use your own creatures to block. Does Flashback fit with the deck's theme as well? It'd be the only card with Flashback...

I don't like Venser PW card, personally. I think it's a rather overpowered card. Some PWs are just more powerful than others. It does look like a well-balanced mix of cards though for each PW to play around. One of the things I've noticed with the duel decks is that they aren't your typical constructed decks. They aren't running 4-ofs of the most powerful cards in magic. The decks are built for theme, for style, for balance, for strategy. When you only have one of a creature, you tend to think more about how you play it.

Ajani vs Nicol Bolas is a good example of this. Brackwater Elemental was a great early hitter -- a 4/4 for 3 mana. Instead of unearthing it though (and then exiling it), you can pull it back out with Rise/Fall, Profane Command, or Cruel Ultimatum. That sets it up for a nice amount of attacks or blocks. That kind of interaction works in a Duel Deck, even though there is only one of each of those cards in it. The same is true here.
Except I don't think people are complaining because the decks aren't both overpowered, they're complaining because with the exceptions of the new art and the updated border for some of the cards you coils make both these decks for probably around half the selling price. They're extremely underpowered, they could have been quite a bit stronger and still balanced against each other. And in my opinion at least for the Koth deck they used a mechanic (landfall) and then gave it nearly no sport in the deck. Yeah there are a bunch of cards that tutor land to your hand, but you can still only get one land out a turn and only on your turn. That means you can only trigger landfall once a turn on your turn with the exception of the two baubles. And that could have easily been taken care of with teramorphic expanse. Mounds deck is like they threw together a pile of cards with fire breathing and landfall, decided it was close enough and then just weakened Vensers deck enough that Koth could beat it. What they should have done was left Vensers deck useable and made Koths stronger.
Sorry, Koth not mounds, writing on my phone.
I could be wrong, but are not the majority of these Duel Decks bought by people who want to almost instantly take them apart and use the "good" cards in their own decks.

Sadly there are very few desirable cards in these decks and a *lot* of aweful cards.

While it's nice that they are ballanced, I assume the Phyrexia Vs. The Coalition was as well - it didn't have much in the way of cards people actually wanted so it didn't sell and now you can buy it for less than half it's MSRP.

Just put enough good cards in and people will buy them, most won't care about the theme.

 
Windreaver and Torchling are terrible rares without stackable damage.  And the white/blue control deck has more creatures than the red deck?
I really LOVED the elspeth vs tezzeret one. The art, the cards, the themes...
I enjoyed the Nicol Bolas vs Ajani deck. Not for the cards, but for the alternate art and theme (i'm an Alara fan).

I expected to buy this Venser vs Koth, but when I saw the cards it has in, I thought back and doubted of buying it.
Well, it still has some really cool alternative art cards. I probably could buy it... maybe...
Then you realise it appears only in english and japanese, and the doubts dissapear. I will not buy it. I swear.

As an european player, my native language is not english, neither japanese.
If I want to have and pay for english cards, I log on Magic Online and get them. They are only available in english worldwide, which is ok.
If I want cards in my native language, I go to the store to buy them. But with this product I can't do that.
You screw things up. A casual product very far from the casual audience because you did it in foreign languages.

Yes, maybe porfessional and competitive players are ok with english cards, maybe with japanese cards too.
But the casual players, who I think this product is for, don't care about english or japanese cards.

The saddest part is that NO ONE at Wotc said why this happened. Why they canceled all the other languages that were previously announced to that product. The languages disappereared and no one told us, your customers, an explanation of this.

What a pitty and what a shame...

I hope this Duel Deck sells so bad that you never ever do it again (the cut languages thing).



Wow, there are actually people who care about that? I, personally (as a European), detest the foreign-language versions and make an active habit out of avoiding them at all cost. I don't really care either way since my home country's language doesn't have its own Magic cards, but if there's one reason I avoid German card shops it's the German cards.

Edit: I think there's enough cool stuff in the decks to keep them interesting. There are some nifty rares and some good other cards. It's a lot better than Knights vs Dragons, in my opinion, which was completely unbalanced and didn't really have any cool cards to begin with. Sure, it compares very poorly to Elspeth vs Tezzeret, but that was by far the best set of duel decks they've ever done.
76125763 wrote:
Zindaras' meta is like a fossil, ancient and its secrets yet to be uncovered. Only men of yore, long dead, knew of it.
Edit: I think there's enough cool stuff in the decks to keep them interesting. There are some nifty rares and some good other cards. It's a lot better than Knights vs Dragons, in my opinion, which was completely unbalanced and didn't really have any cool cards to begin with. Sure, it compares very poorly to Elspeth vs Tezzeret, but that was by far the best set of duel decks they've ever done.


^This.

It's a little irksome to see a couple of the mediocre-to-bad cards from the much lamented Dragons deck show up here, but it may just be bad memories (that's one duel deck where I feel they didn't get the power balance right, but enough of that, I said my piece about that when it came out).  The koth deck does seem a little bland, but certainly playable.  I'm glad they got some sweepers into the deck, even if most of them are large and expensive to cast.

Oh and I am COMPLETELY STOKED that they managed to get a Kavu other than FTK into the deck.  Mad props.  Not that I don't like FTK, I really do, but I'm just a fan of the tribe and FTK and Predator are the only two that seem to get any respect/love so I'm glad to see it spread.  I wanted to see new art for it too, but I'll settle for just a new frame (and I suppose it already does look pretty friggin' cool). =D


Venser's deck I like.  It has lots of little fiddly bits to play with.


For those of you complaining about the card quality in $$ value.  Koth and Venser are still at least $10 a piece.  With an MSRP of $20 you are getting the rest of the decks for free.

For those of you complaining about the power level of the decks.  They're duel decks, what did you expect?  They're designed to play on theme against eachother without regard for much (if anything) else.

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From Mark Rosewater's Tumblr: the0uroboros asked: How in the same set can we have a hexproof, unsacrificable(not a word) creature AND a land that makes it uncounterable. How does this lead to interactive play? I believe I’m able to play my creature and you have to deal with it is much more interactive than you counter my creature.

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Post #777

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MaRo: One of the classic R&D stories happened during a Scars of Mirrodin draft. Erik Lauer was sitting to my right (meaning that he passed to me in the first and third packs). At the end of the draft, Erik was upset because I was in his colors (black-green). He said, "Didn't you see the signals? I went into black-green in pack one." I replied, "Didn't you see my signals? I started drafting infect six drafts ago."

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MaRo: I redesigned him while the effect was on the stack.

These look like fun to play, but I do have a few criticisms.

1) I was really, really looking forward to an alt-art Venser Momentary Blink. It would have been a perfect fit mechanically and flavorfully and is a pretty popular, well-used casual card.

2) The alt-art for Plated Geopede doesn't have Koth in it! The point of alt-arting the cards in these decks is to link them to the planeswalkers that are the centerpieces of the decks, but the new Plated Geopede has nothing at all to do with Koth. Definitely disappointed in this one. 
Sorry, nothing new to add, just wanted to share my opinion as a community member.

FTV:Legends was more like FTV:Last Year and I was not very excited when I saw Teferi, but I still managed to get my hands on it after it was released and got very excited by the final cards. It has been great value as I still use the cards for commander, something I had not done before FTV:Legends.

I feel like this is the opposite. I was very excited for this when it was announced. Now that I see the final card list, I feel cheated. That's cool that wizards has made it perfectly balanced, but I'm not very WOWed. I feel like I could have grabbed my janky 1-of cards from Unlimited/The Dark to Dark Ascension and experimented with a friend until we both came up with balanced decks each containing one comparatively overpowered planeswalker.

At the very least, I want the special sets they send out to give me an experience I can't get normally/can't afford already. I already can get beat down by Planeswalkers I can't afford anytime I want to play magic at my local store. Sure there is some value here due to the inclusion of the PW covering the cost of the set, but do I really need to take up my collection with another Safe Passage or Jedit's Dragoons? Can't Wizards create new cards for their purpose like they've done with the Commander and Planeschase decks?