Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Magic: The Gathering - Duel Decks: BLESSED vs. CURSED review

This review can be found on the product listing on Amazon. I am re-posting it here with minor modifications.

The BLESSED vs. CURSED duel decks pit two opposite motifs against eachother: the holy and righteous defenders of the light against hordes of undead and their sadistic masters. The decks succeed in fulfilling the "fantasy" of these themes and create relatively even games with compelling decisions for maximizing the strengths of each deck. They also feature a few cards from the upcoming new set, "Shadows Over Innistrad."

However, they fail to provide longtime players and collectors with compelling and valuable reprints. The only card in here that has any chance of being worth more than $1 after this duel deck printing is Geist of Saint Traft, and that simply isn't enough secondary market value for the frugal MTG player. There were opportunities for eagerly desired reprints here that went ignored in favor of playing it safe. History has shown that "duel deck" pairings lacking in value find themselves closer to $10 given a few months. We shall see if Mindwrack Demon (a card from the next set) sees enough Standard play to prop up the value, but I would not get your hopes up.

On to the deck analyses!

BLESSED: This deck is BLUE - WHITE, with a theme of spirits, ghosts, and devoted townsfolk defending themselves from the encroaching darkness. The primary game plan is to stall out the game, letting your undead opponent get in some free early hits in exchange for a solid board position, then following through with some flying creatures to chip your opponent down to nothing. It is also capable of some fast starts with the right draw of cards like Champion of the Parish and Topplegeist, although more than likely the aggressor will be the CURSED deck.

CURSED: This deck is BLACK - BLUE, with a theme of undead ghouls, their necromancers, and demons. The plan is to grind down the opponent via creatures that can come back from the dead, forcing the BLESSED player low enough on health that they have no choice but to defend themselves by trading blows with creatures that they know will simply return. Inevitably, the forces of good will lose if they are forced to make 1-for-1 trades.

Overall, these decks are a great thematic battle and a way to ease players into the themes and gothic atmosphere of Innistrad. The problems are really in the details here: the contents of the decks struggle to justify the price tag on the product. While past entries in this product line have included "money cards" like Remand, there's simply not enough here, not even planeswalker cards (which have a notoriously high price floor). And as usual, the Spindown D20 life counters don't have a corresponding set symbol on them, and the flimsy cardboard deckboxes struggle to *actually hold the full decks*. The product barely squeaks by with 4-stars on Amazon due to the good follow-through on the fantasy of BLESSED vs. CURSED. . . but in reality, I'd give this more of a 3.5 because there are problems with this product that just aren't that hard to fix.