Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fate versus Fury; a duel deck review

I don't know if you know this, but I love the duel decks. Love them like crazy. I have every single one to date, sleeved up for playing against each other. When Wizards announced clash packs, a fusion of duel deck and event deck, I was elated. Four duel decks a year? Hot dog!

The first one, Fate versus Fury, has come out, and I've sleeved them up and given them some play throughs, and I'd thought I'd share the experience with you. The decks are two standard legal (as of this writing) decks containing cards from Theros block and the M15 core set. The idea is that you can keep them separate to play as duel decks, or combine them for the power level roughly equivalent to that of a typical event deck.

Fate is a blue-green is a sort of tempo-ey deck that uses lots of hard to block creatures and carefully aimed removal and tricks to nickel and dime the opponent to death. Fury is a red-green ramp deck that uses lots of mana acceleration to power out enormous monsters far too big for your opponent to deal with, and when it runs out of gass, it uses the monstrous ability to put the nail in the coffin.

GAME 1 (playing as Fate)

I win the flip and mulligan away a hand full of blue spells and islands and keep two islands a Vaporkin, a frost lynx, a Horizon Chimera and Aetherspouts. Fury starts with a turn one Elvish Mystic. A turn one dork can lead to some gross plays, I'm a little worried, but it leads to nothing as it passes on turn two with no play.

The next few turns pass fairly uneventfully with each side committing creatures but no trades. I use a pair of Frost Lynxes to get in a few hits which are made back by a Nylea's Disciple, before eventually landing a Horizon Chimera which is immediately killed by a Plummet. A shame. The life gained by the chimera is really useful for forcing the Fury deck to make awkward plays.

I'm able to use scry triggers and Jace's Ingenuities to draw into more fliers and Fury is unable to find something bigger to fight back with and loses because it just can't block a few measly 2-powered fliers.

For GAME 2 we switch decks.

Once again I win the play, and keep a somewhat ballsy hand. Forest, Elvish Mystic, Font of Fertility, Lightning Strike, Reclamation Sage, Karametra's Acolyte and Nessian Game Warden. I figure that as long as I draw into a land in the next two turns, I'm guaranteed a good flow. I stick the forest an mystic and pass. I don't draw a land next turn, so I play the Font and attack with my elf.

I draw a mountain on turn 3 and pop the Font. The next two turns are dedicated to acolytes. My opponent hasn't stuck anything particularly nasty, and the ramping AND big defense are practical. Then my opponent drops a Prophet of Kruphix. Gross. One of the best creatures in the deck. I try to Lightning Strike it next turn, but Fate Negated it.

I draw a Boulderfall, but without a second red source it's worthless. I play a Game Warden instead digging 4 deep for a Nemesis of Mortals. Which my opponent Pins. I take this as a good sign that they're wasting removal knowing I have a bigger threat in my hand. I suspect they're not drawing any  gas.

A timely mountain the next turn gives me enough mana to Boulderfall, which I use to take out the Prophet a Follower and do one to Fury's face for good measure. My Warden from last turn also gives me enough devotion to drop a Nemesis off my Acolyte mana. Which is immediately bounced.

An Emissary stands between me and victory and I manage to play and monstrous a Nemesis and a Cyclops over the next two turns before attacking.


There's a sort of push and pull between the two decks. Fate has enough filtering and draw that it's fairly easy to commit a lot of evasive dorks, or keep the Fury deck off balance by constantly bouncing or pinning or pigging (that's a verb now) its creatures which is all that more painful if they've spent a lot of mana to monstrous them. Unfortunately, there's only so many answers in the Fate deck, and Fury's creatures are ultimately bigger and scarier, so there's a tension to when and what they should use these answers.
"Do I bounce this blocker now to get in a few more points of damage, or do I save it for something that's more likely to kill me."

The Fury deck has similar tensions. "Do I spend all this much mana playing an Acolyte on the hope of bigger dividends later, or do I play a threat now?" "Do I risk my opponent bouncing my fatty by monstrousing it, or do I play a second creature?" The only answer that Fate has that's anything close to permanent is Curse of the Swine, and even that gives you something. Sometimes setting you back a turn by bouncing a threat is stalling for time, and sometimes it's the difference between your last few life points.

I've really liked the play decisions in these decks and the really cool promos that came with it. The utterly bizarre choice of Font of Fertility. The stunning Prophet of Kruphix. The Progenitor Sphinx that totally looks like Eric Idle. There's some real value in this product, and I would definitely give it a shot!

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