Happy New Year!
Reviewing the Magic the Gathering Dual Decks Anthology has been a labor of love. From requesting a free sample (and being ignored), to managing to get my copy at the Tangled Web, to opening it at midnight, making unboxing videos to save time, to finally making the decision to do Divine vs. Demonic last.
Here are links to all of my past reviews on the unboxing and matchup. (I suggest you read the following before reading the review of Divine Vs. Demonic first…)
Link to the original unboxing
Link to Garruk vs. Liliana
Link to Jace Vs. Chandra
Link to Elves vs. Goblins.
First I would like to share my reasoning for doing Divine vs. Demonic last.
“Divine vs. Demonic” has the money cards. There is an alternate art “Demonic Tutor,” which was apparently only printed in this set the first go around. You get a foil “Akroma, Angel of Wrath,” which has been a $20 card. You also get some other pricey angels. Basically, leading up to getting this set, when I was reading about the anticipation, etc, I came across the fact that the original sealed “Divine vs. Demonic” set was selling for around $130. And the Anthology was $100, so…
I don’t collect Magic cards for their value. I like to play the game. And I like collecting them, managing them, and building neat decks. But I couldn’t ignore the financial issue here. This is one reason I have consistently seen people excited about the Anthology.
WHAT THE CARDS MEAN TO ME PERSONALLY
My color is black. And my secondary color is white. I have collected my share of Angels and Demons since I began playing the game.
With the Dual Decks Anthology, I have THE collection of angels and demons ready to play. I even let the SpartanKid play the angel deck at the last Modern tournament. (we had to make a few substitutions…the deck is legacy legal. Incidentally, it also isn’t competitive at a tournament.)
All this said, the first matchups at the SpartanNerd household were of these decks. And the Angels were winning consistently. Almost no matter what I did to try and beat them with the Demonic deck. And this became a problem for me, and prompted me to delay this review until last. A nine year old was consistently beating someone who had STUDIED the deck ahead of time. I had to figure it out. (I did eventually.)
WHAT THESE CARDS HAVE MEANT IN MY HOUSE
We started playing this game around three and a half years ago. At first I was unaware of Demon cards. But when I caught wind of them, I decided to keep it quiet and think about it for awhile. We are a Christian family. Angels and Demons both have a special significance to us.
We had read Harry Potter books, watched lots of Masters of the Universe, seen Star Wars, etc. And in this stuff, there is sometimes a hint of larger evil behind the fantasy. I wanted to be sure that my children could separate fantasy from reality. In reality, I have taught them that Demons are definitely something not to mess with. And Angels are something to think about and not forget. I have taught them that there IS a larger spiritual war going on around us, and that no less than Satan desires to tear us down. Everything from movies, to music, video games, and yes card games can be an outlet of influence if we are not guarded.
After awhile, I talked them more and more about this, and slowly introduced the angels and demons as fantasy creatures…not the real thing. And it has stuck! My children are very level headed, thankfully. And they had less trouble thinking on the Theros block with its “God” cards. There was no need at all really to have a Sunday School lesson about it.
ONE FINAL REASON
I got a new iPhone 6! Time to test out the camera! What better product to photograph. This time I am not doing a little video. The product has long since been opened.
OH YES!!! A REVIEW IS SUPPOSED TO BE HAPPENING!
On with the show.
The “Divine” Deck
Akroma IS a win condition. The Demon deck has basically only two answers to Akroma. Because she is Pro-Black, she can’t even be killed by anything in the Demon deck. Basically, if the person piloting the angel deck gets this card on the battlefield, it probably spells GG.
Akroma isn’t the only “boss” in this deck. There are three others.
Reya is a white re-animator. OUCH! Luminous Angel gets out a bunch of flying tokens. And Twilight Shepherd is ANNOYING. Flying Vigilance. AND PERSIST.
These four cards are unfair. Especially Akroma, though.
The rest of the creatures aren’t anything to sniff at, either.
This card has “a big butt” whenever it blocks.
OK, TAP ME! I want to give someone a hand.
You’ll notice that I have switched the regular printing to this foil I had in my binder. I have so far been pretty good about not making substitutions in these decks. In this case, the Serra Angel actually has a good use, besides just looking pretty in my binder. If I’m not mistaken, Serra Angel is the original angel in MTG, right?
Here is one of the things that makes this deck unfair. The Divine deck has life GAIN. The black deck, more like life loss.
You get more pump with these two.
And I suppose the angels are protecting these humans. These six cards tip the scale. The Angel deck is also THE MONO WHITE deck.
And the SpartanNerd can say something that he has heard mis-spoken several times by other people who have reviewed this deck. Icatian Priest is pronounced like this. I (like in “is”) KAY SHUN. It is a Schwa, people.
Creatures alone could win this matchup. But of course there are OTHER SPELLS!
This amounts to an “escape hatch” for an Angel in trouble.
A pacifism with life gain. Which incidentally could be put on a Planeswalker, if needed. (It isn’t needed for this matchup.)
This is the worst card in the whole deck. Why not just put two more plains in here? There is no land destruction. Cards like this are the worst kind of card except for in two cases usually, Draft and Commander. Why it is in the Divine deck is beyond me.
Now this is a useful artifact.
I like cards like this! It can be either offensive or defensive.
Another good card. This one sort of reminds me of a charm.
I think I might order more of these. The art on this Pacifism is FAR BETTER than the modern version. The modern version is so annoying/disturbing/ugly…my children have consistently avoided playing it.
This is a good card. It has exalted and suppresses the opponent. Nice!
Besides protect, what is that other thing that Angels do…oh yeah. Make you feel bad for doing bad stuff.
And finally, the other stuff.
The cycling lands are cool. That is what they should have given us more of, instead of “Marble Diamond” The spirit tokens here aren’t my favorite.
I think above all else, the Divine deck is very flavorful. Elves and Goblins were flavorful. But the Angels definitely are too in every way.
The Demonic Deck
The counterpart of Akroma…Lord of the Pit. A 7/7 flyer that hurts you if you can’t sacrifice someone every turn. Lord of the Pit sets the tone for the rest of this deck pretty much. The demons can help you…for a price….
Assuming you are Liliana…(the SpartanNerd is TOTALLY Liliana. Ask the people I play with.)
Luckily, LotP has only appeared ONCE in all the times I have played this deck. It seems that Kuro, Pit Lord shows up more often, thankfully. And I’d rather have him anyways.
Being BLACK is great. I don’t even mind paying the life to kill off target angels.
But TARGET angels is the problem, isn’t it. When Akroma has Hexproof and is PRO-BLACK (shudder).
Luckily, there is this guy. But unfortunately, he is about it.
The Demonic deck has these three bosses. That’s it. Remember that the Divine deck had four? Not fair, right!
OK, I’ll continue with the chumps creatures in this deck. Almost everything has flying, thankfully.
Aren’t all Demons fallen angels? (So says the Bible. Not in MTG.)
Fallen Angel and Souldrinker are the only two creatures in this deck that aren’t Demons or Imps.
Usually, you don’t get to activate the Hellbent ability operating this deck, if you are playing it correctly.
Oops. There is a Specter in here too. Good thing, too. Specter’s are usually good. In this case, the Angels have to discard a card.
This one’s a puzzle. The Demonic deck has ZERO re-animation. Why you would Dredge 5 is beyond me. Otherwise, he is a perfectly good death-toucher
After these notable guys, there are lots of other “chumps”. Mostly flying imps with varying abilities.
When playing this deck, you DON”T WANT any bosses in your opening hand. Look for these guys first. This is what I have learned about playing the Demonic Deck and standing a chance against the angels! The bosses are a useless card in hand, generally. While you can play the chumps and have some utility, usually. (with the exception Daggerclaw Imp. If I ever fire someone, he will be the first to go!)
The Divine Deck can win with its creatures alone. Unfortunately, the Demonic Deck can’t. You will have to play dirty! Luckily, there are lots of ways to get something over on you opponent! First of all, the card that is one of the draws to buy this set.
SAVE THIS CARD! When you open the game with it in your hand. Hang on to it! Use it to summon River Demon in case Akroma hits the board.
What else dirty and rotten is going down?
Don’t burn this card at the wrong time. It will cost you the game. Burning Dark Ritual early will net you a loss. And it is an instant, so you will be tempted.
Other pieces of this dark puzzle…
You need this card to make some useless Thrull chumps to sacrifice to Lord of the Pit and others. Too bad they don’t block angels, though. The problem with this card is the upkeep cost. Every upkeep you have to decide “Hmmm.. keep this around? The deck is Mana Hungry. So…
This guy with the creepy art appears in the Ob Nixilis Commander deck as well. You can entwine it, and get two big effect in one card. Too bad it costs 10 mana to make all of that happen. (Easier in Commander than here in the Dual Deck)
Isn’t Doom Blade better? The angels can’t regenerate anyways.
This is a good card to put on a flyer. Unfortunately, it is going to take more than this one card to save your creature from dying, as most of the angels can kill things with as much as 4 toughness.
This amounts to removal for an angel. A boost for a demon.
The other way of dealing with Akroma. Besides sweeping the board with Riever Demon, you can force your opponent to sacrifice someone. And that lone angel might be Akroma. Barter in Blood is also in the deck…somehow I didn’t get that photo?
What Mono Black deck doesn’t run this?
A bad Thoughtsieze. You can’t get a creature 😦
This is sort of like Corrupt. Not as good, though.
And a lone artifact. The Demon’s Horn is like the Angel’s Feather.
FInally, everything else.
Barren Moor is best when cycled. Yes. You need mana. But probably more than that you need the right cards.
As for the tokens, there is a big classical style Demon. This is the same token that came with Ob Nixilis. And you get some Thrulls. I wish they had included as many as they had elves and goblins. You don’t need that many spirits for the angel deck. But the demons like sacrificial chumps.
I have finally figured out how to take the Divine Deck out with the Demonic Deck. It took me awhile. The Angels seem an impossible matchup. Sometimes they get all the way up to 30+ life before the Demons can start doing their thing. You just have to work the early game with the imps and smaller creatures. You bide your time until finally you can drop Kuro Pitlord or Lord of the Pit. As for Riever Demon, save him for Akroma. Lord of the Pit can be bad for YOU if you don’t have enough life, or if you don’t have anyone to sacrifice. And then there’s Unholy Strength. It is cheap enough to build a voltron in early game if you happen to be able to pile two onto Foul Imp or someone. You just have to be ready to scrap it up in the early game, then power out a big guy in the mid game. Unfortunately, most of the cards are a one-of…Demonic Tutor, for instance, so you can’t ever count on getting someone.
Most games with these two decks start pretty slow. But the Angels gain early advantage, just by enter-the-battlefield abilities that gain the pilot life and make it harder on the opponent. The Angel deck also slows down the demonic deck with Righteous Cause. This usually makes an appearance. And Demonic cannot remove enchantments.
The Divine deck is a winner out of the box. Most everything flies, is hard to kill, or gains you life. With the downside of being expensive to get things going. I think the Angels might be a good enhancement to the White Weenie strategy, say, the Modern Event Deck, for instance.
My Rating of Magic the Gathering Dual Decks Anthology “Divine vs. Demonic” is a cautious 5/5. Everything is the same about these decks as with the others, as far as aesthetics. The decks DO have the older school art, and that feel of the old days of Magic. (Days I never experienced. But know of.) They are boxed the same way in beautiful deck boxes, and have the modern card frames.
The Demonic deck has been an entertaining challenge to learn, and the Angels have been strong opponents.
I rate Dual Decks Anthology “Divine vs. Demonic” 5/5. Do you agree? Let me know in the comments!
I will continue playing all of these decks against one another. Hopefully will have a big match one day pitting them all together at the same time!