SpartanNerd…Dual Deck Anthology Vacation matchups.

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The only Magic cards I took with me on my recent vacation was pre-constructed decks.  I took the entire Duel Deck Anthology box, and stuffed it with loads of Commander, other duel decks, and the solitaire decks.  The box was great for transporting my cards!  (I removed the tray for the first time, and discovered a Serial Number!

I held two memorable Duel Deck matches with the SpartanKid, before our interest shifted to testing the French Dark Ascension deck I purchased.

Following is a record of what happened during those two matches!

Elves Vs. Liliana

The match was generally unfair at first.  I was piloting Liliana, of course, and knew what I was up against.  I kept a hand full of removal!  I knew it would be important to keep as many elves from sticking to the board as possible.  At around turn six, the SpartanKid wasn’t having any fun.  He began saying,”This isn’t fair!”  Deathgreeter ensured that I kept gaining life as creatures died.  Lucky for him, I was out of removal.  But I had Enslave ready because I knew eventually the SpartanKid would try for Allosaurus Rider, one of the Elf deck’s most insane cards, controlled by one of Liliana’s most broken cards!

True to form, he played that Allosaurus Rider, and then I hit it with Enslave.  .

It was Lys Alana, Huntmaster that landed next, and I had no response.  The game became very grindy, eventually getting lots of traction for the elf deck.  That Allosaurus Rider went down to the Voice of the Woods token.

Down but not out, I cast Rise from the Grave, getting the Allosaurus Rider back, and even better than ever late in the game, with ten lands on the field!

But all of this effort was not removal.  Imperious Perfect and Ambush Commander hit the battlefield, and the game was pretty much over.  In fact, Liliana Vess was the final thing I cast.  Too little, too late.  It was GG.  Elves took the victory!  I was two turns away from Mutilate, which would have totally shifted the game back in Liliana’s favor.

Later, we would play Divine vs. Liliana.

It all seemed grim.  The Angels were truly beating down Liliana’s deck.  (Recently, when I read the fiction put on the Mothership Site, Liliana would remark that Angels were “goody two-shoes.”)

Then I drew Liliana, and used her to tutor up Mutilate in the face of Twilight Shepherd and Akroma.  But Twilight Shepherd has that pesky persist ability, and also brings things back to the battlefield from the graveyard that died on the same turn.

And that was pretty much it.  The Divine Deck truly is a casual masterpiece of destruction!  Really, almost none of the decks can stand against them except for Jace and Chandra…Jace who controls and cancels and bounces angels, and chandra who burns everything except Akroma, (but it doesn’t matter, because it takes so long to cast Akroma.  However, the life gain of the Divine deck can be frustrating against burn.)

(I posted a review of matches between Liliana and the Angels once before, and had different things to say…)

The Duel Deck Anthology has proven to be one of the greatest gifts for a Magic player.  It was reasonably priced.  Resaonably rare.  Reasonably cool.  And nicely archival.  I hope the Wizards release more of these Anthologys in the future.  I am a dedicated purchaser at this point!

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SpartanNerd Review…SD Build Burning Gundam

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The SpartanNerd’s interest in Gundams is really very narrow.  I really only like what I have seen on Gundam Wing.  I realize that this is VERY narrow.  But Gundam Wing…the cartoon…as well it’s “Endless Waltz” movie, have tremendous sentimental value for me, as I was very interested in that at a transitional time of life.

I became aware of other Gundam properties by seeing models at Toys R Us for “Gundam Seed.”  Later, I would get “Gundam Battle Assault 2” for Playstation.  This game exposed me to several more gundams.  And soon after, I saw “SD” figures on the shelves at different stores.  SD stood for “Super Deformed,” and it was a big-headed fad about ten years ago.  I suppose that gave away to the “vinyl” toy craze today.

The SpartanKids are once again really interested in Gundams, and I have been encouraged to review them.  So without further ado, here is my review of “SD Build Burning Gundam.”

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The instructions were entirely in Japanese.  It is a good thing that the diagrams are very good, otherwise my nine year old might not have been able to assemble it!

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The back of the instructions contains a manga.  Again, not quite sure what is happening here.

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SpartanKid’s build of SD Build Burning Gundam stands just fine.  It is posable in all ways expected for a Gundam.  It doesn’t have a flight stand or other stand, however.

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The model comes with these accessories.  I know from “Gundam Battle Assault 2” that Burning Gundam’s main weapon is fire coming from his hands or fingers.  (He frequently yells, “Burning Finger!”)

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Here he is with both fingers ablaze.  I don’t really care for this accessory.  It reminds me of some kind of dishrag attached to his hand.

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This “fiery chain” is better, as a weapon.  We also figured out that these pieces can attach to the “dishcloth” pieces.

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Here is a comparison shot to another Gundam in the series.  The “Knight Gundam” has more going for it.

So what are my thoughts on this model?

It was fairly inexpensive.  But it has some problems that come with that “cheapness.”  One big thing is that the head doesn’t stay on.  Another, the accessories are kind of … whimsical.  It comes with no guns.  It doesn’t transform.  It just “is”.

I know nothing of the characters, and have no attachment.  I speak as an outsider.  To me, this Gundam is kind of a generic Wing Gundam.  Accept he doesn’t have wings.

But that price point has to figure in.  This model was only $8.00.  This kept the SpartanKid occupied for two days building it.  He has plans to “decorate” it even more.

SpartanKid has a few things to say about this item.

“I really like the model.  It was well worth my $8.00.”

“The model is pretty colorful.  The attachments go on easily.”

“Despite how the head tends to fall off, you can just set it on top of the body.”

“I would give this product a 5/5.”

The SpartanNerd’s rating of “SD Build Burning Gundam” is 3/5.  On the lower end of three.  I am only judging the merits of the product, not the SpartanKid’s build of it.  DO you agree or disagree, oh Hub City Geeks?  Let me know in the comments!

SpartanNerd Matchup and Review…Dual Deck Matchup “Divine vs. Demonic”

Happy New Year!

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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.

VALUE

“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

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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.

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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.

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This card has “a big butt” whenever it blocks.

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OK, TAP ME! I want to give someone a hand.

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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?

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Here is one of the things that makes this deck unfair. The Divine deck has life GAIN. The black deck, more like life loss.

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You get more pump with these two.

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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!

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This amounts to an “escape hatch” for an Angel in trouble.

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A pacifism with life gain. Which incidentally could be put on a Planeswalker, if needed. (It isn’t needed for this matchup.)

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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.

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Now this is a useful artifact.

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I like cards like this! It can be either offensive or defensive.

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Another good card. This one sort of reminds me of a charm.

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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.

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This is a good card. It has exalted and suppresses the opponent. Nice!

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Besides protect, what is that other thing that Angels do…oh yeah. Make you feel bad for doing bad stuff.

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And finally, the other stuff.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Aren’t all Demons fallen angels? (So says the Bible. Not in MTG.)

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Fallen Angel and Souldrinker are the only two creatures in this deck that aren’t Demons or Imps.

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Usually, you don’t get to activate the Hellbent ability operating this deck, if you are playing it correctly.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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…

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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…

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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)

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Isn’t Doom Blade better? The angels can’t regenerate anyways.

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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.

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This amounts to removal for an angel. A boost for a demon.

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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?

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What Mono Black deck doesn’t run this?

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A bad Thoughtsieze. You can’t get a creature 😦

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This is sort of like Corrupt. Not as good, though.

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And a lone artifact. The Demon’s Horn is like the Angel’s Feather.

FInally, everything else.

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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.

THE MATCHUP

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.

SPARTANNERD’S RATING

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!

SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Magic the Gathering Duel Decks Anthology

Couldn’t wait.  Had to open my first OFFICIAL Christmas present!

It came in this massive box….I picked it up at the Tangled Web in Spartanburg SC for MSRP…(thanks guys!  It is reported that many places are marking this up.)

 

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That was just the shipper!  But it indicated that it contains a HUGE product!

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The real box looks like this.  I love the foil treatment that the box has…it really makes this feel like the premium product that it is.

The back has this propaganda on it.  Upon removing the cellophane, I discovered that the stuff printed on the back is actually a separate poster.  I think I will hang that on my office wall…  You get a shot of the art featured on each deck…”Elves Vs. Goblins” “Divine vs. Demonic” “Jace Vs. Chandra” and “Garruk Vs. Lilliana.”

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Opening the box reveals all eight decks, in premium foil deck boxes, seated in the proper recesses of a plastic tray designed to hold them.  You can also see two official counter dice, one silver and one bluish.  Both of these feel a little lighter than the counter dice usually feel…not as much heft.  Maybe I’m just imagining that?  Then the other issue, is I can’t really read the silver one, my vision being so bad.  Still, they are a nice inclusion.

 

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I was opening this at midnight of Saturday December 6, and basically was bouncing with excitement, as well as my children.  The SpartanWife was also very impressed.  She said, “I didn’t really know what to expect…it is much larger and more impressive than I expected for sure.”

So those are all of the first impressions.  Me and the SpartanKid decided to go ahead and crack open Divine and Demonic and give them a late-night-early-morning quick test.  I took pictures before the match, but it was getting late, so I didn’t unbox them properly for you to see.  Still, here are some details…

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The deck boxes are designed to hold all 60 cards…sleeved.  I was afraid that the boxes would be the general boxes that usually come with the dual decks which can only hold the unsleeved cards.  So this set my mind at ease at least.  The decks have a spacer to help hold the unsleeved cards in place until you can get some sleeves on them.  Each deck is cellophane wrapped, of course.  You can see “Akroma, Angel of Wrath” and “Lord of the Pit” featured on top of the decks.  These cards are foil, in the “new card frame,” featuring a holofoil sticker on the bottom of both rares.

The SpartanKid wielded the Divine deck, and I took on Demonic; those angels were just too much in our initial test.  It hadn’t been a good MTG night for me, so thinking that was all it was, I decided to do more testing in the morning….

So what happened?  Here is the beauty readers.  Keep on reading, and I am going to test each deck against the others, as well as against other decks not in this set.  And I will let you know how it turns out, right here at SpartanNerd.com!

My rating of Magic the Gathering Dual Decks Anthology so far…

I am only going to grade the experience of receiving the package and unboxing it, as well as other logistical details.  I can’t comment much on the contents of the decks yet.

  • The box is huge…as well as beautiful.  It is a premium product.
  • The tray inside is very welcome, giving you a way to keep your decks safely shielded from getting bumped around.
  • The deck boxes are very nice, featuring foil artwork.  And they are large enough to accommodate 60 sleeved cards.  Not sure if they will hold the tokens as well, yet.  I suspect there won’t be too many tokens.  But there will be some.  And then there is the clasp.  This is the worst thing I can say about the deck boxes.  The boxes close by that stupid weak cardboard clasp that the event decks have.  “Divine” and “Demonic”‘s deck boxes both will not close tightly after the initial opening.  (sadness)
  • Two spin-down counters are included.  They are nice.  I don’t prefer the coloration of the silver one, but that is my personal preference.  Other people might like it.  Personally I have a hard time seeing the numbers on it.  The blue one is just fine, though.
  • The rares are placed in the modern card frame, with a holofoil sticker on the bottom which screams “I’m a Rare!”  These rare’s also feature alternate art from the regular circulation.
  • The poster on the back is nice, and wall-hangable if you are a SpartanNerd

So my rating of the Magic the Gathering Dual Decks Anthology so far is 5 out of 5.  I don’t think the weakness of the deck box clasp is enough to take any off.  At any rate, if I love the box enough to use it in other places, I can and should put velcro on it, at least.  But I suspect the boxes won’t be going anywhere.

I have the urge to keep this product in tact, making no changes.  Don’t get me wrong…Lilliana is definitely going to see some play in the current Standard environment.  And who knows what other card might.  But these decks are not going to be modified.  The counters are staying put.  The boxes.  Everything.  I am treating it like its own game for the time being.

My rating of Magic the Gathering Dual Decks Anthology is 5/5, at least as far as the PRODUCT is concerned.  I will be placing more reviews and post information about the different match-ups that happen at my kitchen table as I can!

Do you agree?  Let me know in the comments!