SpartanNerd Dual Deck Matchup…”Liliana” vs “Divine”


Sorry for the break.  I actually have to work.  Anyways, the SpartanKid has been blogging away, and it has been no problem for me to feature him as a guest.  A little cutting and pasting, and it’s magic!

So now I get to tell everyone how awesome Liliana is AGAIN!  There are some decks that we just get…and I just “get” Liliana.

We have played four matches of Liliana vs. Divine.  The angels are just too slow.  While their synergy is very dangerous in certain combinations if they happen to get it right, Liliana’s less mana-hungry deck generally prevents this from happening.  Twilight Shepherd is a problem.  Luminous angel continual threatens to get flying chumps out.  You would think that there was no re-animation in the Divine deck, but Reya Dawnbringer does just that.  And that is sometimes a problem.  Otherwise, Liliana has ways of taking out virtually all of the angels. including Akroma.  Mutilate is just beast, and you can Enslave another angel to block for you.  Lilliana is also pretty good at life gain,  Maybe even better than the angels, with Tendrils of Corruption and Corrupt.  And if you are able to reanimate everything with Liliana, (difficult in this match because the angels are big flyers,) then you have won the game.

Of the four matches between the two decks, Divine has one win, and Liliana has three.

I have been looking into taking the Liliana deck to a modern tournament sometime.  Apparently most of the cards are legal in modern, with the exception of Snuff Out and the cycling lands.  Cool, because more Mutilate and Liliiana cards would be needed.  I don’t know if if it would be competitive against, say, say Pod, or Kiki Jiki.  But still it would be fun.  I have been playing a standard Liliana deck made of lots of discard effects and Waste Not.  It is something NOBODY ELSE is doing.  It’s good to be different.  But Jeskai is the match to beat right now in my meta-game.

SpartanNerd Review- Dual Deck Matchup…”Garruk vs. Liliana”



Longtime readers know that Liliana Vess is one of my favorite cards EVER.  I have cracked two of them from booster packs, one of them in my early days of playing, one in the m15 pre-release sealed deck!  I love her bottom ability, which makes her a true re-animator bomb.  Maybe THE reanimator bomb.  If only I could spell her name correctly…

Then there’s Garruk Wildspeaker.  Maybe I should learn to pronounce his name correctly.  (Gare-ook).

When we started playing Magic, I chose black as my color.  Not sure why.  My two kids chose other colors.  One green and the other red.  Supposedly your personality ties into your color somehow.

In my early days of Magic the Gathering, when mainly M13 was being played at the SpartanNerd household, Liliana and Grave Titan were my two favorites.  Eventually I added in Elbrus the Binding Blade, when I began looking for the best cards.  (At the time, I considered that a BEST card.  Maybe not so much anymore, but the flavor is still amazing.)  SO somehow a Youth Pastor and Worship Leader became the Zombie/Demon guy.  Who knew?  Good thing it is only fantasy!  (White IS my secondary color.)

Oh yes.  A review is supposed to be happening!  And this is a SpartanNerd first…I show you each card on video as I look at them myself the first time!

Garruk vs. Liliana is a very balanced pair.  Both are mono-colored decks.  And both do what their colors are known for.  Garruk gets large threats and makes them bigger.  Lilliana makes Garruk discard and re-animates stuff from both graveyards.  (sometimes the good stuff that you made him discard!)


Garruk himself is pretty good.  Maybe the “best” Garruk.  His +1 lets you find two more mana.  His -1 gives you a non-chump at 3/3.  And his ultimate is basically Overrun.  I don’t have a lot of personal experience with playing this card.  But the abilities are flavored really well with the rest of the deck.  And they are all classical “green.”

I am going to point out that Garruk’s deck is REALLY NUTS if you don’t remove the threats he puts out.  But then there is a card called Rude Awakening, which has an “entwine” cost.  The only other card I have seen with this is Promise of Power.  Basically, you can pay the listed entwine cost, and get what amounts to two spells for one card.  Rude Awakening untaps Garruk’s lands and changes them into 2/2 creatures, that he can hit you with.  I lost to this once.  It was SHOCKING.  Because by the time you can pay for the card with it’s entwine cost, he probably has eight lands out.

The other surprising thing that Garruk can do is card draw.  That’s right.  Green card draw.  Normally this is off-color for green.  But Garruk pulls it off with Harmonize and other effects.  This balances against Liliana’s ability to make him drop cards.

This deck also “ramps” really well.  You need that to get things out like Plated Slagwurm.  The deck doesn’t have hardly any removal.  So if Liliana drops a fatty, then it is up to the giant creatures and combat tricks to take care of them.  Serrated Arrows seems to be the most effective removal for chumpy creatures, while there is a copy of Windstorm to take out a big flyer.  One more important signature thing for Garruk, Overrun.  Give everything a boost and trample.  Too bad it is a sorcery.  (It would probably be too good as an instant.)


Lilliana does all she can to best Garruk’s strategy.  Remove, discard, and re-animate.  In Standard, a lot of times Liliana amounts to a bad Demonic Tutor.  (Demonic Tutor…a two drop Legacy card that gets a card and puts it in your hand.  Not in this deck…See the upcoming review for “Divine vs. Demonic”*)  In standard nowadays, she gets Heroes Downfall-ed before you can make your opponent’s graveyard re-animate.  But in the limited environment between these two decks, she is better.  Because the deck does a good job of forcing discards, so she is ready to +1 on up to her ultimate.  And if you re-animate the big threats in Garruk’s deck, then GG.  (Good Game!)

Some of Liliana’s stuff has “cycling” or “swamp cycling,”  This is good because it gets stuff into your graveyard to pull back out cheaply.  Once I swampcycled Twisted Abomination, a 5/3), and next turn played Rise from the Grave.  Ouch for Garruk!

Lilliana’s cards have removal built in.  You have Corrupt and similar effects that get your opponent or their creatures because YOU have swamps.  (a strategy you were doing anyway, so your power is essentially free.)  I would like to point out that I enjoy the art for Mutilate better here than in other places.

There is a really cool card called Snuff Out.  You pay 4 life to remove a creature.  It is an instant, which is cool.  But at sorcery speed it is actually BETTER.  You heard me.  This time a sorcery is better than an instant.  Lilliana’s deck isn’t a control deck.  I suppose it is black midrange.  So on your turn, you remove one of Garruk’s green creatures.  (All of his creatures are green.)  And then you Corrupt another creature.  Sick!  You can remove two giant fatties with little effort!

The most controversial card in the SpartanNerd household has been Enslave.  The SpartanKid, (a green connoisseur,) has argued about this card.  It is another two-for-one.  You steal his big green monster, and  use it against him.  Similar to the red cards that do something similar.  Traitorous Blood for instance.  But this is an enchantment.  So you permanently control the creature.  And then its OWNER gets pinged for one damage at the beginning of your upkeep.  (not it’s controller…)  At first I was confused too.  But after looking it up, it means Garruk gets pinged!  I have one two matches with this card.  It is truly dirty!  And Garruk can’t hardly deal with enchantments.

(SO biased…  I had more to say about Liliana’s deck…I think I understand it a little better.)


Pitting these two against each other really is like pitting Green against Black, a larger, more classical MTG matchup.  In the SpartanNerd house, Garruk has won only one match, while Liliana has won three.  (This is with two days of playing.)

Rude Awakening and Overrun have been the two biggest hits against Liliana.  Garruk himself hasn’t appeared in these matchups but once.  So that may be a luck thing.  Lilliana’s deck wants you to have some removal in the early game to get traction.  She doesn’t ramp that well, unless you cycle.  But if you can get out four swamps before getting stomped too bad, you will probably be OK.

SpartanNerd’s rating and review.

I think Liliana’s deck is the funnest deck I have played so far from the set.  I still have yet to actually pilot six of the decks myself.  I am happy to have an alternate art of Liliana Vess.  I think the two decks are PERFECTLY matched against each other.  While Liliana has more wins currently, It may be that SpartanKid hasn’t had as good of luck.  But the scary things that deck can do are definitely fun to be matched against.

The cards are beautiful in the modern frame.  There are several tokens that go with the decks…Liliana gets bats, while Garruk gets Beasts and an Elephant.  As I mentioned in my unboxing, both decks have a beautiful deck box that will accommodate the cards when sleeved.

Is there monetary value here?  The two planeswalker cards are where the value is.  Both cards fetch varying amounts, usually less than ten dollars.

So my rating here is 5/5 for both decks.  What do you think, oh Hub City Geeks?  Let me know in the comments.  I am curious to know about how you have pitted your dual decks against each other!

*(I will get to Divine vs. Demonic EVENTUALLY.  Be patient.  I need some more time, readers!)


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.)



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


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.”



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.




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…

IMG_0347 IMG_0348 IMG_0349 IMG_0350

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!

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!