SpartanNerd…Battle Royale of the MTG Challenge Decks

 

 

 

 

 

big match 3 decks

 

So I have been meaning to do this for awhile…Sorry that I haven’t even reviewed the Journey To Nyx “Defeat a God” Challenge Deck.  But it seems a little late.  The idea is to have the three decks play against each other!  Each deck is a self running machine.  But I employed the SpartanSmurfs for help!

 

I chose the Hydra…SpartanSmurf #1 chose to run the Minotaur deck (Battle the Horde)….and SpartanSmurf #2, still enamored by the newness of it, decided to play “Defeat a God.” (Xenagos)

 

To begin with, I predicted that the Hydra Deck would win because it has beaten me more regularly than the others.  I have never lost to either of the other decks.  (WAA Waa was.)  Was I correct?  I thought the Minotaurs would fall first and the God would fall last.

 

Well…

 

For your entertainment, some pics of MOTU guys with the deck!

 

  • He-Man, either ready to slaw the Hydra, or representing all of the vibrant life that it embodies..Same as he does.
  • Mantenna…um….He is a member of the Horde…(Sorry.  Not rich enough for the classics version!)
  • Skeletor….In the 1987 Masters of the Universe Movie, Skeletor gains the power of Grayskull and declares himself a “god.”

 

big match he big match mant big match skele

 

 

OK.  On with the show.  The Hydra had an advantage…The instructions say you can’t mill his deck.  On the other hand, the other two decks can “take damage.”  You mill the decks for the amount of damage you give them.

 

Then Xenagos seems to have a disadvantage in that he doesn’t get to attack each turn.  On the other hand…he is indestructible…

 

The minotaur deck seems to be the weakest.  And those artifacts that get milled give it a big disadvantage, so it seems….

 

Well I was COMPLETELY WRONG!  The Hydra fell first….and in only like, four turns!  Xenagos was able to do it in.  Then fifteen minutes later Xenagos took the fall.  “Battle the Horde” actually won!

(The hydra heads generally only swing for 1 or 2 damage.  And the Satyrs and Minotaurs are both generally tougher than that.)

 

The artifacts don’t get life back and stuff like that for the self running decks.  So they weren’t a downside at all.  And then those minotaurs just crunch in unrelenting.

 

So there you have it.  Try it on your own and share your results in the comments!

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SpartanNerd Unboxing, Playtest, and Review….Journey to Nyx Event Deck

All week I have been preparing for a modern MTG tournament at The Tangled Web, the only local comic book and cards store here in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

The only problem…when I got there..I found out it was a STANDARD TOURNAMENT!

So no “Amulet of Vigor/Primeval Titan” action for me…and furthermore, I hadn’t brought a suitable Standard deck!

Luckily there is a product for one such desperate weekender as me…an EVENT DECK!

(Many thanks to the store owner for knocking a little off of the price for me in my situation.  It was much appreciated, and I implore ANY reader to find this store and shop from there.  They are very nice people.  And the community of Magic players there are very competitive, generally kind, welcoming to new people, good sports, and challenging opponents as well.  You people who don’t live near here only WISH you were so lucky to have such a thing near you to regularly express your nerdery!)

 

All that said.  Here are pictures, and my review of the product!

Here it is.  Fresh in the package just before opening.  (It is sitting on my angel playmat.)

Here it is. Fresh in the package just before opening. (It is sitting on my angel playmat.)

 

2 box unsleeved

This is what the box looks like unsleeved.

 

3 box back

 

4 uninspiring message

You get this rather un-inspiring message…the deck is titled “Wrath of Mortals.” REALLY! (MTG has a famous card, “Wrath of God,” which supposedly destroys all creatures with one big move.) So this is kind of a lame title. Wrath or Mortals.

 

5 spindown counter

I’m glad the life counter actually matches the deck this time. (If you have been reading my blog, you know it kind of bothers me when the dice doesn’t match!)

7 divider

You get this divider

8 inserts

And these two pieces of paper. You know what is going to happen to the one on the right?

 

9 decklist 10 thaumaturge art 11 Harness By Force art

These three images show the important stuff on the papers.  Note the DECKLIST!  I really enjoy the art from “Journey Into Nyx”  That’s why I’m showing you this!

 

12 creatures

Here is the suite of creatures you get.  These are really good creatures, in general.  There are a few that I generally sided out, or just plain took out before the match.  More on that later.

13 chimera 14 Guttersnipe 15 YP

 

These three were the best creatures.  Especially “Spellheart Chimera.”  I have actually made a deck for SpartanSmurf #1 featuring this card before.  He wouldn’t ever play it…(he said he didn’t like the way the chimera looked…ingrate!)  But when I saw this in the deck at a full four copies, and that “Young Pyromancer” and “Guttersnipe” were in here, I knew that this wasn’t going to be an entirely new thing for me after all!  For once, it seems an event deck has a solid strategy!

 

16 Ogre 17 Aetherling 18 Daring Thief 19 Oracle 20 BThaumaturge

For this deck, I could take or leave these guys.  “Aetherling” is a great card always, and he got me one win.  I never saw “Ogre Battledriver” all night.  I actually added more “Battlefield Thaumaturge.”  But he isn’t all he’s cracked up to be.  Usually he would get burned off before you could use him.  And this deck has a curious lack of “strive”cards to allow his first ability to work.  You also probably won’t ever get his heroic to trigger in this deck.  There isn’t even a single aura spell in the deck.  “Daring Thief” was always killed off before he could untap.  I only saw “Oracle of Bones” once all day.  I did get a free burn spell out of him!

 

21 Chandra Phoenix

“Chandra’s Phoenix” is almost more burn spell than creature!  Too bad you only get one.

 

Now for the instants and sorceries.

40 edited sorceries

The most notable of these is “Lightning Strike.”  You get four full copies.  But it is rather generic.  The most fun is probably “Searing Blood.”  I mean, a card like this is really format warping.  Creature burn with player burn all for just two red…amazing!  Great for hitting those mana elves.  I was pleased to get a copy of the red board sweepers, “Mizzium Mortars” and “Anger of the Gods.”  I never saw “Steam Augury” all day.  But “Divination” was a star!

(“Searing Blood” is comparable to “Bile Blight”, in my opinion.  A card that really discourages chumps.)

Now for the lands.  This is where the trumpet says “WAA, Waa, waa.”

34 Land

You get 12 mountains, 8 islands, and 4….GUILDGATES.  REALLY?  NOT EVEN A SINGLE SCRY LAND?  NO SHOCK LAND? NO MANA CONFLUENCE?

Nope.  You get slow-butt guildgates for mana-fixing.  They might as well have just given us 4 more islands.

This is one of the areas where Event Decks in the past generally drop the ball as well.  The main deck cards are pretty good, so I guess they decided to skimp in this area.  Don’t want you to be too successful.

This deck came with a sideboard as well.

35 Sideboard

I sided in every card here at least once, except for “Izzet Staticaster.”  Not really sure why he is here.  I guess to flash in and block someone but not actually hurt them.  I think I will change this card to “Goblin Electromancer” when I get the chance.  The Elixir is always a star.  Basically, I swapped out the Battlefield Thamaturges whenever I sided, as well as “Ogre Battledriver”, “Aetherling”, or anything else that I only had one copy of and switched to a more “control” game.  It is hard to straddle the fence, though, playing burn and control.  The upside is, the “Spellheart Chimera” got to be a surprise big flyer a few times.  Too bad his toughness is only 3.  This makes him susceptible to being killed by bigger flyers, namely “Stormbreath Dragon.”

PLAYING THE DECK.

36 what I changed out

Before I began, I asked my opponent to oblige me in letting me get my head around the deck.  I had a few minutes to “improve it.”  First thing I did was swap two guildgates for “Mana Confluence,” which was in the modern deck I intended to play.  Next I added two more “Battlefield Thaumaturges” from my trade binder, and added “Keranos, God of Storms” and “Niv Mizzet, Dracogenius” from SpartanSmurf #1’s trade binder.  I can’t remember what I swapped out….  Regardless, I was wrong about Battlefield Thaumaturge.  He sucks in this deck.  Maybe not some other deck.  But this one isn’t a place where he shines.  Keranos was good.  He got me at least one win, but I never had my devotion high enough to make him a creature.  Niv Mizzet got me two wins.

Adding these cards got me some attention.  People said “Really?  That comes in the Event Deck?”  But I had to set them straight that I modified it so that I could have a fighting chance.

This deck performed well against green decks that depend on “Elvish Mystic.”  It did well against a Dimir deck that tries to mill you to death and hit you with “Consuming Aberation”.  It did well against red-green at least once.

The deck didn’t do well against “Courser of Kruphix”, who pretty much takes away your burn advantage.  It also didn’t do well against “Prophet of Kruphix,” who makes it so that your opponent can always respond to what you are doing and gives every creature flash.  So Kruphix is the enemy of this deck, it seems!  Also “Stormbreath Dragon” did pretty well against it, but I was able to “Fated Conflagration” him more than once, as well as a “Palukranos, World Eater” once.  Surprisingly, I didn’t see a Black Devotion deck for the entire tournament!

At the end of the day, I had five single wins.  Which means I went 2 wins 3 losses.  Not bad for a deck I never played before, and just bought so I could have something to do instead of pout about bringing the wrong deck.

 

The JOURNEY TO NYX Event Deck gets 3/5.  I took a point off for a poor mana base.  The other point comes off because Battlefield Thaumaturge would probably be better replaced with “Omenspeaker,” who at least lets you Scry 2.

Do you agree?  What would you rate the Journey to Nyx Event Deck?  Let me know in the comments!

 

SpartanNerd Scoop…Journey Into Nyx Starter Deck Unboxing and Review

I got a freebie at the Tangled Web Journey Into Nyx Pre-release tournament…”The Wilds and the Deep” starter deck from the new Journey Into Nyx expansion of the Theros Block in Magic the Gathering.

Here is my unboxing and review!

I like this color scheme.  My color blinded self originally thought this was blue...then after studying it...I saw it as purple!  The box showcases a foil promo version of "Heroe's Bane," a Hydra card that I knew SpartanSmurf #2 would love!

I like this color scheme. My color blinded self originally thought this was blue…then after studying it…I saw it as purple! The box showcases a foil promo version of “Heroe’s Bane,” a Hydra card that I knew SpartanSmurf #2 would love!

 

The back of the box...

The back of the box…

Let’s dig in!

When you open the box and remove the contents, this is what you see.  Two pieces of paper, the main deck with cellophane wrap, and two booster packs.  I decided to save the booster packs for last...You all can share in my excitement about getting the new cards!

When you open the box and remove the contents, this is what you see. Two pieces of paper, the main deck with cellophane wrap, and two booster packs. I decided to save the booster packs for last…You all can share in my excitement about getting the new cards!

If you have been reading the SpartanNerd Blog regularly, then you know that I threw that blue paper in the trash right away.  But this paper is the important one.  I really dig the art from this set so far.  The art on the pre-release pack was cool, and the art in the whole set is generally good.  This poster thing shows off some of the best art from the set.

If you have been reading the SpartanNerd Blog regularly, then you know that I threw that blue paper in the trash right away. But this paper is the important one. I really dig the art from this set so far. The art on the pre-release pack was cool, and the art in the whole set is generally good. This poster thing shows off some of the best art from the set.

 

Flipping that poster over reveals the deck lists from all five starter decks.  Here is a closeup of "The Wilds and the Deep" deck list.  Basically a green and blue strategy that is neither aggro nor Simic.  These starter decks in general just show off the cards, but don't make a deck archetype well.  (I find this to be the case anyway.)

Flipping that poster over reveals the deck lists from all five starter decks. Here is a closeup of “The Wilds and the Deep” deck list. Basically a green and blue strategy that is neither aggro nor Simic. These starter decks in general just show off the cards, but don’t make a deck archetype well. (I find this to be the case anyway.)

Now for a look at the cards.

6 creatures

Here are the creatures and the lands.

7 notable creatures

Here are the notable creatures. Golden Hind is a mana chump, Bassara Tower Archer has hex proof, Ravenous Luerocota has Monstrosity, Swarmborn Giant is basically a green Desecration Demon, Fleetfeathered Cocatrice is the oddball of the group. And then Heroe’s Bane, with its exploding counters song and dance.

Here are the other spells in the deck.  (meh...)

Here are the other spells in the deck. (meh…)

This is a pretty good deck all around.  I mean, it certainly can be improved…but that is the point, isn’t it?  It is a deck archetype that the wizards suggest and serves as a starting point, especially for a beginner.  So I gave the deck to SpartanSmurf #2, knowing that he was going to LOVE casting that Hero’s Bane Hydra and making him huge!

Now for something I have never done before.  I am going to open my booster packs and slowly reveal the contents to you, Oh Hub City Geeks!

9 booster 1a 10 booster 1b 11 booster 1c

Of these, I would like to point out Satyr Gravedancer, one of my new favorites simply because once I wrote a song called “Gravedancer”!  My opponents played Sigiled Skink against me during the Pre-Release.  I personally don’t think the Font cards are that good, at least for the most part.  You are generally paying more in the long run for something other cards can do faster and better.  I guess since Constellation is a big deal, it is good to have access to those abilities as enchantments.

This pack had a Rare and a Foil…

12 notable cards from this booster

The Eidolon of Blossoms is touted as a new Enchantress type of card.  I’m glad to own her!  And I guess Triton Cavalry is alright too.  (I don’t generally play the Merfolk.)

Time for pack two….

13 booster 2a 14 booster 2b 15 booster 2c

The cards in this pack “speak to me” a little more.  The white cards really got a boost this time.  This pack has a few things with Strive, and also Heroic, two mechanics born for each other.  I like the Golden Hind, though it’s no Elvish Mystic, and also the Cloaked Siren, who can flash in.

The rare in this deck is “Bearer of the Heavens.”  A totally unplayable card in Standard.  This pack came with a Spider token.  What I need is a Snake token!

16 notable cards from this pack

All around I was happy to be one of the first to unbox one of these starter decks for the whole internet to see.  I grade this deck as a 2/5 as far as playable in standard right out of the box.  But as a product as a whole, it gets 5/5, because it does what it says it does well.  And I was glad to give the cards to my son.  (I gave the Booster Pack cards to my other son.)

 

What would you rate “The Wilds and the Deep?”  Let me know in the comments!

SpartanNerd…What happened at the Journey to Nyx Midnight Pre-Release Tournament?!

I left my home for the 20-30 minute drive (traffic really makes a difference!) to the Tangled Web Comics and Games store in Spartanburg at about 10:45 P.M. on the night before the pre-release.  Before I left, I loaded up on my new favorite drink, Mountain Dew Kickstart, and thought about how crazy this was.  I was now taking my MTG fixation to a new level…attending an all-nighter tournament.  Luckily there was little traffic…a lot of Proms were going on in the Hub City, so that kept people off the road on the west side, evidently.  (I wanted to get there early and buy some new sleeves.)

Anyway, I got there plenty safe, and spent a little time talking to folks before the event.  The TW really started to fill up.  This would be the largest tournament I ever played in, with 63 total participants!

So here’s what I got!

I chose Black as my color.  I thought a ton of people might have chosen black…We were called last.  It seems that almost no one chose red…probably the weakest preview this time.

1 Box

This is what my box looked like. No peeking until the boss says so! “Forged in Tyranny.” The wizard are referring to the fantasy that Erebos tyrannically takes everyone’s soul in death.

This tournament is the hardest kind of tournament…basically a sealed deck tournament.  You can only play with the cards you get.  And you have no idea what they are except for that you chose black and get a Doomwake Giant.  He has potential, but isn’t stellar.  Luckily a faithful player is familiar with half of the card in this box…you get two Theros boosters and one Born of the Gods booster.

2 Box contents

Here are the contents of the box. Sorry, not much room. I took this picture at the store on my Angel playmate!

3 Hero card vanilla

One of the draws on the pre-release is the Heroes path. This is the special Hero card you get to play with the challenge decks, “Face the Hydra” “Battle the Horde” and the upcoming “Defeat a God.” Black gets a whip. I know this is a blurry pic, but it says “Equipped Creature gets+1/+2 and has death touch.” The big blank space is so you can customize the weapon to your liking…which I will show you later!

4 Insert front

There was this insert…It features the Promo art for Doomwake Giant. Like the Dual Deck art that recently came out, this is also excellent artwork.

5 Insert back

The back of that insert has some information for the new players. It explains the stance of Orzhov as a a drain type of deck. Dimur as a tricky type of deck that takes the other players card advantage and kills there creatures, The black and red Rakdos style deck features aggressive creatures and especially minotaurs in the Theros block, and the Black and Green Golgari style deck that uses the graveyard as a source of cards.

6 counter dice

I was glad to get a dice that matched my deck well and I can read easily! Of course the 20 spot has the symbol for the Journey Into Nyx expansion of the Theros block.

7 Forge a Godslayer card

Back to the Hero card. Each time you finished a match, you got to get a sticker-seal thing. You put the sticker according to the chart at the bottom…This was how you indicated what text you wanted on your Hero card. I wanted double strike, so I got all three brown stickers. I imagine in a massive tournament of this type, of maybe several hundred people, this would have been more challenging. I personally enjoy the challenge decks and playing them on GameDay especially. But lots of people were just ignoring this mini-game.

Before I begin showing off cards, I want to explain my thinking going into this thing.  I knew I wanted to get Athreos or Pharika as a rare in my sealed pack.  My intent was to go either Black-White or Black-Green.  I had scoped out the cards ahead of time, and knew this was what I wanted to do.  Additionally I have been playing Mono-Black devotion, but recently created a Green Black deck using Deathrite Shaman for SpartanSmurf #2.  But I also have a good experience with Black White from Ravnica.  And I thought Athreos was the best new god card coming out.  (Lots of other people think so too…he is pre-selling for over $20.)

My sealed pack had Pharika, and when I weighed out all of my cards, Black-Green was my best choice.  Here is the deck I put together.

 

8 My creatures

These cards formed my strategy…

9 Star cards

Before it was over, these were the standout cards for me. The Nyx Weaver has reach and can stop those flyers…He also loads your graveyard to fuel Pharika’s ability. The two of them were a powerful combo the few times I got them out together. Pharika has the ability to make 1/1 death touch snakes, which are what Pharika’s chosen is, for a lot cheaper. In this deck I was lucky to get two copies.  Mogis Marauder is one that I haven’t paid that much attention to before…In constructed he is only so useful it seems.  But in this limited environment he was really good.  Font of Return was good for getting stuff out of my graveyard, as well as Pharika’s Mender.  Returned Reveler would have been good in multiples.  Milling your opponent who probably doesn’t want to be, and you who does!  Finally Doomwake Giant, who was good at killing off Mana Elves as he entered the battlefield.

10 unused JOU cards

These are the cards I rejected.  It seems I didn’t photograph all of the white ones for some reason.  But the white cards became my sideboard which I didn’t use.

11 useless rares

The bummer thing was that I couldn’t use most of my rares. Pyxis of Pandemonium. (eye roll). Ephara has blue, and Psychic Intrusion hasn’t ever been a home run. Deicide and Launch the Fleet might have been good if I played white instead of Green.

12 cards that were a problem for me

These are some of the cards that people played against me that gave me a problem. It just so happens that I had a copy of these. The Sigiled Starfish was really troubling. Not only was it too big for my deck to kill, opponents usually wouldn’t block with it. And it allowed them to scry. In fact 3 out of my four opponents played this card. Kiora’s Dismissal was another one. I go through effort to play something, say Pharika’s Mender, and then it gets put back into my hand.

I left the tournament at 5:15 A.M. after four rounds.  I’m sure it would have lasted until 10:00.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  And my weariness was effecting my playing and even my ability to do the simple combat math involved.  I came home and crashed until about 11:00.  But it was a blast.  I think fondly on the experience, and hope to do it again sometime.

Oh Yeah!  And I got a freebie.  “The Wilds and the Deep” starter deck, which I will post as a SpartanNerd Scoop as my next post!