I was pleasantly surprised when I was approached by Rik Powell at Wizards of the Coast to do a review of the recently released Events Decks although at the time they had not hit the shelves of the shops. The principal of these decks are that you will be able to sit down and play with them immediately in a sanctioned event e.g. FNM as a newer Magic the Gathering player. This is what Wizards said here.
Well I have to say I am impressed with the presentation and overall quality of the package. When you open up your box the first thing you find is that you have a deck box that is functional, you have a spin down life counter to track your life total, you have a divider for your main deck/sideboard, rules sheet, deck guide, the main deck and sideboard have been separately shrink wrapped so you can’t mix them up. Even better, when I sleeved the decks up I also found all the cards would still fit in the box comfortably.
The deck guides are very clear, they give you the how and the why the deck is built the way it has leading to how they believe it will win matches. The deck list and sideboard is recorded for you as well so if you do have mix ups you can sort things out.
So onto the deck lists….
This is a blue black control deck designed to win by poison counters with some early nibbles or board holding from Necropede before the big guys see play or you steal your opponent’s guys giving them ‘Infect’.
I opened this package first and had opened the side board, I was immediately impressed with the quality of the spells within it, I was even more impressed when I read the guide sheet that some sideboard notes were included. The main deck is quality including dual lands which are not usually found in theme decks and if they are certainly not four of. In fact the frequency of cards in the deck made me smile, lots of four off’s and decent playable rare cards. I was a bit wary of how good the deck would actually be as never really considered poison to be a control strategy. I would have liked to have seen Darkslick Shores over Drowned Catacombs, its Scars of Mirrordin so is more on theme with the deck.
This is a red deck built for a fast kill, filling up the field and attacking with souped up creatures from ‘Battle Cry’ and the Goblin Bushwhackers.
Okay, the first thing to say about this deck is Awesome. You can look over the main deck and the sideboard only to find better than decent cards, this is a deck very similar to ones built by players at the club and myself.
One thing I would say immediately is value for money wise these are bang on the money, the Into the Breach decks retails at around ‘£19.99′ and the ‘Infect and Defile’ a few pounds less. I don’t think you could build these decks buying singles for any where near the price. I haven’t seen any evidence of secondary markets being affected by a glut of Drowned Catacombs or Goblin Guides, they seem to be holding their own as new players look to complete their play set. Sure some cards may be rotating sooner rather than later but you do need the best cards to be effective now, you can worry about rotation when it happens.
To be fair I was thinking of playing â€œInto the Breachâ€ deck at our Wednesday magic because it was so good and felt I could push to win the event with this deck. However, I had a change of heart and decided to take the more difficult option of â€œInfect and Defileâ€ as I really needed to see how it played out.
This was quite fun to watch, seeing that I had the Event decks a couple of the players at the group were keen to look them over. The ‘Into the Breach’ deck immediately gained fans and ‘Infect & Defile’ was not being disrespected but seen as something to build from.
Game One, this was a pretty close affair but it was a ‘Corrupted Conscience‘ for the win.
Games Two and Three were pretty much god draws for the red deck with multiple Memnite’s and Ornithopter’s turn one followed by Kudotha Rebirth then with a strong board Goblin Bushwhackers and Battlecry did the hard work.
Initial impressions after seeing the decks in action is that with kills on turn four and five the ‘Into the Breach’ deck can be uber explosive. ‘Infect and Defile’ certainly has potential.
Well after a weekend of travelling the countryside, well Manchester for a PTQ and Skegness for the â€œRule the Coastâ€ event I managed to gain some additional feedback on the decks that have been selling out hot cakes.
This deck is pretty strong, several people in Manchester did take it to FNM though a few did tweak it slightly with cards they owned or could acquire for the evening. Thoughts from Skegness mirrored those from Grimsby that the deck is just explosive, it can and does regularly go off and if you haven’t an answer quickly you won’t have the time to find one with Pyroclasm, Black Sun’s Zenith and Day of Judgment the best options with Consume the Meek being considered too slow. Gulp !
I have to say I had some real fun with this deck and it certainly plays a lot better than it looks.
Match 1 Lee Taylor Blue White Control.
I was worried about this match up as if it came to a counter war then I could be in trouble. My creatures put in early beats curiously in Game one and then Lee plays a Baneslayer Angel which trumps my Phyrexian Vatmother but not my Corrupted Conscience. Day of Judgment turn six and with a Luminarch Ascension on line it is not long before the deck is defeated. Game two and mana issues prevent the deck from taking off.
Match 2 Ken Smith Green Black Elves.
This match up should be interesting but knowing how explosive Elves can be I also know things could be very bad for me. Well things were tough as Ken’s poison counters went up as my life total began to drop. The Necropedes though for holding the board really do work and throwing 1-/-1 counters when they die improves their value. The first game was one by Hand of the Praetors when my opponent was on seven poison counters swiftly followed by Corpse Cur, recurring Corpse Cur recurring Necropede. Game two became a fraught affair as my deck accelerated out the Hand of Praetors but on the other side we see an Eldrazi Monument and Ezuri, Renegade Leader. Lots of fun with counters at this point as Oran Rief was adding +1/+1 counters and my creatures were dealing the counters. Necropede was awesome as once it is a 2/2 with the Hand the opponent is under pressure to block. The match is won though by Foresee digging through my deck and getting not one but two Corrupted Conscience. I was really pleased with the win at this point as after match one had been worried it could be a barren night.
Match 3 Josh Howell Blue White Control.
Well after the beating to Blue White control I took from Lee it came as quite a shock the deck comes out of the traps and puts him under real pressure very quickly. Apparently Corrupted Conscience on Wurmcoil Engine is very good. Game two is a mana screw blow out. Game three is awesome, Josh is up to 8 poison counters when he manages to Revoke Existence on the Contagion Clasp that was on Proliferate duty and then drops a mighty White Suns Zenith for lots of cats. A couple of turns later and its all over.
Okay, so one win and two losses wasn’t exactly a stellar start but the deck was close in most of the games, really only struggling when it had land issues. More duals would help for colour issues and maybe more land main deck could be an option.
How to Personalise the Decks.
The first thing about personalizing the decks is that the guide sheet already has some good advice on what to put in the deck going forward.
The Spikeshot Elder and Iron Myr do not really seem to be that useful, the Elder is nice but you always seem to have better things to do with your mana for his special ability. Devastating Summons was once a good strategy but doesn’t seem as strong more recently. I would replace these four cards to max out on the Goblin Guides and Goblin Bushwhacker. The other change I would like to make is one that ‘Andrew Jagger’ waxes lyrical on about with the Red Deck Wins which took him to a Grand Prix Trial victory at GB Nationals last year add in Teetering Peaks and Smoldering Spires, they may come into play tapped so may only wish to play three of each but if you treat them as spells for zero mana cost they have much more use.
This is the more challenging of the decks to improve but one that also gives more satisfaction. Phyrexian Vatmother doesn’t do it for me and was less than optimal when I had it play, I think the deck could max out with four Hand of the Praetors as just playing out the lower mana Infect creatures late game pushed the deck over the edge for my victories. What I eventually came up with though as a replacement for the Phyrexian Vatmother was the deck to have its own finisher in it’s own right Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon. I reduced the Corpse Cur and Necropede to three of each and raised Hand of the Praetors to three. The spells were a little different, I decided to add two Black Sun’s Zenith replacing a Corrupted Conscience and a Foresee. Finally out went three Islands and three Swamps adding in two Drowned Catacombs and four Darkslick Shores. With the revisions I took the deck back out to play. The deck is a bit more solid but having only twenty three land may still be an issue even with the Plague Myr’s though the improved mana base did reduce issues of colour screw.
I’ve ran this updated version in several friendly matches but whilst it performs much better I will need to come back with further ideas to win an event rather than just be competitive. I feel the removal needs to be tweaked e.g. add for turn 1 kills of Goblins etc.
Well my personal opinion is that each of the Event Decks are well worth the money, they play well, the sum worth of the cards individually outweighs the cost of the deck itself but most importantly you enjoy playing the decks. On a fun level ‘Infect and Defile’ has more interaction with your opponent but ‘Into the Breach’ is far more effective which has been reflected in its slightly higher price in several stores.
You can get these Event Decks here.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences with these decks below,