M15 Clash Pack – Fate and Fury Review
This week, Wizards kindly sent us their new Clash Pack to review (hurray!). So lets get to it!…
The Clash Pack is Wizards’ latest pre-packaged constructed product aimed at newer players. Inside are two sixty card decks, a deckbox, a cheat sheet and a rules reference card. The clash pack will be alternating with the event decks, meaning you’ll see an event deck when Khans of Tarkir comes out and another clash pack with the set after that.
The idea behind the clash pack really appealed to me; a more experienced Magic player buys the clash pack, sleeves up the decks and plays a few games with a friend who maybe doesn’t play as much MTG.
Then, when they’ve had their fill of this, they can combine the two decks together into one deck, put together a sideboard, and go to FNM with it. That’s brilliant! That’s a duel deck and an event deck rolled into one. You can even innovate a little and try new things out with the 120 cards you’ve bought.
What do you get in the M15 Clash Pack?
The M15 clash pack is called Fate and Fury and brings together two common Magic archetypes – a green/red ramp devotion deck (Fury) and a blue/green tempo deck (Fate). The red splash in the Fury deck is very minimal and clearly prompts you to go for a Simic deck at FNM. The Fate deck concentrates on scrying to find the answers you need, while going over the top of the green mage’s fatties with small flyers in the early game backed up by small creatures that gain you incremental advantage, as well as a small handful of countermagic and bounce spells.
Oh, you also get six absolutely gorgeous promotional cards with alternate art. The Temple of Mystery is the most beautiful of these, with a shout going to Font of Fertility and Prophet of Kruphix as well. All six promos are in Simic colours, pushing you further towards a green/blue devotion deck for Standard – who wouldn’t want to turn up to their first FNM with exciting shiny cards only clash pack players have access to?
Also included in the packaging is a rules reference card (useful for keeping track of the phases of a turn), a sheet with both deck lists on and brief details of what each sets out to do, and finally a flimsy deck box made of card, which fell apart instantly and won’t actually protect your cards at all. Buy a proper one. Deck boxes are worth it. I recommend buying some sleeves as well. They’ll keep the cards safe and you’d regret letting the promos get all tatty.
Turning the cards sideways
I was lucky enough to receive a clash pack from Wizards to review, and I set about to playing some games with friends who don’t play as much Magic as I do. Enter Andi, my housemate who enjoys the occasional cube draft and Callan, who recently turned to the dark side of Hearthstone.
We played a few games against each other, alternating decks. Fate and Fury actually works pretty well for its intended purpose, although I feel the Fury deck is quite a bit better than the Fate deck – more on that later.
Andi took on the role of the Fury player and proceeded to destroy me several games in a row as I got the feel for the tempo cards. She dropped a turn one Elvish Mystic each game and once managed to get a hasty Hydra Broodmaster out on turn three. Powerful stuff. The Negate I had sitting in my hand felt a little impotent. We swapped roles and the Fury deck again proved more powerful – although I had to make do with Font of Fertility over Elvish Mystics. It’s worth it. The art is lovely. Hmm.
Later on I met Callan in the pub for some games – but a combination of alcohol and him being used to Hearthstone may have inhibited our play levels. Again the Fury deck felt a lot stronger than the Fate deck, almost winning off mulligans to four and five. Eventually I worked out the optimum way of playing the Fate deck, and I now think that the decks are quite well balanced. The learning curve on Fate is a lot higher than that on Fury and I hope that doesn’t put new players off. It shouldn’t; it’s an interesting deck to play and the decisions certainly appeal to me.
Combining the decks together results in a deck that feels better than an event deck, although it doesn’t stand much of a fighting chance against the decks you’re likely to play against at the top tables of an FNM. There are some interesting cards included for sideboard play and the deckbuilding element is where the clash pack really shines in comparison to your typical Event Deck. The decision to cut red comes fairly easily, but working out whether your top end blue creatures warrant a place in the deck is a little harder. I can see a new player bringing the deck to FNM a few weeks in a row and being more than happy to invest £15-20 in making it better.
Breaking down the decks
To discuss the decks themselves a little more, Fury is a nice introduction to what R/G devotion decks aim at in Standard at the moment. The deck gives you a Nykthos, five mana dorks, Karametra’s Acolytes and several excellent fatties in Hydra Broodmaster, Arbor Colossus and Nemesis of Mortals. It also packs Generator Servants as part of a red splash, which combined with mana dorks allow the deck some very explosive starts, often out-racing the Fate far too easily.
There are a few cards obviously destined for sideboard use, like Reclamation Sage and Nylea’s Disciple and a few really exciting cards like Fated Intervention and Genesis Hydra. You even get a Courser of Kruphix. It’s excellent value for money.
Fate seems a little more confused. It tries to play a tempo game with small flyers like Vaporkin and Nimbus Naiad, but also emphasises Bestow and scrying. Incidental scry is great, but Omenspeaker doesn’t really feel like the right card for the deck. It also has the mostly dead card Negate, which waits around hoping to counter a Lightning Strike and prolong the agony a turn.
To some extent, I understand the conscious decision not to provide a spell which counters creatures – presumably it’s to cut down on feel bad moments, where the Fury player has their hydra countered. On the other hand, Fate’s top end threat is Prognostic Sphinx, which is stonewalled by Arbor Colossus. I’m not sure quite enough thought went into this.
Where Fate really does succeeds is in teaching card advantage and the importance of card selection. Scrying is a valuable ability, and overcosted cards like Horizon Scholar start to feel a little better than when you first see them (spoiler alert: this card still doesn’t make it into the FNM deck). Pin to the Earth – a card I have a sneaking suspicion may be Standard playable at some point – is blue’s most realistic way around the stompy creatures, neutering a threat’s attacking ability whilst not stopping it from activating monstrosity. Aetherspouts is Fate’s real blow out, a fantastic card that I fell in love with during the M15 pre-release.
So, what did we think?
I had a lot of fun each time I clashed with a friend. Andi gave some excellent feedback on it, saying that “I think this and cube are my favourite ways to play Magic” while Callan’s reaction was that “It feels a lot more fun when I’m not being priced out of the game.”
If you have friends who play Magic casually, a Clash Pack is a great purchase. If you want to start going to FNM, but find the idea of putting your own deck together from scratch a bit terrifying, I really recommend it. If you’re the sort of player who really needs pretty promo cards… go for it, you probably have money to burn.
The M15 clash pack can be bought for £19.99 right here on Manaleak.com.
Till next time,