Duels Decks are a product released by Wizards which contain two pre-constructed casual decks, specifically designed to be played against one another to create close and exciting matches. The Elspeth vs. Kiora deck is returns to the springtime Duel Deck theme of having two Planeswalkers battle one another.
Each deck is led by their respective Theros Planeswalker; Elspeth, Sun’s Champion and Kiora, the Crashing Wave. Elspeth’s deck is a mono white deck which revolves around white soldier creatures attempting to swarm the opponent – a staple strategy of white decks in many formats. Cards such as Dictate of Heliod, Captain of the Watch and Veteran Armorer and Swordsmith make your creatures larger turning each into a threat the opponent must answer.
Kiora’s deck meanwhile is a typical blue green ramp deck that looks to get lands into play as quickly as possible and then cast an endless stream of massive and powerful creatures. The deck also contains a couple of mass-bounce spells, Aetherize and Whelming Wave, allowing the deck to recover if it falls behind in the creature race early on when it’s focussing on its mana development.
As well as being fun to battle against each other, the decks each contain six rare cards, as well as numerous reprints of older cards. These are great for collectors, especially with some of the cards, such as Icatian Javelineers and Accumulated Knowledge seeing print in the modern border for the first time ever. It is also good to see some other cards that are harder to get hold of reprinted, such as Mother of Runes, whose price has been slowly climbing over the last few years.
The new arts on both Elspeth and Kiora are amazing. There was a lot of criticism about previous Duel Deck arts, but an effort has clearly been made to improve and not only the new arts on the Planeswalkers look brilliant but the other new arts do too. Mother of Runes, Explore and Temple of the False God in particular look incredible and are worthy additions to any collection.
The decks are evenly matched, though the Elspeth deck can often struggle if Kiora ever lands a huge treat with shroud, as only Elspeth herself can remove them. But equally if the Elspeth deck gets a fast start with some of its power boosting effects, the Kiora deck can struggle without one of its two mass bounce spells.
The decks contain some nice cards with excellent casual appeal and reprints for collectors. Another lesson learned from previous decks is that there is less aggressive reprinting of new cards – in the past large proportions of the decks have been comprised of cards released in the last 18 months, while Elspeth vs. Kiora has a good mix of cards from across the history of Magic.
Overall, Elspeth vs. Kiora has excellent value contained within it and is a good way to introduce players to battling one another with premade decks and the inclusion of key Legacy format spells with new art, such as Mother of Runes, provide even veteran players something to look forward to.
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