Duels Decks are a product released by Wizards that contain two pre-constructed casual decks, specifically designed to be played against one another to create close and exciting matches.
The Jace vs. Vraska deck is a return to the springtime Duel Deck theme of having two Planeswalkers battle one another.
Each deck is led by their respective Ravnica Planeswalker; Jace, Architect of Thought and Vraska, the Unseen. Jace’s deck is a mono blue deck that revolves around tempo, bounce and flying creatures – a staple strategy of blue decks in many formats. Cards such as Griptide, Remand, Aether Adept and Riftwing Cloudskate will ensure that your opponent has to cast the same card multiple times if they want it to stick around. This slows down their game plan enough for you to attack with your array of smaller creatures and fliers.
Vraska’s deck meanwhile is a typical black green deck that seeks to bash its way to victory with powerful green creatures backed up with black removal and disruptions spells. Numerous versatile removal spells, such as Stab Wound, Tragic Slip and Vraska herself make way for beaters Reaper of the Wilds, Vinelasher Kudzu and others to battle to victory. Full decklists for both decks can be found here.
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 Future Sight and Memory Lapse, 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 Remand, whose price has been slowly climbing over the last few years.
The new arts on both Jace and Vraska are odd. Much criticism has been thrown at how much Jace looks like Le Chiffre from Casino Royale and how unlike Jace he looks. I would agree and think that this art on Jace is infinitely worse than the original Return to Ravnica version. While the Vraska art isn’t amazing, the way the foil looks does it justice and it doesn’t seem as bad in comparison to its original printing. Nevertheless, the new arts given to the other cards, especially Future Sight and Night’s Whisper are stunning and worthy additions to any collection.
The decks are evenly matched, though the Vraska deck can often struggle if its more mana heavy threats are bounced and a lot of tempo is lost. While the decks contain some nice cards with excellent casual appeal and reprints for collectors, there are a surprisingly large number of cards from sets released in the last 18 months. Given that Magic has experience an incredible amount of growth in this time, it is surprising to see recent cards being given reprints when older cards that newer players wouldn’t have access to could have been given more spotlight.
Overall, Jace vs. Vraska contains excellent value and is a good way to introduce players to battling one another with pre-made decks and the inclusion of key Modern format spells with new art, such as Remand, provide even veteran players something to look forward to.
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