This week we were able to get our hands on the brand new Elspeth vs Kiora duel decks. It’s the newest in the duel deck series. It’s one of Wizards’ peripheral products. I like to think of these decks as twice-yearly side dishes. A bowl of chips for the feast that is Standard, since not all the cards in this box are legal in Theros-M15-Khans format.
Check out the video to get a feel of what the decks are like.
Elspeth vs. Kiora Decklists
The first thing I noticed about the two decks was how well the theme sat with the play. Elspeth brings her army of White soldiers and the deck has enchantments to give them power and toughness bonuses. Kiora has her -1 ability, where you can play an extra land as well as several other ramp style cards, so that she can focus on summoning the largest of sea creatures.
I do enjoy it when I can get lost in the flavour of a game, pronouncing loudly “Release the Kraken!” after I ultimate Kiora. These decks are well enough put together that I can enjoy the flavour through the gameplay, which is not always the case. At the UK GP in Manchester last year, I was frustrated to see Elspeth fighting alongside Xenagos in the Block Constructed decks. To be fair those were good games but the flavour was wrong. No such storytelling missteps in these decks.
Another point that we touched on in the video is the price. £16 rrp in most shops in the UK. Now I happen to think that is a great price for what you get here. Me and my son have been known to spend the best part of entire Sunday playing Magic. I can recall one massive week long campaign with the Jace vs Vraska duel decks where the final tally was 21 to 18 games. I won’t claim that’s the way everybody plays, but I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one who will play games over and over in the spirit of friendly competition.
I also do not think I’m the only one who uses these duel decks as a way to introduce their friends to Magic. In fact, over Christmas, I played quite a few games of beginners Magic with the Speed vs Cunning and Heroes vs Monsters duels decks.
However, I don’t think this is the product for a new player to buy off the shelf and learn to play. I do think these duels decks are great for friends of new players: people who are already invested in the game to show their muggle friends just how awesome this game is. Decks’ builds avoid the problem of having two totally overpowered Standard decks with loads of crazy interactions to remember/notice/follow/exploit, or even two decks you have built being a really bad matchup for one of the players. These things are built to be played against each other.
Just going back to the value of this deck, let’s see what sort of entertainment you can get for around £16.
If I wanted to watch Big Hero 6 in 3D at my local cinema this Friday, it’s going to cost me £17.50 for me and my son. That is a 2 hour movie. Or maybe instead I could go and watch a football match. The nearest Premiership side club to me is Southampton. I can go and watch them for £30 plus £18 for my son. Let’s call it £50 shall we. Perhaps ice skating is more your thing. My wife took our kids ice skating in the half term break. For an adult and child it was £18.
All these things are cool thing to do. I’m not saying Magic is the only hobby, but look at what you’re getting for your money. In most part with the things I’ve mentioned you are paying for a one off experience. When the film is finished or the match is over, you go home with nothing but your memories. (Unless you pay out for merchandise of course.) So in my eyes, to make this set value for money, all you have to do is get 2 hours play out of it. Even if you take all the cards and throw them in the bin after 120 minutes you are paying just under the going rate for entertainment. But you won’t.
Like we said in the video, you will either split the decks and stick the cards in lots of new decks, or you will trade them off for other new things that you want to do in Magic. Unless, like me, you’re just happy to play with these decks over and over again.
I’m currently trailing my son by 5 matches to 1 with an even split in what decks we have played. If Wizards could make a Liam vs Ned deck, where the Ned deck is just 60 basic Forests, I might be able to win a match.
Community Question: What Duel Deck (vs) would you like to see Wizards make next?
Thanks for reading,