Magic 2013: Path to Victory Review (Part 2 of 2)
This is it- our final game for the review cycle of Magic 2013′s Intro Packs. Although we’ll be back soon with the Event Decks, this is as pure as it gets for the release itself. I’ll be piloting Path to Victory, after giving it a thorough going-over two days ago. Joining me at the table is Sam, who is eager to see if she can succeed with Mob Rule where I had failed before.
Sam leads with a Mountain, while I follow on with a Plains. Next turn she opens her creature account with a Dragon Hatchling; I’m right behind with an Ajani’s Sunstriker. First blood is drawn on turn 3 when Sam swings in the air with the Dragon, pumping it once, before adding a Torch Fiend. I fire right back with the Sunstriker, which Sam lets past. This leaves her at 18, with me back up to 21. I play a second Sunstriker, then end my turn.
Now turn 4, Sam comes in with the Torch Fiend for 2, then plays Krenko’s Command to add a pair of 1/1 Goblins to the board. Back to me, I add the Healer of the Pride and pass. Sam next attacks for another 2 with her Hatchling, then summons a backup. I go back up to 19 life thanks to the Healer of the Pride, however, once I tap out to summon Odric, Master Tactician.
As you’d expect, Odric isn’t long for the world. Once turn 6 arrives, Sam plays an Arms Dealer then pops a Goblin token to it to kill off Odric with damage. I replace him with a Griffin Protector, and climb back to 21 life. Next turn the Healer eats a Flames of the Firebrand, though, and Sam follows it up by picking off my Griffin with the other Goblin token. With my side somewhat depopulated, Sam attacks in for 2 with the Torch Fiend. This time I accept the trade for a Sunstriker, going to 23 life but down to one creature. On the upside, I can now play my Ring of Thune without fear of artifact removal, and equip it to my remaining Sunstriker. I attack for 2 with it, and it’s a 16-25 game in my favour. I then summon a Silvercoat Lion and pass.
Now turn 8, Sam attacks with a Hatchling for 1 in the air, then plays Fervor. She then pops the Arms Dealer to itself to blast my last Sunstriker. Back to me, I equip the Ring to the Lion, then attack in with it for 2. A Captain’s Call then gives me a trio of 1/1 Soldier tokens. Back to Sam, she next adds a Furnace Whelp, swinging in with it immediately thanks to her enchantment. She pumps it up three times, hammering me for 5. Once my turn arrives, I place a +1/+1 counter on the Lion, attacking in for 5 of my own with it and a pair of Soldier tokens. Sam’s now at 9 life.
We continue to trade blows. Sam attacks again with the Whelp on turn 10 for another 5, and I’m now at 14. I go in with the growing Lion and some Soldiers for 6 in return, forcing her to chump with a Hatchling to reduce the damage to 2. Sam sends in a Hatchling, pumping it four times to put me to 10, then follows with another Krenko’s Command. I meet force with force and attack with the now-5/5 Lion, seeing it absorbed by a Goblin token.
The tide is turning in Sam’s favour, and on turn 12 she adds a Flinthoof Boar before carving off another 4 points of life with the Whelp in the air. Back to me, my Lion is now a 6/6. I sent it in to attack, and Sam trades up with her 1/1 Goblin, a double-pumped Hatchling, and the Boar to kill it. I have a Safe Passage in hand and dearly would like to cast it for the blowout, but with lethal on the board I need it to cling to life and let my Lion die. I replace it with a Healer of the Pride and pass. Next turn I use the Safe Passage to Fog Sam’s alpha strike, but drawing nothing of any consequence I scoop after taking Sam down to 2.
After seeing me play a Plains, Sam drops a Mountain and raises me a creature- in this case, a Goblin Arsonist. I play an Ajani’s Sunstriker. After a 1-point attack with the Arsonist that I let past, Sam then adds a Flinthoof Boar.
Now turn 3, I double up on the Sunstrikers, but have no profitable attack with Sam’s 3/3 Boar in the way. Back to her, Sam obliges by attacking with it, putting me at 16. Still, she has the Goblin held back, and I’m not yet ready to trade a Sunstriker for it. Instead, I deploy the Courtly Provocateur and end my turn. Sam comes in with both beaters for 4, then adds a Boar of the Bladetusk variety.
Now turn 5, I’m in danger of having the game run away from me. Using the Provocateur to force her Bladetusk Boar to block, I attack with my Sunstriker duo then blank the trade with a Safe Passage. Sam’s Boar goes hooves-up, but my Sunstriker lives on as I go up to 16 life. Back to Sam, she simply sends in the side again to keep my life total down at 12. Next turn, I lead with a Battleflight Eagle, giving one of my Sunstrikers a delightful +2/+2 bonus with flying. Swinging for 6 with the pair, I drop Sam to 12 even as I go up to 18. Perhaps goaded by the sight of me treading water with the life totals, she commits to one more attack. I’m back to 14.
Now turn 7, I swing with the side to leave Sam at 8, holding back only the Provocateur to force Sam’s hand. I then add a Crusader of Odric, landing as a 5/5. Back to Sam, she declines an attack, though I use the Provocateur on the Arsonist to get it out of the way. After playing a Silvercoat Lion, I attack with the 6/6 Crusader alongside the Eagle. The Crusader gets chumped by the Boar, though Sam looks to turn the tables with a Titanic Growth so I simply Divine Verdict it in response. Sam’s back is broken, and she cannot recover. I compel her Arsonist to attack, leaving her wide open for the coup de gras. She scoops instead.
Sam and I spend our first turn trading land drops, then she pulls ahead with a turn-2 Torch Fiend. All I have is an Island. Next turn she trots out the Reckless Brute, turning both bodies sideways to hammer me for an early 5. Dreams of a quick victory go pear-shaped, however, when I tap out for an Attended Knight.
Now turn 4, the Brute does on the pointy end of my Knight’s sword since it’s required to attack, but Sam sees that its death is not in vain with a Kindled Fury. With the Brute now possessing first strike as well, it ends up a trade. She replaces her loss with a Mogg Flunkies, then passes. I bring out my Healer of the Pride. Back to Sam, she attacks with the Flunkies and Fiend. I trade out my Soldier token for her Fiend, but take the hit off the Flunkies to fall to 12. She then adds a Rummaging Goblin and passes. I drop a Crusader of Odric, a humble 2/2, and gain 2 life from the Healer.
Now turn 6, Sam adds a Goblin Battle Jester to her side, but has no other play. I go big with a Captain of the Watch. Not only does my Crusader become a 7/7 vigilant beatstick, but I go up another 8 life off the Healer to end at 22. I attack with the Crusader, and Sam goes down to 13. Next turn Sam uses the Rummaging Goblin’s loot ability, throwing away an uncastable Fire Elemental to find the Mountain she’d have needed to cast it. Then at my following upkeep, she nukes the Captain of the Watch with a Volcanic Geyser. With my token army somewhat reduced in strength, I’m forced to go for a numbers game. I play a Captain’s Call followed by an Ajani’s Sunstriker. My massive Crusader now thunders in on Sam, who must chump with her Jester. The lifegain from the Healer has put the game firmly out of Sam’s reach, with me sitting at 32.
Now turn 8, Sam settles in and braces for impact. Death comes on the wings of a Battleflight Eagle, giving my Crusader +2/+2 and flying.
Thoughts & Analysis
At the end of the day, the very least you can ask of any deck is that it does what it was designed to do. For Path to Glory, this means creatures, and plenty of them- indeed, only Sole Domination boasts more. Sole Domination, however, looks to bring bodies to bear that carry the exalted keyword. Path to Victory, on the other hand, just looks for raw, sheer, glorious numbers.
Between the size of the Crusader of Odric and the lifegain afforded by Healer of the Pride, the deck does well to take advantage of numerical superiority. Although lifegain in and of itself does not move you any closer to victory (unless you’re running a Felidar Sovereign, perhaps), it does have a few useful ancillary benefits. First, it makes it harder for decks built for the shorter term to defeat you, as a flood of cheap Goblins only goes so far. Second, it buys you extra time to find the cards you need. The deck is structurally sound, and works fine on its own even if you don’t manage to find Odric.
If there’s a weakness to the deck, it might be in its more pedestrian leanings. Unlike other decks in the set, Path to Victory doesn’t have a well-defined mechanical identity, similar to Mob Rule. It’s not a collection of sixty cards that you’ll pick up to experience something new. Rather, it’s simply a very basic and fundamental archetype (White Weenie) as cast through the M13 lens. If you enjoy that sort of deck, Path to Victory is for you. If you don’t, well, your money may be better spend on something a little more unique or groundbreaking.
Hits: Solid deck that hits its basic building blocks well; good synergy between cards that give you token creatures, and those that reward you for bringing more creatures into play
Misses: Removal suite is clunky and disappointing, though that seems be a familiar refrain since we left New Phyrexia
OVERALL SCORE: 4.15/5.00