In the long history of the Duel Decks series (now reaching nearly half of Magic’s lifespan to date), there have been three major shifts in strategy that have shaped the course of the product to where we are today.
We’re back for the final match with the latest Duel Decks, before we bid a fond adieu to the plane of Innistrad. Jimi’s lined up behind Tibalt and is ready to hammer me into submission. Can a Vampire- as unlikely a hero as you might find- claim the night and seize the day?
At long last, having reviewed both decks it’s time to see how they fare in battle! Joining me at the table is Jimi, ready to pilot Sorin’s deck to victory. Can Tibalt turn the tables while he turns the screws?
It may seem hard to believe now, but when Zendikar was handed off from design to development the set did not contain Vampires. Sure there might have been one kicking around in a rare slot somewhere, a ‘token representative’ creature fleshing out a splashy one-off, but the Vampires as a cohesive and cultural element in the Zendikar world had not yet come to be. No Vampire Nighthawks, no Gatekeepers of Malakir, and certainly no Vampire Lacerators. Although we’ve touched on this briefly in the past, the story of how the set’s iconic tribe came to be is worth a revisit- though as we’ll see iconic is probably the wrong word to use.
Given the relatively short time they they have been a feature of the game, the history of the planeswalker is still a relatively modest one when looked at against the backdrop of the span of Magic’s two-decade history. Certainly while this feeling is reinforced by the fact that planeswalkers are themselves the most infrequent card type to see print, their high profile gives them an outsize impression. And that certainly doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been some innovation along the way.
It’s our last go with the latest Duel Decks release, and thus far the Izzet are leading the day. Can I turn around the Golgari’s fortunes? I’m joined at the table by Sam, in what turns out to be a surprisingly swift affair.
With the decks reviewed, it’s time to get down to business! Sam’s eagerly awaiting me at the table as she shuffles up the Golgari deck, while I’m about to find out what the Izzet are made of!
It was very clear from going through the Izzet deck that there was a certain continuity in the guild’s mechanical identity between its original Theme Deck, Izzet Gizmometry, and their construction in the latest Duel Decks release. The original deck, of course, was constrained by the customary rationing of rarity, so there was only so much that it could do. The Duel Deck, on the other hand, was the same built writ large. Gone were the shackles of Ravnica-block-only cards, and in were some of the more instant/sorcery-reactive options from across the span of the game. When you guild’s signature mechanic revolves around playing two of the game’s most fundamental card types, you have a template which is widely applicable.
To find out what happens when this is not the case, we now turn to the other guild, the Golgari.
We might think it an act of the most extraordinary genius, but the Izzet would tell you it was quite simple, really. Combining their knowledge of interdimensional conduitotics with brainwave impulsion neuropathy and rigging up an compulse impeller to a hyperstatic mana battery, they were able to reach across the very fabric of time and space. Their goal was simple and singular: to manipulate events to ensure that their guild was given a sequential, double-dose of coverage on Ertai’s Lament.