Duels of the Planeswalkers: Thoughts of the Wind (Part 2 of 2)
In my last post, I broke down the new Duels of the Planeswalkers preconstructed deck, Thoughts of the Wind, and found a few flaws in its design. “While other decks rely on direct aggression and confrontation,” the blurb reads, “this deck prefers a more elusive approach.” Was I wrong? Did I underestimate its “elusive approach?”
To find out, I challenged Sam to three duels… with her piloting the Liliana Vess “Eyes of Shadow” deck.
Here’s how we did.
Winning the roll, I opened with a Cloud Sprite, Sam returns with The Rack. Next turn I pass while she plays a Demon’s Horn, slipping it in behind The Rack (“Too embarrassing,” she said.) Meanwhile, I’m going in with my Sprites every chance I get.
She tries to drop out a Severed Legion, I Essence Scatter it. She drops a Drudge Skeleton, I don’t respond. By turn 5, the turn she Terrors my Sprites, she’s only at 19 life thanks to that miserable Horn.
She follows up her Terror the next turn with a Mind Rot, my turn like so many of them with this deck being “draw-go.” Another Drudge on turn 7. I play the next ferocious creature in my arsenal: the mighty Wall of Spears. She Mind Rots again, I Cancel. She drops an Abyssal Specter, I Essence Scatter. She tries to drop- of all things- an Unholy Strength on her Drudges, I Unsummon it in response. I’m into turn 12 before I actually replace the threat I lost on turn 5, playing a Thieving Magpie.
Sam Terrors it.
Both of us by this point are looking for the exit. She’s too polite to say so, but I can tell that deep inside, Sam’s wishing she was able to trot out one of her own decks rather than the precons. For my part, I can’t say I blame her.
A Dusk Imp comes out. I Mind Spring for 5. She kills off my Spears with a Consume Spirit, and keeps whittling away my life with the couple of creatures she has in play. It’s a race to get there. I drop another Magpies, followed up with a Cloud Sprite. She tries another Consuming Spirit on the birds, but I have the Boomerang. Next turn I replay the Magpies and add a Phantom Warrior for good measure. She Terrors that, too, but I replace it with an Air Elemental and am ruling the skies with my admittedly lacklustre army. When she plays Underworld Dreams, I know it’s gonna be close. I need something… but what?
I go to draw my next card. What is on top of the deck? What is on top of the deck?? Oh it’s Kraken’s Eye! Oh my God! Oh my God!!
Alright, so maybe it’s not the topdeck of the century. But curse this deck for making that hideous card one I’m actually happy to see… this once. Sam plays her last-ditch blocker, a Crowd of Cinders, I Mind Control it and romp through for the win.
If you thought “Game 1” was a long read, you ought to have tried playing it. Thoughts of the Wind has been colossally underwhelming on my first pilot, but I still had hope that despite my bleak assessment, it would provide some amusement. “This is the first time I’ve ever been mored of Magic,” she noted as she finished shuffling her deck.
Sam and I drop a land for the first turn, then she plays the Rats, Drudge Skeletons, and the Severed Legion in short order after that. All I manage is a Phantom Warrior and an Essence Scatter against her Abyssal Specter. Her deck’s creature engine is flowing well: Sengir Vampire, more rats, a Dusk Imp, and still more rats. I manage to get out a Snapping Drake and Cloud Sprite, which I use to trade for the Vampire. She Terrors my Warrior, and swarms for the kill.
Congratulations, Jace, you just got spanked by my eleven-year-old stepdaughter.
This game was the only of the three that ended up resembling fun for the either of us. I get out a Cloud Sprite and Wall of Spears early. She’s out with the Demon’s Horn and a Megrim. I sneer and slap down a Snapping Drake. She sneers back and lives the dream with a Mind Rot followed by The Rack.
I take a gamble and play a Thieving Magpie- now down to one card in hand- to try and build my hand back up and give me some options while doing so. Obviously having something against birds tonight, she’s ready with the Terror in response. But my Cloud Sprite is still earning its keep, flying in turn after turn uncontested.
It would do so for the rest of the game. Sure she was mana flooded, I think she missed her first land drop around turn 12. But what options she had were spent putting out bigger fires, like another Terror for a Snapping Drake. The miserable Demon’s Horn was good for a few life here and there, but the Sprite was relentless. “I can’t believe you’re gonna kill me with faeries,” she mumbled at one point as I flew in for still another single point of damage.
This was the first game of the three when the Blue deck did what Blue decks do best, which is establish control of the battlefield. Crowd of Cinders: Scattered. Consuming Spirit: Counterbored. Ascendent Evincar: Scattered. The best she managed was Rats with Unholy Strength (R.W.U.S., anyone?) On her last draw, looking for a miracle herself, she reached for the card, looked at it, and slumped her head down. “Why this, out of all things?”
A second Demon’s Horn.
The faerie got there.
In the end, I suspect that Thoughts of the Wind will rank amongst the very least-played preconstructed I own. For creature-based aggro it’s weak, and the control is lacklustre, indeed precisely as I had supposed when I broke it down in my last post. I had hope then, but having piloted it I can think of little redeeming about the deck: it’s dreadful dull.
Liliana’s Eyes of Shadow deck at least has a Black discard theme to keep it hopping, and is light fun to play. It builds around a nice theme and does a good job backing it up with support. Not so this one- it lacks any semblance of focus. Unless, like me, you’re a collector, I’d urge you to save your money on this one.
FINAL GRADE: 1/5
I’m not surprised that out of five games the Jace deck only managed one. That’s about average for the deck. It needs to draw all of its counterspells for all of the other deck’s bombs and then drop all its bombs.
The only thing that the Jace deck really does well is exacerbate a slow start. One of his most common turn 2 plays is to boomerang a land, just to spite you and then start countering and bouncing your stuff. He’s a malicious S.O.B. and his deck basically trolls and doesn’t win. I finally agree completely with your rating.
Thanks for the comments, Ben! Your remarks here (particularly “his deck basically trolls and doesn’t win”) and on the Part 1 had us laughing aloud.
No problem! I feel that if you’re going to put the effort of buying, playtesting and analyzing the precons, then I should put in some effort on my comments. I look forward to reading your analysis of the M11 and expansion set precons, since you seem to have a keen grasp of why cards go where and whether they’re a good or bad idea.
I’m also curious to hear your take on Duel Decks, since a podcast I listen to always does pretty close analysis and used to do testing and modification of the duel decks and I’d like to hear your take on them.
I really have quite a bit of animosity towards this deck in particular, which is why I spout such vitriol towards it. His deck is obnoxious and slows the game down, which makes using him to unlock cards tedious, even if victory is usually pretty certain.
Rest assured, those will be coming! The duel decks are an irresistable concept, though collecting after-the-fact has been somewhat painful (Divine/Demonic, Jace/Chandra, and Elves/Goblins in particulr have seen a hefty price spike on the secondary market, and each time I’ve had to just close my eyes, grit my teeth and click ‘Confirm Bid’ on each).
We chose a rather packed time to launch Lament. Between the DotP, Archenemy, and soon M11 we’ll be keeping pace with current product fairly steadily. I do, however, want to delve into a whole lot more, so look for the time after M11’s reviews roll out but before Scars to really have some fun in the archives of Magic’s precon history!
It’s a pity I didn’t know you were looking for them. I’ve gotten JvC and EvG at knock down prices, since I picked up JvC at release and EvG I got at my local store without the Ambush Commander, which lowered the price nicely.
Yeah, you’ve got 3 months in there, and with an every other day release scheduale, I look forward to seeing what comes out.
Ahh, no worries, I’m a very patient eBay hunter, and I’ve refused to play the going rate for them myself. Wait long enough, and something’s always bound to turn up…
By the way, which podcast?
The Mana Pool. Which should be plugging your blog soon, come to think of it. I sent them an email about it.
Appreciated! I’ll have to give them a listen. I typically stick to Monday Night Magic, DeckConstruct, Yo MTG Taps and Limited Resources as my main, considering I commute about three hours a day I’m always happy to check out another podcast.