Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012: Blood Hunger Review (Part 2 of 2)
It’s time to put Sorin’s second Vampire-filled deck to the test, and what better way to do so than to put him up against another latter-day planeswalker, Koth of the Hammer? Sam’s piloting Strength of Stone, but can the lord of Innistrad prevail?
Sam’s on the play for the opener after mulling to 6, and leads with a Goblin Mountaineer. I’m right behind, though, with a Tormented Soul. Next turn sees Sam add a Spikeshot Elder after swinging in for 1 with the Goblin, and the Elder’s no small threat to the creatures I’m able to field. After attacking with the Soul, I then burn an Urge to Feed to kill it off.
Even at 19 on turn 3, Sam simply swings in for 1 with the Mountaineer. I counterattack with the Soul, then lay down a Child of Night. Next turn, Sam attacks for 1 and passes, having now missed two land drops in a row. I swing in for 3, and the damage allows me to play the Vampire Outcasts with bloodthirst. It’s now a 19-15 game, and things aren’t looking good for Sam who’s still stuck on two land.
Sam’s turn 5 is a blank, while I attack in for 7. Sam trades her Mountaineer for my Child of Night, but I replace my loss with a Vampire Nighthawk. Next turn, Sam does nothing and passes. I again attack for 7 to drop Sam to 3 life, then play a Quag Vampires multikicking it twice. Drawing nothing, Sam bows to the inevitable and scoops.
Sam’s turn-3 Rockslide Elemental is the game’s first nonland play, and I’m right behind with a Barony Vampire. Next turn Sam adds a Koth’s Courier, while I follow with a Vampire Nighthawk. After a slow start, we’re both neck and neck.
Now turn 5, Sam goes for the gold with a Claws of Valakut on her Courier, letting her turn it sideways for 7. I snuff it out with a Spread the Sickness, wasting a perfectly good proliferate. I follow with a 5-point attack, leveling us at 15 apiece. Still, thanks to my killing of the Courier, Sam’s Elemental gets its first +1/+1 counter.
Now turn 6, Sam counterattacks for 2 with the Elemental, taking me to 13. I fire back for another 5, then drop a pair of Duskhunter Bats, each with bloodthirst. I then Vicious Hunger her Elemental, passing the turn. The next turn is a blank for Sam, after which I send in all four of my creatures for 9 points of damage. Clinging to life by a single point, Sam draws and concedes.
Sam and I exchange land drops for the first two turns, after which she breaks the deadlock with a Koth’s Courier. Meanwhile, I draw level with Quag Vampires, multikicked once into a 2/2.
Again Sam goes for the Claws of Valakut play, hoping to catch me without an answer. The Courier swings in for 6, dropping me to 14. I then attack for 2 with the Vampires, setting up bloodthirst for my Duskhunter Bat. Next turn Sam turns her Courier sideways for a further 7, cutting me in half. She follows with an Earth Elemental and passes the turn. Back to me, I Spread the Sickness on the Courier to kill it, proliferating the +1/+1 counters on my Quag Vampires and Bat. In goes the Bat, and Sam falls to 15.
Now turn 6, Sam attacks for 4 with her Elemental, and I chump with the Quag Vampires. She adds an Oxidda Scrapmelter and passes, having gained the upper hand. Back to me, I use a pair of Vicious Hungers to kill the Scrapmelter, sending me back up to 11 life. I then attack for 3 with the Bat, taking Sam to 12. Next turn, Sam claws that 4 life right back through an attack from the Elemental. I counterattack for 3, then drop a Barony and Bloodrage Vampire.
Sam’s turn 8 is a lamentable blank, after which I swing with the team for 10. Sam’s Elemental eats my Bloodrage Vampire, but she falls to 3 life in the process. Victory has slipped from her fingers, though, and she falls to the sweep after drawing nothing useful.
Thoughts & Analysis
Although on balance it felt a little less thrilling than the first Sorin deck, Master of Shadows, this one nevertheless acquitted itself quite well. It felt sleek and well-curved, and I seldom had any difficulty in deploying my tribal-based threats. It wasn’t so aggressive that I was always able to play a one-drop (largely because I refused to cast Quag Vampires on turn 1), but it began to really come alive on turns 2 and 3. Before long, it was able to field a critical mass of Vampires, and Sam’s defenses simply couldn’t hold. Not bad for an early-to-midrange swarm deck!
In addition, the subtle synergies in the deck deserve a bit of credit. Although they weren’t mind-blowing, the different ways the deck tried to make itself more than the sum of its parts were commendable, and the blending of bloodthirst and proliferate in particular were inspired. Overall, it was a fun deck to play, though it did feel a bit pedestrian.
On the negatives, the removal wasn’t especially impressive. Six cards’ worth isn’t bad, but overall it didn’t feel like quite enough to permit me to keep the red zone clear of defenses. This deck didn’t represent a significant drop-off in quality from Sorin’s first deck. Rather, it felt like an attempt to go in a different direction that didn’t quite do enough to get out of its predecessor’s shadow.
HITS: Good synergy; aggressive mana curve allows the fielding of overwhelming threats early against an unprepared opponent
MISSES: Removal suite decent, but not as good as the colour is capable of
OVERALL SCORE: 4.35/5.00
Did Sam just never draw any of the direct damage in her deck?