Duel Decks- Blessed vs Cursed: Blessed Deck Review (Part 2 of 2)
In the rush of excitement for Shadows over Innistrad’s Intro Packs, the poor set-themed Duel Deck didn’t get completely reviewed. Phil has joined be on the battlefield to put Blessed through its paces, and round out the set.
Phil and I trade land drops for our first two turns, with him on the play and me on the draw. The first creature touches down on turn 3 when Phil plays a Ghoulraiser– an indicator of what a shaky hand he might have kept since there’s nothing in his graveyard. Back to me, I match with a Captain of the Mists.
Now turn 4, Phil wasts little time in killing my Captain with a Victim of Night before any shenanigans can occur. He then swings in for 2 and passes. I replace my loss with a Gather the Townsfolk. Next turn, Phil drops a Butcher Ghoul followed by a Tooth Collector, killing off one of my Humans. Another attack from the Ghoulraiser, and I’m down to 16. Back to me, I deploy the Geist of Saint Traft, and hope he’ll change my fortunes.
Phil comes all in on turn 6, leaving me at 10. I counterattack with my Human and Geist, adding in an Angel token for good measure, rocking Phil for 7. Looking to race, Phil surges in with the side again next turn. This time, though, I’m ready for it. Rebuking both his Butcher Ghoul and Tooth Collector, that leaves only 2 points to get through to leave me at 8. Though the Ghoul returns thanks to undying Phil sees his chance to take out the Geist and does so with a Barter in Blood, returning us to a creatureless board state. Passing to me, I summon a Goldnight Redeemer. Although I wouldn’t mind a little extra life, I need a quick creature even more.
Now turn 8, Phil summons a Diregraf Captain and passes. I Gather the Townsfolk, then chip in with the Angel for 4 to leave him at 9. Phil then casts Dread Return, bringing back the Ghoulraiser which in turn sees the Butcher Ghoul go back to his hand. I nick away another chunk of life with the Redeemer before adding an Elder Cathar.
Although Phil tries to rally with a Stitched Drake and Butcher Ghoul, I solve the Drake with Bonds of Faith. With the red zone cluttered, my Angel takes the win in the air.
Phil opts to be on the draw, so I lead with a Plains and a Topplegeist. Phil evens the creature count next turn with a Screeching Skaab, and I draw first blood on turn 3 with the Geist. Phil then gets even with the Geist, killing it with Victim of Night before coming in with the Skaab for 2, and we both see out the exchange 1 point higher in life thanks to a Dismal Backwater and Tranquil Cove.
Now turn 4, I play a Plains and pass. Phil summons a Diregraf Captain, buffing his Skaab which hits for another 3. Back to me, I play Increasing Devotion for a quintet of 1/1 Humans. Over to Phil, he bolsters his side with a Gravecrawler and Abattoir Ghoul, then attacks with the Skaab for 3 more, leaving me at 12. Next turn, I summon an Emancipation Angel, bouncing Phil’s Captain back to hand. I then play another Topplegeist, tapping down his Ghoul. With the lanes cleared, I send in the Humans for 5. Back to Phil, he simply replays his Captain and passes.
Now turn 7, I double my life total up to 24 with a Goldnight Redeemer, then attack with the Emancipation Angel and Topplegeist in the air for 4. Phil swings in with the Ghoul, which I let past, then plays a Stitched Drake. My next turn is a blank, playing a Seraph Sanctuary and passing. Phil summons Relentless Skaabs, then attacks for another 4 with the Ghoul.
A turn-9 Gather the Townsfolk pads my ranks, and I pass the turn. Phil casts Moan of the Unhallowed for some Zombies, then attacks for 9 with the Ghoul and Skaabs. I take it on the chin, dropping down to 8. Back to me, I summon a belated Champion of the Parish, while Phil continues the press with a Driver of the Dead and Diregraf Ghoul before coming in for another 9. This time I’ve got a little bit of trickery up the sleeve, flashing in the Village Bell-Ringer and putting a counter on the Champion. I then pair the Bell-Ringer with the Emancipation Angel to gang-block the Abattoir Ghoul, and I chump-block the Relentless Skaabs with a Human token.
Despite having weathered the storm- at least for a turn- the next turn brings no change in my fortunes. Phil, meanwhile, comes at me for 13. My Redeemer and Topplegeist step in front of the Stitched Drake, with Phil opting to kill the Redeemer. I chump the onrushing Driver and Relentless Skaabs with 1/1 Humans, and cling to life a little longer. Although turn 12 sees me add a Captain of the Mists, it adds nothing, and Phil is able to alpha strike the following turn.
I opt to be on the play for our decider, dropping a Tranquil Cove to go up to 21 life. Phil and I then swap land drops before he summons a Screeching Skaab. I respond on turn 3 with a Captain of the Mists, and Phil’s turn is a blank as he misses the land drop.
Now turn 4, I play an Emancipation Angel, bouncing a land back to hand. It’s not the best use of the Angel, but I’m looking for speed to capitalize on Phil’s shaky start. Phil drops a land and passes. Next turn, I swing in for 3 with the Angel and end my turn. Back to Phil, he summons a Tooth Collector, but doesn’t have a useful target for its -1/-1 (he puts it on my Captain). He then attacks in for 2, and I fall to 19.
A turn-6 Butcher’s Cleaver doesn’t do much to advance my board state at the moment, but I still fly in for 3 to take Phil to 14. Phil, looking to at least build up a defense on the ground, plays a Ghoulraiser with nothing in the yard. Next turn, I equip the Cleaver to my Angel, then attack in for 6. Phil then summons an Unbreathing Horde, coming in as a 3/3.
I turn the Angel sideways again on turn 8, leaving Phil at 2. A Mist Raven bounces his Ghoulraiser to hand and, drawing nothing, he scoops.
Thoughts & Analysis
In the review for the Cursed deck, I noted that while it had a lot of fun little interactions, it wouldn’t exactly be going down as one of the best in breed. Take the high and low points of that deck, drop them by a degree, and you end up with Blessed.
It’s not that Blessed is bad- it’s surely not that. It’s just that it’s also not all that compelling. Although the deck has the promise of compelling interactions between its composite cards, they may be the exception rather than the norm. My first victory was a straightforward creature beatdown, whose greatest moment of synergy was piling up small creatures at the feet of a Goldnight Redeemer for 12 life. Not exactly edge-of-your-seat stuff. Game three was similarly won- aerial creature beatdown, an Angel and a Butcher’s Cleaver.
It’s not that the deck isn’t capable of better- nobody’s going to feel sad about a first-turn Champion of the Parish followed by Gather the Townsfolk- but there’s also a lot of filler cards here that dilute the overall deck. Cards like Thraben Heretic give you lots of chances to feel clever; the Elder Cathar, not so much.
Hits: Human tribal theme well-represented, this deck definitely conveys the “people of Innistrad” theme
Misses: Too much filler and not enough of the ‘fun moments of synergy’ that defines the Duel Deck product line; removal is poor, leaving you at the mercy of a creature race
OVERALL SCORE: 4.00/5.00