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[PSN Review] Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013, Deck Pack 1

Wizards of the Coast and Stainless Games have released the first deck pack for Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013. This expansion adds just two decks to the roster (bringing the total to seventeen, for those who are counting), but its price tag is a paltry $3 USD. Anticipating the next expansion for paper Magic (Gatecrash, due out February 1, 2013), this electronic pack adds decks that use color pairs that will be featured in Gatecrash: Boros (red and white) and Simic (green and blue). The new decks are fun, if rather expected, and they provide a cheap fix for more Magic on the PlayStation 3.

Act of War (Boros: red/white)
As you might expect from the Boros Legion, this deck focuses on creature-based aggro, and it’s chock full of soldiers. Important keywords include Haste (creatures can attack on the turn that their cast) and Lifelink (damage that the creatures does is added to your life total). The deck is perfectly straightforward, and it more or less “plays fair” – it simply aims to kill with creatures and perhaps with a smattering of burn spells to help remove an opponent’s blockers. I certainly don’t dislike the deck, but the linearity of its game plan turns me off a bit.

Act of War: Sunhome Enforcer

Sky and Scale (Simic: green/blue)
This is a somewhat more synergistic deck, focusing on interactions between creatures of the sea and of the sky, in good Simic Combine tradition. A major problem with this deck, which you can ameliorate as you unlock cards and tinker with your deck build, is that it contains many cheap spells and many expensive spells, with very few midrange cards. Nevertheless, the deck is fun to play, mainly thanks to tricky interactions that make combat math difficult for opponents. Take the Omnibian, for example. You can use him to shrink a large opposing creature or to buff one of your own small guys, so your opponent’s blocks become hard to figure out. The deck also has just a bit of ramp (resource acceleration), but there’s not enough that it makes sense as a subtheme. In other words, do not expect another version of the Kiora Atua deck from Duels 2012, which was in the same colors, and whose game plan involved doing nothing in the early game except building up massive mana resources faster than opponents so that you can then power out enormous threats during the midgame.

Sky and Scale: Lorescale Coatl

One warning about these decks: If you’ve been following Duels 13, you probably know that Wizards gave away ten codes that each unlock an additional card for each of the ten original decks as well as the five decks in the first DLC. These codes are now publicly available and can be used freely by anyone. So while all fifteen of the earlier deck appeared to have thirty unlockable cards, they really had forty additional cards (added to each deck’s core set of sixty cards). My point is simply that these two new decks do not include the extra ten cards, so each deck has just the core sixty cards plus thirty unlockables. This certainly isn’t a deal-breaker for me; I’m just pleased that Wizards gave us the extra ten cards for the original decks and for DLC1. Also bear in mind that thirty unlockables is quite a number. Duels 12 only had sixteen unlockables (increased to twenty if you purchased DLC1).

In sum, these new decks are valuable inasmuch as they present fresh material to work with in Duels 13, and the price is right at $3. However, neither deck is especially interestingly designed. They’re the sort of decks that a Magic neophyte might construct – perfectly serviceable creature-based win conditions, but without many cool spells or interactions.

Related reviews:

[review pros=”New toys!
Whets one’s appetite for Gatecrash
Inexpensive” cons=”Uninspired deck lists” score=70]

This title was purchased by the reviewer.