Saturday, September 18, 2010

Duel Decks: Elspeth VS Tezzeret Review

After playtesting the Elspeth VS Tezzeret Duel Decks for an entire weekend, I decided I might as well review it. Let's dive right in shall we?

The first thing you should know is that I'm honestly not that excited about artifact or solider decks and to make things even funnier for my perspective is that I'm not all that interested in Elspy or Tezz as characters. You're probably thinking I'm the last person that should review this but I'm here to surprise you. I love this product and I honestly think it's the greatest Duel Deck to be released for Magic the Gathering.

If you're a collector then you've probably already bought four due to the alternate art and the fact you're getting a huge investment for the little you are paying for these. The regular Elspeth card costs more than the MSRP of this product by herself. This box set not only comes with an alternate art version of Elspeth and Tezzeret but two full decks with multiple rares in each.

If you're a vorthos (storyline lover) then you have to get excited over the thought of taking sides with either Elspeth or Tezzeret. Whether you want to summon an army of soldiers to serve and protect or you prefer to create machines to gain power and knowledge, either way, it's going to be very metal. Throw up the horns and crank it to eleven!

If you're teaching anyone to play Magic then this is one of the greatest teaching tools I've ever found in a stand alone product. That's how I've been playtesting this actually. I let a beginner run the Elspeth deck while I controlled Tezzeret's. The decks are surprisingly balanced and each deck provides just the right amount of variety and consistency for someone new to the game of Magic (or for someone with ADHD).

There are plenty of other reasons to grab a box but these are a few I imagine most reviews online won't cover.

This is Kylak signing out and giving this product the heavy metal award and an eleven out of ten stars because our amplifiers go up to eleven!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. You know... I heard about the Duel Decks a while ago but had no idea what they were really. I assumed they were decks built around two characters who would be in conflict in the story naturally but I thought they would be similar to starter decks in that they aren't as powerful as decks you make out of cards acquired. I've got a 25$ gift card for target that's been with me for about three years. I was planning on spending it at the on the 1st for some SoM packs but do you think it would be better for me to buy a Duel Deck?

    I get TWO planeswalkers for sure and I really want one just because I don't have one.

    I get some more islands and plains. I already have way more plains than I'll ever use and islands are probably the third most abundant basic land type I have. Probably in this order from most abundant to least: Forests, Plains, Islands, Swamps, Mountains. I have a little over 20 mountains but less than 30. I have more forests and plains than I can count. Enough islands to have two decks of pure blue at least and swamps are almost as bad as mountains but not quite.

    I get two pre-built decks that I can use with the friends I'm teaching how to play. Which would be fun but not exactly important since they both have at least 2 decks of their own already.


    I could spend the money on packs of Scars.

    Hmm... I don't seem to be able to come up with any others...

  3. I scrapped my other comment because it was getting silly, so I'm writing a new one, yay!

    The Elspeth vs. Tezzeret decks are amazing. I agree with you fully my dear Kylak that these decks really are great teaching tools. It was wonderful being able to play against you multiple times with the pre-made decks and also learn more about Magic.

  4. Sorry for the late reply. College work has been eating up all of my time.

    @ Opee
    What it really all comes down to is whether or not it is a product you will use. If your aim is to play in the Standard format then your money will be better spent on booster packs for Scars of Mirrodin.

    As far as answering your question goes: Your Pros may be in higher quantity than your Cons but depending on how important Scars of Mirrodin is to you, your Con may hold higher quality and thus outweigh the Pros all together.

    How exciting or important is Scars of Mirrodin to you?

    @ Raii
    I understand your reasoning for trying to remain anonymous as you thought it would benefit me in some way. I'm glad you decided to write a new post in place of the old.

    It was wonderful teaching you how to play, my dear Raii. You've come quite far in such a short amount of time.

    @ Everyone
    I'll be teaching yet another person how to play on Saturday with Raii's assistance. I've never kept track of how many people I've taught to play Magic but it'll be interesting to see how many people get brought into the game with this as their first deck.

    Look forward to new articles this weekend and throughout next week as well.

  5. I've got a good number of cards from the first Mirrodin pack. Looking through the leaked card list, that is now complete, I think I can definitely say it would benefit me most to just buy boosters. There are a lot more cards that I'm interested in getting from SoM than a duel deck.

    I'm still going to the prerelease tomorrow though, and I'm excited. I'm going to both the normal and two-headed giant tournaments. Or at least I plan to.

  6. I'm glad that's solved. Best of luck at the prerelease. Let me know how that goes.

  7. XD It's funny that when you left that comment I was already halfway done with it.

    I didn't do too horrible, certainly not the
    worst there. Even Michelle didn't do the worst there and she hasn't played very much at all! She did get two Mythics though. Indomitable Archangel and Liege of the Tangle. I made a lot of mistakes with my deck at the beginning because it was my first time with a 40 card deck and my first sealed event like that.

    I had a Hoard-Smelter first tourney so I decided to run red and went mono red... which was a terrible idea even with all the artifacts... and I soon added some blue which allowed me to win some games... although I didn't do that until my third match, after I had already lost my first two. I won the third match, one of the games with Hoard-Smelter which was nice, and then lost my fourth who was, ironically, the person I just watched my girlfriend lose to. Darn 8/8 trample for 4 mana. I then won my last match and that very last game was so close it felt epic. I had 1 life left and we were literally racing for the right card. In the end I decimated him thanks to metalcraft and used Hoard-Smelter which forced him to waste his black kill spell before enough creatures could die to kill me(I had 3 life. It destroyed a creature and then made me lose 1 life for each creature sent to a graveyard and only two were sent so that put me at 1.)

    I didn't place in the top 20 so I didn't get a prize. If I had made it blue/red from the beginning like I was planning to that might have been different but who knows.

    Now for the two-headed giant. It was supposed to be only three rounds of one game eliminations but it ended up being four. We got two more mythics from our eight, Geth and Platinum Emperion, which was nice. I also got two more Hoard-Smelters! The chance of drawing three copies of a single rare... I almost didn't want to run red again because I'd been playing red for over seven hours and I was starting to get sick of it. I couldn't refuse when we got two smelters and molten psyche though. I decided to mix some black in because of Geth and a few other useful black cards... Skinrender, exsanguinateX2, necrotic ooze... Michelle's was blue/white but it was mostly artifacts. That first game we won and I didn't have Emperion in her deck because I figured it'd be pointless with poison counters and it was a bit expensive. I showed him to the guys after we beat them and they wondered why we weren't using it and just because I put it in Michelle's deck. We lost the next game but honestly, we could have done way more than what we did. I got a dragon out and did some damage for a while, my opponent also had the same dragon out and I think mine was able to kill theirs. Unfortunately, the other guy was running green and got the enchantment that gave all his creatures shroud to our spells. If I played my cards right I could have easily destroyed his 8/8 trampler because he equipped him with the rod of flying and first strike and blocked me. I didn't think about eating his rod at the end of blockers step and I just let my dragon die... so stupid... She had Emperion in her hand too, but only 7 mana the whole game.

  8. The last game was similar to the second except that if we won it the tournament was over, if we lost it would go into round 4. Once again she had an Emperion she couldn't play because she had exactly 7 mana. This time, however, we were locked down thanks to the black enchantment that makes it so every time we cast a spell we lose 5 life or discard a card. We managed to last a good nine or ten more turns after it locked us, stalling for that one land or my other exsanguinate because I had enough lands to do 10 to each opponent (20) and gain 20 life. They had only 18 left after the first one. I wasn't lucky, however, and we lost. We had to leave after that though so I didn't get to play a fourth round.

    The last two teams we fought in the second tournament were literally the first a second place winners. Maybe it was just unlucky for us that we had to play against them?

    All in all, we got some good cards and had fun. I feel that I did decent for my first sealed event and Michelle did amazing for her first considering her experience. I'd definitely do it again if I got the chance.

    P.S. I never knew playing cards could get you so tired. After about five hours fatigue started to kick in and during the last tournament I couldn't pronounce a single card correctly. On the drive home I was replacing every day words with MTG terms and I really needed some rest. XD

  9. My comment exceeded the character limit! Woot! I didn't even know there was a character limit!

  10. The fact that there is a character limit for comments is news to me as well.

    Thanks for the play by play Opee. That sounded exciting. :D

    How are you enjoying Scars of Mirrodin so far, now that you got to test the set out a bit?

  11. I'm really enjoying it actually. I can safely say a lot of the cards that came out are going to do really well in standard. Particularly some of those enchantments. Infect and Metalcraft are really powerful abilities.

  12. Infect brings me such joy. I may not even build an infect deck but I'll still enjoy the fact that they translated the flavor of the Phyrexians into a proper mechanic.

    Metalcraft feels like Affinity's sister mechanic. While Affinity wanted you to have more artifacts so that you could play things more quickly, Metalcraft wants you to have more artifacts so that you can gain the full potential of a particular card. I'm interested to see what else they'll do with the mechanic over the course of the next two sets.

  13. By the way, I love my Engulfing Slagwurm. At first I thought it was flavorful as all hell because it eats anything that tries to fight it... then I realized it eats things that are bigger than it too. It can eat Emrakul! Then I also realized you still gain life if it blocks or is blocked by something that's indestructible. Of course, if the creature in question is bigger than him than that's pretty cool because it can imply he eats it, gives you life, and then the creature breaks out of his stomach and kills it. Unfortunately, with creatures like Darksteel Myr and the other Darksteel guy in the set, they don't kill him, so what happens? Does he get indigestion and puke them up then slam them with his massive body? Do they get out, scratch him, then run away?

    Now I know it would have been a little too powerful since it's already a great card but exiling might have made more sense flavorwise. I mean, he eats them! How does something that was eaten alive go to the graveyard? It's technically still in his body and will be wurmpoo in the near future.

  14. Just to help out with the flavor issue here. The graveyard doesn't just involve things that are merely killed. Terminate, for example, does quite more than just burn something to ashes and yet the creature affected only goes to the graveyard.

    Exiling is saved for certain situations. White's side of the color pie typically gains more access to exiling than most simply because it usually involves temporary removal to another plane or pocket dimension before they are brought back. Path to Exile and Unmake are more recent examples of permanent exile and the flavor explains exactly why that is. Bringing them back from the graveyard isn't enough to return them to the battlefield.

    As far as answering the indestructible question goes: It's most likely as you think. He attempts to swallow them but fails to do so and they manage to get away.

    I hope that helps.

  15. Well, I always feel the graveyard does too much for what its name implies. You bury a lot of things in the graveyard when you think about it. It's where you throw the remnants of your spells, it's where you drop your memories when they're stolen from you via an opponents spell or an overload of thoughts, it's where the essence of the planeswalker you summoned remains when they lose their loyalty and planeswalk away and of course where you place the corpses of your deceased summoned companions.

    It's always been a bit convoluted to me how you can toss the memory of a creature into the graveyard and then use a spell to raise it back to the field when it was never present in the field to die and be resurrected in the first place.

  16. Before I start, I'd like to say that I totally agree with you.

    That's one of those issues where a term doesn't age well with the game, though I will give the term "Graveyard" credit where credit is due. For anyone just starting out, this term makes sense immediately. That's probably the only reason it's still around. Creatures die and they go to the graveyard. It takes zero effort for a new player to understand that concept. They don't have to wrap their minds around what it means to discard a memory into the same hole they just dug for their favorite creature that they affectionately named Mr. Wiggles.

    You want to talk silly concepts? Imagine a tiny Deadly Recluse blocking Emrakul and killing the massive legendary god being that threatens entire Planes of existence. That's actually what happens in the game.



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