Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014 has received its first expansion, meaning that players can now enjoy 5 new decks and 10 new challenges. The question, however, is whether this content is worth your hard-earned money.
Magic: the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014 Expansion (Steam [Reviewed], PSN, XBLA, iOS for iPad, Android)
Developer: Stainless Games
Publisher: Stainless Games
Released: Sept 18th, 2013
I’ll begin with the most important part: the new decks. The expansion’s five new decks are the Red and White Sword of the Samurai, the Red and Blue Dodge and Burn, the Mono-Black Lords of Darkness, the Green, White, and Blue Hall of Champions, and the Mono-Green Sylvan Might.
Sword of the Samurai
Sword of the Samurai is an aggressive Boros-color deck that focuses on the use of Samurai from the Kamigawa Block combined with an array of powerful equipment like [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card] and [card]Sword of War and Peace[/card]. Sword of the Samurai does most of its work in the early to mid game (turns 3-5). The ideal game plan is to get out a few creatures, then put a powerful equipment on one. In-game, this translates to a mediocre Aggro deck that folds to even a modest amount of removal from the control decks. It performs well against other Aggro decks, though. Creatures like [card]Kitsune Blademaster[/card] with Bushido allow your creatures to hit harder than creatures at a similar mana cost, making advantageous attacking and blocking much easier.
Dodge and Burn
Dodge and Burn is an incredible deck in Duels, and has surpassed Deadwalkers as my favorite deck in the game. D&B is a classic Counter/Burn Tempo deck through and through: stalling is the name of the game here. Counterspells like [card]Remand[/card] and mass removal spells like [card]Earthquake[/card] are your best tools here, keeping the board clear until you can destroy your foe with [card]Kiln Fiend[/card] and [card]Banefire[/card]. Your hand stays stocked through the use of [card]Opportunity[/card] and [card]Invoke the Firemind[/card]. Dodge and Burn is the epitome of the Izzet playstyle, and I love it.
Lords of Darkness
Lords of Darkness is a very Timmy-focused deck dedicated to Black’s biggest and baddest creatures: Demons. It’s a very simple, but still satisfying, deck to play: remove threats with [card]Doom Blade[/card] and [card]Tendrils of Corruption[/card] to stay alive until you can land a huge demon to close out the game. Overall, the deck is fun, but lacks the depth of many of the decks.
Hall of Champions
Hall of Champions focuses on one of Shards of Alara’s main mechanics: Exalted. It tries to pull off a three-color Aggro deck, but unfortunately it does so poorly. Mana issues plague Hall of Champions. In almost every game I played with it, I consistently did not have the colors of mana I needed to play things in a timely fashion, and I got wrecked as a result. I’m sure there’s a way to fix this problem within the game (maybe remove a color?), but it will take quite a bit of tweaking to find it. I may return to this subject in a later article.
Many Magic players have seen a variation on “the Elf Deck” (in fact, the elf deck in the original Duels of the Planeswalkers was arguably the strongest deck in the game). Expansion’s elf deck follows in this grand tradition with an elf swarm deck that puts down a LOT of creatures really quickly for quick wins. However, Sylvan Might avoids the problems that Sword of the Samurai and Sliver Hive have where it can be stopped in its tracks by an opposing swarm. It accomplishes this through the use of a few cards that can generate a lot of advantage over a few turns, such as [card]Wellwisher[/card] and [card]Immaculate Magistrate[/card]. Additionally, you’ll rarely run out of cards while running [card]Lead the Stampede[/card] and [card]Sylvan Messenger[/card] stocking your hand with more elves. Finally, there’s [card]Joraga Warcaller[/card] and [card]Heedless One[/card] as your late game finishers.
Overall, Duels 2014‘s first expansion is a pretty hit or miss. With one great deck, two pretty good ones, and two mediocre-to-bad decks, it’s unclear whether it’s worth the money. I’d recommend buying it purely for Dodge and Burn if you’re a fan of control decks, but if you’re not, most of the decks already in the original game will suit you better.