Archive | September 2012

Sorin vs. Tibalt Duel Deck List Speculation

Sorin vs. Tibalt

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: (3/1/2012) Actual list spoiled today, continue on to here.

I got a lot of positive feedback for the M13: Nicol Bolas Intro Decklist, so I’m having a go at this upcoming Magic product: the Sorin vs. Tibalt Duel Deck due out March 15th, 2013.

Unlike in my idea to have a Nicol Bolas Intro deck, the makers of Magic: the Gathering, Wizards of the Coast, do publish Planeswalker cards in Duel Decks to highlight these mythic rare cards.  The next set of these decks matches the vampire Sorin Markov against a young devilish upstart, Tibalt the Fiend Blooded.

As far as we’ve been led to believe, there doesn’t actually seem to be a feud between these two personalities, but there are some connections.  Sorin was on the plane of Innistrad investigating the disappearance of his angelic construct, Avacyn, and Tibalt is from that plane and developed his eagerness to inflict pain almost as recently as he gained a planeswalker spark.  Sorin is among the oldest known creatures in the multi-verse and Tibalt might be the youngest of the planeswalkers in existence.

OK.  I’ve seen some feedback already for this product that says it doesn’t make sense in the same way that Ajani vs. Nicol Bolas or Garruk vs. Liliana made sense.  I think these two just highlight what the WOTC designers wanted to get out of the Innistrad block’s horror themes.  Plus everyone wants to get their hands on a Sorin, Lord of Innistrad and they also had to show a reason why Tibalt shouldn’t become the least effective and cheapest planeswalker to buy at your local card shop.  That’s just my own speculation.

Regardless of their reasons to duel, designing Sorin vs. Tibalt seemed like a nice deck-building exercise.  Like the Nicol Bolas Intro Deck, I want to create their decks in exactly the same way WOTC publishes them, which means I’m limiting myself to just the one mythic-rare card in the respective planeswalkers, 5 rare cards, anywhere from 10 to 23 uncommon cards (based on the three most recent duel decks), and no less than 24 lands. Plus, the duel decks don’t contain many copies of the same card unless that card fits thematically like having two of Ajani’s Pridemate in his deck, or if the card helps solidify a mana base or card draw like two of the Obelisk of Grixis for Nicol Bolas or two Preordains for Venser.

Here’s what I came up with (with links to TappedOut):

Tibalt’s List

LANDS  –  24

1 Buried Ruin
2 Dormant Volcano
20 Mountains
1 Tectonic Edge


2 Bloodscale Prowler
1 Charmbreaker Devils
1 Dragon Mage
2 Forge Devil
1 Gorehorn Minotaur
1 Hell’s Thunder
2 Hellspark Elemental
1 Mindclaw Shaman
1 Morselhoarder
1 Scourge Devil
1 Torch Fiend
1 Torpid Moloch
1 Vithian Stinger

SPELLS  –  20

2 Burning Vengeance
1 Devil’s Play
1 Elixir of Immortality
2 Faithless Looting
1 Flaming Gambit
1 Fling
1 Firecat Blitz
2 Geistflame
1 Genju of the Spires
1 Howling Mine
2 Punishing Fire
1 Rolling Temblor
1 Rough/Tumble
1 Scorching Missle
1 Ring of Valkas
1 Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded

Sorin’s List

LANDS  –  24

1 Everglades
2 Evolving Wilds
2 Orzhov Basilica
9 Plains
9 Swamps
1 Vault of the Archangel


1 Archangel
1 Anowan, the Ruin Sage
2 Blinding Mage
2 Blood Artist
1 Bloodline Keeper
2 Doomed Traveller
1 Elder Cathar
2 Falkenrath Noble
1 Falkenrath Torturer
2 Gatekeeper of Malakir
1 Krovikan Vampire
1 Pit Keeper

SPELLS  –  19

2 Altar’s Reap
2 Bonds of Faith
1 Due Respect
2 Gather the Townsfolk
1 Mangara’s Tome
1 Martyr’s Tomb
1 Mortify
1 Murder
1 Promise of Bunrei
2 Purify the Grave
1 Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
2 Sorin’s Thirst
2 Traveler’s Amulet

There are two things I believe I have to explain.  For one, this upcoming set MUST contain the most up-to-date version of Mr. Markov – Sorin, Lord of Innistrad. It is in this iteration that he comes to Innistrad.  Plus, the inclusion of white in his deck allows him to combat some of Tibalt’s graveyard shenanigans and also do great things with token creatures.  Secondly, there will be few to zero Return to Ravnica cards in this duel deck.  I included zero to follow a pattern that WOTC has made for their Spring Duel Deck releases – they included none of the most current block’s cards for the releases of Knights Vs Dragons and did the same for Koth vs. Venser.  Given that both Sorin and Tibalt appear in Innistrad, I don’t believe they’ll stray much from that block’s themes.

For the Tibalt deck I wanted to take particular advantage of all the Flashback spells at my disposal.  After all, if you can cast an early Tibalt then cards will start leaving your hand and fly into the graveyard.  These I want to re-use if possible which led me to Burning Vengeance & Charmbreaker Devils.  To follow his second ability I included the Howling Mine and the Dragon Mage.  If Tibalt can stay safe behind his devil-y f(r)iends, he should be able to bust open Sorin with that Insurrection-like ultimate.  This deck just needs to make its burn count because as much as I tried to work it out – a black/white Sorin deck HAS to be about token making and generating, which means there will be a lot of creatures and targets. If Tibalt can power out its X-mana burn spells, it will win over the Sorin deck.

The Sorin deck has to be about token making and attacking with said tokens.  A white/black life-gain dedicated deck will outreach the Tibalt deck quickly and a Sorin deck with 4 Lingering Souls and 4 Intangible Virtue would do the same.  Therefore the most balanced I could deck I could find for it is one with a human/vampire dichotomy, but one that Sorin could live with, not a red/black hedonist deck like Olivia Voldaren would pilot).

I liked Anowan, the Ruin Sage as a Vorthos-like pick since he’s completely in Sorin’s back-pocket by the end of the Teeth of Akoum novel from Zendikar, but he also adds some powerful sacrifice that should help you and debilitate Tibalt.  Bloodline Keeper, Promise of Bunrei, and the Vault of the Archangel would be rare draws that many people want to get their hands on and fit the token build I have here.  If you can combine Vault of the Archangel’s deathtouch with the Krovikan Vampire – you can grab nearly anything of Tibalt’s.  Mangara’s Tome looked and felt like something Sorin might have picked up in his travels and took advantage of whenever possible.  I think this deck has the upper hand – as one deck typically does in these sets – but it’s not a clear advantage.

These decks typically grab two cards from each side to give new art.  I’d tab Flaming Gambit and Punishing Fire for Tibalt’s side (maybe the Dragon Mage or Charmbreaker Devils?) and then new art for Gatekeeper of Malakir and Due Respect for Sorin.  Due Respect just sounds like a nice arrogant card for Sorin, doesn’t it?

I’ve also grabbed a few cards that haven’t been printed in the current card frame yet, which is another thing they like to do with the Duel Decks.  Dormant Volcano, Dragon Mage, Firecat Blitz, and Flaming Gambit are these from the Tibalt side, while Sorin’s decks would have Krovikan Vampire, Martyr’s Tomb and Mangara’s Tome.

So, there’s the Duel Deck Sorin vs. Tibalt according to me.  We’ll see how close I am once these get published in March.

Please, leave comments, questions, and concerns!!

UPDATE!! (2/28/2013):
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad is indeed revealed today as the Planeswalker for the set. I had little doubt, but my speculations are at least accurate as of this date. 🙂

Feast your eyes on the new arts!



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