MTGSalvation’s forums managed to grab a hold of a spoiler list of the Sorin vs. Tibalt duel deck and posted them today.
The big news for many is due to the rare slots that come with the Planeswalker cards, particularly in Tibalt’s deck, Hellrider and Sulfuric Vortex.
As of today (March 1st, 2013), the value for Sorin, Lord of Innistrad($17-20) and a Hellrider($14-16) make their release together in a product that retails for $19.99 a steal. Many, including I, are impressed that Wizards of the Coast decided to throw them into a product together. Most initial responses are positive on the deck designs. The decks look fun and reasonably competitive against one another.
So, how did I do with my September speculation?
Thematically, I was very close. Sorin’s list is indeed a black/white token deck with a vampire subtheme. There are more vampire cards than I would have anticipated and it borrows a little more heavily from Zendikar block than I expected, but nothing is out of place. There are a few cards in there that show off Sorin Markov’s personality and mechanics (Sorin’s Thirst), which matches what WotC has done before in past duel decks like Venser vs. Koth. Tibalt’s list I was less accurate in guessing, it’s a red/black deck with plenty of devilish creatures and a strong graveyard theme, as befitting Tibalt’s Planeswalker card abilities. Whereas I guessed his spells would drive a deck with Burning Vengeance in them, the actual deck relies on Unearth creatures and Flashback spells, and a lot fuel in its burn spells than I predicted.
Let’s take a little closer look at the composition of these decks.
Sorin’s black-white vampires with a human and token theme is totally predictable. The rare cards are Butcher of Malakir (GREAT card), Twilight Drover, Ancient Craving, Death Grasp, and Sorin, Lord of Innistrad. Butcher of Malakir and Twilight Drover are reallllly close to my guess of Anowan, the Ruin Sage and Bloodline Keeper, since there’s a combination of forced sacrifice and token generation in each pair. Cards I did get right are Doomed Traveler, Gatekeeper of Malakir, Mortify and Sorin’s Thirst. I included two copies of Purify the Grave, but Decompose fills in that slot. The same thing can be said of my copies of Altar’s Reap that turned out to be Ancient Craving. There’s a lot more life gain and lifelink on Sorin’s creatures than I expected, but I didn’t expect Tibalt’s deck to be as aggressive as it is with its potent burn spells (like 2 copies of Browbeat!). They did do a typical WotC thing in here and stuff it full with 25 lands, but its not an egregious offense. Cards that are getting their first run in the modern card frame are Ancient Craving, Death Grasp, Decompose, Field of Souls, Mesmeric Fiend, and Tainted Field.
Tibalt’s deck sticks to a devil theme with plenty of graveyard support, but instead of going mono-red, it leans on some black mana to grind down Sorin’s life total. The rare cards are Hellrider, Lavaborn Muse, Breaking Point, Devil’s Play, Sulfuric Vortex, and Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded (one more than Sorin’s!). Cards I got right on this side include Hellspark Elemental, Scourge Devil, Vithian Stinger, Devil’s Play, Faithless Looting, and Geistflame. I had a copy of Rolling Temblor which would have been better than the included Pyroclasm, if only for its flashback cost. There’s plenty of graveyard interactions, but more unearth creatures than I expected. I remember now that Mark Rosewater said that unearth almost came back in the Dark Ascension expansion, but they decided on the undying mechanic instead.
That’s actually not connected to this, but an interesting thought. 😉
Thanks to Hellrider, it looks to me that this deck wants to try and surge through Sorin’s defenses and use some nasty direct damage (Bump in the Night, Blightning, 2x Browbeat, and Sulfuric Vortex) to get over the incidental lifegain the other deck may accrue. Cards in this deck getting their first printing with the modern card frame are Blazing Salvo, Breaking Point, Recoup, and Sulfuric Vortex (Browbeat was re-printed in the first Planechase set).
There are a few things I’m disappointed with, one specifically in each deck. On Sorin’s side, there is no sacrifice outlet to unlock the spirit creatures in Doomed Traveler, Mausoleum Guard, and Field of Souls. There’s a slew of bloodthirst cards in his deck (ironically, a theme I put in my version of the Tibalt deck) that don’t need to be there when Blood Artist and Vampire Aristocrat/Bloodthrone Vampire would have fit in better thematically and mechanically. On Tibalt’s side, the flashback count is a little light (6 cards, although Recoup will give any sorcery card flashback) and there’s only one reanimation spell, Torrent of Souls. It’s one of my favorite cards, but it doesn’t seem like enough. That copy of Corpse Connoisseur has to search out another unearth creatures to place in the graveyard to be of any use. I prefer to use connoisseurs to set up a wicked reanimation play and my choices for that tactic in this deck are lackluster, especially when I start comparing the creature sizes between the decks. Tibalt’s largest creature is the 4/3 Shambling Remains and the deck contains no flyers. Sorin has access to the 5/4 flying Butcher of Malakir and the 4/4 flying Sengir Vampire, which can grow to become much larger. If Tibalt’s deck can’t burn out Sorin’s flying creatures, it will be quite dead, so watch out!
That’s a lot of text without card images in front of you, I apologize. Go back to the above links and check the decks out on Tappedout.net. It looks to me that this is going to be a much more exciting duel deck than the last two: Venser vs. Koth and Izzet vs. Golgari. The gap between Sorin and Tibalt will be much closer than their perceived power levels.
I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy and play.
I had a lot of fun speculating what could be in this release and you can expect more of the same when we see the next announced duel deck from WotC. Thanks for reading!