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Actual Sorin vs. Tibalt Duel Deck List

Sorin vs. Tibalt

Sorin vs. Tibalt

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?

My Sorin Decklist
Actual Sorin Decklist

My Tibalt Decklist
Actual Tibalt Decklist

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!

All I Want to Play is Shadowrun Returns

I am excited for one particular release later this year and that is:

Shadowrun Returns!!

Shadowrun Returns!!

Oh, and let me tell you why.

My golden age of video gaming is the Super Nintendo 16-bit console. The level of clarity and graphics were stunningly beautiful for my 8-year old eyes (a very important shout out and thank you to my parents for purchasing this the first Christmas it was available in 1991). The funny thing is, I have never played the Shadowrun SNES game. My favorite games for the 16-bit were three unique, and relatively unheralded, games: E.V.O., Ogre Battle, and Metal Marines.

EVO+Search+for+EdenE.V.O.: Search for Eden is probably the hardest to describe.  It’s an evolution game. You start as a fish, then move on to an amphibian, then a full-blown dinosaur, and then a mammal with the possibility of achieving humanity. Between these steps it was possible to customize your creature. There were unique heads, ears, necks, horns, tails, body-types, etc. for everything. Creating and customizing my unique beast was the best part and I appreciated the bevy of options available.

Ogre BattleOgre Battle: March of the Black Queen is a unique mix of genres as a “tactical” RPG where you are the general of an army consisting of knights, samurai, wizards, monsters, ghosts, angels, and dragons. The magic and medieval elements sucked me in, plus there was complete tactical and creative customization of your fighting units within the game. The fun part was organizing and evolving these units to become new, unique, and powerful forces.

metal_marines_box_usMetal Marines is a strategy/tactical game that combined some of the great elements of Sim City and put a military mind in charge. It was the SNES version of Command & Conquer before they had the ability to create real-time strategy that worked. Gameplay involved creating an army base , defending that army base, then building a force (consisting of 50m tall robots) that venture out and destroy neighboring bases. Yep, following a theme, the best parts were the building and customizing of these robots and bases.

So you see, I really like the customization and creation areas of my video gaming. Its the same sort of activity that really gets my brain moving for Magic: the Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, and fiction in general.

Anyway, I loved all those games until I hit my teens and found a new drug of choice. An expensive and habitual drug: table-top gaming. Being a teen with little money or painting acumen, I chose Necromunda as the game to play.

Can you smell the Underhive from here?

Can you smell the Underhive from here?

So, you see the small leap it is from Necromunda, a dystopian future set in the slums of a giant hive-city, to Shadowrun, a dystopian future set in the slums of Seattle. Necromunda gives you control over a gang, usually 8-10 members, in their never-ending warfare for survival and turf. Shadowrun the RPG puts you in the driver seat as a member of team of spies/thieves/thugs performing daring and illegal jobs for or against powerful corporations, organized crime syndicates, or even ancient dragons.

Shadowrun Returns represents the culmination of all and every thing I want to play in a video game. It promises untold customization for your main character, recruitment options for your shadowrunners, equipment options, gear & weapon options, a fantastical/scifi world, and control over a small squad of illegal operatives doing awesome and impossible things. Not only that, but Shadowrun Returns promises actual world customization. The designers want you to be able to design and create streets, buildings, and obstacles to then pit against yourself or others.

I just want the designers and developers to know that. Their game is exactly what I want. There’s so much choice and customization involved, I could probably play it until the end of time. I’m looking forward to it immensely, especially playing it on a  tablet. When I saw the Kickstarter for Shadowrun Returns last summer, they had my interest.  When I heard tablet gaming, they had my attention (and then my money). You can still pre-order Shadowrun Returns through Harebrained Schemes’s site.

I also wanted to bring attention to a fantastic blog, The Lost Levels, which focuses on classic gaming (yes, I’m doing an awful lot of pimping here). It appears to me that he and I must have shared the same video game library as kids. The Lost Levels is a fantastic read and I cannot recommend it enough, especially his endorsement of Final Fantasy IX.

TL;DR: OMG SHADOWRUN OMG.

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