GN Unplugged: Magic 2013

Article

posted 8/24/2012 by Jeremy Duff
other articles by Jeremy Duff
Platforms: PC
GN Unplugged is a weekly article series here at Gaming Nexus which takes a look at the world of gaming outside of consoles and PC’s; this is meant to highlight those offerings within the gaming culture that don’t require a joystick or mouse / keyboard. We will look at various toys, movies, and comics tied to the video game industry as well as various table top and card games. If you have any recommendations for products that we should look into please send an e-mail to news@gamingnexus.com or leave a comment below.

Summer is here and, honestly, almost gone. Magic fans will tell you that this can mean only one thing: a new Core set for Magic the Gathering. I am not talking about the recent Duels of the Planeswalker release, but the actual card game. The recently released Magic 2013 Core set picks up the pieces from the Innistrad block and prepares us for what comes next in the world of Magic. This set will be an integral part of MtG’s rotation until the set codenamed “Friends” launches in October of 2013.

As with any Magic set release, the 2013 Core set features a variety of products outside of the standard booster offerings including the traditional intro packs which give players an idea of the types of decks capable using the new set(s). I know that the starter decks aren’t exactly Pro Tour worthy but they do give players a good example new combinations and of the various sets’ new mechanics. Recently, I received one of the new starter packs, Path to Victory, and have taken it through a few trials in unofficial play at local Friday Night Magic events. If you are fan of heavily offensive decks, this is definitely one you should consider looking at.

Please note that this will be written assuming you have some basic knowledge of the mechanics behind the Magic card game and will use terms and phrases contingent on that knowledge.

Path to Victory is a white-blue deck that focuses on the use of sheer force to overwhelm your opponents. The deck is very creature heavy, both in terms of actual spells and ancillary tokens launched into play during the game. The roster included in the pack consists of the following:
 
16 x Plains 8 x Island 1 x Evolving Wilds
3 x Ajani's Sunstrike 2 x Arctic Aven 3 x Attended Knight
1 x Battleflight Eagle 1 x Captain of the Watch 2 x Chronomaton
1 x Courtley Provocateur 2 x Crusader of Odric 1 x Faerie Invaders
2 x Griffin Protector 2 x Healer of the Pride 1 x Odric, Master Tactician
1 x Serra Angel 3 x Silvercoat Lion 2 x Captain's Call
2 x Divine Verdict 1 x Downpour 1 x Glorious Charge
1 x Oblivion Ring 1 x Ring of Thune 1 x Safe Passage
1 x Tricks of the Trade    

This is a very aggressive deck, which allows you to flood the field with multiple creatures on a single cast. The splash of blue present in the set adds a hint of manipulation to the mix which can drive opponents nuts. Basically, played correctly, this deck will allow you to line your opponents up for the slaughter and in quick fashion.

The deck is built around the Legendary Creature, Odric, Master Tactician. Using Odric in combination with a vast amount of creature you can spawn on the playing field, you can basically take control of the attack phase during your turns. Odric’s abilities allow you to select your opponents blocking creature during your attack which means you can pick them off one by one strategically or en masse. Keeping their field empty of creature will give you easy and instant access to their life points which will be reduced to zero in no time.

Not only do card such as Captain’s Call and Attended knight allow you to fill up the battlefield with very little mana, nearly every other card in the set boosts your creatures’ power and defense. Although you will have a lot of creatures that look weak on the surface, subsequent casts and enchantments will make them formidable foes in no time. Combining that with Odric’s ability to strategically assign your opponent’s blocking cards often makes the battle one-sided.

Let’s take a look at 3 sample hands and their first 3 draws using this deck (assuming that your opponent plays first):

Game 1 Hand:

4 x Plains
2 x Attended Knight
1 x Ajani's Sunstriker

Draw 1: Silvercoat Lion
Draw 2: Plains
Draw 3: Glorious Charge

Right off of the bat, you get a healthy reservoir of land to play. Your first draw in this scenario draws you a Silvercoat Lion. Granted, you will only be able to play a land on this turn, but the next time around you will have a 2/2 creature on the field in the form of that card and you will draw another plains. Your third draw pulls a Glorious Charge and sets you up with 3 white mana on the field. At this point, you can begin playing your Attended Knights which bring a 2/2 creature with First Strike as well as a 1/1 Soldier token. Theoretically speaking, by the end of your fourth turn, you will have 5 creatures on the field and you already have an instant that will buff them up quite a bit (Glorious Charge).

This scenario would allow you to immediately put your opponent on the defensive. Depending on their deck of choice, this can be either good or bad, but either way it puts some serious pressure on them. As long as you keep your cool and your focus, you will be able to easily keep the pressure on and pick off their creatures as they enter the battlefield.
 
Game 2 Hand:
 
1 x Island
1 x Plains
1 x Silvercoat Lion
1 x Odric, Master Tactician
1 x Battleflight Eagle
1 x Ajani's Sunstriker
1 x Arctic Aven
   
 
Draw 1: Tricks of the Trade
Draw 2: Island
Draw 3: Attended Knight

Although this game doesn’t move quite as fast as the previous, you would still be able to get a couple hard hitting creatures on the field (in terms of how early they enter). On your third turn, you will be able to have a Silvercoat Lion (2/2) as well as an Attended Knight (2/2) and its accompanying Soldier token (1/1). Pulling one more Plains in the following turns will give you early access to the key card in your deck, Odric, and the ability to launch a 2/2 creature with Lifelink (Ajani’s Sunstriker).  

Once again, the name of the game here is pressure. You will have to play it smart though, as it won’t be as heavy as the previous game. The sooner that you can get Odric on the field, the better as he will serve as a buffer to the rest of your creatures. This will make that 1/1 token a valuable asset as it becomes a 2/2 while attacking alongside him.

 
Game 3 Hand:
 
3 x Plains
1 x Faerie Invaders
1 x Serra Angel
1 x Captain of the Watch
1 x Healer of the Pride
 
 
Draw 1: Island
Draw 2: Divine Verdict
Draw 3: Healer of the Pride

Ouch, this game proves to be a bit troublesome. In these early draws, your options are going to be very limited. You are likely going to take some damage early on here, but thankfully you can get both Healer of the Pride son the field early which could lead to a substantial comeback. Since both cards will net you +2 life with subsequent creature casts, your life can rebound pretty quickly. I would recommend getting the Faerie Invaders on the field quickly, just to give you the advantage of having flyers. After that however, you are going to have to simply apply your Magic-smarts to buy yourself time to flood the field as this deck intends.
 

Any Magic player will tell you that Intro Packs aren’t intended to be played (for long) as they ship. After you learn the strengths and mechanics of the deck, such as Path to Victory, you will want to begin making it your own. There are a variety of cards that you add or substitute into this deck via a sideboard which can strengthen it dramatically. Some recommended substitutions include:


Ajani, Caller of the Pride
: Ajani is the obvious Planeswalker addition for this deck. Between his ability to buffer your current cards repeatedly with +1/+1 counters and spawn an army of Cat tokens make him an easy choice.

Intrepid Hero: This is your ace in the hole for stronger creatures that enter the fray on behalf of your opponent. Sure, he is only 1/1 upon casting, but thanks to this deck his stats will quickly rise. Although, in the end you will be using him more for his activated ability than his strength / power.

Moorland Haunt: In addition to adding mana to your pool, this card will also help transform your destroyed creatures into viable flyers on the battlefield. Definitely a strong addition and perhaps one of the best additions you can make to this deck.

All in all, Path to Victory is a solid Intro Pack and one you should really consider purchasing if you are looking for something to get you started with the new Core set. I have also found it to be a solid deck for teaching new and beginning players the fundamentals of MtG. Newbies will benefit from its heavy use of counters and tokens while those with a little more experience can play around with it from a deck-building perspective thanks to its straightforward strategy. Additionally, this could grow some legs for more competitive play with the right substitutions and knowledge applied to its base. Path to Victory is definitely worth checking out!
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