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Duel Decks: Blood Vs. Water

By Zanman on 3/30/2013 Category: Forum>Magic: the Gathering>Articles>Casual Constructed

Most duel decks are built based on a pair of tribes, or, more recently, a pair of warring planeswalkers. I got the idea recently to try and build a pair of duel decks based on something simple, a single word. I bring you:

Duel Decks: Blood Vs Water

By Jeff Zandi

The challenge is to build a deck out of cards with one word the same in all their names. These two decks don’t necessarily have a price ceiling, but there is a goal to make the two decks so that they play well together. The sole constraint for construction is that each deck’s defining word appear in the name of every one of their cards. It turns out that one thing we’ve been told all our lives is 100% correct. Blood is thicker than water. There are 112 cards in Magic: the Gathering with the word ‘blood’ in their name. There are exactly 34 different ‘water’ cards. No one ever said thematic deck building was going to be easy.

Constraints are Good

Constraints are good for interesting deck construction. If Magic: the Gathering had only one constructed format, one in which every card ever printed was legal, like Vintage (forgetting the banned and restricted lists for a moment), deck construction would be very weird. Every kid would have a set of moxes and a Black Lotus and all the dual lands. It would be fun, in a way, to be able to build any kind of deck you wanted. On the other hand, the decks would all be uniformly dumb. Too many ‘splosions. Too little flexing of imaginations and brains. Constraints are good because they make your brain work harder.

Water Under the Sky

Before you run to Gatherer to look up the possibilities of these two decks, I’ll tell you what might seem completely obvious to you, it will be harder to build a good deck out of only thirty-four candidates for the Water deck. Let’s talk about those candidates. Six of the cards with ‘water’ in their name are lands, each of whom basically just makes colored and uncolored mana. Black and blue, as a matter of fact. Three of the cards are artifacts and one is an Unglued card. What else have we got? Of the remaining 24 cards, all are blue except for Dirtwater Wraith (black), and Rootwater Alligator (green). Sounds like there are really only 22 cards to pick from. Of course, without breaking the four-of rule, you can fill up a sixty card constructed list with as few as twelve different cards, assuming you were planning on running twenty or so land. Looking at these remaining 22 blue cards, what do we find? There are eight different Merfolk cards, but no lords (creatures that pump up other creatures of a certain color or tribe). There is one tribal interaction among these, provided by Waterspout Weavers. The creature possibilities for this deck seem okay. How about spells? Not so much. There are a couple of enchantments. Deep Water doesn’t do anything particularly useful, but Rising Waters could be very cool. Lands don’t untap during controllers’ untap steps. At the beginning of each player’s upkeep that player untaps one land he controls. This was a cool card for control decks, once upon a time. It doesn’t work in just any deck, however. Part Water is an old sorcery from Legends that I have to admit that in my almost twenty years in the game I have never played. It lets you give a lot of creatures islandwalk until end of turn. It might have been useful in a more primitive time in Magic’s history. Dreadwaters is less than a year old, from Avacyn Restored, and mills cards from your opponent’s deck into his graveyard for the number of lands you control (when this spell resolves). Nothing wrong with this card… if the rest of your deck has other ways to mill cards into your opponent’s graveyard or you can put twenty lands onto the battlefield somehow. The Water deck is likely to do neither of these.

The Water deck is going to have to be almost all creatures with little or nothing in the way of combat tricks or spot removal. The situation, however, is far from hopeless. Check out the bargain Legacy goodness that is Waters:

Water - Duel Decks

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I’d like to start with two cards that might seem not to do much. Darkwater Egg and Rootwater Diver. The Egg is in the deck to help move the deck along, particularly in the beginning of games. Rootwater Diver gives us another one-drop to help our casting curve and we can sacrifice him to return, what else, Darkwater Egg from the graveyard to our hand. This little combo gives this deck the closest thing it can get to card drawing. It’s clunky, for sure, but it actually helps make some two-land hands more acceptable on the play or draw. At two casting cost, we have three Waterfront Bouncers and four copies of Rootwater Thief. The Bouncers are one of the two most powerful cards in the deck, as it turns out, when dealing with the creature superiority of the opposing Blood deck. Rootwater Thief may be chump bait early in games but can prove very useful later when he can remove certain pesky Vampire cards from the Blood deck before the opponent can draw them. The Thief would be a lot better if his thieving ability didn’t cost two mana. On the other hand, Rootwater Thief, designed for early pro player Mike Long, is impressive in that it can take ANY card out of an opposing deck, including land.

Leading the three-drops is the deck’s most important creature, Rootwater Hunter. This is the Tempest incarnation of one of Magic’s classic original creatures, Prodigal Sorcerer. Both cost the same to play, 2U, and do the same thing: tap to deal one point of damage to a player or creature. As it turns out, the Blood deck has a lot of fragile (some only temporarily fragile) creatures with a single point of toughness. If Rootwater Hunter can hit the battlefield early enough, Water has a fighting chance in any game against Blood. Brackwater Elemental is a 4/4 for 2U that, unfortunately, must be sacrificed at the end of any turn in which it either attacks or blocks. Luckily, this card can also reenter the battlefield from the graveyard for an unearth cost of just 2U in order to attack one more time before being exiled. If your Brackwater Elemental is blocking or attacking for the first time (not put into play with unearth) you can return it to your hand with Waterfront Bouncer. Watercourser is one of the newest cards that makes the cut for our moisture-based Magic deck, printed just last summer in the most recent core set. It’s a nice 2/3 for 2U that can pump +1/-1 until end of turn for one blue mana. His big brother, Water Servant, is a little older. Printed in the M11 core set, Water Servant is a 3/4 for 2UU that can pump either for +1/-1 or -1/+1 for one blue mana. If you’ve been playing Magic for a long time like I have, Water Servant might remind you of a scaled down version of the once-great Morphling. In this deck, Watercourser and Water Servant do a great deal of the important attacking. Waterspout Djinn is a bargain, at least at first glance, a 4/4 flyer for just 2UU. This card was printed just once so far, back in Visions. Waterspout Djinn requires you to return an untapped Island to your hand at the beginning of your upkeep. This is completely fine in the later stages of the game in which he is useful. Last but not least is Tidewater Minion and Waterspout Weavers. Tidewater Minion is a 4/4 defender for 3UU that can lose defender until end of turn for four colorless mana. More importantly, he can untap one of our Rootwater Hunters. Waterspout Weavers, once in play, lets us reveal the top card of our library at the beginning of our upkeep. If the revealed card shares a creature type with Waterspout Weavers, either Merfolk or Wizard, each creature we control gains flying until end of turn. In many games against Blood, this card’s triggered ability gives Water the ability to fly over for the last important points of combat damage.

The Water deck costs only $21 to assemble, unless you count the time I spent looking for all the cards in my collection, in which case the cost of the deck is one million dollars. Not really a million… it just took a really long time to find all the cards. I thought about not finding the cards, thought about just building the decks on TappedOut. You know what, it wasn’t fun enough. I still prefer cardboard.

Blood Will be a Sign

There are a lot more options for the Blood deck than there were for the Water deck. It doesn’t make sense to share them with you as fully as I did with the shorter list of cards that contain the word ‘water.’ Suffice to say that the options are many. Most of the cards are black, red is the next most popular color among cards that include the word ‘blood.’ I don’t suppose it would surprise you that a lot of the cards with ‘blood’ in their name are Vampires. Without exhausting the list, which you can always go look up yourself on Gatherer, here are a few solid gold hits that didn’t make the cut. Barter in Blood makes you and your opponent each sacrifice two creatures. This can be a very good trick when you have creatures that come back from the dead easily, or when you can make token creatures cheaply. The nemesis of free-thinking Modern and Legacy players is here, Blood Moon. It’s no good in the Blood deck, however, I have it on good authority that the Water decks is all Islands. Blood Knight would help us win the day if our opponent was playing white. We could kill creatures with one of the oldest Blood spells, Innocent Blood from Odyssey, or with one of the newest, Sever the Bloodline from Innistrad. We even have access to the rarest of all Magic commodities, a planeswalker, in the form of Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded. Assuming the Blood deck plays a few red cards to go with a fat pack of blood-suckers, it seems horribly wrong not to take advantage of two of the all-time best nonbasic lands, Blood Crypt and Bloodstained Mire. Alas, these cards are too expensive for our deck. With the Water deck coming in at around twenty bucks, it wouldn’t be cool to make the Blood deck cost ten times that much, or more.

Here is what I decided to include in the Blood deck:

Blood - Duel Decks

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It’s Vampires. That’s not exactly a shocker. The cards in this deck are, on the whole, much newer than the cards in the Water deck. Why have most of the more interesting cards with ‘blood’ in their name been printed so much more recently? Innistrad is a part of the answer, as well as the increased popularity of Vampires. Most of the cards in the deck only cost two or three mana. Nothing happens on turn one, but any one of four different things can happen on turn two. On the play, we might drop a second Swamp and play Sign in Blood to access two more cards. Otherwise, it’s a two casting cost Vampire, either Blood Artist, Bloodthrone Vampire or Bloodcrazed Neonate. Turn two Neonates die a lot in the matchup between the Blood and Water decks. Just sayin’. The best hope for Bloodcrazed Neonate is that we are on the play. Even then, Water can drop Rootwater Thief or Rootwater Diver, either of which they will gladly trade for our Neonate. It’s not a question of whether or not a 2/1 Neonate is easy to kill, it is. It’s a question of how bad it can get for our opponent if the Neonate gets through a couple of times. On turn three we have our best answer for Rootwater Hunter, a pinger of our own called Blood Cultist. He’s not a Vampire, but he ought to be. He costs 1BR and gets a +1/+1 counter whenever he pings a creature that ends up going to the graveyard this turn. Bloodflow Connoisseur couldn’t possibly be anything BUT a vocational blood-sucker, meaning either a Vampire or a lawyer.

The real win conditions for this deck arrive on turns four and five. Bloodline Keeper is a 3/3 flyer for 2BB that taps to make a 2/2 black Vampire creature token with flying. As if that weren’t powerful enough, you can spend one black to transform the Keeper anytime you control five or more Vampires. This happens pretty easily with this deck. When Keeper transforms into Lord of Lineage, he becomes a 5/5 Vampire that retains the ability to tap to make Vampire tokens while also giving all other Vampire creatures you control +2/+2. Once Bloodline Keeper flips, the two-drop Vampires in your hand, dead to the Rootwater Hunter your opponent has in play, become much less dead. Have a bunch of Vampires in play but your opponent isn’t dead yet? Play Malakir Bloodwitch and gain life equal to the number of Vampires you control while your opponent loses that many life. If you’re living right, your opponent may even bounce the Bloodwitch with his Waterfront Bouncer so you can do the trick again on the next turn.

Somewhere in the later parts of the game, Feast of Blood is there to clobber Rootwater Hunter or Waterfront Bouncer. Blood Lust is not that good in this deck, honestly, but I just couldn’t resist playing it again after enjoying it so much, along with Berserk, back in the wild and crazy red/green aggro days fifteen years ago.

What Happens When You Mix Blood and Water

A few play hints, in case you decide to try these decks. Both decks are racing to put a pinger into play on turn three, but Rootwater Hunter is a much more important card for Water than Blood Cultist is for Blood. Blood gets most of its wins from Bloodline Keeper running over the board with lots of Vampire tokens that get powered up when he transforms. Feast of Blood is most important for killing Waterfront Bouncer and Rootwater Hunter in case you didn’t get out a Blood Cultist. For Water, the best possible sequence is turn two Bouncer, turn three Hunter. Water needs to attack aggressively with three and four-drops as quickly as possible. Blood can easily come back in a hurry with one or more Bloodline Keepers. It may seem hard to believe, but it is often correct for Waterfront Bouncer to bounce a Bloodline Keeper turn after turn, if necessary. With Waterfront Bouncer in play, any card in Water’s hand is essentially an Unsummon. Blood can’t be afraid to play a turn two Blood Artist simply because he fears a turn three Rootwater Hunter from Water. Once a Hunter is in play, you don’t have to play one-toughness creatures for no reason, but pre-Hunter, you have to be willing to gamble on your one-toughness creatures. Blood Cultist is the best play for turn three, either on the play or when your opponent doesn’t have a Rootwater Hunter in play, but a sequence of Blood Artist or Bloodcrazed Neonate on turn two followed by Bloodflow Connoisseur on turn three isn’t bad either. Water should hold back Waterspout Djinn until he either has five mana in play or has no other four-drops in his hand. In particular, it’s always better to play Water Servant before Waterspout Djinn.

Here are the play-by-play details of one match played between these two duel decks.

T1 Water keeps three Islands, Rootwater Thief, Waterspout Djinn, Brackwater Elemental and Water Servant. Plays Island.
T1 Blood keeps Swamp, Mountain, Blood Artist, Bloodcrazed Neonate, Sign in Blood and two Blood Lust. Draws Blood Artist, plays Swamp.
T2 Water draws Waterfront Bouncer, plays Island, plays Waterfront Bouncer.
T2 Blood draws Bloodline Keeper, plays Mountain, plays Bloodcrazed Neonate.
T3 Water draws Waterspout Weavers, plays Island, plays Rootwater Thief.
T3 Blood draws and plays Mountain, plays Blood Artist, attacks with Neonate blocked by Thief, Water activates Bouncer targeting Blood Artist discarding Waterspout Weavers.
T4 Water draws and plays Island, attacks with Bouncer (20-19), plays Water Servant.
T4 Blood draws and plays Bloodflow Connoisseur.
T5 Water draws Rootwater Diver, attacks with Water Servant (20-16), plays Brackwater Elemental.
T5 Blood draws and plays Swamp, plays Blood Artist, plays another Blood Artist, at end of turn Water activates Waterfront Bouncer targeting Bloodflow Connoisseur discarding Rootwater Diver.
T6 Water draws Island, attacks with Elemental and Bouncer and Servant, Blood Artist blocks Elemental, Water pumps Servant’s power one time (20-11), both Blood Artists trigger when the Artist that blocked goes to the graveyard and Blood chooses to target Water (18-13), Water plays Island, plays Waterspout Djinn, at end of turn Brackwater Elemental triggers and Water sacrifices it.
T6 Blood draws Bloodflow Connoisseur, plays Bloodline Keeper.
T7 Waterspout Djinn triggers and Water returns an untapped Island to his hand, draws and plays Island, activates Bouncer targeting Bloodline Keeper discarding an Island, returns Brackwater Elemental to the battlefield with its unearth ability, attacks with Djinn and Servant and Elemental, Elemental blocked by Blood Artist, Water pumps Servant’s power one time (18-5), Blood Artist triggers when it dies targeting Water (17-6), at end of turn Elemental triggers and is exiled.
T7 Blood draws Bloodline Keeper, CONCEDES.

T1 Blood keeps two Swamps, Mountain, Bloodline Keeper, Bloodcrazed Neonate, Bloodthrone Vampire and Sign in Blood. Plays Swamp.
T1 Water keeps two Islands, two Darkwater Eggs, Water Servant, Brackwater Elemental and Rootwater Thief. Draws and plays Island, plays Darkwater Egg.
T2 Blood draws Swamp, plays Mountain, plays Bloodcrazed Neonate.
(the play would have been Sign in Blood, but land number four makes it safe to play aggressively)
T2 Water draws and plays Island, activates and sacrifices Darkwater Egg drawing Watercourser, plays Darkwater Egg.
T3 Blood draws Bloodflow Connoisseur, plays Swamp, attacks with Neonate (18-20), Neonate triggers and gets a +1/+1 counter, plays Sign in Blood (18-18) drawing Bloodthrone Vampire and Feast of Blood.
(Blood can now play a turn four Bloodthrone AND a Feast of Blood to kill a Bouncer if necessary)
T3 Water draws and plays Island, activates and sacrifices Darkwater Egg drawing Water Servant, plays Brackwater Elemental.
(Water has to play a creature that can block and kill Neonate instead of playing Rootwater Hunter)
T4 Blood draws and plays Swamp, plays Bloodthrone Vampire, plays Feast of Blood targeting Brackwater Elemental (18-22), attacks with Neonate (15-22), Neonate triggers and gets another counter.
(seems wasteful to use Feast of Blood, but getting Neonate through a second time is strong)
T4 Water draws Waterfront Bouncer, plays Island, plays Water Servant.
(Water hopes to block and trade with Neonate, play Hunter and Bouncer next turn)
T5 Blood draws Blood Lust, attacks with Neonate and Bloodthrone Vampire, Servant blocks Neonate (14-22), plays Bloodline Keeper.
T5 Water draws Water Servant, plays Island, plays Waterfront Bouncer, plays Rootwater Hunter.
T6 Blood draws and plays Swamp, plays Bloodflow Connoisseur, plays Bloodthrone Vampire, activates Bloodline Keeper putting a black 2/2 Vampire creature token with flying onto the battlefield, pays one black to transform Bloodline Keeper, attacks with Bloodthrone Vampire (11-22).
T6 Water draws Watercourser, activates Bouncer discarding Watercourser and bouncing Lord of Lineage (Bloodline Keeper) back to Blood’s hand, activates Rootwater Hunter targeting a Bloodthrone Vampire, Blood responds sacrificing the targeted Vampire to put a +1/+1 counter on Bloodflow Connoisseur, Water plays Water Servant.
T7 Blood draws and plays Bloodthrone Vampire, plays Bloodline Keeper, attacks with Vampire token (9-22).
T7 Water draws Island, activates Bouncer discarding an Island bouncing Bloodline Keeper back to Blood’s hand, activates Hunter targeting Bloodthrone Vampire, Blood responds sacrificing the targeted Vampire to put another counter on Connoisseur, attacks with Water Servant (9-19), Water plays another Water Servant.
T8 Blood draws Swamp, plays Bloodline Keeper, attacks with Vampire token (7-19).
T8 Water draws Island, activates Bouncer discarding Island and bouncing Bloodline Keeper back to Blood’s hand, activates Hunter targeting Bloodthrone Vampire, Blood responds sacrificing targeted Vampire to put a third counter on Connoisseur, attacks with two Water Servants, Water pumps the power of one Servant (7-12), plays Watercourser.
T9 Blood draws and plays Swamp, plays Bloodline Keeper, attacks with Vampire token, plays Blood Lust targeting Vampire token (1-12).
(I first thought Blood should hold the Blood Lust for his next turn, but Blood Lust puts the token’s toughness to one and there’s too good a chance that Water will be able to keep Rootwater Hunter untapped with no more Bloodthrone Vampires to kill)
T9 Water draws Island, CONCEDES.
(Water can’t win and can’t keep from losing on Blood’s next turn. Bouncing the Keeper and attacking forces Connoisseur to block but doesn’t deal lethal. Bouncing Connoisseur and attacking forces Keeper to block but doesn’t deal lethal. Doing neither allows Blood to attack with two flyers next turn for the win)

T1 Water keeps four Islands, Waterspout Weavers, Water Servant and Watercourser. Plays Island.
T1 Blood keeps three Swamps, two Blood Artists, Sign in Blood and Bloodflow Connoisseur. Draws and plays Swamp.
T2 Water draws and plays Island.
T2 Blood draws and plays Swamp, plays Blood Artist.
T3 Water draws Waterspout Weavers, plays Island, plays Watercourser.
T3 Blood draws Malakir Bloodwitch, plays Swamp, plays Bloodflow Connoisseur.
T4 Water draws Water Servant, plays Island, attacks with Watercourser (20-18), plays Water Servant.
T4 Blood draws Feast of Blood, plays Sign in Blood (20-16) drawing two Bloodcrazed Neonates, plays Swamp, plays Blood Artist.
T5 Water draws Brackwater Elemental, plays Island, attacks with Watercourser and Water Servant (20-11), plays Waterspout Weavers.
T5 Blood draws and plays Swamp, plays Malakir Bloodwitch (16-15).
T6 Waterspout Weavers triggers at the beginning of Water’s turn, he looks at the top card of his library but does not reveal, draws Brackwater Elemental, attacks with Water Servant, when Blood chooses not to block Water pumps Servant’s power one time (16-11), plays another Water Servant.
T6 Blood draws and plays Feast of Blood targeting Waterspout Weavers (16-15), both Blood Artists trigger targeting Water (14-17), attacks with Malakir Bloodwitch (10-17), plays Feast of Blood targeting Water Servant (10-21), both Blood Artists trigger targeting Water (8-23).
T7 Water draws Watercourser, attacks with Servant and Watercourser (8-18), plays Waterspout Weavers. T7 Blood draws and plays Swamp, attacks with Bloodwitch (4-18), sacrifices Bloodwitch to put a +1/+1 counter on Bloodflow Connoisseur, both Blood Artists trigger targeting Water (2-20), sacrifices a Blood Artist to put another counter on Connoisseur, both Blood Artists trigger targeting Water (0-22).

Drop and Give Me Twenty

You can only learn so much from a single match. Here are the results of twenty quick games I played between the two decks with just a few words of comment for each game. Water won the die roll and went first in game one. Each successive game was begun by the loser of the previous game.

1 – Water dealt the first damage, but turn four Bloodline Keeper eventually took the game. Blood 1-0
2 – Water proves it is possible to win with turn one Diver, turn two Waterfront Bouncer. Water 1-1
3 – Blood had the upper hand early but was overcome by Water’s many large creatures. Water 2-1
4 – Blood prevails with two Bloodline Keepers, but Water stayed alive with Bouncer. Blood 2-2
5 – Water gets crushed when it misses a turn three land, Blood again has the Keeper. Blood 3-2
6 – Water has a promising start against Blood’s four Sign in Blood hand, Malakir prevails. Blood 4-2
7 – Water’s turn three Rootwater Hunter buys the time needed for Waterspout Weavers to win. Water 3-4
8 – Blood gets stuck on mana for two turns while Water lands Rootwater Hunter and Thief. Water 4-4
9 – Blood gets ahead and stays ahead with turn four Bloodline Keeper. Blood 5-4
10 – Water starts with five cards, never has a chance, Blood wins with Connoisseur and Artist. Blood 6-4
11 – Water stutters again, Bouncer alone stalls Bloodline Keeper, but only for a while. Blood 7-4
12 – Water fights back and does SO MUCH WORK with two Rootwater Hunters. Water 5-7
13 – Blood gets quickly behind in the game, Water gets three Hunters onto the battlefield. Water 6-7
14 - Blood mulls to six, but the real story is Water on a curve, Weavers earn their keep. Water 7-7
15 – Blood bounds back with two Bloodline Keepers after falling behind 20-6. Blood 8-7
16 – Water lands a turn two Waterfront Bouncer, Blood misses some land drops. Water 8-8
17 – Blood again comes back from a good Water start, again down 6-20 before fixing it. Blood 9-8
18 – Water has a good draw with two Hunters, Blood draws too many one-toughnesses. Water 9-9
19 – Blood swarms over the top with giant Vampires thanks to Bloodline Keeper. Blood 10-9
20 – Water outraces Blood to the three-drop, has Bouncer and Hunter by turn three. Water 10-10

This matchup goes to show that you never can tell what will happen in Magic: the Gathering. I expected this matchup would be far in favor of the Blood deck for many reasons. Make no mistake, you can clearly make a more powerful deck from the Blood cards than from the Water cards, if cost is no matter to you. Four Bloodstained Mire and four Blood Crypt would eliminate the need for Mountains and there could be more removal spells, like Sever the Bloodline. I admit that I called off the dogs when I built my Blood deck because I wanted an enjoyable matchup with the decidedly underdog Water deck. It was very interesting exploring the very small number of possible cards for the Water deck. The Blood deck is a better deck, it can deal with a wider range of Magic problems, but the Water deck took a bigger leap of faith to believe in.

Thanks for reading.

Jeff Zandi
Texas Guildmages
Level II DCI Judge
Zanman on Magic Online


The Wildfire

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very interesting. Now it's time for fire vs. wood!
"Shiv hatched from a shell of stone around a yolk of flame." - Viashino Myth

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Fox of the Eternalminded
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Very interesting! You obviously have a great and fun mind, I love that. I'm going to look into this and try creating my own dual decks following your guidelines, but it will be tough!
I do have a few comments on these dual decks, though, it seems like Blood has an unfair advantage. I see you posted 3 games and Blood won 2 of them, but this doesn't really say much, keep playing, however, and I think Blood would win an overwhelming majority of the games for a few reasons. First: Though Water has some 1 cost cards, Blood has a much better curve. Second: Blood is multicolored, though it's primarily black, and though multicolored decks can be trickier to play, it makes up for it in cards which are simply better than Waters. Even if it did take longer to get them out.
All in all, the idea is awesome, but Blood vs. Water doesn't seem evenly matched.

Yesterday at 6:12 AM

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This was very interesting to see, but I feel that there should be these deck vs in and out of rotation. These cards were not all playable in tournaments i feel this is a great idea tho and should have both in and out of tournaments.

Yesterday at 10:39 AM


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I like this kind of deck building project. What do you mean by in and out of tournament? I think maybe you mean maybe I should have tried to build decks using only the top cards that are/were in the tournament-level constructed decks at the time? The concept of duel decks is that they mix some tournament staple cards with less powerful cards that fit the flavor of the duel decks. Flavorful decks are never going to stand toe-to-toe with the most powerful tournament decks in any format.

When it's tournament time, I want only the best cards possible in the format in my deck. Duel decks, Commander decks, these are opportunities to make the point something other than maximizing a format.

In this particular case, I put myself DEEP into a corner by requiring that the cards in each deck have a particular word in their card name. That is a GIGANTIC limitation. The story, and the duel decks in the story, was about the fun you can have when you put a huge limitation on yourself and still try to build the best possible deck.

I appreciate your comments just the same.
Texas Guildmages
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