ello and welcome to Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 preview week! Duels of the Planeswalkers has become a big part of Magic. With increasing frequency, I meet Magic players who tell me they learned the game by playing Duels of the Planeswalkers on Xbox Live. I enjoy hopping online and playing a few matches now and again; the interface is beautiful and the controls are intuitive.
Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 introduces a number of brand new cards that are going to be in the Magic 2013 Core Set. Today, I'm going to introduce two exciting creatures that encourage you to have a massive presence on the battlefield.
To start, I'd like to introduce a gentleman by the name of Odric, Master Tactician. Odric is very good at devising battle plans. Give him a reasonable army of Squirrels, Knights, and Clerics and he'll find a way to beat a weyr of dragons. The design team deserves a tip of the hat for this one:
It's often hard to encapsulate the fantasy side of Magic within the game play. Odric does exactly what a Master Tactician should do. He's making battle plans, but for them to be relevant he needs an army. He knows how to fight, by the way, and forcing blocks with a 3-power first striker is no joke. It's also worth noting how fun this ability is. I can't wait to attack and set up my opponent's blockers however I choose.
Odric, Master Tactician | Art by Michael Komarck
So let's think about decks that could best take advantage of Odric, Master Tactician. We're going to want a deck that has a very healthy board presence. Token production is very good with Odric. We want to be able to satisfy Odric's trigger without being forced to commit too many cards into a big Day of Judgment or other board-sweeping effect. (Yes, it's terrible to lose three cards for one card, but it's better than losing four.) There's a problem with playing all tokens, though. Odric, Master Tactician's trigger is at its best when you're able to kill your opponent's team every turn with your attack. If our opponent has a Primeval Titan in play, then we're going to need a pretty big creature to stand toe to toe and battle.
Luckily, Odric has some friends. Let me introduce Crusader of Odric. Odric rolls deep, bringing huge armies to the table ready to lay waste to the enemy's defenses. Crusader of Odric takes full advantage of Odric's popularity.
Now it's time to build a deck. We've got to make a lot of guys. We're going to be playing a white deck, so it's pretty obvious that Honor of the Pure should make an appearance here. Honor of the Pure translates into a lot of damage and defense when you've got a reasonable amount of white token production.
Looking over the available one-drops, it becomes very clear that Doomed Traveler is the best of the bunch here. Doomed Traveler replaces himself with another white creature upon death. Doomed Traveler with Honor of the Pure in play is a very big game that will force opponents like Delver to make odd plays like casting Vapor Snag on your one-drop.
Gather the Townsfolk is another obvious inclusion. For two mana, Odric's army grows two larger and gets closer to the point where you get to completely control the combat step. Gather the Townsfolk has great synergy with Honor of the Pure; Odric, Master Tactician; and Crusader of Odric.
I want a card that gives us an army all by itself. Increasing Devotion more than satisfies Odric's requirement and gives our Crusader of Odric a cool +5/+5. If we're able to set up the one, two, three punch of Crusader of Odric; Odric, Master Tactician; Increasing Devotion, then it's going to be difficult for anyone to win without a board-sweeping effect. Things get even more absurd if you throw an Honor of the Pure into the mix somewhere.
Midnight Haunting gives us more token production and evasion. It's nice to have a balance with our tokens. Occasionally, we're going to get into a stalled board state on the ground where we have no good attacks, but our opponent can't attack into us either. Having some of our tokens fly is huge in these types of situations. Midnight Haunting is also surprisingly good against board sweepers. Casting Midnight Haunting on our opponent's end step after he or she casts Slagstorm can put us back in the driver seat.
Grand Abolisher is another card that changes the way the game is played. Triggering Odric, Master Tactician with Grand Abolisher in play ensures you're going to have a very profitable combat step.
Honor of the Pure is really good. So good that I want to play more than four copies. Intangible Virtue isn't quite as good, but it's definitely good enough to play one copy. I'm not going to play the full four Intangible Virtue because it would make the deck, in its current form, have a lot of draws where it gets multiple anthems and no token production, which is a disaster.
Faith's Shield is a great trick. I've been including a single copy in most of my white decks recently and I've always been happy with it. It's not the kind of card I'd ever want to draw more than one of, so I've decided to stick with the singleton.
Leonin Relic-Warder is a great answer to Sword of War and Peace, a card that can cause our deck a lot of headaches. Having a disenchant effect on our creature is especially strong because it lets us press our aggressive edge while reacting to our opponent's most powerful threat.
Oblivion Ring works as a great catch-all answer. There are a lot of unforeseen circumstances that can happen in a game of Magic. Oblivion Ring ensures that we're going to have an answer. I wanted a strong card against Wurmcoil Engine decks and Oblivion Ring seemed like a safer main deck option than Revoke Existence.
Here's the deck when we put it together!
This is an early take on a budget deck that takes advantage of some awesome new cards. The deck could be improved by splashing black for Lingering Souls and Vault of the Archangel, a land that has incredible synergy with Odric, Master Tactician.
Odric, Master Tactician will have a major impact on casual play. Casual games have a significantly greater chance of producing clogged battlefields. A lot of the time, both players will stare the other down, playing more creatures, until one finds the lethal Overrun he or she was looking for. Having Odric, Master Tactician in play will dramatically change the game state.
Odric makes a great commander, too! Try building a deck that includes all your favorite token producers and anthems and guarantee that you'll have access to Odric, Master Tactician right away. I'd really love to play Sacred Mesa and Odric side by side.
We will have our first chance to play with Crusader of Odric and Odric, Master Tactician on June 20, when Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 is available in all its planechasing glory. Paper versions of these new Soldiers will be available with the release of Magic 2013.
The Magic 2013 Prerelease is less than a month away! Be sure to reserve your spot with your local game store. Avacyn Restored Prereleases were so popular that many locations sold out all their slots.
Next week, we'll be back with more Building on a Budget, so be sure to shoot me emails or hit the forums with new decks ideas!