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Magic the Gathering Duel Decks: Mind vs. Might

Magic the Gathering Duel Decks: Mind vs. Might

Duel Decks: Mind vs. Might
Release Date: March 31, 2017
Deck Design and Development: Sam Stoddard
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
MSRP: $24.99*

Mind vs. Might represents the age-old clash between mages and warriors, brains and brawn. Clever plots or raw power-which will you choose?

The Magic the Gathering Duel Decks are a line of small releases that consist of two pre-made 60-card decks that revolve around central themes and designed to act as work against each other. The first one I ever purchased came out right before the set Return to Ravnica, called Izzet vs. Golgari (2012), but since then I have only purchased one other (Heroes vs. Monsters [2013] from the Theros era). Many of these sets feature battles between planeswalkers, but some are themed on subjects such as Mind vs. Might, the 19th and latest release.

The Duel Decks are great introductions to the game and a great way to learn and experience Magic without the stress of having to put your own deck together, which can be harrowing for newbies. For example, contributor and person-who-knows-Magic-better-than-me Eric learned the game by playing the Ajani vs. Nicol Bolas set (2011). Mind vs. Might includes two cardboard boxes to hold the decks (both of which are large enough to hold the cards while sleeved), two life-counter die, creature tokens that correspond to each deck, a quick how-to-play guide, and an insert that has the list of cards for each deck, alongside larger art and a description of each deck's "champion." So let's dive in and see what makes these decks tick.

Mind over Matter

The Mind deck is an Izzet-colored (blue and red) deck led by the immortal artificer "Jhoira of the Ghitu." The deck revolves around heavy spell use, using tricks such as bounce effects, extra card-draws, and the "storm" and "suspend" mechanics. "Storm" allows you to repeat a spell's effect for every spell played before it, and "suspend" allows you to play a card cheaper, but it won't actually be cast for a certain number of turns. Mind doesn't really make use of counterspells as I had thought it would, but it does hold down the board with token creation and burn spells.

There are not as many creatures in Mind as there are instants and sorceries, but the creatures they do have do a lot of heavy lifting. Two "Goblin Electromancers" decrease the cost of a third of your cards, and and two "Young Pyromancers" combined with "Talrand" make even the smallest spell you cast a major headache for your opponent. Meanwhile, your spells allow you to draw and search your deck to bring out some of the big guns, such as "Sage-Eye Avengers," "The Unspeakable," or the "Deep Sea Kraken," all game-ending cards that will make your opponent's life hell.

Naturally, including storm cards means the chance for all sort of shenanigans, and cards like "Quicken" and "Reach Through the Mists," alongside well-timed suspend cards, can mean great tricks from "Grapeshot," "Empty the Warrens," and "Temporal Fissure."

But my two favorite spells are definitely "Beacon of Tomorrows," and "Mind's Desire." "Beacon of Tomorrows" is an 8-mana spell that gives you an extra turn and then gets shuffled back into your deck. I was able to use this twice in one game, which was an incredible feeling. Meanwhile, "Mind's Desire" is hit-or-miss, either giving you nothing for 6-mana, or, as it happened in my game, a "Deep Sea Kraken."

The "mind" part of this deck is well deserved: this is a deck that requires some thought in order to execute it properly. There are a lot of high-costed but powerful spells floating around, and without any real means of ramping your mana (except for "Goblin Electromancer" and "Desperate Ritual"), some spells may sit in your hand until you can pay for them or sneak them out with Jhoira. They could have designed this deck as a counterspell-heavy denial deck, but I'm glad they went with the direction they did. This is the perfect deck to teach a fledgling player to move beyond their initial strategies of "beat down with creatures." You could teach a player about the importance of playing on your opponent's turn, the power of disrupting tempo, and why patience pays off, even when you're facing off against a horde of monsters.

Might Makes Right

I mean, sure, outsmarting your opponent is great and all, but sometimes you just want to smash. Like, really, completely, utterly smash. The Might deck might be the right deck for you. Might is a creature-heavy power fest, with 20 creatures and three spells that create creatures (all of which have flashback, for even more creatures). Might is Gruul-colored (red and green), and just like its namesake guild, it's here for a beatdown.

What's interesting about Might is that there are no truly massive creatures. There's a 5/5 giant and "Kamahl, Pit Fighter" (6/1), and other than that you can make some token 6/6 wurms with "Roar of the Wurm," but almost all of the creatures range from 1/1 to about 3/4 or so. However, with the exception of one creature, all of them are either warriors or barbarians. And what does their champion Lovisa Coldeyes do? Boosts all barbarians and warriors +2/+2 and gives them haste. This turns your army of smaller warriors into terrifying and fast-acting threats. It's also worth noting that many of the creatures and spells create more creatures, and that many of these spells have flashback, allowing you to cast it again later.

Being a half-green deck, there's plenty of ramp to help boost the mana to cast those high-costed cards, or to cast multiple spells in a turn. Two "Rampant Growths," one "Radha, Heir to Keld," and two "Burning-Tree Emissaries" make for quick mana production. Can you imagine how an opponent must feel when, on turn two, you cast a "Burning-Tree Emissary" and follow it up with "Talara's Battalion?" See that look on your opponent face? Savor it.

Might's non-creature spells are made up of a collection of red/green staples, such as combat tricks, creature-token creation and a few burn spells, including the beacon card for red, "Beacon of Destruction" (not as powerful as Mind's beacon, but helps get rid of some of their peskier creatures). It also includes three surprises worth mentioning here as well: "Harmonize," to help the deck draw more cards; "Coat of Arms," the only artifact in the whole set that will make all of your creatures insanely, abnormally, unnecessarily large; and "Guttural Response," a one-mana red/green spell that counters a blue instant and boasts one of the best pieces of art ever printed on a Magic card. I call these cards surprises because 1) it's odd to see a counterspell in the non-blue deck, especially since Mind doesn't have any, 2) card draw like "Harmonize" is also more common in blue, and 3) Might gets "Coat of Arms" while Mind receives no artifacts, even though their champion card Jhoira is an artificer. Still, these are welcome additions to the deck, so I'm not complaining.

Let's Get Ready to Rumble

Might definitely brings the pain and acts as a powerful foil to Mind's tricks and sneaky creatures. But Mind is no pushover, and while they have a lower creature count, Mind has some nasty game finishers that they're waiting to unleash. Overall, I think this is a solid Duel Deck and a great introduction for newer or casual players. Each deck works off of its own philosophies pitted against each other: speed versus patience, creatures versus spells, mind versus might. And each deck has such a wide variety of spells and creatures that each player's focus will drastically change from game to game. One of the major problems with Duel Decks is the possibility of one deck significantly overpowering the other, but here I don't think that's the case. I do believe that Mind has a few more tricks and answers for problems and might take a slight edge over Might, but Might still has a lot of power behind it, although it's a lot more straightforward. All-in-all, I'd recommend this to any newer player, casual player, or anyone looking to teach a friend how to play. For expert players, there might not be enough here to warrant attention (although some cards might appeal to Modern players), but if you're a Duel Deck fan, this set won't disappoint.

*Special Thanks and Special Offer

This copy of Duel Decks: Mind vs. Might was purchased and played at Cardboard Castle Games, located in Evans, GA. Mention Geekundspiel and you can purchase your copy of Mind vs. Might from them for $19.99!

One final note: spoiler season is in full swing for the upcoming Magic set, Amonkhet. The trailer is below, and you can find descriptions of the new mechanics on their website. We'll check back on Amonkhet in a few weeks when we talk about the pre-release, but until then, enjoy spoiler season!

All artwork, cards, and quotes are owned by Wizards of the Coast and are used here for review purposes only. Geekundspiel makes no claim to ownership of these materials, nor can they confirm nor deny their staff's ability to cast actual spells and summon creatures from far realms.

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