Duel Decks: Mind vs. Might

Posted in Feature on March 20, 2017

By Nicholas Wolfram

Nicholas Wolfram fell promptly in love with tabletop and video games when he was only two years old, and he has been writing about them since he figured out how words worked. Now he puts together words about Magic, which he started playing way back in 2000.

The battle of brains and brawn is one of nature's classic recurring struggles, and at the core of this struggle is time. Does brains have enough time to concoct a clever plan and outwit brawn before it gets pummeled into an unrecognizable mess of disappointment and viscera? This conflict that can easily swing in favor of either side with just the slightest change in circumstances, which is what makes it such a gripping competition. If you've been looking to play out the delicate balance of this rivalry in a Magic game, then look no further: it is the spirit of this eternal battle that spawned the upcoming Duel Decks: Mind vs. Might, and you'll see that spirit come through every time the cards hit the table.

Mind

The face of "Mind" is appropriately Jhoira of the Ghitu, one of the greatest minds we've seen spring from Dominaria (which is saying a lot, given that both Urza and Teferi call the plane home). As a former student of the prestigious Tolarian Academy, Jhoira is a master artificer and was even the original captain of the skyship Weatherlight. As such, she is known for her skills at inventing new devices and tinkering with existing ones. Due to her experiences at the epicenter of some significant temporal disasters and her background with time mages Barrin and Teferi, Jhoira also harbors a deep understanding of chronomancy, the magic of time manipulation.

These talents with chronomancy are center-stage in Mind, an instant-and-sorcery-matters deck with ridiculous levels of synergy woven throughout its constructions. With no artifacts present, Jhoira's skills as an artificer take a backseat in this brew. Instead, the deck focuses on controlling the tempo of the game and auto-generating an army of nuisances until it can execute one massive, game-shifting turn that either leaves the opponent completely destroyed or in enough of a mess that it only takes one or two more turns to clean up the rest. And when I say that turn is massive, I'm not exaggerating.

With the combination of suspend and storm, along with just about every nonland card in the deck either caring about instants and sorceries or being an instant or sorcery, this deck can have some absolutely bonkers turns when it survives long enough to set them up. Fortunately, we've packed in plenty of blue-red card advantage to make sure that unleashing the turn of your dreams is a real possibility. With multiple copies each of Reach Through Mists, Peer Through Depths, and Sift Through Sands, you'll be able to easily filter through your deck and get to the meaty cards you want easily enough that summoning The Unspeakable will really just feel like a freebie.

Once you've set up your hand and warded off any attacks with your army of free tokens, you'll be ready to send your opponent straight into the eye of the storm. Thanks to some suspension from the likes of Shivan Meteor, Deep-Sea Kraken, and of course Jhoira of the Ghitu herself, you can easily build up a storm count of over six and cast Empty the Warrens, Grapeshot, or Temporal Fissure to pave the road for an easy victory. Trust me when I say these turns can get absolutely ridiculous in the best possible way. And if you're wondering how you could possibly accrue enough mana to afford all of this, Goblin Electromancer and Desperate Ritual are on-call to help answer any questions.

Might

Leading "Might" is another denizen of Dominaria: Lovisa Coldeyes, an imposing warrior who fights with a shield and a massive axe. As chieftain of Balduvia, Lovisa is a natural leader of Barbarians and Warriors from all backgrounds, and her mere presence on a battlefield is enough to inspire a surge of strength and vigor in her allies. In short, Lovisa is an eminent combatant and a fitting symbol of brawn for the face of this deck.

Fittingly, Lovisa's deck aims to deliver a constantly escalating beatdown. As +2/+2 lord to Barbarians and Warriors (she also helps Berserkers, but they are absent from this brew), Lovisa Coldeyes can be a devastating drop when played as part of a steady curve. And it doesn't stop there; the deck also packs some mana acceleration with Rampant Growth and Burning-Tree Emissary to make your front lines that much more intimidating early in the game. To exemplify the tribal nature that Lovisa brings to the formula, Coat of Arms can join the party and support your Barbarians and Warriors even further.

The deck rewards players well for a relentless beatdown. You can use Firebolts and Beacon of Destruction to clear a path for your growing army. And with a few bloodthirst abilities and a number of spells sporting flashback (most of which spawn you a cost-efficient creature token), you'll be swinging in each turn while escalating your board state until your opponent is scrambling to keep up with their defenses.

Once you've got the opponent on the ropes, it'll be time to hit them with your finisher. The one-two punch of Increasing Savagery with Sylvan Might to make any creature into a trampling monstrosity should be enough to finish off anyone who has lived long enough to see you accumulate enough mana to make it happen. Not that you'll even need trample if all your opponent’s creatures are Cowards.

Mind vs. Might

Of course, these decks don't get to execute their plans without interruption. These are Duel Decks! They were made to interrupt each other's plans as much as they were made to carry out their own.

As Mind tries to build up mana, mount a defense, and sneak in with a few fliers, Might is ready to disrupt that as much as possible. Cloudcrown Oak serves as an excellent, cost-efficient blocker for any Drakes or Chimeras that may try sneaking in for early damage, and with 3 power, it is more than capable of attacking when that isn't necessary. At the same time, Zo-Zu the Punisher helps whittle down the opponent's life total as they try to reach their mana goals for that wonderful dream turn they keep moving toward. However, Might has one last savage answer even if they do hit that majestic turn: Guttural Response. There's nothing sweeter than stealing one of blue's most classic tricks and turning it against it at the game's most pivotal moment.

On the other side of the table, Mind will be trying to slow down Might long enough to get to that sweet (hopefully uncountered) finale. Between tempo advantage from Snap and more permanent burn removal from Rift Bolt, Mind can often keep the constant threats at bay long enough to gain the upper-hand. Nivix Cyclops offers up a strong, longer-lasting means of defense as well, and can often keep the opponent from swinging in due to the fear of a buffing combat trick (since any instant will do). Finally, Mind has a couple late-game board swingers in the forms of Volcanic Vision and Sage-Eye Avengers. If these hit the stack, Might will need to conjure up a quick answer or the game will be done soon.

After playing several games on both sides of the table with these decks, I can safely say that this is one of the most engaging and balanced Duel Decks releases I've played yet. Neither side dominates the other consistently, the matches are frequently tense, and the big tricks of each deck happen often enough to satisfy. Even after a dozen or so games, I'm looking forward to more.

Keep an eye out for Duel Decks: Mind vs. Might to hit the shelves at your local game store on March 31!

Mind

Might

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