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A Challenger Appears

Happy Monday MTG peeps,

Some interesting news delivered today on the mothersite via Blake Rasmussen regarding new and retiring Magic: the Gathering products.   The TL/DR summary essentially is Duel Decks will no longer be printed and that Event Decks is getting a work-over.  Let's get to the details you need to know now.

Duel Decks was a series of theme decks that started in 2007 with Elves vs. Goblins.  These products were designed to be ready-to-play right out of the package for two gamers.  Typically each duel deck had a backstory a notable rivalry in Magic: the Gathering History expressed within the 60-card deck.  In almost all cases, the two decks were rather well balanced against eachother and delivered some fun games.  Impovements over the years witnessed alternate art to connectivity to soon to be released standard sets.

One last hurrah is on tap for April, 2018 with Duel Decks: Elves vs. Inventors, featuring a theme of nature against artifice.  This final duel deck is to have two ready-to-play decks, ten tokens, two deck boxes, a strategy insert, a quick reference guide, and two Spindown life counters.  We realise that all good things to come to an end, but we are disappointed that Wizards of the Coast did not follow up on their 2008 April Fool's joke of  Duel Decks: Pirates vs. Ninjas.

Next up - Challenger Decks !

Announced within the same article as noted above is a brand-new Magic: the Gathering product (or is it?)  This standard constructed legal product is to be called the Challenger Deck and is to be "forged out of some of the most powerful strategies in Standard".  The target here is to be the Friday Night Magic player.  The contents of this product are as follows -
• 60-card deck
• 15-card sideboard
• Spindown life counter
• strategy insert
• card box

There was another standard legal product that had exactly the same content - the Event Deck.  The difference here is that the Event Decks were created to "make it as easy as possible for someone to show up at Friday Night Magic and play in a tournament".  The departure of the Event Deck (and 'Clack Pack') before Oath of the Gatewatch was expained by Mark Rosewater on Blogatog.  Wizards of the Coast are "constantly evaluating our product line to make the best series of products we can which means from time to time discontinuing some them".  Although the Event Decks had a short run from about 2011 (Mirrodin Besieged) to 2015 (Battle for Zendikar), one of the perceived (and not necessarily correct) reasons for the less than expected reception from the gaming community was that these were simply either not powerful enough or were simply not even been close to competitive within the Friday Night Magic evironment.  The messaging which may have been lost here was that the Event Deck was to be an entry product.

We are hopeful for the Challenger Decks  expected in April  2018 for one reason - As Gavin Verhey indicated within the adjunct to Blake's article - the decklists are to be crafted much closed to the release date giving it a greater chance of success within the evolving competitive environment.  With a measure of foresight from Magic R&D, one may be able to game with this pre-constructed product for a decent period of time with minimal changes to sideboard to address developing strategies. There may be only one condition which may not please Magic: the Gathering players who purchase - the price.  Many players may think upon the $25 for an Event Deck whereas a decent and competitive list may often be in the range of two to three hundred dollars.  Obviously not always the case, but we should hope that those who lamented the lameness of entry level event decks are not vocal of the anticipated price hike to a more powerful list.


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