Duel of the Duel Decks Nicoll Bolas vs Ajani Goldmane
One of my favorite parts of a new set of Magic cards is because there is whole new slew of custom decks with some pretty powerful cards and strategies. This time around the first custom deck set I picked up was the new Duel Decks installment. I personally am a big fan of Planeswalker cards and it was to my delight that each deck was based around one. The two Planeswalkers are Nico Bolas and Ajani Vengeant. Anyone who has played the series for a while or played the video game installments should recognize both. I will break down the strategy of each deck and pick my favorite and least favorite cards in addition to comparing the Planeswalkers.
This deck works on an indirect strategy of attack by causing your opponent to lose cards and life and you to gain. This strategy is usually found in blue decks and although there is some blue in this deck it is multicolor and the effects Spanish across all of the colors. Ther are five cards in specific that stand out to me from this deck that I find to be great additions to any deck. First up is Vapor Snag which costs only one water mana and sends one of your opponents creatures back to their hand and cause them to lose a life. I like this card not only because it only costs one mana which is cheap, but as a bonus it inflicts damage as well and even though it is only one, I try to do as much damage as I can as quickly as possible. The next of my favorites is Nightscape Familiar which costs one gray and one black mana to cast. It is a 1/1 Zombie that decreases the cost to summon blue and red spells by one and can be regenerated for the same cost as it does to cast. Considering that there are a lot a red and blue cards in this deck, this could come in really handy seeing how most of those colored cards inflict damage so the easier it is to cast them the better. Next up is Countersquall which is an instant that costs a blue and black mana to cast and counters a non creature spell and inficts 2 damage to it’s owner. This is also a relatively cheap spell especially for how much it does. The last notable card is by no means cheap to cost unlike the first three. It costs two blue mana, two red mana, and three black mana to cast. It is Cruel Ultimatum and it is just that as far as your opponent is concerned. It causes your opponent to discard three cards, sacrifice a creature, and lose five life. On your end it does the opposite by giving you five life, returning a creature from your graveyard to your hand, and allowing you to draw three cards. This card will be very hard to play but it is undoubtably good and can completely alter the end results of the game.
I have two cards in particular that I think the deck could go without. The first is a Vampire Creature called Moroii. It costs one blue, one black, and two gray mana to cast. It has flying, is 4/4, and causes you to lose a life during each upkeep. Although it is a somewhat powerful creature, I feel that you can find a similarly powerful one that costs about the same mana without inflicting damage to you. The card is an elemental creature that costs four gray and one black mana to cast. It is called Shriekmaw, is 3/2, and destroys a target non artifact non black creature when it enters. It can be cast for only one gray and one black but is then immediately destroyed after it enters. I personally think that the effect and the power can both be out done by less costly cards.
Lastly, the centerpiece of the deck is Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker and he costs four gray, one blue, one red, and two black. Bolas starts with five and can add three by destroying a non creature permanent. It can gain control of a target creature for the cost of two and for nine it deals seven damage to a target player, cause themmto discard seven cards, and destroy seven permanents. This card says it all about this decks strategy, which can only be described with one word: devastation.