So Wizards was kind enough to release full decklists for AVR’s Intro Decks, or “precons” as they are colloquially known. And, for the most part, they’re about what you’d expect from a precon deck. Mostly janky, with rares destined for the dollar binders. However, there are some nice surprises, in that even if none of the rares are exactly worth the 11.99 sticker price, many of them are quite playable in EDH. So if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on packs but you really, really need that foil Harvester of Souls… you might be happy. Read on.
I was pretty pumped about this one, for some reason, but it’s rather underwhelming. The foil rare for the deck is Herald of War, which wound up being much more narrowly playable than I’d hoped. She’s great for Angel/Human tribal decks, but that’s still a pretty narrow window of usefulness. Moreover, upon seeing how Herald of War worked (using the number of +1/+1 counters to reduce the cost of Angels and Humans), I had this deck’s other rare pegged as Cathars’ Crusade. The interaction between Herald and Crusade was synergistic and cool, so I really thought it would pan out. Unfortunately, the other rare is actually Angel of Glory’s Rise, which is a lot like Herald of War in that you REALLY have to be pushing a specific tribe, in this case Humans, for it to have any value whatsoever. The rare does make sense here, but it’s disappointing that the two rares are both so narrow. If you’re playing a Human Tribal deck, this deck is just for you, but for nearly everyone else it’s pretty much worthless. It doesn’t even have any really compelling uncommons.
Even worse is that the deck seems to have been made White/Green because of some mandate to make all Intro Decks two-color. In this case, green contributes nothing to the deck, save for a handful of ramp spells. Sure some Ramp will help you cast those top-end Angel cards, but this deck should have been Mono-White. Green just really adds nothing of significance to the deck.
Final Verdict: Waste of money, unless you’re playing Human Tribal and can’t pick up the rares as singles.
Lone Revenant and Demonic Rising are the deck’s rares (Lone Revenant is the foil). Ugh. This might actually be a worse deck overall than Angelic Might. Both rares seem pretty terrible for EDH. At least the deck makes sense as a two-color deck, here, unlike Green’s utterly pointless appearance in Angelic Might. Blue and Black both make contributions to the deck’s core purpose, which seems to be to play out as a one-threat Control deck. Drop one thing at a time, and then just counter or kill everything that gets in the way. But really, the only EDH-worthy card in the deck is Swiftfoot Boots, an uncommon that you can probably pick up for 50 cents or a dollar at most LGS’s. Lame.
Oddly, the Lone Revenant foil is going for about $4.00 online, so it’s a little weightier than I’d expected, but still not worth buying the whole deck for.
Final Verdict: Avoid this like the plague, unless you REALY want that foil Revenant.
If nothing else, this deck sports the only decent name among these decks. Fortunately it does have a bit more to offer than just a cool horror-movie-sounding name. For one thing, it doesn’t have quite the miserable rare selection. Demonlord of Ashmouth is not really all that compelling for EDH, but it’s not strictly terrible… just more of a casual 60-card format kind of guy. Harvester of Souls, on the other hand, is likely to be fairly popular among EDH players. He’s a 5/5 Deathtouch for six mana, which is just on the low-end of playability. But when you tack on the potentially huge card advantage engine this guy can provide, and well, he’s actually VERY playable. And he’s the foil of the deck, so that’s definitely going to appeal to the EDH crowd. Sure, even the foil version is likely to be very inexpensive, but it’s still cool enough to be a good selling point.
Another strong selling point is that the deck comes with not one but two copies of Barter In Blood. Yes, it’s an uncommon, and a reprint at that, but a lot of newer players might not have any from its original printing back in Mirrodin. Hell, I was very active in Magic during Mirrodin, and I only have two copies of Barter from that set! Barter in Blood is an extremely good card in Multiplayer EDH. It can very often be a budget-friendly Damnation, especially when cast early. By turn 4 or 5, when you can cast it, it’s likely none of your opponents will have more than two guys out already.
The deck also has 2x Reassembling Skeleton, which isn’t that big a deal, but the little guy does see a fair amount of play, especially in decks with Skullclamp.
Final Verdict: Probably worth picking up for the foil Harvester, and a handful of useable uncommons as well.
God, these decks have the most generic, boring names I’ve ever seen. Anyway, moving on to stuff that matters, the deck sports a couple of rather appealing rares. This ended up being the deck that has Cathars’ Crusade in it. I knew that card would be in one of these decks, I just thought it’d be the Angel deck. Oh well. The foil is Zealous Conscripts, which is yet another rare that is likely to be very cheap to acquire even in foil, but it will definitely see some EDH play. So we have two rares that are quite playable in EDH. So that’s the good news.
The bad news is that, other than the sorta okay rares, the deck has some rather questionable design elements. The biggest mistake, to me, is that the deck runs Zealous Conscripts, one of those “Threaten” abilities that work SO well with AVR’s new “flicker” technology. That the deck doesn’t have a copy or two of at least Cloudshift is just stupid. Cloudshift interacts very nicely with BOTH rares in the deck. With Crusade, it can blink one creature to put additional +1/+1 counters on all your other guys. Even better, it can either flicker the Zealous Conscripts to get a second use out of her Threaten ability, OR you can flicker the stolen creature so that you don’t have to give it back to it’s owner at the end of your turn, allowing you to keep the creature indefinitely! I know WotC likes to leave some of these interactions out of the decks intentionally, to give players the chance to figure them out for themselves, but frankly, in this case, it’s just stupid. Either people are already going to be aware of that interaction, OR they’re never going to figure it out because they didn’t put it in the damn deck!
Moving on, a quick look at the commons and uncommons doesn’t turn up anything exciting.
Final Verdict: Possibly worth it if you really want those rares, but there is little or nothing else to offer here.
Bound by Strength
I was very surprised by this deck. Briefly, the deck is a U/G deck designed to show off the new Soulbond mechanic. And it does so quite nicely. For one thing, the deck looks surprisingly strong (for a precon, at least), with a ton of small but cool interactions. It has a sort of build-your-own-monster vibe with all the Soulbond creatures, and then it features two fairly cool rares as flagship Soulbonders. In particular, we get Deadeye Navigator, which is definitely the best Soulbond guy in the set. This guy is going to be NUTS in EDH.
Another interaction that I’m surprised but pleased to see is the Acidic Slime + Deadeye Navigator combo. Pairing those two critters together let’s you repeatedly blow-up any Artifact, Enchantment or Land for 1U, at instant speed. That’s just a tiny, tiny preview of what the Navigator will be doing in countless EDH decks very soon.
Additionally, we get Wolfir Silverheart, the foil rare. Silverheart is cool, but not likely to see a ton of play in EDH, but he does have extremely high casual appeal, as he essentially offers you a total of 12 Power for 5 mana. Not a bad deal. I can see him being a house in a Rafiq deck, or a Stonebrow deck for sure, and has limited playability elsewhere. He’s also a $4 foil, which is pretty darn surprising.
Meanwhile, Wolfir Avenger is one of the sexiest uncommon in the set, from a 60-card persepective at least. He seems fairly likely to see some Standard play, and will definitely be a star of the Kitchen Table casual scene. As a 3/3, though, he’s not particularly well suited to EDH play, as he’ll usually just be a regenerating blocker at best, but the sad truth is, no one plays creatures without evasion in EDH, so he’s not all that great as a blocker. Still, he’s a pretty compelling card overall.
Final Verdict: The only deck that looks fun or interesting to play straight out of the box, and it has Deadeye Navigator which is a very nice surprise, as that card is well-positioned to make big waves in EDH. If I buy ANY of these decks, it will certainly be this one first, followed possibly by Slaughterhouse.
For the financially-minded among you, here’s some quick and dirty data.
Going by starcitygames.com’s pre-order pricing, you can get all 5 rares, and all 5 foil rares for 19 bucks. The two biggest "money" cards are the foil Wolfir Silverheart and foil Lone Revenant, at $4.00 each. I fully expect the Revenant to drop considerably, unless he somehow sees any Standard play, but that’s an outside chance at best. Wolfir Silverheart may very well hold that $4.00 price point if even a fraction of the EDH crowd latches onto him, or the casual 60-card crowd does (though this crowd is usually less enamored of foils and “pimping”). So if getting the most bang for your buck is an extremely high priority for you, none of these decks look particularly appealing, but then if you’re that type of player, you very likely already knew that.
Either way it seems likely to me that the foil Harvester of Souls is likely to be the biggest draw for EDH players, but his monetary value isn’t likely to sell many decks unless you just really hate buying cards online and can’t get singles locally. I’m personally far more likely to just buy a box and try to open what I need or just pick up singles, since the vast majority of desirable cards in the set are actually VERY cheap, excepting of course some of the mythics.
On the positive note, many of the rares are quite playable in EDH, so it’s not a complete bust. And many are also quite playable in non-EDH casual formats as well. Slaugtherhouse and Bound by Strength are the better ones, while Fiery Dawn is okay. The Angel one is disappointing, and the U/B deck is downright terrible. And honestly, that’s better than what we usually get, which is 4 terrible decks and one terrible deck with a single really good rare in it.