Magic: The Gathering recently welcomed in the new set, Shadows Over Innistrad, and with this new release we have the ever present intro packs. Time and again people always ask which intro pacck is best, so I cracked open every deck, grabbed a friend and played tonnes of matches to see which one would be victorious!
Ghostly Tide (White-Blue)
Ghostly Tide is the white centered intro pack with spirits as its theme. The deck features many, many flyers and is still surprisingly quick out of the gates with at least a turn two play every match I played with the deck. Featuring six removal spells this deck also somewhat easily took care of most bigger threats.
The weakness of the deck is most certainly the late game. With no real heavy hitters, mana dumps and scaleable creatures you really had to apply heavy pressure early on to actually win. If you go too deep into the game you’ll have almost no removal against your opponents bigger creatures.
Because of how slow most of the other intro decks are, you almost never need to rush out everything you have, and therefore I very much like ‘Vessel of Ephemera’ on turn two followed by a crack on turn three, then on turn four an ‘Apotechary Geist’ or a ‘Nearheath Chaplain’. Most decks just can’t handle this curve very well and you can often times easily sacrifice your own creatures since many of them has an “exile from graveyard” effect.
To make this deck better I would add some more card engine cards, like card drawing or better use of your graveyard, it’s all to help the late game!
Unearthed Secrets (Blue-Green)
Unearthed Secrets is the blue centered intro deck and has clues at its theme. The deck is somewhat slow out of the gates but when you’re past turn four or so you’ll never ever run out of cards again, and with a constant stream of threats you’ll most likely win. I was personally surprised to see how many clues this deck generates and how hard it is to deal with once its engine has gone off. It’s also extremely fun to play when every little move you make pays off in such great numbers and the clues are hilarious!
This deck does play as a combo deck, where if all pieces fit together nicely you’ll gain tremendous amounts of value every time you either make or break a clue. The weakness lies in those cases when your curve is uneven and you stumble early on. The deck doesn’t feature that many flyers and little to no removal whatsoever, which is a problem, so when you play you better have that sweet curve and combo off as fast as possible.
If I were to add something to the deck to make it better, I would go ahead and add some removal and interaction aswell as a bit more consistency, currently there are only one or two of almost every card.
Vampiric Thirst (Black-Red)
Vampiric Thirst is the black centered intro deck and features vampires as its theme, but you probably already figured that out by now! This is an extremely high tempo aggro deck with massive early life swings, and I mean massive, massive to the level of “this would be good in standard”. The deck revolves around the ‘Madness’ ability and uses its many discard outlets to do all kinds of crazy things, like lightning bolt your opponents creatures, or perhaps just cast a card for a ridiculously low mana cost, it’s all there!
It’s important to note that this deck is extremely fast and is able to deal an enormous amount of damage in only a few turns so your opponents creatures will more than likely have to be put on chump duty if they want to survive. This also leads to the deck’s weakness; you run out of cards in no time and then you’re left to top deck your way through the rest of the game. Often times I would run out of cards to play as early as turn four and with my opponent on something like 4 life left I felt that I had to crawl my way to the finish line and really string together an amazing flurry of top decks.
To make this deck better I woul go ahead and add something more than that one single ‘Macabre Waltz’ to interact with the graveyard, since so many cards end up in your own graveyard it becomes excruciating to watch as all of these cards go to waste with no reason to use them.
Angelic Fury (Red-White)
Angelic Fury is the red centered intro deck and features… well no real theme at all. It’s all a crazy mix of creatures, noncreatures, hound like creatures and despite its name, only one single angel! This fact makes the deck a bit boring compared to the other decks, it doesn’t really embrace the Innistrad theme well, everyone has been playing with vanilla creatures and burn spells before, nothing new there!
The deck itself is fairly aggressive and surprisingly consistent, out of all of these five intro decks I feel like this is the one you can be most sure of will actually work in almost every game. It also has a nice balance between early and late game and has a nice enough amount of burn spells.
What this deck lacks other than the general fun of playing with Innistrad themed decks is actually quite hard to figure out, but if anything I feel like the deck would perform better late game especially if it had some kind of combo and finesse with the interaction between the different cards. If I had to improve on the deck, the first thing i’d do is give it a theme, maybe something like humans would be a good fit, and would also give it a combo theme since humans is such a strong and thought out theme of this set.
Horrific Visions (Green-Black)
Horrific Visions is the green centered intro deck and has delirium as its theme. With a high average mana cost and such a diverse spread of cards you can expect this to be a powerful late game deck, almost unmatched. Once you get delirium running and a few cards like ‘Tooth Collector’ or ‘Obsessive Skinner’ the hardest part for you will be to remember all of the upkeep/end step triggers. On top of that I really get the horror spooks theme of the deck which is fantastic to me, so a big plus there!
So if you like late game domination and lots of thinking and remembering, this should be the deck for you. After all, who doesn’t enjoy playing long games of magic?
The weakness of this deck is however fairly big, I feel like delirium is unnecessarily hard to activate. The deck focuses so much on delirium being turned on and therefore when it isn’t, the deck can barely play at all. With such a high overall casting cost of your cards, your opponents can easily tempo you out of the game with no way back, so to have a really enjoyable game you need a perfect hand. So I would say mulligan with this deck is more effective than with the others.
To make the deck better I would start of by having a more consistent and diverse spread of creatures and non creatues, then lower the overall mana cost a bit, but if you like huge beatdown creatures, this is the one for you!
Let battle commence!
Now that we have gone through all the strengths and weaknesses of the decks as well as potential improvements, it’s time to look at how the decks actually played out! My friend and I locked ourselves in the YoreMTG Studio with some snacks and about 300 sleeves and started sleeving the intro packs up for dueling, our motto was to not leave the stuido until we had tried every available matchup, and then we got to work. After 30 total games we had our results set and our bellies were empty, but before looking at the results, lets walk it all through!
First off I piloted the Ghostly Tide deck against my friend who played with every other one, and boy did it seem to dominate! It took out the Horrific Visions deck with only minor struggles, then beat the Vampiric Thirst one without any real issue.
The vampire deck got me down to below 10 life each game but always ran out of gas and my spirits did the job well. Then it also went ahead and beat the Angelic Fury deck without much issue at all, the flyers were just too much for the aggro deck to handle, and the 1/5 cards really had their golden time.
Then suddenly against the Unearthed Secrets deck it got completely smashed, gaining an early advantage but soon failing to get in damage and the Unearthed Secrets deck gaining massive amounts of life with ‘Graf Mole’ and ‘Ongoing Investigation’. The triumph was over after an intense and really fun game!
So after that game, did Unearthed Secrets just smash the other decks? Well.. No not really, after that one game the deck continued on to lose against Vampiric Thirst after two really quick games. It then lost to both Angelic Fury and Horrific Visions after some quick games. It really seems like the clue combo is weak normally and you just need luck and time to assemble it, interesting!
After the fall of Unearthed Secrets we only had about three matches left, which would decide the true victors. So first of, Vampiric Thirst squared off against Horrific Visions and won without any complications (my notes said it was all over in a matter of a few turns and stood no chance with its first creature being played on turn three).
Then Vampiric Thirst fought against Angelic Fury and after a long and intense game the Vampires lost 1-2. The Angelic Fury deck managed to play out its creatures early and fend off the attacking vampires long enough for the deck to run out of gas, then it could trump its opponent with a flurry of creatures and combat tricks.
Last game was Angelic Fury vs Horrific Visions, a match in which the Green-Black deck once again couldn’t keep up with the fast pace provided by all the dogs and foxes of the Red-White deck, and after a flurry of removal spells and a big swingy attack the Green-Black deck was once again defeated.
Final standings after ten matches and 30 games:
Ghostly Tide (White-Blue): 3-1
Unearthed Secrets (Blue-Green): 1-3
Vampiric Thirst (Black-Red): 2-2
Angelic Fury (Red-White): 3-1
Horrific Visions (Green-Black): 1-3
So, which deck is best?
So judging by the final results we can see that the Ghostly Tide deck as well as the random pile of aggressive hound animals deck clearly performed the best, but does this mean you should only have to choose between only these two? Well of course not, many factors have to be included.
First of all we can draw the conclusion that white seems to be a very strong colour, the strongest of the bunch. This is interesting, but I can understand why. White has it all, flyers, aggressive creatures and a bunch of removal.
So, all in all if I had to choose one intro deck for being the funniest to play with, I’d choose Unearthed Secrets, it’s highly flavourful and does so many things that we all love so much, putting things into play, drawing cards, gaining life and so on!
If I had to pick the overall best deck I’d choose Ghostly Tides, since it has a theme and to me it is a better choice than Angelic Fury, plus I do love me some tempo instead of just some aggro!
Maybe you want to vote for which intro pack you like the most?
Thanks for reading this in depth post, let me know what you think in the comments! And remember that you can get 15% off your Deck Maniacs box by using the code “THIRE” in the checkout! Just head to www.deckmaniacs.com to pick up your Magic The Gathering monthly box!
Until next time
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