Recently, my wife and I had a variation of the “Are you going to Magic tonight?” talk:
Her: “Are you going to Magic tonight?”
Me: “I’m not sure I’m feeling it … but I do kinda want to play.”
Her: “Well, stay home. I’ll play.”
Me: “You will?”
This is, as previously described on the blog, a rare treat. Typically, when Kat and I play, we play a loose variation of Pack Wars. But that evening, because it had been awhile since I’d built any new decks, I wanted to try something different.
Five or so years ago (crikey, time flies), I built intro decks for Kat and I to play against each other. Hers was Black and mine was White. I dismantled those decks years ago. Kat’s leveled up a lot since then, so for our most recent session, I built two, two-color, thirty-card decks, using Commons and Uncommons I had lying around.
To begin building the decks, I asked Kat what colors she’d like to play.
Her: “For sure Black.”
Me: “Well duh. But what else?”
At this point, I absolutely figured Kat would say Green. She’s a conservation biologist; Zoologist is one of her favorite cards.
Her: “Hmm. How about Blue?”
When pressed, Kat told me she chose Blue because she likes Islands (the correct choice) and birds. Keeping those points in mind, I put together Duel Deck: Wife, a loosely synergistic Blue-Black deck built around filtering cards to find its most impactful spells, then resurrecting large creatures from the graveyard.
To match it, I built Duel Deck: Husband, a Red-Green deck built around deploying big ‘ol beasts and relying on mana sinks if its creatures die.
We’ve played a few matches with these decks, which have been a ton of fun. I’ve also learned a bit about fixed deck design, and how important one or two cards can be within a thirty-card deck. To help you build your own Spouse vs. Spouse decks, here’s the lowdown on Duel Decks: Wife vs. Husband.
Duel Deck: Wife
As stated above, Duel Deck: Wife is built around filtering through cards to find removal spells for Duel Deck: Husband’s creatures, while setting up to draw extra cards and resurrect big creatures to take over the late game. For example, a solid opening sequence for Duel Deck: Wife would be to cycle Striped Riverwinder on its first turn, play a Reave Soul on turn two, and then follow that up with a Zephyr Scribe, Catalog, or Murder.
However, the first iteration of Duel Deck: Wife leaned into its theme a little too hard, sacrificing card quality for synergy. For example, the first version of the deck included landcyclers Twisted Abomination and Shoreline Ranger, which are middling turn six plays and not very efficient in the early game. (Also, note that regeneration is still hard for casual players to understand. I attempted to explain it, but Kat still thought regenerators regenerated like Jesus, not Wolverine. Regenerate lost its evergreen status for a reason.)
To fix this problem, I cut some of the “on-theme” cards and added more early interactive spells, such as Aether Adept, Typhoid Rats, and Consign//Oblivion. Note that Consign still plays into the deck’s theme, as it can be played out of the graveyard.
On that note, when Kat figured out how Zephyr Scribe worked, and that she could attack with it and then cast a spell to untap it and use its ability, she was ecstatic. I built these decks hoping Kat would find some of the synergies between the different pieces, such as discarding Forbidden Alchemy to use from the graveyard later, and she’s had a good time doing so.
Duel Deck: Husband
Duel Deck: Husband is, perhaps counterintuitively, simpler looking than Duel Deck: Wife. I made this choice intentionally, to allow Kat to focus more on what her cards did than what my cards did. It’s also, at least slightly, just a function of how the Red-Green color pair functions. At the Common and Uncommon level, Red-Green just wants to beat down.
I purposefully didn’t give Duel Deck: Husband too much card draw, to make sure that if Duel Deck: Wife survived to the late game, it’d be able to take over. However, I think Duel Deck: Husband’s mono-color Uncommons might be a little too good.
Nessian Game Warden‘s body already gives Duel Deck: Wife fits. When you factor in that the Warden often also draws a card, you can see why it might be crossing the line. Charging Monstrosaur has, once again, proven very strong, making short work of Kat if she can’t find a removal spell in time. In a land of Commons and Uncommons, Monstrosaur (still) feels like a Rare.
Additionally, Duel Deck: Husband might have one too many good Reach creatures, stymieing Duel Deck: Wife’s birds. Duel Deck: Wife can handle either Sporecap Spider or Minotaur Sureshot, but it has a tough time clearing a path through both.
I’m monitoring all these aspects of Duel Deck: Husband, but I’m waiting until after Kat and my’s next game(s) to make any changes, as I just recently beefed up Duel Deck: Wife. If the above issues are still present, I’ll look into downgrading some of Duel Deck: Husband’s stronger cards.
I recognize how lucky I am to have a significant other who’ll sit down and play Magic with me. Not every Planeswalker can say the same. If you’re interested in building decks for your household, I strongly recommend following these guidelines:
- Ask your significant other what color(s) they’d like to play (explaining each briefly if necessary). Don’t build decks that are more than two colors.
- Build thirty-card decks. You might not think so, but for new players, sixty-card decks can be overwhelming.
- Stick to using mostly Common cards from New World Order sets if you can. Add Uncommons where necessary or when you feel like the decks need a little spice.
And that’s it. From there, it’s just a matter of playing the decks against each other and iterating until you’ve created a well-balanced, satisfying experience.
If you have your own Spouse vs. Spouse Duel Decks, be sure to explain how you crafted yours in the comments below. And until next time, remember, Magic‘s not always about playing for fancy prizes. Sometimes, it’s about playing to see who does the dishes.