Tabletop Review: Magic: The Gathering 2013 Core Set – Depths of Power Deck
by Alex Lucard on July 13, 2012

Magic: The Gathering 2013 Core Set: Depths of Power
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Release Date: 07/13/2012
Cost: $14.99

Friday the 13th is usually an inauspicious occasion, but for fans of Magic: The Gathering, it’s a pretty exciting day indeed. That’s because it’s the release of the Magic 2013 Core Set. This 249 card set contains cards from previous releases but also includes brand new ones to make for a new core for players to draw off of. Wizards is releasing the set in booster packs, intro decks, and massive fat packs. I’ll admit I kind of miss the days of just buying a little paper box with completely random cards inside, wondering what my two rares will be, but I’m an old player. I started with Alpha (one of the few) and I still remember my first two rares were a Lord of Atlantis and a Force of Nature. I got out around Homelands, but I still occasionally dabble in the game when called upon, like with a set of previews and a review of the Dark Sacrifice deck when Dark Ascension was released earlier this year.

Today, we’re looking at the “Depths of Power” deck which was kindly provided to me in advance by Wizards of the Coast. It’s a Black/Blue deck that’s sort of all over the place. It’s about deck control, using weenie blue creatures to overrun your opponent and getting extra use out of your sorceries and summons. The end result is a deck that does a lot of neat things, allowing you to have multiple strategies for different situations, but doesn’t do any of them extremely well. It’s basically a Jack of All Trades, master of none deck. This means you’ll be using cards for boosters or previous sets to balance this deck out and maximize its possibilities. This is true of most intro decks, but I’ve never seen it more true than with “Depths of Power.” Let’s take a look at your exact card breakdown.

Lands:
15 Islands
8 Mountains
1 Evolving Wilds

Evolving Wilds is an odd land. You tap and sacrifice it to search your deck for any basic land you want, which then comes into play tapped. To me, this is a waste of a land. There are many, MANY better non-basic lands that could be used. Hell, even another Mountain or Island would work better. This really isn’t deck control or land management. It’s just a wasted card in your deck. Definitely chuck this as soon as you can. Unfortunately, they put it in ALL the intro decks. Ugh.

Creatures

1 Fog Bank 1U
1 Harbor Serpent 4UU
1 Stormtide Leviathan 5UUU
1 Talrand, Sky Summoner 2UU
2 Archaeomancer 2UU
2 Angur of Bolas 1U
2 Mindclaw Shaman 4R
2 Scroll Thieves 2U
3 Kraken Hatchlings U
3 Wind Drake 2U

So this is an interesting set of creatures. Fog Bank is one of the better walls out there as it’s flying and prevents all combat damage to it. However it’s still pretty to take out in other means, so maybe a Wall of Souls or Shield Sphere would work better if your goal is to have an annoying blocker stay in play for a long time. Harbour Serpent and Stormtide Leviathan are big huge creatures that have islandwalk and do a lot of damage, but they talk a LOT of mana to get out and god forbid you pull both in your starting hand.

Talrand, Sky Summoner is the crux of the deck. Having him in play nets you a 2/2 token with Flying every time you cast an Instant or Sorcery spell. That can add up to a legion of annoyance for your opponent in a hurry except for two problems. The first is that Talrand is only a 2/2 creature and there are no stat boosters in the deck, so he’s prime for direct damage. The other is that there is only one of this card in the deck and so not only will you need another, but as a Legend, you can only have one in play at a time. It’s always dangerous to have a deck revolve around a single card unless it’s something like the classic Necropotence deck, especially if you’re a playing Blue without any true Counterspells, which is another problem with this deck. I’d personally add at least a second Talrand to the deck, just to hedge your bets.

The Archaeomancers are pricey (four mana for a 1/2 creature!) but in conjuction with Talrand and deck control, they are pretty nice to have. When they come into play, you return a Sorcery or Instant from your graveyard to your hand. That not only gives you another spell in your arsenal, but a potential 2/2 flyer as well. Augurs of Bolas are very nice for the cost as they let you manage your deck, add a Sorcery or Instant to your hand (conjunction with Talrand) and they are a 1/3 for only two mana. That’s a good deal.

Mindclaw Shamans are the only red creatures in the deck Five mana for a 2/2 sounds insane, but look at their special abilities. When one comes into play, you not only get to look at your opponent’s hand, but you get to cast any Instant or Sorcery in your hand FOR FREE. That’s pretty sweet. Couple that with Talrand and you get two 2/2 creatures (one with Flying), a look at your opponent’s hand and a free spell cast for five mana. Pretty sweet but again, you really, REALLY want to have Talrand in play, and with only one in the deck…

Scroll Thieves are weird little Merfolk. Three mana for a 1/3 creature that lets you draw a card whenever they do damage to a player (wording means you can do it to yourself I guess). That can be helpful, but I’d probably replace them with some other creatures or spells that let you search your deck for specific cards. Kraken Hatchings are there to act as blocks. 0/4 for a single mana is pretty decent and protects you from a lot of your opponent’s creatures…unless they have flying. The last creatures in the deck are Wind Drakes and they’re a standard 2/2 flier for three mana.

All in all the creatures aren’t bad but I’d definitely retool the deck in this area some. At least remove one of the Scroll Thieves for another Talrand and the other for one of the walls I mentioned earlier. Another way to go would be to remove the three Kraken Hatchlings, replace them with Merfolk of the Pearl Trident and then dump the two Scroll Thieves for Masters of the Pearl Trident and get yourself some 3/3 creatures instead of 0/4 ones. Talrand would also be pumped up to 4/4, preventing most direct damage spells from taking him out. I’m sure you can think of several ways to spice this deck up on your own.

Artifacts

1 Elixir of Immortality 1
1 Ring of Evos Isle 2

Both of these Artifacts are amazing. EoI gives you five life and lets you move your graveyard to your library. Welcome back all those Instants and Sorceries and their potential 2/2 fliers! Ring of Evos Isle is equally awesome. My advice would be to put this on Talrand as soon as you can. It makes him hexproof and gives him a +1/+1 counter at the beginning of each of your upkeeps. Keep him alive to get all those 2/2 fliers. Another option is to put it on the Leviathan or Harbor Serpent for hilarious pain.

Sorcery

2 Divinations 2U
2 Talrand’s Invocations 2UU
1 Sleep 2UU
1 Switcheroo 4U
1 Turn To Slag 3RR

So only seven sorcery spells in a deck that’s about getting as many of these out as possible. Odd, isn’t it. Under normal circumstances I’d poo-poo Dinvination, but here it allows cards like Talrand, the Artifacts, and the like to come into play faster. Talmand’s Invocation gives you two 2/2 flying Drake tokens, but with Talmand in play, you get three for five mana – a great deal if ever there was one. Sleep is your big gun once your large creatures are out or you’ve amassed a horde of Drake tokens. The last two Sorcery cards are ones I’d probably sub out. Switcheroo lets you swap control of one of any two creatures. So you can get that Serra Angel or Vampire and give your opponent a Kraken Hatchling. However, for five mana this is pretty pricey. Same with Turn to Slag. It needs two red mana and as you only have eight mountains in this deck, it’s not likely you’ll get much use out of it. Plus it only does damage to a target creature anyway. I’d consider switching both of these out for one of the following: another Talmand’s Invocation (or two!), Mind Sculpt, or Index (Possibly two of these as well). They’re cheaper, are more versatile, can be used in the early game and fit the deck better. If you really wanted to keep Red in the deck instead of making it all blue, I’d definitely consider Chandra’s Fury over the Turn to Slag Sorcery. Craterize and Cleaver Riot would be good choices too.

Instants

3 Searing Spear 1R
1 Smelt R
1 Essence Scatter 1U
1 Hydrosurge U
1 Negate 1U
1 Rewind 2UU
1 Unsummon U

This is the part of the deck I have the most problems with and it’s more because I’m an older M:TG player than anything else. I look at Searing Spear and think, “I’d rather have three Lightning Bolts.” As they do the same thing but for only one red mana instead of one red and one colourless. I look at Essence Scatter and Negate and think I’d rather just have two regular old Counterspells. Same amount of mana but they are more versatile. Smelt is good, but it’s the only red card you’ll get use out of in this deck save for the two MIndclaw Shamans. Rewind is pretty expensive. Sure you get to untap four land, but for four mana? More than likely when you are able to play Rewind, you won’t have a need for the untapping as it’ll be your turn soon or you have more than enough mana to spare. Unsummon is useful and Hydrosurge can protect you from a powerful attack creature, but overall, I’m not really happy with any of the Instant selections here. I’d rebuild the deck with the aforementioned Lightning Bolts and Counterspells, even though they aren’t in the core set. Redirect would be a good sideboard card. Downpour would be useful for the creature swarming part of the deck. If you still wanted to make this a red/blue deck, consider Kindled Fury, Magmaquake, and Trumpet Blast.


All in all, “Depths of Power” has potential, but you really have to make some tweaks, several of which involve cards that aren’t part of the current 2013 Core Set and haven’t been printed in a while. However, if you get the deck balanced, it can be a very multi-faceted machine that will kill your opponent in several ways. I tested out a hilarious Millstone/Vedalken Entracer combo to add to this in exchange for the bigger creatures and it made for just another way to horribly torture your opponent. I’d really like to see what other people are going to do with this deck.You can pick up “Depths of Power” along with “Path to Victory,” “Sole Domination,” “Mob Rule,” and “Wild Rush” at any store (brick and mortar or online) that is selling the intro decks for theMagic: The Gathering Core 2013 Set




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Alex Lucard

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aaron-Sirois/100000150433651 Aaron Sirois

    Unless there has been a massive rule change that I haven’t heard about in the past couple of days, you can’t attack yourself. The wording on Scroll Thief is there simply to allow it to function against multiple opponents.

    Sadly, I’m not sure if Lightning Bolt is legal in standard tournaments anymore. Searing Spear might be someone’s best bet. Although I preferred Flames of the Firebrand. One more mana, but you can direct each of the three points of damage however you want. Useful for clearing out multiple weaklings and/or pinging the opponent with the extra.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexanderlucard Alexander Lucard

    RE: Scroll Thief. Not attack yourself, but to damage to yourself. There are a few combos that will let you do damage to yourself in exhcange for drawing a card. If you create the right pairing you can basically turn a Scroll Thief into Necropotence.

    Lightning bolts aren’t legal anymore, but screw tournaments. Play the game to play the game. What’s the point in having old cards if you don’t use them, you know?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aaron-Sirois/100000150433651 Aaron Sirois

    I thought Scroll Thieves only worked with combat damage?

    I’ve got twenty decks at the ready. None of them are tournament legal. I think four of them have lightning bolts. I used to have to suffer the wrath of the bolt when I played with friends that had older cards. When they rereleased that sucker, I let out an evil laugh that spanned for days.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexanderlucard Alexander Lucard

    Not with the wording on the current version of the card. The old version specified combat damage, but the one in the 2013 core set only states when it does damage. Oddly enough the card shown on the website still states combat damage, but the one in the deck just says damage. So it’s either a misprint that radically changes how the card works or they put up the 2011 version on the core 2013 set site. Either way I’m sure it will get errated back to the old version but for know…the card is slightly okay, but still not one I’d leave in this deck.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aaron-Sirois/100000150433651 Aaron Sirois

    That kind of thing caused chaos with my group a couple years back. One friend simply refused to acknowledge errata. It almost led to fights. I was very diligent about looking up rules for cards I was unsure about. I probably came off as a prick because of it. Thankfully, we realized we were getting upset over a card game and nothing came of it.

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