Thursday, July 17, 2014

Achievement Guide - Defensive Line in Magic: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015

It's not often that I can come up with procedures for earning video game achievements before a multitude of guides are available online, so I'm excited to share my solutions when possible.  The next few posts will focus on various challenges in Magic: The Gathering -  Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015.

Defensive Line in Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015.

To earn this achievement, you must deal 20 damage with Vent Sentinel in a single game.

Vent Sentinel is a red defender with a unique activated ability - 1R, Tap: Vent Sentinel deals damage to target player equal to the number of creatures with defender you control.  Obviously, the key to dealing 20 damage with Vent Sentinel is to have a bunch of defenders in play, and you probably want to make Vent Sentinel your win condition so you know you're not going to fall a couple points of damage short.

I'll provide the deck list that I used, but first I will outline some basic strategic considerations so that you have an idea of why certain things are included, both to help you use that deck and to allow you to make changes as needed if you're finding that it doesn't quite work for you.

Deck Strategy:

The basic plan is to play a deck with a bunch of defenders and various other ways of keeping yourself alive.  Black and blue are good choices for survival, as both have relatively cheap responses to whatever your opponent may be doing and have a fair number of defenders.

From black, I'm a big fan of removal like Tribute to Hunger for the extra life gain, and from blue, I find counterspells like Dissolve and bounce spells like Voyage's End to be really powerful, in part due to their Scry effects to filter out things you don't want to be drawing.  Extra card draw from blue is also a plus.

With at least three colors involved, you'll also be looking to fix your colors of mana to ensure you don't get stuck with a hand full of uncastable spells.  The Traveler's Amulet artifact is useful in this regard, but green also excels at finding good sources of mana.

As such, I settled on a four-color deck: Red for Vent Sentinel, Black for removal, Blue for counterspells and removal, and green for mana ramp/fixing.  The ramp and fixing are certainly the most important part of the equation, so the deck is a little heavy on Forests to make it more consistent.

Deck List:

After each card name, I'll list the area that you can find that particular card (i.e., if you don't have the listed number of copies, which plane you should explore to earn more).

4 Doorkeeper (Ravnica)
2 Voyage's End (Theros)
1 Dissolve (Theros)
2 Thassa's Bounty (Theros)

3 Tribute to Hunger (Innistrad)
3 Corpse Blockade (Ravnica)
3 Ogre Jailbreaker (Ravnica)

4 Vent Sentinel (Zendikar)

4 Grave Bramble (Innistrad)
4 Cultivate (Theros)

2 Traveler's Amulet (Theros)
3 Gargoyle Sentinel (Innistrad)
1 Avarice Amulet (Theros)
1 Meteorite (Shandalar)

6 Island
4 Swamp
3 Mountain
7 Forest
1 Gruul Guildgate (Ravnica)
1 Simic Guildgate (Ravnica)
1 Golgari Guildgate (Ravnica)


The plan as described above is to survive long enough to get Vent Sentinel in play with 4+ other defenders and start shooting your opponent.  The Avarice Amulet is in there just to help you draw more cards if you don't hit a copy of the Sentinel quickly enough; the Meteorite helps with color problems and can occasionally kill a pesky creature when necessary.

With four colors, it's important to be careful when choosing which lands to tap to cast spells.  Make sure that you're always leaving the lands that you'd need to cast the next spell you want for that turn.

Using this setup, I was able to get the achievement on my first try.  I didn't worry about what deck I was playing against (I used this as an opportunity to unlock some more cards by exploring Zendikar), but it's definitely stronger against more creature-heavy decks.  Stay away from decks that run a lot of spells that will just kill your creatures outright.

Let me know if you have other insights into earning this achievement!

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