Today, I made use of my free time (i.e. I procrastinated) by playing against my brother in Magic. Again. I used Venser's deck exclusively for the morning battles, so that I came to understand a few of the tricks. A couple of cards are extremely useful for doubling up on "when X enters the battlefield" abilities. There are also cards that are otherwise useless, where the special ability is a downfall rather than a way to trump your opponent. Given it's a deck for duelling, and could well be aimed at beginners, it's clear that the weaknesses - although exploitable if used correctly - are there for a reason.
For me, they were just annoying, until I learned not to play those cards for no reason at all.
Venser is a lot more strategic a deck than Koth. With two land variations, and some non-basic land cards, that makes it immediately more difficult to just build up the mana you need. Of course, some of the non-basics made playing Venser more fun. For instance, the deck comes with a couple of lands that grant 1 life point when played. Handy. Very handy. Others allow for scrying, or flying, and a few allow for choosing either Plain or Island mana, or, in one case, both. That helps for the battles, which can be manipulated to last longer with Venser, allowing for bonuses to add up.
A few of the creatures have abilities that come in handy just from an attacking point of view, like exiling, drawing a card, getting +1 power and toughness, and there are a handful of flyers - these are more than effective against Koth's deck, unless the player happens to have a couple of Koth's defenders out.
So, it was a fun deck to play with. I won't go into full detail on it, because that's not quite my style, but I found that when I won with Venser, it was a more enjoyable win than winning with Koth. It felt deserved, rather than just boastful. I don't just beat the living daylights out of my opponent: I do it with style.
We played eight games earlier, before we had to stop for lunch. In those eight games, my Venser deck beat the Koth deck (used by my brother) half the time, losing the other half. What interested me was that three our of four of my losses were a result of Koth actually being played. He's a much more formidable Planeswalker to fight against than I would have thought just by looking at his abilities.
Later in the day, I played games by myself. I controlled both decks, sought to play them both strategically, and two out of three of them Venser won. In the losing match, it turns out I broke the rules while making Koth's turns, so there's no way of telling if the deck should have won. I'm sceptical. I have two defenders that were virtually indestructible, and a planeswalker with 7 defence. My rule breaking got rid of them, but it shouldn't have. Oops!
So, overall, I think Venser is a better deck. At least, it suits me better than Koth does. At the same time, Koth is still fun for just beating people up with, and in playing against him, I picked up a few tricks to make my battles with him much more enjoyable from my end.
Tomorrow, I may be getting more cards. We'll see. I'm still hoping I can get Carnival of Blood.