I've got this set recently and my wife and I have given it a go. So far I've been playing as black however I'm having zero luck making any progress with the deck, and I'm not sure if it's my lack of skill, pure bad luck or the deck being poor, so was wondering if someone could give me some tips please?
Although this might sound like an excuse, I do think part of it is due to bad luck. In my first game I was suffering from a lack of land cards (I think through the whole game I only got to 4!). I managed to get a bit of damage in early on with serrated scorpions and walking corpse then got excited when I was able to play Demonic Embrace, however typically my wife had Plummet which nullified that. In my second game I had the opposite issue where I had plenty of lands, managed to get Goremand out but then once against my wife had Plummet to deal with it.
The bigger issue I think I have is that I don't see any way to deal with the Ironscale Hydra, which she's managed to get out as early as is possible in both the games we played. Aside from being able to play two Grasp of Darkness or Finishing Blow (none of which I got) I don't know how you're meant to deal with it. I did wonder if I could simply kill her quickly rather than let that get out, but all my early game creatures seem to have low power, so getting her health down early on doesn't seem to be much of an option.
I know some of the game is dependent on the cards that you draw, however can someone give me some tips as to how I should be playing please?
On another note I'd just like to ask for clarify on Llanowar Visionary. If you want to use its tap ability are you able to do it at any point (eg. if you want to play an instant while the opponent is having their turn) or can it only be done at particular points?
I recommend playing more than 2 games. Sometimes you just end up with too many/too few lands; this happens, the game ends, and you shuffle up to play a new game. Same thing if your opponent plays a card you can't beat; sometimes that happens, they win, and you shuffle up and play again. There's only one Ironscale Hydra in the deck; many games your opponent won't even see that card! Your wife just got lucky two games in a row.
In addition to the removal spells you mentioned, your deck also has Demon of Loathing, which can force the opponent to sacrifice a creature. If the only one they have in play is Ironscale Hydra, they'll have to sacrifice it.
The starter decks especially have a small amount of "bombs" , the big rare creatures that usually win the game if not answered.
The green deck has a very limited amount of answers to it, but if they just have it, well, they have it.
So yes, in magic the opponent might have very specific answers to your cards, and if they do, sometimes you can just force them to use it, and if that breaks your neck, well, too bad.
To learn from a game why you lost, you have to back peddle and question why and if you had to make that play.
So sometimes if you think they have a removal, its better to not play your bomb early, maybe play something else first, so they might use the removal on that.
But sometimes just casting the bomb is the best way and if they dont answer it, you are in the best position.
For the starter decks in particular, the black deck is reasonable slow and defensive, and relies on some bombs quite a lot to win.
Unlikely Aid provides indestructible to the creature, so you can use it to save your creature from removal.
If they have Plummet, well, you need the extra 2 mana to cast your bomb and have Unlikely Aid to save it from removal.
That means, dont cast your bomb just because you can, if you are expecting them to have removal, you have to wait to secure it (then of course, if they have 2 Plummet, you got outplayed, but thats life).
Peer into the Abyss can be used to target the opponent, just so they draw the cards, but more importantly, lose halve their life, so you can surprise them by killing them with it (if they choose to attack with all their stuff so your back swing that end the game).
The good thing about Demonic Embrace is that you can cast it from the graveyard. So you first use it on your weakest creature to make it a relevant threat, if they are forced to use their Plummet, great, you baited them, then you can use it again on your bigger creature (hopefully the lifelink Blood Glutton when the coast is clear of their removal).
Also, your own removal should be used on their bombs, or in response to some plays, when they pump their creature or the like, never just use a removal on a creature that you could block anyway (especially with a death touch blocker).
That all said, the green deck is much simpler, as its pro-active.
The black deck is slower and defensive , the cards require you to outplay the other a bit more, as you are more reactive to what they are doing or could be doing.