Every year Wizards of the Coast release a Core set, which is a more basic level set for newer players to get into the game, while keeping veteran players up to date with fundamental skills.
The big summer release coincides with the Duels of the Planeswalkers game (which we will be reviewing soon), and is accompanied by the usual array of Intro Decks and Fat Packs. Every Core set also brings with it the release of a Deck Builder’s Toolkit.
The Deck Builder’s Toolkit comes with a guide containing the various different deck archetypes available to players within the pack. The Deck Builder’s Toolkit sets out the six basic steps for players when building a deck and advice on how to make it competitive, by tweaking and playtesting it. The guide also has a list of useful deckbuilding terms, so players can understand common phrases when they go to tournaments or discuss their deck with their friends.
The Deck Builder’s Toolkit is a product squarely aimed at beginners and those who have been newly introduced to Magic. The cards contained within the pack are excellent for beginners for both deck construction and strategy learning purposes. The Deck Builder’s Toolkit also combines well with the Intro Packs as a great way to get into Magic. For more accomplished players, or those looking to get into the competitive scene with a pre-built deck as opposed to building their own, the Clash Pack is worth a look, as it contains numerous higher power level cards combined to make two focussed decks.
The Intro Packs, as mentioned above, combine excellently with the Deck Builder’s Toolkit as a way for players to get introduced to the game. While the toolkit is an excellent tool for building decks, the Intro Packs provide readymade decks for players to battle with. As with the release of every set, Wizards have released 5 Intro Packs, one for each colour.
We were able to get hold of the Blue deck (Hit the Ground Running) and the Red deck (Dragon’s Hoard). The two decks each contain plenty of useful cards for the new player. While there are spells generally restricted to casual or Limited format tournaments, there are plenty of cards that will no doubt see play over the next year or so in Standard Tournaments, such as Shrapnel Blast, Reclamation Sage and Restock as well as cards that were previously a little expensive for their rarity and used in Modern, such as Ornithopter and Darksteel Citadel.
Hit the Ground Running features numerous creatures that have an immediate effect when they enter the battlefield, from destroying artifacts or enchantments, to drawing cards. These creatures can be used in combination with cards that return them to your hand to get value by playing them again, such as Roaring Primadox and Peel from Reality. The deck’s promo foil, Mercurial Pretender combines both of these effects by entering as a copy of a creature with the added ability to return to your hand by paying 4 mana.
The deck is able to use these recurring abilities to generate advantage over a longer game, where it can eventually kill the opponent with fliers such as Illusionary Angel or the powerful Stormtide Leviathan, which will likely render the enemy’s creatures unable to attack or block.
Dragon’s Hoard meanwhile uses the blue and red cards in the set which reward the use of artifacts. The deck contains numerous cheap artifacts, such as Ornithopter and Bronze Sable in combination with Ensoul Artifact (to turn your artifacts into 5/5 beaters) and Shrapnel Blast (to throw the artifact at your opponent or their creatures for 5 damage). The other cards in the deck are great at combining with the existing artifacts or finding more. The deck’s promo rare (Hoarding Dragon) helps the primary strategy by being a powerful threat that if killed, allows you to get an artifact of your choosing. This creates a dilemma for the opponent – be killed by the dragon, or the artifact he hoards!
The two decks are well balanced, going 3-2 in favour of Dragon’s Hoard in a best of five series we had in the office. Intro Packs come with two booster packs included, so opening any relevant coloured cards will allow players to immediately strengthen their deck. Players lucky enough to open the mythic Planeswalker cards will find their win rate increase greatly, as Planeswalker cards are able to generate significant advantage which increases exponentially the longer they survive in play.
Thanks for reading,