Magic 2014 Core Set Intro Packs: Fire Surge

We recently played and reviewed Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers, a digital version of the card trading game Magic: The Gathering.  Following this, we were invited to check out some Magic 2014 Core Set Intro Packs.  Intro packs are released alongside every new Magic set, and designed for players like us, that are new to Magic: The Gathering.

Magic 2014 Intro Packs

There are five different Intro packs available: Lightforce, Psychic Labyrinth, Bestial Strength, Fire Surge and Death Reaper, each with a different focus.  We received the Fire Surge pack, with a mixture of red and blue cards.  While red cards make use of power to burn through enemies, blue cards make use of trickery.. spells that allow you to send your opponent’s cards back to their hand, for instance.

Magic 2014 - Chandra PhoenixIn the Fire Surge pack, there are 26 land cards, with 10 Island and 16 Mountains, 18 creatures and 16 other spells.  There’s one foil premium rare card in the pack, in this case Chandra’s Phoenix, and the other cards are a mixture of rare, uncommon or common cards.

There are no Mythic rare cards in any of the five sets, but as Magic: The Gathering’s cards are trading cards, the rarer cards are meant to be more valuable.  Including them in every Intro pack would make them less rare, and therefore less valuable, so I can see why they aren’t included here.

The cards are as high a standard as you’d expect for a premium card game, with special note to the print quality and artwork.  The creatures and other spell cards all have fantastic portraits or illustrations with lots of detail, and even the land cards have a great scenery image with some variation between lands of the same type.. mountains with lava, spiked mountains poking through clouds, and so on.  It’s only a shame that once you’ve opened the package there’s no nice secure box for the cards to be kept in.  They don’t sit well in the display box once they’ve been opened up either, sliding around a bit too much, but I feel I would be at risk of damaging them if I were to use a rubber band to keep them together.

The Intro Pack also includes a guide on how to play the game, and a strategy insert with a list of the cards included in each of the five Intro packs.  The guide explains the basics of play as well as providing a glossary to the various terms you’ll come across during play, and is enough to get you playing your first games, but leaves some confusion as to how to interpret some of the individual instructions on the cards themselves.  I suppose this is no different to many other card games, but I’m used to digital games with rules applied automatically, or invalid moves simply being impossible to make.

There’s also two booster packs in the box, containing 15 cards each.  I decided to leave them to one side for now, as even though I know a little about the game, I thought I would probably make a mess of my deck by just adding random cards without some kind of strategy.

My partner, a first-time player of Magic, added the booster cards to his deck as he opened the whole set up.  It turns out there was a note on the strategy insert about keeping the boosters aside until you’ve played a few games with the basic deck.. but there is a lot to take in at once in just learning to play, and this note was easily missed.

One reason for not blindly adding the cards soon became apparent: in one of our first games he ended up left with a black green creatures in his hand, but only red and blue lands.  Even if he had read the note and played a few games with the plain deck, he may still have added the booster cards without realising there were no corresponding land cards for some of the creatures or spells.

After this, I went through my Booster packs to see what sort of cards I had.  Amongst the total of 30 cards I found just two lands, a blue and a white.  There were 10 red or blue creature/spell cards, and four white cards that I could use if I also added the white land to my deck, as they required one white plus two/three unspecified lands to play.. though I would then be relying on that single white land turning up in my hand before I could play any of those cards!

As for the rest of the booster cards.. there was one white card I couldn’t use, as it required two white lands to play, and six green cards and seven black cards, bringing me to a total of 19 of the 30 cards that I definitely couldn’t use.  I found this a little frustrating, but also interesting to get a look at a few of the cards that may appear in different coloured decks.  New players may be frustrated to find cards they can’t  use with their deck, as my partner was, but as these cards will also be aimed at getting new players interested in the trading aspect of the game.  Having seen these new, different cards, players may be encouraged to go out and purchase more cards, or trade for them with other players.


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