There are two things that a Beginning Magic player has: A desire to learn the game and his first cards he or she has recieved. While attempting to learn the game can be easy with the right drive, right kind of mind, or right group of friends, a good starting cardpool can also facillitate a better learning of the game. The best 'beginner' cardpool should have depth, a good selection of the basics of Magic, and cards that capture the imagination. Currently, the offering to beginners of Magic is the 8th Edition 'Core Game' package featuring eighty two cards in four of the five colors. Download the decklist HERE. What is featured in this cardpool is various 'vanilla' creatures, a few sorceries, and two foils: Elvish Champion and [Random Foil Land]. This is not a good cardpool for the beginning Duelist. The lands included are eight of Island and Forest, and Nine of Plains and Mountain. Also included are nine cards deemed too 'beginner,' with some thanks to the likes of SeFRo and others, for the boosters of the Core Game. Allow me to introduce them here: Eager Cadet, Vengeance, Giant Octopus, Sea Eagle, Vizzendrix, Enormous Blaloth, and the Silverback Ape.
Umm... Wait a minute. Is Vengeance a vanilla card that nobody wants to see in their booster? A player of White does NOT want to get a card that kills creatures in Booster Draft? Granted, Giant Octopus is out of flavor for Blue and shouldn't be in a booster, but Vengeance? Isn't creature removal of nearly any time a premium in limited formats? And what about Silverback Ape? He's directly supirior to Spined Wurm, except he requires a higher commitment to green. Why is Spined Wurm not Collector's Number 7 of 7 in the 'Core Game' instead of the Ape? Were we not pushing for the weak cards to be pushed out of the main set? We get Moss Monster in the boosters instead of 7th's Redwood Treefolk; the logical next step is putting Silverback Ape in the place of Spined Wurm in the main roster. The point of this is twofold: The beginners get an additional, more splashable 'fattie' at their disposal, and the 'expert' players get another skill-testing fattie for thier 8th edition drafts done on a lark in the first few weeks 8th edition is avaible. I would also like to introduce you to Ms. Forty of Three Hundred and Fifty: Sacred Nectar. A card that Wizards of the Coast has made plain should exist-- a weak lifegain card. What point does this have in a booster pack? None. We already have a white 'lifegain' card in the basic set's boosters: Healing Salve. While one colorless provides an additional life and may be deceptive to newbie eyes who view so many cards as sorceries, as they learn the timing tricks and rules of the game Healing Salve slowly moves into being a much better card, as it can save their creatures from dying as well as give them life-- as quick as they might need it. Appearing in boosters beside Healing Salve serves very little purpose for Sacred Nectar... wouldn't it be better served as a Intro-Only card, teaching by example how Lifegain is playing not to lose, instead of playing to win?
What would a better Preconstructed Deck contain? A balanced selection of Magic cards and sufficient land for a two-color deck. Portal One contained two thirty-five card decks, each with six lands and eight cards of each color. Portal Two I assume did the same, as Portal: Three Kingdoms followed the suit of Portal One, though some card selection was different. Portal One's decks included several flyers, landwalkers, and sorceries... including Command of Unsummon, one of the infamous 'Instant-Sorceries.' While the X-Spell Blaze may be too much for beginners to grasp in their first forays into Magic, the other mechanics, Evasion and Instants, are not hard to understand for most new players. Instants and Evasion abilites add depth to the initial card pool, and give more opprotunities to discover strategies previously unthought of. A good set of cards for a beginner would allow the new player to explore any color he or she wished without having to worry about lands or about what ways could they combine the different colors together and get a useable deck.
The Core Game as is contains only four colors, omitting Black. The color distribution is unequal, and the lands reflect that unevenness. Building decks out of the pile of cards that have a prayer is difficult, and it is nearly impossible to build a sixty-card deck from what is presented. If the line of logic from the Portal sets were to be followed, fourty card decks would also be somewhat difficult, as the two-color-with-splash-of-the-third motif lends itself to thirty-five card decks. Inside the Portal 1 rulebook there is the suggestion of adding two lands(bringing the total up to thirty seven cards and seventeen total lands) and three cards of choice. The fifth Edition 'starter set' advertised inside of the Portal 1 game had some decks that were not as well-made as the Portal cards, yet had one idea that should be utilized: the 'action pack,' containing a variety of extra cards to add to the given decks. While I do not agree with playing five games with a walkthrough to discover the various mechanics, giving six to ten predetermined cards to supplement the decks doesn't throw in a large amount of cost, and gives much more functionability to the decks. Land is the final problem, and a solution to the problem of land seems quite easy. Many players know that the lands in 'Tournament Packs' are presorted by a machine and contain thirty basic lands, six of each. Instead of dropping them individually into packs, why not wrap them in shrink wrap first? Why not produce extras of the land as well? Include a run of thirty lands in the Core Game. The box is big enough for it, and it would allow a beginner to start buiding their decks with more speed and efficiency than is currently possible. Though it may take a few hours, a walkthrough is possible with nearly any set of carefully selected cards and has the ability to teach players how to play. I know this, because while I was in highschool I wrote a walkthrough for some 7th Edition cards, of which I will make available for download HERE in case you wish to use it. If requested, I will give suggestions for an 8th edition update of the cards contained within.
Wizards of the Coast is being totally unfair to its most crucial audience, it's beginners. A large step in the right direction is giving them a cardpool that works in their favor for the price of ten dollars that is being charged.
To increase the usability of the poorly made '8th Edition Core Game' set of cards for those new players on MOL who only have it as their collection, I now present the beginner's section of this article featuring a few not-very-playable-but-sufficient-against-each-other decks.(in Magic OnLine .dec format)
Note: The foil Basic Land has been removed from the Sideboard as it is randomly inserted and would cause you to get the 'you have submitted cards you do not own...' error message. Also, if you have traded away any part of your Core Game, the decks will not work. All cards in the Core Game that were not used in the decks were put into the Sideboard. If you do not want them there, simply have your sideboard in list view, right click and 'select all,' then right click again and chose 'return all to card pool.'
Another Note: These decks are forty cards, thus they require you to chose 'Open' format from the dropdown list when challenging another player.
This deck is listed first, as it is the only two-color deck, and the only deck that requires you to add a card to it. Add one land to the deck to bring it up to forty cards, making it playable in the 'Open' format. If you have a Forest, adding it is preferred. Next best is an additional Plains. If your foil land was neither of those cards, simply add any land of your choice. The deck uses the larger creatures, and needs the extra mana.
This deck is more efficient than the Green/White deck. The deck is mostly green with a 'splash' of Red and White-- that's why they are not capitalized in the deck name.
This deck is built around the 'fattie' creatures avaible, namely Vizzendrix and Enormous Baloth. If you wish, you may take out the two Norwood Rangers and add two additional lands, preferably an Island and Forest-- or if those are not available, one of them and a Mountain. This will give you a much higher probability of getting out the very large creatures on the Seventh turn-- a 49% chance instead of a 32% Chance. Watch how that makes the deck function-- it might not be for the better.
This deck is very similar to the one above, except it has more efficient two-casting-cost creatures instead of burn spells and less large creatures in the four-casting-cost slot.
This deck attempts to be a 'fast' deck. It has no three-casting-cost spells, and wants to try and drop a one casting cost creature on turn one, a two casting cost creature on turn two, and both a one and a two casting cost creature on turn three if possible. Turn four a four casting cost creature is good, as is two two-cost creatures. This is the most 'weenie' like deck possible from the selection of cards presented.
Another thing that can be learned about is what cards are efficient and what cards are not. Notice in none of the decks appear Sacred Nectar or Elvish Champion, as they don't work with what the deck is trying to do.
For any questions, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org