Magic 2014 Core Set “Fire Surge” Intro Pack (TCG Expansion) Review

Game Day for the Magic 2014 Core set has come and gone, and while most people involved in MTG were off testing the newest cards in the Standard format, the rest of the nerd crowd looked on in awe, and thought “man, that looks like a lot of fun, I wonder if I can play that game.”

By now, it’s generally common knowledge in the card game community that a “core” or “regular” set tends to be a beefier, more streamlined set of cards than the usual stuff released throughout the year. Classics return, old favorites make an appearance, and any new cards added hopefully have staying power throughout the year, since “core” sets in MTG are tournament legal along with the whatever the current “block” is (3 sets of cards, which rotate out throughout the year).

One of the easiest ways to get started in MTG is to get a pre-built deck, called an “Intro Deck”, and just start playing. These decks come packed with a full decklist and rules, and even step-by-step instructions on how to play the game. They’re really great for beginners to the game, and the decks often show off the strengths and general strategies of each individual color and some of the color combinations. They also come with a couple of booster packs, so once a newbie gets used to the general rules, they can start mixing and matching new cards and start to get a feel for customizing and creating their own deck.

I managed to get my hands on the “Fire Surge” deck, a quirky blend of red and blue cards that looks to have players take advantage of damaging and tricky spells to deal lots of damage and keep their dragons and big beefy creatures alive. Red and Blue has often been a weird combination of colors to play; they’re generally polar opposites when it comes to play styles and philosophies. Red seeks to deal direct damage to both player and creatures, and can back it up with some pretty deadly creatures like dragons. On the opposite side, Blue tends to favor trickery and manipulation, rarely dealing with head-to-head fights and relying on flying or unblockable creatures when it does. Combining the two is a tricky affair, but one that can pay off in spades if one complements the other.

It’s a bit off the mark with “Fire Surge”. The synergy leaves a lot to be desired, as does the pace of deck. I found that there were too many high cost cards that didn’t play nice with the other cards I had, so I often picked one color and did what I could to bolster my defenses using that. The few cards that do have good synergy across colors , like Trained Condor, are so few in number in the deck that they might as well not exist. Not to mention, all of the cards in this deck with good synergy are all red or red-related cards like Staff of the Flame Magus, Chandra’s Phoenix, and Shiv’s Embrace.

 

Despite all of this, it’s not a bad intro deck at all. The blue cards (and some of the red) offer a lot of ways to keep your opponent off-balance or to keep the fight at a distance until you can get your big dragons or attach a Shiv’s Embrace onto a Regathan Firecat or a Phantom Warrior and hit them where it hurts. In terms of teaching a new player about how the different colors work, it’s pretty solid. Dragons and burn spells are abundant, and goblin trickery is on display as well. Blue’s notorious habit of controlling and manipulating the fight at a moment’s notice is in full effect as well; it’s just a shame the colors don’t work better together.

All-in-all, it’s a decent way to get a new player involved and learning the game, and as always the inclusion of the 2 boosters in the pack makes it definitely worth the price; at an MSRP of $15-17 on average for the Intro Packs, and boosters at around $5, it’s like getting 2 boosters and paying $5 for a deck.

Fire Surge
Magic 2014 Core Set Intro Pack
Main Deck60 cards   View a sample hand of this deckDownload a .dek file for use in Magic Online
10  Island
16  Mountain


26 lands

Chandra’s Phoenix
Dragon Hatchling
Fleshpulper Giant
Goblin Shortcutter
Nephalia Seakite
Phantom Warrior
Regathan Firecat
Shivan Dragon
Trained Condor


18 creatures

Chandra’s Outrage
Disperse
Essence Scatter
Flames of the Firebrand
Lava Axe
Negate
Opportunity
Shiv’s Embrace
Staff of the Flame Magus
Volcanic Geyser


16 other spells

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From the frigid wasteland of Canada, Dan has been writing since the early years, when a blank piece of parchment meant a whole world was waiting for him to discover it at the tip of his quill. Then he grew up and realized he could never be like Harry Potter, so he turned to video games instead. He's now a fledgling Game Designer, working hard to make his mark on the industry. In his off-hours, he likes to scorn people who like long walks on the beach. Too much sand.
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