Retro Magic: The Gathering Review: Starter Decks / Tournament Packs

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“Vintage Education” Kevin MacLeod (
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Wry Guy says:

Professor, it’s honestly becoming tiresome how you always manage to sprinkle complaints about how Wizards is creating terrible products and obsessing over the value of the cards in each product in ways that can get outright paradoxical.

Your videos begin to feel passive aggressive after a while. Like perhaps you don’t actually want to be doing this anymore.

Cristobal C O says:

Im just getting started to the game. I was planning to buy a commanders deck to play with my brother, but now im not sure if i should buy that or a booster pack / preconstructed decks or kits. What are your opinions ?

Stefan Parcalabescu says:

The starter packs were great, i wish they have them return, i did not get to enjoy them for very long cause i started playing magic at the end of alara, but i rememeber fondly buiyng a pack with many useful cards , unlike today when wizards make me buy products with 3 to 5 usefull cards and a whole lot of garbage i already have, plus buying boosters makes you go poor fast

watbenikgoed says:

I think the deck builders toolkit is their replacement

Bernd Erwin says:

I still buy booster displays for boosting deck products I purchased. I started playing at the age of 13 and have all the nostalgia bias in me. I really like planeswalker decks as an entry to this game, especially because planeswalker cards changed this game entirley, imho, so there is no reason to start a collection with any other product. This game has turned into a product-selling nightmare with its fast rotation cycles.

Anyway, I stopped playing at 2000 and came back when I found 4 long forgotten starter decks. Nostalgia hit me and I returned buying the duel decks with Siege Rhino in it. This product was cool as I thought. So, I would not recommend anything else than preconstructed decks with planeswalkers and value cards as an entry.

I really mis the little rulebooks from Mirage and 4th edition starter decks with fully described sample turns (do you remmeber the 4th edition booklet describing how a Fireball on several targets worked opposed to just one? Or Interrupts and spontaneous effects?)… Geez I wished with all new mechanics like Double Strike and the resulting detailed focus of who got priority or not they put something like these booklets back in starter products for this game.

Der John says:

I remember being so disappointed when they stopped making starter decks. They were the meat and bone of the prereleases.

Christopher D'Angelo says:

What about the actual box!!! Modern intro decks don’t give you a box to keep your deck in. 🙁

Brian Ly says:

Always pulling hot I see, foil steel leaf drum is like 35$

newkeyo says:

I feel it’s like it’s a sign of the times that we live in most people can’t go to their local without immediately getting steamroller. I feel like intro packs should be more tournament viable but also include cards maybe singles that help spice up and deck building

Sharky Prodiver says:

Love that delay on Sabertooth Cobra XD

JSK129 says:

Man, I miss these. Only got the Lorwyn one but I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

Andrew Bellavie says:

First magic product I ever bought was an Urza’s Saga starter deck.

Affinity for MTG says:

Great video, Prof! This was very nostalgic me, like you mentioned in the video, I used to buy these whenever I needed basic lands. If I needed lands of a specific color, then I’d buy preconstructed decks…JUST FOR THE LANDS! I’m glad those are a bit easier to come by nowadays.

Mr. Mammuthus Africanavus says:

LOL I loved how WOTC had those lvls: Expert, etc.. but probably a failure due to most players being like ”I am an Expert” and never touching Portal with the silly sword and shield symbols and NO INSTANTS because Basic:)

Ulisses Assis says:

I bought my fair share of 4th Edition Starter Decks back when I was in High School, it was fun building decks from them, but after a while the lands became really unnecessary, so I switched to boosters. Great video Professor, keep up the good work!

John C. says:

2:10 I always opt for the Big Bulge Value

aegisofhonor says:

cracking open that $70 Lorwyn Tournament Pack, and getting….mostly junk, oh well!

MissRandom710 says:

Interesting video prof! I love it! Please do more mtg throwback vids like this!

lasterman says:

3 rares? I play since 2005 and Mirrodin, bought load of starter decks, and I never got more than 2 rares… ridged?

Jonathan Collins says:

Those mirage basic lands had me drooling. The old artwork on lands are just beautiful.

Sean Holley says:

As a player who started in Theros I personally think that these are better compared to deckbuilders toolkits. Which while only semirandom do provide a similar experience and function of jump-starting a collection as well as providing a few boosters to go along with it.

VGJustice says:

To me, it’s really a matter of price. Bundles are a bit pricey at $35 for that kid clutching their allowance. The Deck Builder’s Toolkit hits that mark a lot better at $20, and comes with a nice box for the cards afterwards. But, one of these “Intro Decks” could come all the way down to $10 and offer a much more affordable way for someone to get into the game.

Romero Grinerdam says:

Oh, man. That nostalgia. This Mirage Starter Deck is my childhood. Those John Avon mountais… so beautiful.

Daughter Of Frankenstein says:

God, watching that Mirage deck crack open was such a painful reminder of how much I loved Magic as a child. I still do as an adult, but the sheer wonder I still feel when looking at cards like Goblin Soothsayer and being transported from a standard fantasy story reminds me what is so uniquely special about what stories this game can tell.

Edwin the Magic Engineer says:

Yes, MTG should go back to it’s roots.

triox64 says:

Tournament deck was almost always worth the buy. Rarely did i get duds

Graeme Gunn says:


Warp Drive Fueled by Insomnia says:

Man, I love Lorwyn and Mirage basic lands.

Zemoch93 says:

Only time I feel sad about MTG is when a new player asks me what to pick up in order to start playing and I can’t provide him an easy option outside of commander precons :/ The new gamenight product might be cool but it again faces the problem of not having the option to be original. waiting for your review on that one : )

Xtra unserious says:

I like learning about magic product history.

Phyrexian Juggernaut says:

Foil Springleaf Drum and Lorwyn lands.

Paul Meyer says:

My magic journey started with a couple of saviors of kamigawa and mirrodin starter decks. Might just be the nostalgia but they really felt like there was more care put into them. I would never even consider buying a planeswalker deck. Feels like I’m burning money for bulk commons/uncommons and jank rares

Gomer Caasi says:

I really think they should reconsider doing this again.. I miss the starter decks..

Larry R says:


PFFP says:

I think they need to continue the Challenger Decks program and maybe bring back the Modern ones.

phsyckomantis says:

I still miss the starter decks )’:

mason knop says:

bring them back!

Raul Avina says:

What editing software do you use for your videos?

Rash says:

If anything, prereleases with Tournament packs were cheaper. Nowadays prereleases in Brazil cost around 35 dollars per person, which is egregious

matt thomas says:

hey prof how do you feel about the world championship decks? personally i find them a great way to get some pricey older cards for non tourney play without breaking my bank.

Brennan Clement says:

I only just started last year so I don’t actually have an opinion on the product, but I will say it is pretty lame how much I see the preconstructed planeswalker decks. They aren’t good, they’re expensive, and they’re really locked into a certain theme. I agree that six boosters is the way to go, but how are you supposed to know that as a brand new player?

Jeff Jefferson says:

Lowkey got a $32 foil Springleaf Drum..

Jan-Paul Boelcke says:

I miss them too. I remember how I went to my first Sealed Tournament at my local youth centre and opened up my first Tournament Pack and it was from Mirrodin. too bad you didn’t pull any of those completely bonkers cards that made mirrodin mirrodin (aka. Urza’s Saga 2, THE PAYBACK of Artifacts)

arnoud says:

Lolll the fact that Bram came out on the pro card is Awesome for a dutchy like me haha

Santiago Horianski says:

PW decks have nothing to do with these. I started playing when i was 8, short after Lorwyn’s release, and i bought the green black elf deck, which not only helped me start in the game in a way that i just couldn’t when i recently came back to playing, but it gave me a fun AND competetitive deck that an 8 y-o could understand, enjoy and play at FNM, and today, 10 years later, with obviously a lot of changes but mantaining the concept it’s still my most competitive deck. My friends, who had never played mtg before, but knew the rules and played with my old decks, went through HELL to start playing. THIS DECKS ARE INDEED NEEDED, and not shitty PW or DUEL Decks. People need a way to start playing magic easily, fun and competitively again, or else this game will die in the long term. Yes, you mentioned booster packs and prerealeases but a) is not the same value, this decks were worth 4 booster packs but came with a 5 booster packs number of cards, and you know how important that is for struggling budget players, and prereleases always have been a little more expensive than starters and b) NOT EVERYON WHO KNOWS THE RULES KNOWS HOW TO BUILD A DECK FROM 0. + you’re taking the game on step further away than who it was meant to be: KIDS. I, as a kid, not only enjoyed these but helped me developed in many ways, understanding a game that’s waaaaay more complex than any other tcg and learning how to build a deck step by step and not GOING TO FNM TO LOSE MY TIME AND MONEY FOR MONTHS TILL I ENDED UP WITH A DECENT DECK. This are NEEDED, should have never left the stores and even improve. 80% of products nowadays are a huge waste of money for both players and the company, it’s stupid, these were perfect.

erreje II says:

i would like that instead of putting shity new cards on the plaswalker decks they put actual cards with value or not a mythic or a chase rare but something worth to buy or cards with new art i already have tons of bad rares i don’t want more

androkguz says:

I really think we need a new player’s opinion here because the planes walker decks VS the starter decks kind of doesn’t compare because you are only new once.
I know for instance that my gf would be more interested in a PW deck which has a face than a weird retro thing, though I certainly remember them fondly

Romero Grinerdam says:

I do think Starter and tournament Decks (for me they are basicly the same thing) would be great today. With the return of the Core set. The deckbuilding adventure and the trading in school is a huge part of starting in the game. Back in Tempest block, with the first pre-constructed decks, these products were not the basic product, but an advanced one, to improve decks.

The planeswalker decks and intro whatever they release today are almost finished decks (with ack of power level). This just rip off the first deckbuildings experiences, when you think Craw Wurm is so great. Kids today are just starting with a finished deck that they can just unpack and play. But magic is not a video game to just unpack and play.

So, for those who would not enter the semi-competitive Magic, this perspective makes Magic almost a table game, wich you can unpack, play and then just close.

In this way, Commander today is what gives that feeling of experiencing deckbuilding with any card you can get. It does has these pre-constructed commander decks, but you can still see that feeling among young players.

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