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Brad Nicholson avatar 7:12 PM on 09.13.2008  (server time)
Magic: Two-player Starter Game

My last Magic article talked about how much a young person can learn from Magic: the Gathering. Someone who commented on that article talked about something that Wizards of the Coast is considering right now - the person that wants to play Magic, but doesn’t have the resources at hand to begin. It’s okay, Wizards has your back. Recently, Wizards of the Coast debuted their Two-Player Starter Game, the perfect package for those of you that have considered Magic, but turned away by the seemingly endless amounts of cards.

The Two-Player Starter Game is a small bundle, formulated to get you and a buddy playing the game nearly immediately. It comes with quite a few items, so I’ll walk you through one of the bundles that Wizards tossed me.

First of all, you have to pick up the package. It is available everywhere Magic cards are sold, including major retailers like Wal-Mart. As you can see, it has a fairly identifiable shape and the text makes its purpose fairly obvious. After grabbing the set, you’ll have to grab a partner. If you’re like me, dragging your loved one into it may be the easiest (and most rewarding) thing to do. After sitting them down, it’s time to crack open the set.

The set packs quite a wallop for its ten dollar price point. Here’s what you get:

* Two 15-card Tenth Edition core set booster packs
* 20 assorted basic land cards
* A quick-start insert

Each booster pack has a FOIL in it, which is great – and the land is both diverse and plentiful as you can see. It’s a perfect way to get into the game. The quick-start insert is probably the most important thing in the set, as you’ll be experiencing the game for the first time. It’s a huge insert, with fairly concise directions. It spells out when to lay down cards, how cards work, what the different types of cards look like, how to gauge health, how to attack/block, and everything else a rookie is going to ask. Of course, learning Magic takes a small bit of dedication. To help with the transition, it may be best to check out and their videos. It was a huge help to me.

Let’s suppose you have already learned the rules, now it’s time to play. The great thing about the two-player starter set is that it allows for quick games while offering a variety of cards. It really exposes the new player to the majority of things that they would encounter with an upper-level theme deck. I just cracked open my black starter set. Let’s check out the highlights of what I got:

* Four of each type of Land (Swamp, Plains, Island, Mountain, and Forest)
* A Masashi Oiso card (He’s won $139,910 in tournaments!)
* Platinum Nekrataal Card (First strike, very cool)
* Gold Gaea’s Herald (1/1, your spells can’t be countered)
* FOIL Lava Axe (Sorcery, five damage to target player)
* FOIL March of Machines (Turns nonartifact creatures into artifacts with power and toughness equal to their mana cost)
* Grizzly Bears!

As you can see, that’s not that bad at all for a starter pack.

The thing about Magic is that it does take a little time, but the rewards are awesome. You get to make new friends, explore a community, and use your head. After a few hours of a game like Facebreaker, I’m more than happy to energize my brain cells with a bit of strategy.

The best thing about what Wizards of the Coast are doing right now is that they’re focusing on accessibility. It’s a parallel to what we’re seeing in the MMO market. While I was at Gen Con, this is what every developer and publisher was preaching. I think these guys are figuring out that the casual potential consumers feel as though they’re at a disadvantage and therefore probably won’t go for the product. Wizards worked with me and taught me that this game is pretty hip.

Give it a shot in you’re interested and tell me how it goes!

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