- Great for beginners
- Good variation of strategies available
- Very easy to get cards out quickly
- Not many big-hitters
I have a confession to make. Before I played any of the Duels of the Planeswalkers games on PSN, I understood the rules of Magic: The Gathering like a lemming understands surviving an apocalypse. Thanks to being tutored by the finest card-battling games available, I now find myself actually knowing what I’m doing, and now I even have some real cards. Hoorah!
Well with each passing year the Magic universe grows, and the 2014 Core Set has literally just been released. We’ve been given a chance to look at one of the Intro Decks, Fire Scourge, designed to cater for players who are new to the game or just not very good.
The Intro Deck is a nice little bundle, containing a 60-card deck, two booster packs, a “learn to play” guide, a strategy insert and a lovely foil card in the form of Chandra’s Phoenix. The deck is a red/blue hybrid (with more emphasis on the former), with a good mixture of possible different strategies. Most of the big hitters come from the red side of the fence, with blue cards mainly focused on weaker attacks that present a whole new world of frustration for your opponent. There are several cards that have Flying (Nephalia Seakite, Trained Condor), while Phantom Warriors present a fairly quick way to launch at unblockable 2/2 attack.
For beginners, it’s very easy to use. You can get cards out fairly quickly on most occasions, despite the fact that the bulk of them do relatively little damage. Fire Surge is at its best when you’re going flat-out from the start, allow the opponent to get some bigger creatures and you’ll probably find yourself in a whole world of trouble.
That’s unless you’re saved by the most statistically robust and perhaps shining light of the deck, Shivan Dragon. With a 5/5 from the off and a boost of +1/0 for one mana (used as many times as you like, although the effects last for just one turn), it can quickly turn into the focus point of the battle. While it’s the most hard-hitting, coupled with the Flying abilities of cards such as Chandra’s Phoenix and buffing enchantments such as Shiv’s Embrace (+2/+2 for selected creature plus an additional +1/0 for one mana) there are plenty of alternate ways to frustrate your enemy.
Another plus point for Fire Surge is that there are more ways to annoy your opponent than creatures alone. Lava Axe deals five damage direct to the target player (three Lava Axes are in the deck), while Chandra’s Outrage and Flames of the Firebrand can also cause direct damage to either creatures or their controller. Should you find your hand depleting, Opportunity lets you draw four cards, while Negate allows a direct counter for even the most devastating noncreature spell. Save it for when you’re in a pickle and it’s a great lifeline to have.
As a whole, Fire Surge is ideal for beginners and offers a chance to get cards out quickly and generally play it pretty safe. Despite a few cards that can cause some serious damage, it’s a fast deck that offers little in the way of big punches, so you’re more likely to overwhelm the opposition with numbers than you are to knock them straight out of the park. That said, the burn strategies and option to attack from the sky offer a nice dose of diversity, and combined with various artifacts and enchantments there are plenty of newb-friendly plays on offer. There isn’t the high-level of synergy and complexity that some of the more advanced decks possess, but as a starting point it’s a perfect introduction.