Preconstructed theme deck

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Constructed by Wizards of the Coast, preconstructed theme decks are a type of Magic product composed of specific non-random sets of cards that are sold in their own packaging along with each core set and expansion.[1] The very first preconstructed theme decks were released in the Rivals Quick Start Set.

Expansion sets[edit | edit source]

Theme decks from expansion sets may contain any card printed in that specific block as of that expansion set.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Preconstructed theme decks were first introduced for the Tempest expansion set and contained 60 cards (including 3 rares and 9 uncommons). The number of lands and common cards could differ. For most expansions, there were four of these decks, which were simply advertised as theme decks. They could be monocolored and bicolored.

Adjustment of rarities[edit | edit source]

From Urza's Saga onwards, the theme decks contained 2 rares and 13 uncommons. Urza's Saga was also the first expansion set to have a three-color theme deck. Radiant's Revenge is the only theme deck with both rares being artifacts.

Adding multicolor[edit | edit source]

Invasion was the first expansion set to have a five-color theme deck.

New package design[edit | edit source]

Onslaught theme decks introduced a new design on their cardboard box that quickly showed the colors used to build the deck.

Change to intro packs[edit | edit source]

From the Shards of Alara set onwards, theme decks connected to expansions are referred to as intro packs, to better reflect the nature of these products, as they introduce newer players to Magic: The Gathering and older ones to new expansions, with their novel mechanics.[2][3] The decks were now made from a card pool composed of the most recent core set and the cards from the current block. Intro decks follow a number of design rules.[4][5] Intro packs initially consisted of 41 cards featuring a foil rare, a booster pack, a strategy insert for the deck, and a Magic "learn to play" guide.

Adjustment of size[edit | edit source]

Following the example of Magic 2011, with Scars of Mirrodin the size of 41 cards in the intro packs changed to 60 cards, like the old theme decks, but still included the booster pack. The card pool was still restricted to the current block.

Extra boosters[edit | edit source]

With Return to Ravnica, the intro packs increased to contain two booster packs.

Alternate art face cards[edit | edit source]

As of Khans of Tarkir, the face cards in intro packs are not just premium rare cards, but alternate art premium rare cards that won't be found in booster packs.[6]

Change to Planeswalker decks[edit | edit source]

As announced in 2014, intro packs, fat packs, and Deck Builder's Toolkits would be refigured to accommodate starter level players after the introduction of the Two-Block Paradigm.[7] It turned out that, starting with Kaladesh, intro packs were replaced by Planeswalker Decks which each contained four cards which were not available in the associated set.[8]

Change to Commander decks[edit | edit source]

Starting with Zendikar Rising in 2020, Commander decks replaced Planeswalker decks as a regular part of an expansion's product line.[9]

Starter-level sets[edit | edit source]

Portal did not contain theme decks, but Portal Second Age and Portal Three Kingdoms contained five and three decks respectively. Each of these decks contained three rares. Starter 1999 contained five theme decks, each with two rares. All of them were monocolored.

Core sets[edit | edit source]

Theme decks from core sets are only made with cards from that core set, while theme decks from expansion sets have cards from that set's block.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Theme decks for core sets were introduced with 7th Edition, after the discontinuation of the Starter-level sets. They contained two rares and seven uncommons with a total of 40 cards. Early core sets contained only monocolored theme decks.

Change to intro packs[edit | edit source]

From the Magic 2010 onwards, theme decks connected to core sets were referred to as intro packs, as well. Magic 2010 also contained the first dual-colored core set theme decks. The core set intro packs now had the same content as expansion intro packs (a ready-to-play 41-card deck featuring a foil rare, a sealed 15-card booster pack, a strategy insert, and "learn to play" guide).

Adjustment of size[edit | edit source]

With the Magic 2011 core set, the size of 41 cards in the intro packs changed to 60 cards, but still included the booster pack.

Extra boosters[edit | edit source]

With the Magic 2013 core set, the intro packs increased to contain two booster packs.

Discontinuation and reintroduction[edit | edit source]

Core sets were discontinued after Magic Origins in 2015, but were reintroduced in 2018.[10] Like the expansions of the time, they featured planeswalker decks. These had a strong integration with the welcome decks, and Deck Builder's Toolkit, allowing for an easier transition between the products. While planeswalker decks were abandoned for expansions in 2020, they were retained for core sets.

Box sets[edit | edit source]

Main article: Box sets

Early box sets like Anthologies, Beatdown and Battle Royale experimented with different numbers and sizes of theme decks.

Main article: Duel Decks

The Duel Decks contain two theme decks and a total of eight rares.

Other preconstructed decks appeared, among others, in the Premium Deck Series, the Commander series, the Planechase series, and in Archenemy.

As of 2019, Wizards of the Coast is looking to increase the number of boxed preconstructed decks, and is willing to experiment in the packages.[11]

Event Decks[edit | edit source]

Main article: Event deck

Starting with Mirrodin Besieged Wizards of the Coast also designed competitive Standard-legal decks, called event decks, for expansions and core sets. Although released simultaneous with new sets, they could contain cards outside of the current block or core set, as long as they were legal. Initially, each set had two event decks.

Reducing to one[edit | edit source]

From Dragon's Maze onwards each set only featured one event deck.

Discontinuation[edit | edit source]

This product was officially discontinued after Battle for Zendikar.[12]

Challenger Decks[edit | edit source]

In 2018, Wizards of the Coast took another try at competitive preconstructed decks. These are called "Challenger Decks". These are intended to be very strong and feature many rares, as well as at least two mythic rares. For Challenger Decks, Magic R&D changed its design process so that they could build them closer to release.[13]

Half Decks[edit | edit source]

In 2020, Unsanctioned and Jumpstart introduced "half decks". These are preconstructed batches of cards that are to combined with a random other batch to form a ready-to-play complete deck.

MTGO[edit | edit source]

Masters Edition II[edit | edit source]

Main article: Masters Edition II

Mirage block (MTGO)[edit | edit source]

The Mirage block theme decks were designed for MTGO, as these expansion sets were printed before theme decks were first printed in the Tempest block.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Aaron Forsythe (August 27, 2004). "The Theme? Decks". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater (June 2, 2008). "The Year of Living Changerously". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Wizards of the Coast (June 2, 2008). "Changes as of Shards of Alara". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Mark Rosewater (January 12, 2011). "Design Challenge #5: "Introductions Please"". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Tom LaPille (February 18, 2011). "Making Introductions". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Dan Barrett (August 15, 2014). "Revealed at Gamescom". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Wizards of the Coast (November 7, 2014). "PAX Australia Magic Panel". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Mark Rosewater (May 16, 2016). "Ramp of Approval". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Gavin Verhey (October 30, 2019). "Big Things Are Coming for Commander in 2020". Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Mark Rosewater (June 18, 2018). "Getting to the Core". Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Gavin Verhey (2019-02-05). "State of Product Design 2018". Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Mark Rosewater (February 08, 2016). "Are Event Decks and Clash Packs discontinued?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  13. Blake Rasmussen (December 18, 2017). "Challenger Decks and the Final Duel Decks". Wizards of the Coast.