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Starter decks and tournament packs

A tournament pack, also known as a tournament deck, and formerly as a starter deck, was a Magic product containing a random assortment of cards for a given set, similar to a large booster pack. These packs were only available for the initial large set of a block, as well as for core sets starting with Alpha. As starter decks they contained 60 cards and a rulebook or storybook, but starting with Urza's Saga they were known as tournament decks and contained 75 cards and a quick-reference rules sheet. This made the 75 card variety roughly equivalent to 3 booster packs, aside from the extra uncommon in place of a common and the land. The change was made to facilitate Sealed deck tournaments.

Starter decks were sold to retailers in 10-pack starter boxes. After Ice Age this became 12 packs to a box. Tournament decks were sold in 12-pack tournament boxes.

Tournament packs were the only certain source for basic lands, until WotC started producing preconstructed theme decks, and, from Seventh Edition on, a basic land was added to boosters instead of a common. Shards of Alara was the last set that offered tournament packs for purchase. They were replaced by Intro packs.

The original starter deck was designed as the cover of a magical tome. The pages, a bookmarker and the binding are seen from the sides (signifying that your deck is your "library" of magic spells). The front cover was also used as the card back for each card. It was designed and colored by the original art director for the game, Jesper Myrfors, together with Christopher Rush.[1]

Product breakdown
Sets Packs Per Box Cards Per Pack Rares Uncommons Commons Basic Lands
Alpha - Revised 10 60 2 13 45 ? *
4th Edition - Ice Age 10 60 3 9 26 22
Mirage - Tempest 12 60 3 10 25 22
Urza's Saga - Shards of Alara 12 75 3* 10 32 30
  • From Alpha to Revised, basic lands were counted as commons.
  • In Shards of Alara, any number of rares could be replaced with mythic rares.


  1. Mark Rosewater (January 27, 2003). "Frames of Reference". Wizards of the Coast.