NOTE: We have resurrected this review to link in to our Magic: the Gathering feature. The week prior to last, we reviewed all the Theros expansion releases. Over this week and next, we will be bringing you reviews of the Magic 2014 Core Set, and some other miscellaneous sets. Stick with us for more… (original publication: August 5th, 2013 at 9.00am)

Today we have the latest release in the Magic the Gathering TCG series for review, the 2014 Core Intro Pack. The new intro packs include some additional content over last year’s core set which make them far better for beginners. Thanks to the press team behind Magic in the UK, we have TWO of the five intro packs available for review today.

The intro packs are specifically designed for people new to the game, and can be picked up and used to play instantly; no modifications are required to play. Now, if you want to improve your chances, upgrading your deck with some better cards would be recommended, but is not entirely necessary. Each core set includes a prebuilt 60 card deck, which has a balanced mix of cards and includes one premium foil rare; two 15-card booster packs, for upgrading your deck; a how-to-play guide and a booklet giving further information on the intro packs.

Five different intro packs are available; Lightforce, Psychic Labyrinth, Bestial Strength, Fire Surge and Death Reaper. The two we received for review were Lightforce and Death Reaper. Each intro pack has a different focus, for example, Lightforce focuses on having well rounded monsters, who can be highly boosted using a variety of enhancements present in your deck, whereas Death Reaper has more of an all-out attack focus. If you are a beginner, it doesn’t really matter which you choose, just pick one you like the sound of and you will get used to the deck’s focus.

So, within the intro pack is a guide on how to play Magic: The Gathering. This guide is compact and fits easily in ones pocket. If you want to learn how to play, look no further than this guide, it does a fantastic job of explaining the basics, and you should already have the basic idea of how to play after reading it. The other booklet included gives you strategic ideas, and a list of all the cards in each of the intro packs.

Now, within both 60 card decks, I did not encounter any mythic rare, which is disappointing. The premium foil card fronting the intro packs seem to only be rare, and not mythic rare. Common, uncommon and rare cards are all mixed into the 60 card decks, and the booster packs, but a mythic rare is hard to find. I encountered three in total across my four booster packs, which is more lucky than one would generally be with booster packs.

Once you play a couple of games and get used to the play style of Magic, you will have a better idea of how to improve your starter deck. The two booster packs really do help to get you going with a slightly more custom deck. This can be improved further by purchasing more booster packs, a deckbuilder’s toolkit, a Fat Pack or even by buying another intro pack and taking some cards from the deck and boosters within (although the latter would be least recommended).

The artwork and quality of the cards is fantastic; the design team never fail to impress. Each card has a uniquely designed character and background, and a lot of time obviously goes into the design of these cards. The artwork is superb, and really can be appreciated by just studying the intricate details in the artwork. Magic may be higher priced than some other card games, but, once you pick up a card, you will know this is a premium card game, judging by the print quality, artwork and paper quality. One criticism I do have is the fact no case is included in the intro pack; the cards are only wrapped in plastic, and, once the plastic is removed, there is no way to store the cards.

The best price I found from a quick search online was $11.99 for the intro packs, which is an absolute steal! At this price, I highly recommend that newbies to Magic and experienced players pick them up, you get two boosters included, and for that price, the 60 card deck works out being very inexpensive. The 2014 intro packs are the best that I’ve seen from Magic in a few years and for that, I award: