Hullbreaker Horror - Illustration by Svetlin Velinov

Hullbreaker Horror | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov

Over the years Wizards has released a variety of products aimed at getting new players into Magic. They’ve come in several different forms, like Intro Decks, Planeswalker Decks, or Booster Battle Packs, but these products share some similar features. They’re usually inexpensive complete decks that can be played directly out of the box and are Standard-legal at the time of their release. The latest iteration of these products, first appearing in 2018, is Magic’s Starter Kits.

Thanks to their self-explanatory name, Starter Kits are likely one of the first products a new player looks at on the shelf at their local game store or big box retailer. If you’re looking to get into Magic, or transition from Magic Arena to paper Magic, it would be helpful for you to know exactly what you’re getting in a Starter Kit and whether they’re worth buying.

What Are the Starter Kits?

Start from Scratch - Illustration by Bayard Wu

Start from Scratch | Illustration by Bayard Wu

Starter Kits are introductory Magic products designed to give two players everything they need to start playing the game. Magic has had a long tradition of two-player starter products dating all the way back to 1994’s Revised Gift Box, and Starter Kits are the latest version of that product line. These decks serve as a good and inexpensive way for new players to try out the hobby. If you’re trying to get your friends into Magic, this might be a product to consider.

What’s in Starter Kits?

Each of the five products released as Starter Kits includes two 60-card Magic decks and supplemental materials to help players learn the game. Each deck includes a foil card of one of the deck’s rares. The exact form of rulebooks has changed from product to product. For example, all but the latest Starter Kits have included rules cards that players can reference along with rulebooks. The booklet included in the latest Starter Kit also includes a guide to the world of Magic: The Gathering. It gives you some insight into the lore and how to play the game. This might signal a redoubled effort by Wizards to get new players invested in both the game and its narrative.

The first three Starter Kits included spin-down counters, but those have been replaced by deck boxes in the latest two Kits. This is probably a change for the better because digital life tracking has become more popular. New players will appreciate having a place to store their cards. Another new addition to the Kits starts with 2020’s release of the Magic Arena Starter Kit code for Magic Arena. They can be redeemed by two players and give each one a copy of both decks from the Starter Kit.

Starter Kits Decklists and Rankings

#10. Rough and Tumble (2021 Arena Starter Kit)

Rough and Tumble (2021 Arena Starter Kit)

There isn’t a ton of synergy between the black and green cards in Rough and Tumble. It feels more like a Jumpstart deck with two colors randomly mixed. There also aren’t any dual tap lands to help with the mana base. The value of this deck is incredibly low: the cards are worth less than $2 collectively, so you’d end up paying more for shipping than the cards are worth if you wanted to grab this deck.

Magic: The Gathering 2021 Arena Starter Kit
  • 2 ready-to-play 60-card Magic decks (basic lands included)
  • 1 traditional foil card in each deck—Cyclone Summoner and Dragonsguard Elite
  • 1 Play Guide booklet
  • 2 deck storage boxes
  • 1 MTG Arena Code Card to unlock both decks for two people to play online at MTG Arena

#9. Red-White (Spellslinger Starter Kit)

Red-White (Spellslinger Starter Kit)

This Boros deck is a decently constructed aggro deck for playing against the other Starter Kit deck, but it has far too many vanilla creatures to be viable in any real format. The inclusion of two-color tap lands is nice, and it comes with a handy board wipe. This is unfortunately one of the rare decks that doesn’t come with a legendary creature, so there’s no potential for branching off into Commander.

Sale
Magic The Gathering Spellslinger Starter Kit | 2 Starter Decks | 2 Dice | 2 Learn to Play Guides
  • LEARN TO PLAY MAGIC. You and a friend can start playing Magic: The Gathering instantly with this two-player starter set.
  • JUST OPEN AND PLAY. Everything you need is in the box. Follow the quick start guide to learn as you play.
  • CHOOSE YOUR DECK. Pick the red/white deck to command ferocious dragons and righteous angels, or go with black/green and lead vampires and dinosaurs into battle.
  • TEACH YOUR FRIENDS. These two starter decks were designed as an intuitive way to learn Magic. They’re even arranged to guarantee a good mana curve in game one.
  • PLAY THE ORIGINAL. The first modern collectible card game, Magic: The Gathering has inspired more than 20 million fans over 25 years.

#8. Sneak Attack (2021 Arena Starter Kit)

Sneak Attack (2021 Arena Starter Kit)

Sneak Attack is a little higgledy-piggledy when it comes to the theme. It seems more like it’s showing off everything that blue and red can do in Magic instead of focusing on being a well-crafted Izzet deck. This can be good for new players who want a sampler platter of mechanics, but it doesn’t make for the most cohesive deck.

Magic: The Gathering 2021 Arena Starter Kit
  • 2 ready-to-play 60-card Magic decks (basic lands included)
  • 1 traditional foil card in each deck—Cyclone Summoner and Dragonsguard Elite
  • 1 Play Guide booklet
  • 2 deck storage boxes
  • 1 MTG Arena Code Card to unlock both decks for two people to play online at MTG Arena

#7. Mono-Green (Core Set 2021 Magic Arena Starter Kit)

Mono-Green (Core Set 2021 Magic Arena Starter Kit)

This mono-green deck has 61 cards in it if you choose to include the foil Kogla, the Titan Ape that comes with it. It has some fun cards for Commander like Colossification and good mono-green support like Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig. It’s a good deck for learning what a mono-green deck likes to do.

Magic: The Gathering MTG-M21-SK-EN Arena Starter Kit Display
  • Contains exciting new cards from Core Set 2021.
  • A great introduction to the Magic Community.
  • Contains two ready to play decks.
  • Model number: MTG-M21-SK-EN

#6. Drakuseth (Core Set 2020 Spellslinger Starter Kit)

Drakuseth (Core Set 2020 Spellslinger Starter Kit)

This mono-red deck with Drakuseth, Maw of Flames at the helm has a nice cohesive theme and feels very focused. Apart from its vanilla creatures, much of the deck is focused on flying creatures and doing direct damage. This deck does a good job of showing players how to build and play a deck around a few mechanics in a color rather than trying to cram them all in at once.

Magic: The Gathering Spellslinger Starter Kit Core Set 2020 (M20) | 2 Starter Decks | 2 Dice | 2 Learn to Play Guides
  • JUMP INTO MAGIC: THE GATHERING instantly with this two-player starter set.
  • WELCOME THE CHALLENGE. Magic: The Gathering is the deepest strategy card game there is, with endless challenges for new players and veterans alike.
  • PLAY FACE-TO-FACE OR DIGITAL with codes to unlock both decks on MTG ARENA.
  • JUST OPEN AND PLAY. Everything you need is in the box. Follow the quick start guide to learn as you play.
  • CHOOSE YOUR DECK. Pick the red deck to command ferocious dragons, or go with black/green and lead righteous angels into battle.

#5. Mono-Black (Core Set 2021 Magic Arena Starter Kit)

Mono-Black (Core Set 2021 Magic Arena Starter Kit)

This mono-black deck is a good way to show off several black mechanics, but it falls short of doing any of them well. The inclusion of Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose is a good way to show off how a legendary creature can reshape the way a player uses a certain mechanic to their advantage. This shows players how to think creatively about the way cards interact. It can be a good gateway to the Commander format if they want to focus a deck around a specific legendary card.

Magic: The Gathering MTG-M21-SK-EN Arena Starter Kit Display
  • Contains exciting new cards from Core Set 2021.
  • A great introduction to the Magic Community.
  • Contains two ready to play decks.
  • Model number: MTG-M21-SK-EN

#4. Black-Green (Spellslinger Starter Kit)

Black-Green (Spellslinger Starter Kit)

Ironically this Golgari deck might be the best one for players who want to start playing mono-green decks. It has staples like Llanowar Elves and Reclamation Sage. Ghalta, Primal Hunger is a great way to show the payoff to green’s mana ramp and creature-heavy strategies. Including some black removal cards in this deck is also a great way to teach new players about the benefits of using a second color of mana to supplement a weak area of another.

Sale
Magic The Gathering Spellslinger Starter Kit | 2 Starter Decks | 2 Dice | 2 Learn to Play Guides
  • LEARN TO PLAY MAGIC. You and a friend can start playing Magic: The Gathering instantly with this two-player starter set.
  • JUST OPEN AND PLAY. Everything you need is in the box. Follow the quick start guide to learn as you play.
  • CHOOSE YOUR DECK. Pick the red/white deck to command ferocious dragons and righteous angels, or go with black/green and lead vampires and dinosaurs into battle.
  • TEACH YOUR FRIENDS. These two starter decks were designed as an intuitive way to learn Magic. They’re even arranged to guarantee a good mana curve in game one.
  • PLAY THE ORIGINAL. The first modern collectible card game, Magic: The Gathering has inspired more than 20 million fans over 25 years.

#3. Sephara, Sky’s Blade (Core Set 2020 Spellslinger Starter Kit)

Sephara, Sky’s Blade (Core Set 2020 Spellslinger Starter Kit)

Having small creatures supported by buffs from powerful angels is a classic mono-white deck style. Sephara, Sky’s Blade is a good representation of a type of deck players will see in constructed formats, but this deck also includes some good value. Sephara, Sky’s Blade and Angelic Guardian are worth more than many of the Starter Kit decks in their entirety. This deck is an overall good learning tool. It’s well built and worth more than its cost (if you can find it for its original price).

Magic: The Gathering Spellslinger Starter Kit Core Set 2020 (M20) | 2 Starter Decks | 2 Dice | 2 Learn to Play Guides
  • JUMP INTO MAGIC: THE GATHERING instantly with this two-player starter set.
  • WELCOME THE CHALLENGE. Magic: The Gathering is the deepest strategy card game there is, with endless challenges for new players and veterans alike.
  • PLAY FACE-TO-FACE OR DIGITAL with codes to unlock both decks on MTG ARENA.
  • JUST OPEN AND PLAY. Everything you need is in the box. Follow the quick start guide to learn as you play.
  • CHOOSE YOUR DECK. Pick the red deck to command ferocious dragons, or go with black/green and lead righteous angels into battle.

#2. Earth Shakers (2022 Starter Kit)

Earth Shakers (2022 Starter Kit)

It’s not as well constructed as some of the previous decks, but this Gruul deck has one inherent advantage: it’s still in Standard. New players who buy this deck can take it right out of the box and head over to their local Friday Night Magic. They probably won’t do too well with the somewhat jumbled theme of the deck, but it gives them a starting place to build on. That’s the point of these Kits, isn’t it?

Magic: The Gathering 2022 Starter Kit | 2 Ready-to-Play Decks | 2 MTG Arena Code Cards
  • 2 ready-to-play 60-card decks—1 White-Blue, 1 Red-Green
  • 1 Magic Play Guide booklet
  • 2 deck boxes
  • Codes for 2 people to unlock both decks to play online in MTG Arena
  • 5 rare cards—including 1 rare foil card—in each deck

#1. Up and Away (2022 Starter Kit)

Up and Away (2022 Starter Kit)

Another fully Standard-legal deck, the Azorius deck from the latest kit fairs a little better. It’s a decently focused control deck with a few strange outliers. It also includes the very good Hullbreaker Horror.

Magic: The Gathering 2022 Starter Kit | 2 Ready-to-Play Decks | 2 MTG Arena Code Cards
  • 2 ready-to-play 60-card decks—1 White-Blue, 1 Red-Green
  • 1 Magic Play Guide booklet
  • 2 deck boxes
  • Codes for 2 people to unlock both decks to play online in MTG Arena
  • 5 rare cards—including 1 rare foil card—in each deck

Does MTG Still Make Starter Kits?

Yes! The latest Starter Kit just came out in June 2022, which fits into Wizards’ pattern of releasing at least one two-player introductory product per year. Aside from a slight dip in production of these products in the early 2000s, products with two sealed intro decks have been an annual occurrence since 1994. Even if they change names and branding, Starter Kits will be around in some form going forward.

What’s the MSRP of Starter Kits?

Only the first Starter Kit technically has an MSRP because Wizards of the Coast did away with MSRP for their products in February 2019. That first kit had an MSRP of $14.99. Unlike other products, Starter Kits have gotten less expensive since MSRP was taken away at Wizards. The latest Kits can be found for about $10 at local stores or big box retailers.

Starter Kits Vs. Starter Decks

The difference between Magic Starter Kits and Starter Decks is that Starter Kits come with two playable decks. Conversely, Starter Deck products like Planeswalker Decks or Intro Decks only have one preconstructed deck.  Some Starter Deck products had slightly more powerful decklists because they were a single deck for around the same price. Players who were willing to spend a little more might prefer to just grab two of those instead of a Starter Kit.

Where Can You Get Old Starter Kits?

Magic: The Gathering 2021 Arena Starter Kit

Players looking to grab last year’s starter kits can do so on Amazon for less than $20, around what Wizards’ original MSRP was for similar products.

Sellers on TCGPlayer are selling older Kits for slightly less than Amazon, with last year’s costing only $10. If you’re looking for the Core Set 2020 Starter Kit, which includes some of the best decklists, you may want to consider buying singles from TCGPlayer and making the decks yourself. The individual cards will run you about $20 on TCGPlayer’s market.

Are Starter Kit Cards Legal?

Yes, Starter Kits don’t include unique cards that aren’t legal in current formats. However, not all Starter Kits are still Standard legal. They’re designed to be Standard legal at their time of release, but older Kits have since rotated out. Make sure to check an individual card’s legality before taking it from a Starter Kit and using it in a specific format.

Wrap Up

Inspired Charge - Illustration by Willian Murai

Inspired Charge | Illustration by Willian Murai

Magic’s Starter Kits are a great way to get newer players into the game. The decks aren’t competitive, but they’re an inexpensive way to give players a good understanding of what the different colors do well. If you’re looking to get a friend into Magic, these are a good way to go.

Did you get started with Starter Kits? Are there other entry products that you think are better? Should Planeswalker and Intro Decks be discontinued? Let me know in the comments below or over on the Draftsim Twitter.

Thank you for reading and I’ll see you at the next one!

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