So the age of the SpartanNerd reviewing Intro Packs is over. Recently, a few intro decks have been fun. But they were never competitive. Sometimes I would feel like gambling…Hey lets buy some boosters and see what we get. A Zendikar Expedition land? A Kaladesh Masterpiece Invention? But then I would see that an INTRO DECK came with two boosters, and the certainty of a playable deck, at least at the kitchen table. And so that’s why Intro decks had alure to me. Throw in that I get A TON OF HITS off of unboxing and reviewing sealed MTG products, and then you see my motivation.
But too often, the intro deck was a lackluster offering, enjoyable mostly by kids and people learning the basic HOW the game is played. So is the PLANESWALKER PACK any better? Did the Wizards of the Coast just UPGRADE the “getting into the game” experience? I know the guy who can tell you. Me. That’s who.
Intro Pack Planeswalker Pack comes in the box shown above. Mine was shrinkwrapped with an extra “tough” piece of plastic. around the middle. I wonder why?
The back gives us some information about what we are getting, with a little blurb about what the deck is about. Now if I was a new player, I might be interested in the deck from reading this. In fact, I saw a new player yesterday purchasing this deck, and he definitely said he was more interested in this than the other intro decks on sale. (I was at Wal-Mart in line coincidentally close by.)
I was surprised when I opened the box to find similar packing strategy to the Commander decks. There is a big plastic sleeve over a tray. I like this…it keeps the cards well protected…and this stuff is re-usable. I don’t use it, but it can be used by people who want to make some effort.
The next thing about made me want to shout exaltations!
What you are seeing is the contents of the package, all placed into a deck box. Not just any deck box, but a deck box that is large enough to hold the shrink wrapped deck, two booster packs, and all o the promotional materials. In short. The deck box is big enough to hold the deck SLEEVED OUT!
Here is the Nicol Bolas deck I recently reviewed, sleeved in Dragon Shields. The sixty cards fit perfectly!
Besides that nifty box, here are the other contents. I just throw away the “quick reference guide.” But this is the kind of thing that should include it. New players encounter questions as they learn at their kitchen table. I feel this thing isn’t really adequate compared to experience time at the table. But it is at least a start. Other than this we get a nice poster, which includes a decklist.
So on with the review…I spent a little time talking about the Nissa (and Chandra) Intro Deck cards already. In short, the cards are a little unrealistic for tournament play. They cost six mana, meaning that in most competititve tournaments a player will be run over before they can play the card. The cards have minimal upticks…Nissa here gives you three life gain if you plus her…and you get to dig through the top two (WOW) cards to find some lands. Not much of a payout for six mana. (Heroes Reunion. One Green and one White mana. Instant speed. Seven life gain. See what I mean?) The bottom ability at 12 loyalty is basically over-run.
No, the Nissa won’t be a tournament splash. But she IS supposedly balanced against Chandra from the other available intro pack. (Chandra’s top ability is basically Shock. So Nissa’s three points of life gain can outlast Chandra in a head to head fight.)
Packed on top in the cellophane wrapped deck are these four rares…
Bristling Hydra…it gets you energy and lets you use energy. Energy is a tentpole mechanic of the current Kaladesh block.
Aethersquall Ancient…a Leviathon that also gets you energy, and lets you use it to sweep the board. A pretty incredible card.
And Verdant Crescendo, a card SPECIFICALLY FOR the Nissa, Nature’s Artisan planeswalker. It even says so. This is an important addition…the card acts basically as a second and third copy (when you figure the odds.) It makes it that much more likely to get to play with your “big, splashy card.” Which is one of the important things about the “planeswalker pack” that is supposed to be better than the “intro pack.”
Here are the creatures and lands. All common and uncommon. Classic wierdo green and blue stuff, with some energy counter usage. Nissa basically aims to run over her opponent with big creatures, either with trample or flying. Of more interest is “Woodland Stream,” a mana fixer that can’t be had any other way than purchasing this product…
Nissa doesn’t use that much other magic other than creatures. Attune with the Aether is ramp an energy, Apetite for the Unnatural is artifact removal, and Malfunction is creature removal (blue style.)
NOW FOR THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL THING.
You can only get the cards in the picture below by purchasing this product. And they are all considered STANDARD LEGAL. Guardian of the Great Conduit is a wonderful creature, who gets better if you control a NISSA planeswalker. Notice it doesn’t say which one…
Counting the one from this set, there are
three two other Nissa cards that are legal in Standard right now. The Guardian could be a big deal to some people.(Nissa Vital Force, Nissa Voice of Zendikar, and when this Intro pack was released, very briefly Nissa the flip walker)
The blue-green mana fixing might be important too. Woodland Stream isn’t as good as Lumbering Falls. But it COULD be important when things rotate.
HOW DOES THE DECK PERFORM?
I am going to disagree with the vast amount of other product reviewers. I think this is a terrific product. And a pretty good casual deck. I have played it against lots of other decks, and it wins some and loses some. Loses more often, but still, it isn’t completely lame. I appreciate Verdant Crescendo alot, in that it makes it possible to get Nissa, though it is a dead card draw later in the game if you already have her out.
I would grade this deck at 60/100 as far as playablity. I believe a kid out there could walk into a gaming store, buy this deck and play it on Friday Night Magic, lose to a few competitive decks, and maybe gets some wins in the lower rung of the tournament against other new players.
I rate this product 5/5. It is fun, and accomplishes some of what it aims to do. I’m not sure how format warping the exclusive cards could be, but I don’t think these will matter that much. In future Planeswalker Packs, who knows what could happen?
So the SpartanNerd rates Nissa, Nature’s Artisan Planeswalker Pack a 5/5. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments!