Magic: The Gathering Welcome Decks, a free-for-the-consumer introductory product for new Magic players, will be no more when Core Set 2021 releases in July.
Welcome Decks are simple, monocolored, thirty-card ready-to-play sample decks, designed for new players. They consist of basic lands, commons, four uncommons, and one rare. These decks, which are provided two at a time to new players, also include basic instructions on how to play they game. While a longtime practice to supply these decks to local game stores, Wizards of the Coast has decided to end the practice citing their unpopularity.
"When we surveyed our engages players, only 4.7% started with a Welcome Deck," explains WotC in-store play specialist Jacob Nourigat. "Welcome Decks, and all new player-focused promo items we've used for the past few years, try to make learning Magic as simple as possible. But players don't play Magic because it's simple. They like the challenge."
It's largely due to this revelation that the company is bringing Welcome Decks to an end with Core Set 2021. Replacing them are two products: Welcome Boosters and Arena Starter Kits. The idea is "to showcase the coolest parts of Magic and how amazing the game can be right out of the package."
Welcome Boosters will consist of ten cards that were hand-selected by Magic's design studio. Included in that will be a rare (which could even be a planeswalker card). All five colors will be represented in the boosters, as well as features that are associated with different formats such as legendary creatures for use in Commander. WotC has confirmed that one such creature is Niv-Mizzet, Parun from Guilds of Ravnica (despite the creature not being in M21) and says that the cards withing the boosters will be refreshed with each new Standard to keep them relevant. Furthermore, inn certain regions, Welcome Boosters may also include a code for Magic Arena that is redeemable for an in-game introductory deck.
WotC is also introducing Arena Starter Kits, which consist of two 60-card decks (including basic lands), two foils, rulebooks, and codes to unlock the decks for two players within Magic Arena. The company says that WPN member stores will receive five Arena Starter Kits alongside their Welcome Boosters, though some regions will receive different demo decks based on Arena availability.
Interestingly enough, the idea with Arena Starter Kits wasn't to have players take them home. Rather, they were to be for in-store use only. Of course, sometimes things change.
"Unfortunately, this plan was put into motion before the COVID-19 crisis emerged," says Nourigat. "These five Starter Kits are meant to be store decks, reused and not given away to players, but we understand that people might not want to share cards right now."
WotC says that they hope these new tools will give local gaming stores new ways to bring players into the Magic: The Gathering community and, most importantly, teach new players the version of Magic their friends are already playing.