Mark Heggen: How R&D Transformed M19 Planeswalker Decks
By Mark Heggen, Wizards R&D
Hello from R&D. My name is Mark Heggen, the Product Architect on Core Set 2019 (M19), and I'm excited to talk to you about M19 Planeswalker Decks. We're doing some new things with this release that are going to help you onboard new players, so let's go through what's changed and why.
When we decided to return to core sets, we realized we had a big opportunity with the Planeswalker Decks. Core sets are the perfect place for new players to enter the game. Since Planeswalker Decks are also great for new players, M19 was an ideal opportunity to double down and make these the best new player experience possible.
We ended up with three goals for these decks: approachability, better play, and smoother pathing. Let me dive into each of those.
When a new player visits your store, we want these decks to stand out as the most appealing first purchase they can make.
We started by adjusting the contents. M19 Planeswalker Decks have an MSRP of $10.99* and come with one booster (as opposed to $14.99 and two boosters, which is how non-core set PW Decks will continue to work). We hope this reduces friction as new customers make their early purchases. *Applies to North America Only
Second, we created five different decks for this set. Each is mono-color, and leans into the essential qualities of that color for its theme. As a result, players can dive into any color they're interested in, or pick based on the five exciting characters we've selected to headline these decks.
Once a new player has purchased their deck, we wanted to give them the best possible play experience as they move deeper into the game.
These decks were crafted with that onboarding player in mind, so they include cards, combos, and dynamics specifically meant to help level up a new player's skills. The themes are clear, the play is dynamic, and players can focus on the nuts and bolts without needing to absorb the new creative or mechanical quirks of a typical set.
Additionally, because we have five different decks balanced against one another, the “biodome” of play between them is far more interesting than we can support with our typical two decks. A new playgroup can buy several of these and battle away without constant mirror matches or repeat battles.
Finally, we put a lot of thought into how these decks can work in concert with our other products.
We have new Welcome Decks for M19, and we wanted to make Planeswalker Decks feel like a supercharged upgrade: similar themes, some of the same cards for familiarity, but with more power and depth. We hope this makes for a smooth path from the Welcome Deck demos you run in your store.
We also wanted to create the best possible flow into the M19 Deck Builder's Toolkit. Previous Toolkits were semi-randomized, so cards varied from kit to kit, but we've changed our approach this time so other than the included boosters all the cards in a Toolkit are entirely fixed.
This gives us an exciting degree of control over the experience and lets us carefully plan out the deck building options that players will find when looking to upgrade their Planeswalker Decks. We've also added a new booklet to the Toolkit focused on the basics of deckbuilding.
Between the lower price point, the larger number of decks, the friendlier gameplay, and better integration with our other products, we hope these decks will be powerful tools for you over the next year as you welcome new players into Magic. We can't wait for you to get your hands on them and let us know what you think.