Introduction To Magic: The Gathering
Welcome, future planeswalkers! Embarking on your Magic: The Gathering journey may seem daunting at first, but fret not – our beginner’s guide is here to help you navigate the enchanting world of this iconic card game.
As you read through the blog, we’ll introduce you to essential concepts like deck building, spellcasting, and strategy while keeping things playful and digestible.
- Magic: The Gathering is a tabletop and digital collectible card game where players use decks of cards to reduce their opponent’s life points from 20 to zero, using creatures, spells, and other types of magic.
- A standard MTG deck consists of 60 cards featuring a mix of lands, spells, and creatures. Understanding the seven main card types like lands, creature cards, instant/sorcery cards as well as artifact/planeswalker/enchantment cards is crucial for building effective strategies that suit your playstyle.
- Players use mana as a resource to cast spells and summon creatures in five different colors representations – White (plains), Blue (island), Black (swamp), Red (mountain), and Green (forest) plus one generic colorless variation available only through certain artifacts or lands. Knowing how each color offers specific strategies with its characteristics will give beginners an edge in gameplay.
- Choosing a play style between aggro (quickly reducing the opponent’s health total with low-cost creatures/spells), control( slowing down opponents’ progress with counterspells/bounce effects) or combo(combining various card abilities to generate massive impact instantly) is essential for developing successful tactics while playing Magic: The Gathering.
Magic: The Gathering Basics
In Magic: The Gathering, players use decks of cards to attempt to reduce their opponent’s life points from 20 to zero, using creatures, spells, and other types of magic.
What Is Magic: The Gathering?
Since its inception in 1993, it has captivated players worldwide with its unique blend of strategy, fantasy lore, and social interaction.
At its core, Magic: The Gathering combines elements of poker and chess into an immersive experience that’s equal parts creative deck building and strategic gameplay.
To play the game, each participant constructs their custom deck from thousands of available cards across various sets that are released regularly. Your chosen combination of cards represents your arsenal to cast spells or summon creatures that will aid you in reducing your opponent’s life total to zero before they do the same to you.
The Objective Of The Game
Diving into the world of Magic: The Gathering (MTG) can be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience for card game enthusiasts. At its core, the objective of this captivating trading card game is to strategically utilize your cards to reduce your opponent’s life total from 20 down to zero.
Each player assumes the role of a mighty planeswalker – a powerful wizard with access to spells and creatures capable of impacting the battlefield in numerous ways. As you engage in mystical duels against other planeswalkers, your strategic prowess will be tested as each decision has consequences on how quickly or resourcefully you achieve victory.
Whether it’s through direct creature combat or clever spell combinations that target an opponent’s life directly, success lies in finding innovative tactics that leave them defenseless against your magical onslaughts while also protecting yourself from their counterattacks.
The Deck And Card Types
Diving into the world of Magic: The Gathering can feel overwhelming, but understanding the deck and card types is your first step in mastering this fascinating game. A standard MTG deck consists of 60 cards, featuring a mix of lands, spells, and creatures.
As you start building your deck, remember that there are seven main card types in Magic: Creature Cards (your primary attackers), Instant Cards (spells that can be played at any time), Sorcery Cards (powerful spells only playable during certain phases), Enchantment Cards (ongoing magical effects or abilities), Artifact Cards (items with various effects), Planeswalker Cards (allies with special abilities) and Land cards themselves – supplying five distinctive colors of mana.
Each color represents specific traits, strategies, strengths, and weaknesses catered to different play styles. For example, red decks prioritize fast-paced aggressive strategies while blue decks excel at controlling the board through countermeasures.
Mana And Colors
To play Magic: The Gathering, players use mana as a resource to cast spells and summon creatures. Mana is like currency in the game, with five different colors representing its variations: White (plains), Blue (island), Black (swamp), Red (mountain), and Green (forest).
There’s also one generic colorless variation, which can be produced by certain artifacts or lands.
For instance, White represents order, life gain effects, and protection from damage; Blue represents control over the battlefield through counterspells and bounce effects; Black represents sacrificing resources for power and manipulation through life drain effects; Red represents direct damage spells and quick creature assaults on the opponent’s life total; Green represents brute force through big creatures with high power values.
Understanding Card Types, Abbreviations, And Abilities
Learn about the different types of cards in Magic: The Gathering, their abbreviations, and their unique abilities to build a strong deck that can overpower any opponent.
Creature Cards And Types
In Magic: The Gathering, creature cards are cards that represent creatures or beings with unique abilities and characteristics. These cards typically have two values printed on them called power and toughness, which determine their combat strength in the game.
Creature types can range from dragons to zombies, with each type having its own unique traits and playstyles.
It’s important to note that not all creature cards are created equal; some may be more rare or more powerful than others depending on their rarity level and utility in the game.
Instant And Sorcery Cards
Instant and sorcery cards are both types of magical spells in Magic: The Gathering that can be cast during a player’s turn. Instant cards can be played at any time, including during an opponent’s turn, whereas Sorcery cards can only be played on the caster’s own turn.
These one-time-use spells take effect immediately after being cast and then go to the graveyard.
For example, let’s say your opponent has just attacked you with their creatures and you’re about to take some damage. You could play an instant card like “Lightning Bolt” to deal three damage to one of their attacking creatures before it hits you.
Or maybe you want to draw some extra cards for your next turn – in that case, a sorcery card like “Divination” lets you draw two additional cards when played on your turn.
Enchantment cards are a crucial component of Magic: The Gathering gameplay. They have the ability to enchant or imbue certain characteristics onto creatures, artifacts, lands, and even players themselves! Enchantment cards in MTG will add permanent effects that can either boost your own power or debilitate your opponents throughout the game.
Some of the best examples of this card type include “Pacifism” which can prevent a creature from attacking or blocking, “Curse of Thirst” which causes damage each time an opponent loses life points, and “Ghostly Prison” which makes it harder for opponents to attack you directly.
One of the unique features of Magic: The Gathering is its artifact cards that represent magical items, equipment, animated constructs, and other types of objects.
These cards are a type of permanent card that remain in play after being cast, providing valuable benefits to players. Artifact cards can give your creatures boosts or have abilities that impact the game state directly by destroying the opponent’s creatures or rendering their spells useless.
Some artifacts even allow you to “cheat” mana costs for your spells or stop opponents from using their abilities.
For instance, an example of such an effective artifact is Sol Ring which generates two colorless mana when it comes into play. This allows you to power out big creatures earlier than usual and gain a significant advantage over your opponents quickly with just one card.
In Magic: The Gathering, there are various abbreviations that every player needs to know. These acronyms and nicknames can be overwhelming at first, but they make communication during gameplay much faster and more efficient.
For example, “MTG” stands for Magic: The Gathering itself, while “LGS” refers to local game stores where players can meet and play the game with others. It’s also important to know card-related abbreviations like “ETB,” which means enters the battlefield, or “PW,” which refers to planeswalkers cards.
It’s crucial to learn these abbreviations so you can communicate effectively during gameplay and understand what your opponents are doing with their decks quickly.
Choosing A Play Style: Aggro, Control, Combo
Choosing a play style in Magic: The Gathering is crucial to your success in the game.
Aggro is a play style in Magic: The Gathering that aims to win the game quickly by dealing as much damage to the opponent as possible. Aggro decks typically feature low-cost creatures with high power and toughness, spells that deal direct damage, and other aggressive tactics.
When building an aggro deck, it’s important to focus on cards that can deal large amounts of damage early on in the game. Cards like “Lightning Bolt” or “Shock” can cause some serious damage when used at the right moment.
Additionally, creatures with Haste can attack immediately after they are played, allowing you to start chipping away at your opponent’s life total right from turn one.
Aggro decks often have fewer lands than other types of decks since they want their hands full of action instead of land cards.
Control is one of the three main play styles in Magic: The Gathering. As the name suggests, control players focus on slowing down their opponent’s game plan and taking over the game as it progresses.
Control decks rely on cards that remove or counteract their opponent’s threats while also playing defensively to prevent damage.
One example of a control deck is the “Blue-White Control” deck, which relies heavily on counterspells and removal spells to keep opponents at bay. These spells are often combined with creatures that have abilities that tap opposing creatures or stop them from attacking outright.
Combo is one of the most unique archetypes in Magic: The Gathering, and it functions differently than in any other game. Combo decks focus on using specific combinations of cards to achieve a powerful effect that can quickly end the game.
This can involve creating an infinite loop or generating a large amount of mana to cast big spells.
One example of a combo deck is the Splinter Twin deck, which used the card Splinter Twin to create an infinite number of creatures with haste and vigilance. Another popular combo deck was Eggs, which used its namesake card Gilded Lotus as well as several others to generate a lot of mana and draw many cards at once.
Play Style Examples
There are three main play styles or archetypes for decks in Magic: The Gathering – aggro, control, and combo. Here are some examples of each:
- Red Deck Wins: A classic aggro deck that focuses on quickly dealing large amounts of damage to the opponent through fast creatures and direct damage spells.
- White Weenies: A deck that relies on small but efficient creature cards to flood the board with multiple attackers, overwhelming the opponent’s defenses.
- Esper Control: This deck aims to deny the opponent’s moves and options using counterspells, removal spells, and discard effects while slowly building card advantage. It typically wins through a single powerful finisher like a planeswalker or an enchantment.
- Blue-Black Control: Similar to Esper but with a more aggressive early game plan using efficient creatures and card draw spells.
- Splinter Twin: An infamous combo deck that aims to create an infinite loop with a creature called Deceiver Exarch and an enchantment called Splinter Twin, allowing it to generate infinite tokens and deal lethal damage in a single turn.
- Storm: A combo deck that relies on casting many cheap spells in one turn to generate mana through certain card interactions before finishing off the opponent with a massive spell like Grapeshot or Empty the Warrens.
Choosing a play style depends on personal preference, play style, and the current metagame of the game. Keep in mind that some decks may be more expensive than others due to rare or powerful cards needed for them.
Building Your First Deck
Choose a color and theme that you enjoy, select your cards carefully while considering card synergy, create a 60-card deck with a balanced mana curve, and playtest it several times to make sure it works well before playing.
Choosing A Color And Theme
Choosing a color is an essential first step when building your very first deck in Magic: The Gathering. With five colors to choose from, each with its unique strengths and weaknesses, you’ll want to consider carefully which one best fits your play style and personality.
For example, red is known for being aggressive and dealing with damage quickly, while blue focuses more on control and strategy. Once you’ve picked a color or two that resonates with you, it’s time to start thinking about a theme or archetype for your deck.
Are you interested in creatures that overwhelm the board or spells that manipulate the game state? Do you want to focus on gaining life or taking away from your opponent? Whatever direction you choose, make sure it aligns with your chosen colors’ overall strategy and enhances their strengths rather than detracting from them.
Card Selection And Deck Size
When building your first Magic: The Gathering deck, it’s important to understand the role of card selection and deck size. The minimum number of cards allowed in a Standard format deck is 60, but beyond that, the possibilities are endless.
As a beginner, it can be tempting to include too many powerful or exciting cards in your deck, but this can actually make your deck less effective. Instead, focus on selecting cards that work well together and fit within a specific theme or strategy.
For example, if you choose to build an aggro-style deck focused on attacking quickly and aggressively, you’ll want to select creatures with low casting costs and high power/toughness ratios.
It’s also important to pay attention to mana curves when selecting cards and designing your deck. In MTG, players use land (mana) as resources to cast spells and summon creatures onto the battlefield.
Depending on the color(s) of magic used in your deck (which I’ll cover more later in this guide), different types of lands will be required at different times throughout the game.
A good rule of thumb is to include around 24 lands in a 60-card standard format deck; however, this number can vary depending on what kind of strategy or curve style gameplay is involved depending on which might work best for that particular player’s playstyle.
Land And Mana Curve
An important part of building a Magic: The Gathering deck is the land and mana curve. In simple terms, mana refers to the resource you have to spend on spells and abilities during the game, while land cards are used to generate that resource.
The mana curve refers to how many cards with different mana costs (or “converted mana cost,” which is based on their color(s) and numerical value) you have in your deck.
For example, a low-cost spell like Shock may only require one red mana symbol to cast, while a higher-costed creature like Giant Growth would need one green symbol plus an additional two generic symbols, making its total converted casting cost 3.
Having too many high-mana cost spells could mean getting “mana-locked” — unable to play anything because you don’t draw enough lands — but having too few could result in being outpaced by someone else’s bigger creatures or stronger effects early on.
Common Mistakes To Avoid
New players often make mistakes when building their first Magic: The Gathering deck. Here are some common ones to avoid:
- Overloading on high-cost cards.
- Not enough land cards in the deck.
- Building a deck with no particular strategy or focus.
- Ignoring synergy between cards.
- Including too many one-off cards instead of playsets (four copies of the same card).
- Choosing the wrong colors for their playstyle or not balancing colors properly.
- Not considering the opponent’s possible plays and countering them in their own deck.
To avoid these mistakes, new players should research strategies and use resources like the MTG Online Beginner’s Guide and Starter Kit to build a balanced deck with a clear plan of action. It’s also important to playtest the deck before using it in competitive play to ensure it functions well and identify any weaknesses.
Importance Of Playtesting
One of the most important aspects of building a deck in Magic: The Gathering is playtesting. As a beginner, it may be tempting to create a deck and simply start playing with it right away.
Playtesting involves repeatedly testing your deck against different opponents or scenarios to identify strengths and weaknesses.
It’s worth investing time in playtesting because even small changes can make a big difference in gameplay. Before entering any tournament or competitive play, it’s essential to have experimented with various variations of your deck through rigorous playtesting.
Playing The Game
During gameplay, each player takes turns playing spells and creatures to defend themselves or attack their opponent, using the five colors of mana to cast them and trying to reduce their opponent’s life points to zero.
The turn structure of Magic: The Gathering is crucial to understand if you want to play effectively. Here are the different phases of a turn:
- Untap step: All cards on your side of the battlefield that were tapped during the previous turn, untap.
- Upkeep step: Certain cards have abilities that trigger during this step, but otherwise, nothing happens.
- Draw step: You draw one card from your deck.
- Main phase 1: This is when you can play creatures, spells, and other types of cards from your hand. You can also activate abilities on some of your permanent cards during this time.
- Combat phase: If you have any creatures on the battlefield, they can attack your opponent’s life total or defend against attacks from their creatures.
- Main phase 2: Similar to main phase 1, you can play more cards and activate more abilities.
- End step: Certain cards have abilities that trigger at the end of each turn, but otherwise, nothing happens.
Remember that during your turn, you can only play one land card and activate each ability on a specific permanent card once per turn unless stated otherwise by that card’s rules or text box. Pay attention to what’s happening throughout each phase so you can optimize your strategy and make the best moves possible for victory!
Combat And Damage
In Magic: The Gathering, the objective of the game is to reduce your opponent’s life total from 20 to zero. This is done mainly through combat with creatures. During a designated “combat phase,” players can choose which creatures they want to attack with and which creature(s) they want to block with.
When two or more creatures battle, each deals damage equal to its power value to the other’s toughness value.
There are different strategies for using combat effectively in Magic: The Gathering, such as attacking with smaller creatures that have evasion abilities (like flying or unblockable), or using larger creatures as blockers instead of attackers.
Additionally, there are various cards and abilities that can affect combat and damage in unique ways, like spells that deal direct damage without involving any creatures on the battlefield.
Abilities And Effects
Abilities and effects play a critical role in Magic: The Gathering as they can change the course of the game. Creature cards may have abilities that allow them to deal damage, gain life, or draw additional cards.
Enchantment and artifact cards tend to have more long-term effects on the game board, granting bonuses to creatures under certain circumstances or allowing you to cast spells for less mana.
Understanding what each type of card does is essential both when building your decks and during gameplay since it can help you make strategic decisions based on their potential impact.
The objective in Magic: The Gathering is to reduce your opponent’s life total from 20 to zero. This can be achieved by casting spells and attacking creatures.
It’s important to note that while reducing your opponent’s life total is the most commonly used method of winning, it’s not always the easiest or quickest way.
Examples Of Gameplay
Here are a few examples of what gameplay in Magic: The Gathering might look like:
- You and your opponent each have a deck of 60 cards. After shuffling and drawing seven cards, you take turns playing land cards (which generate mana), casting creature spells, and attacking those creatures. The objective is to reduce your opponent’s life total from 20 to zero.
- You’re playing in a draft format tournament, where players take turns selecting cards from booster packs to build their decks. Each time you draw a card, you decide whether to play it or keep it in your hand for later. You’ll also need to anticipate your opponent’s moves and choose the right time to attack or defend.
- You and your friends are using pre-constructed decks (like the ones that come in starter sets). With each turn, you can play either a land card or a spell (like an instant or sorcery). Some spells deal damage directly to creatures or players, while others allow you to draw more cards or search through your deck for specific cards.
Remember that these are just a few examples – there are many different ways to play Magic: The Gathering depending on the format and deck type!
Playing With Others
Players can participate in various formats and tournaments, both online and offline, while adhering to proper etiquette and showcasing good sportsmanship.
Formats And Tournaments
Magic: The Gathering has various sanctioned Constructed formats in which players build their deck in advance of the tournament, and the rules vary depending on the format. Here are some popular MTG formats you might encounter:
- Standard: A rotating format that includes sets released in the past two years.
- Modern: A non-rotating format that includes sets released from the 8th Edition to the present.
- Legacy: A non-rotating format that includes almost all sets from Magic’s history.
- Commander: A multiplayer Singleton format where each player builds a 100-card deck led by a legendary creature or planeswalker.
Each format has rules regarding the number of players, cards allowed, and how decks are built, and each format is designed to let players enjoy Magic in a different way. As for tournaments, there are many different types of events you can participate in:
- Prerelease events: Casual Sealed events that provide players with the first chance to play a new set by building a 40-card deck out of a “prerelease kit.”
- FNM (Friday Night Magic): Weekly tournaments held at local game stores where players can compete for prizes while playing casual games of Magic.
- Grand Prixs: Large-scale competitive tournaments that attract professional players from around the world.
- Pro Tours: Invitation-only tournaments featuring the best players in the world, with huge cash prizes on offer.
Remember, organized play isn’t just about winning prizes – it’s also about meeting new people and enjoying the game with like-minded individuals!
Etiquette And Sportsmanship
Good sportsmanship is a cornerstone of Magic: The Gathering. As the game can be intense and competitive, it’s important to remain respectful towards your opponents throughout gameplay.
This means greeting them before starting the match, being gracious in defeat or victory, and avoiding unsportsmanlike conduct like excessive gloating or taunting.
There are also practical considerations to keep in mind during matches. For example, players should be careful with their cards by not bending or damaging them unnecessarily.
They should also avoid distracting behavior like using electronic devices while playing.
Trading And Collecting Cards
Once you’ve gotten the hang of playing Magic: The Gathering, you might find yourself wanting to collect and trade cards with other players. This can be a fun way to expand your collection and try out new strategies.
To get started, it’s helpful to know the value of different cards and what people are willing to trade for them.
It’s also important to keep your cards in good condition so they maintain their value. You can store them in protective sleeves or binders, and avoid exposing them to moisture or extreme temperatures.
As you build your collection, you may want to focus on specific sets or themes that interest you.
Players looking to start playing Magic: The Gathering can connect with other players from all over the world through online play. MTG Arena and Magic Online offer platforms for players to build and test decks, hone skills, and participate in tournaments.
These online resources also provide beginner’s guides that cover topics such as creating an account, building decks, and using the platform’s client.
Playing Magic: The Gathering online is a convenient way for new players to learn the game mechanics while connecting with others who share their interest in the game. With thousands of cards ever printed, there are several strategies that players can employ to win a game or tournament.
Playing Magic: The Gathering can be a lot of fun, but it’s even better when you’re playing with others. One way to find playgroups is by checking for local game stores or tabletop communities in your area that host regular events or tournaments.
Another option is to join online forums or social media groups dedicated to Magic: The Gathering, where you can chat with other players from around the world and possibly even arrange online matches.
Tips For Improving And Growing As A Player
Practice and experience are key to improving your gameplay in Magic: The Gathering, but networking with other players and staying up-to-date with the game through resources like websites and social media can also aid in your growth as a player.
Practice And Experience
Practice and experience are vital to improving at Magic: The Gathering. One of the best ways to practice is by playing against other people, either in-person or online.
Another way to improve is by watching professional players’ streams or videos. You can gain insights into their decision-making processes and learn new tactics that you can try out for yourself.
Additionally, attending local game store events or tournaments can give you the opportunity to meet other players, build your network within the community, and gain valuable experience that will help you progress further in your Magic journey.
Networking And Community
Connecting with other players in the Magic: The Gathering community is an essential part of truly experiencing this card game. Whether it’s joining a local game store event or participating in online forums, there are many ways to find like-minded individuals and build relationships centered around the game.
Not only can networking lead to acquiring new cards or learning different strategies, but it also provides an opportunity for personal growth by improving social skills and sportsmanship.
In fact, Wizards of the Coast has organized play systems that cater to various levels of competitive play, making it easy for beginners to dip their toes into tournament-style games while connecting with fellow players on a larger scale.
Staying Up-to-Date With The Game
To stay current on new sets, rules change, and strategies for Magic: The Gathering, it’s important to be involved in the game’s community. This can include joining online forums or social media groups dedicated to the game, attending local tournaments or events at your nearest game store, and watching gameplay streams from experienced players.
Reading articles and blogs about the latest developments in the game can also help keep you informed.
Resources For Further Learning
If you’re a new player looking to deepen your knowledge of Magic: The Gathering, there are plenty of resources available online. Here are some great places to start:
- Wizards of the Coast’s website – The official site for Magic: The Gathering is a great place to learn more about the game and stay up-to-date with news and announcements.
- MTG Arena – This digital version of the game offers an excellent way to play against other players and improve your skills.
- YouTube channels – There are many fantastic YouTube channels dedicated to Magic, such as Tolarian Community College and LoadingReadyRun, which offer tips and insights for new players.
- Podcasts – There are several podcasts dedicated to discussing all things Magic: The Gathering, including “Drive to Work” with Mark Rosewater and “Limited Resources.”
- Local game stores – Many local game stores offer events and tournaments for players at all levels, providing an opportunity to meet new people and learn from experienced players.
- Online forums – Websites like Reddit have active communities dedicated to Magic: The Gathering where you can ask questions, discuss strategies, and get advice from other players.
Remember that the best way to improve your skills is through practice and experience, but these resources can provide valuable guidance along the way.
In conclusion, Magic: The Gathering may seem like a daunting game for beginners, but with the help of this beginner’s guide and other resources available, anyone can learn how to play.
From understanding card types and abbreviations to choosing a play style and building your first deck, there are plenty of tips and tricks to get started.
Whether playing in-person or online through MTG Arena, the game offers endless possibilities for strategy and enjoyment.
Q: What is Magic: The Gathering?
A: Magic: The Gathering is a trading card game where players use decks of cards representing magical spells, creatures, and artifacts to defeat opponents.
Q: How do I play Magic: The Gathering?
A: To play Magic: The Gathering, each player needs a deck of at least 40 cards, including land cards which provide the magical energy needed to cast spells. Each player takes turns drawing a card, playing spells and creatures, and attacking the other player.
Q: What are the basic rules?
A: The basic rules of Magic: The Gathering include having a minimum deck size of 40 cards, drawing one less card than your starting hand after the first turn, and having no more than four copies of any given card in your deck.
Q: What is a core set?
A: A core set is a set of Magic: The Gathering cards released every year that contain a mix of new cards and reprints of older cards.
Q: How do I get started playing Magic: The Gathering?
A: To get started playing Magic: The Gathering, you need a deck of at least 40 cards, which can be purchased as a starter deck or assembled from booster packs containing random cards. You can also play online using Magic: The Gathering Arena.
Q: What are planeswalkers?
A: Planeswalkers are a type of card in Magic: The Gathering that represents powerful sorcerers who can manipulate the game’s reality. They can be used to cast spells, summon creatures, and gain advantages over opponents.
Q: What are booster packs?
A: Booster packs are packs of Magic: The Gathering cards that contain a random assortment of new cards, making them an essential part of building and expanding your collection.
Q: What is the aim of the game?
A: The aim of Magic: The Gathering is to reduce your opponent’s life total to zero using creatures, spells, and other cards from your deck.
Q: What are the different parts of the game?
A: Magic: The Gathering includes several phases, including drawing a card, playing spells and creatures, attacking and blocking, and resolving the effects of cards and abilities.
Q: How many cards do I start with?
A: Each player in Magic: The Gathering starts with a hand of seven cards to begin the game.