New to M:TG? Click here!

This is for discussing anything to do with Wizard's Magic, the Gathering card game.
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dreadlord
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New to M:TG? Click here!

Post by dreadlord » Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:23 pm

The Magic: The Gathering sub-forum hasn't been around very long and we've already encountered several "I'm new help!" threads. Hopefully this thread will be able to provide the basic info and answer many of the common questions new players have. Please note that half of the information I provide here is from personal experience and the other half is found in links to outside sources.

Table of Contents
General Information
The Cost of Playing Magic
Suggestions for Beginners
Magic Colors
Magic Rules
Magic Strategy and Deck Building Tips
Play Formats
Reference Links

Introduction to Magic: The Gathering
General Information
Magic: The Gathering is a Trading Card Game (TCG) that was introduced in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast (WotC). It has changed dramatically over the years but has maintained it's position as one of the most popular collectible card games ever created (boasting an estimated six million players worldwide). Wizards keeps the game fresh by implementing a "Block" system which I will describe in more detail later in this guide.

The Cost of Playing Magic
As a new player to the game you might be asking yourself, "What am I getting myself into? How much is this going to cost me?" The answer heavily depends on your motivations for getting into the game. This is because of the block system I mentioned earlier. If you want to be competitive and play in Standard (AKA Type 2) Tournaments (more on this later) you're going to spend more money than someone who is just playing the game casually.

The vast majority of M:TG players are just casual players using whatever cards they can have fun playing with. These players might spend between $20 and $100 depending on their decks (I'd say your average, finely tuned, casual deck probably costs around $50. Why so much, you ask? Because casual players will, often times, buy the cards for their decks individually. As with any TCG, Rare cards are highly sought after and therefor more expensive. A "generic rare" card might only cost you $1.50 or $2.00 but some can reach much higher prices. This might sound expensive but for the casual player it isn't generally an issue. Some of my decks cost me less than $30 total and I still enjoy playing them.

On the other hand the competitive player (Pro M:TG players and the wannabes) can spend anywhere from $100 to $300+ annually on Magic Cards. There are various ways of reducing your costs (buying boxes of booster packs for the savings, trading cards with friends or online, getting store credit for unused cards, etc) but competitive M:TG can be a costly venture. But it doesn't really need to be. At the time of this post I have a current Type 2 Deck that I think is pretty good and it cost me less than $100. $100 might sound like a lot but you can break that up into smaller payments by planning your deck in advance and buying some cards now and buying the rest after you've saved up some money.

If you are a beginner I highly suggest you focus on casual play and leave the professional stuff to the experienced players. If competitive play is your goal you'll get there eventually but don't think you can invest tons of money and become instantly good. Start off small (initial investment can be as low as $20 or $30) figure out if you like game and what your play-style is. From there the sky (or your wallet) is the limit.

Suggestions for Beginners
The best possible way to start playing M:TG is through a friend. If you have a good friend who plays Magic: The Gathering, DO NOT BUY CARDS! Why? Play with your friend, using their decks, first. Most experienced M:TG players have multiple decks and are typically willing to loan a friend one in order to teach them the game. Do everything you can to figure out what kind of deck you want before you buy it. A good M:TG deck is something you'll probably have for years so take your time making a decision.

Don't have any friends to teach you the game? Are you learning the game at the same time as a friend? A good idea would be to purchase one of the "M:TG Duel Decks" packages. Doing so will give you two decks that are packaged together and intended to be played against each other. This will ensure that you and your friend have evenly matched decks to play with. It might be tempting to claim one of the two decks as "your deck" but I highly suggest you play with both (interchangeably) just to get the experience of playing multiple decks. The various colored decks of M:TG offer different gameplay experiences and (if you can) you should try each one at least once. I know plenty of people who have started off with one color and then ended up primarily playing a different one (or a combination of their original color with another). You can't properly determine your playstyle unless you try out different decks.

The most difficult way to learn M:TG is completely alone. Game shops will run various events like Friday Night Magic (FNM). Your best bet is to talk to an employee at your local store. Figure out when people typically play. Talk to them about decks and they'll probably direct you to recent preconstructed (prepackaged and ready to play) decks. The only important factor you need to remember is to purchase a deck that is legal for whatever game night rules your local shop has. Some logcal shops do FNM as Standard (Type 2) cards only whereas other shops are more casual. When you purchase your deck ask if it is a deck you can use for FNM (or whatever M:TG night your shop has). From there you'll have to do the social thing, talk to other players, play a couple games, learn the ropes. You won't be very good at first but no one is so don't worry about it. Just tell people you're new to the game and you'll probably make a few friends along the way.

Magic Colors
Magic: The Gathering is split into 5 different mana types (colors) and colorless spells. The different colors represent various types of magic, each of which have their own themes and styles. Certain colors are more aggressive than others, some are more manipulative than others, and they all have different creature types to offer. Choosing the mana you use is a very important step for a beginner. I'm not going to pretend to be able to describe the colors best so I'll default to links to MTG Salvation's Wiki (an excellent source of information on all things M:TG).

White: http://wiki.mtgsalvation.com/article/White
Blue: http://wiki.mtgsalvation.com/article/Blue
Black: http://wiki.mtgsalvation.com/article/Black
Red: http://wiki.mtgsalvation.com/article/Red
Green: http://wiki.mtgsalvation.com/article/Green

The M:TG Color Pie is a great way to get a basic understanding of the individual colors and how they relate to eachother (click the image for more details).
Image

Magic Rules
The official Magic: The Gathering Rules Page can be found here (http://www.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/Articl ... agic/rules). Wizards of the Coast offers multiple formats (an easy to read guide and a comprehensive guide intended to be "the final word" for any rules question you might encounter during play) so I see no reason to copy and paste them here. But you don't want to read do you? As much as I enjoy reading I'm not much of a text book person myself. So here is an excellent tutorial video! It originally came with a specific starter set so don't worry when it tells you to stack your deck... just watch and you'll understand.

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktZNqMxfywI
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KufWLkPxrKc
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUtGCeSoYi4

If you need more help there are other video tutorials available on YouTube and you can ask for help on this forum. Remember: there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers. I'll try not to give you stupid answers. :wink:

Magic Strategy and Deck Building Tips
There are three general questions that you need to ask yourself when you construct a Magic: The Gathering deck:

1) What is this deck supposed to do (how does it win)?
2) How am I going to cast the spells (how many lands, which lands, etc)?
3) What are this deck's weaknesses and how do I avoid them?

You don't want your deck to be too scattered so identify how you're going to win and make sure your deck can do this reliably. This is called a Win Condition, the condition necessary to win. This can be as simple as spamming direct damage cards or as complicated as getting a 3 or 4 card combination on the battlefield. For advanced deck building try to unite two (or more) different Win Conditions that work well together. Don't just say "I could do ______ or ______ and win." instead focus on two that work well together. Here is an excellent example:

ImageImage

Both of these cards are good individually but take a moment and think of what they can do together. Cast Traumatize first and then (probably on the next turn, unless you have a lot of mana) cast Haunting Echoes. Both of these spells classify as individual "Win Conditions" but they are much more powerful when combined together. Let's look at another example before we move on.

ImageImage

Again, both of these cards are great and individually they will help you win the game. But let's put them together shall we? On turn 5 you cast Sanguine Bond (and it stays in play because it is an Enchantment) and then, on turn 6, you can cast Blood Tribute (while tapping a vampire for the kicker) and then your opponent loses half their life, you gain that much life, and then your opponent loses the amount of life that you gained - which kills them. Congratulations on your turn 6 kill.

The most important part of deck building is identifying how your deck is going to win but the second most important part is making sure it has the mana needed to do it. You can't cast all those super awesome spells if you don't have enough mana. Here are a few basic pointers:

1) At least 1/3rd of your deck needs to be lands (20 lands in a 60 card deck). Why? How do I know? Trial and error. If your deck is less than 1/3rd lands it is statistically unlikely for you to win. Your average deck typically constains 22-26 lands (depending on what the average CMC is).

2) How many different colors of mana does your deck use? A deck with 2 or more colors is going to need to consider what balance of lands to use. Is your deck evenly balanced between multiple colors or does one color have more spells than another? Balance your lands and mana sources accordingly. Also remember that a multi-color deck (especially with 3+ colors) is probably going to need more lands than a mono colored deck.

3) Mana Acceleration is important. Not every deck uses it (and some colors, like Green, offer more options) but it is an important thing to consider. If you're not playing any form of mana acceleration and you manage to play 1 land per turn, that 5 CMC uber spell you want to cast is going to be played on turn 5 or later. If you throw in some mana acceleration you might be able to cast it on turn 3 instead, and that is a significant difference. Decks that specialize in this are sometimes called "Ramp" decks. Many decks will combine this strategy with small creatures or combinations of low CMC cards so that they can get a lot of spells onto the battlefield by turn 3 or 4. Remember that your opponent is trying to defeat you as well and sometimes it is just a matter of who can do it faster.

Last, but not least, is determining your deck's weaknesses. The easiest way to do this is to take your deck and look at it as if it were your opponent's. How would you defend against yourself? Then go back to your deck and counter the counter. It sounds confusing but it really isn't.

Play Formats
A detailed wiki entry (found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Momir_BASIC) will give you all the information you need on the different play formats. For a beginner the most important two are Standard (Type 2), which is used for competitive tournament play and FNM, and Legacy (which is what casual players typically play). The main difference being that Standard is only a select few of the most recent sets (old ones rotating out as new ones are released) whereas Legacy is played using any M:TG card except specifically banned cards.

In addition to these forms of play there are other, player created, types of play as well. Some common ones are Elder Dragon Highlander (rules found here: http://www.dragonhighlander.net/rules.php), Peasant Magic (rules found here: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/A ... feature/58), and "Big Deck" (which is just a large communal deck, typically consisting of all 5 colors, which all players draw from. It is usually made from 300+ cards while avoiding mill cards which serve no purpose in a communal deck game). Many other forms of sub-games exist but these three are the most common (Constructed) formats.

In addition to Constructed Formats there are Limited Formats as well. Basically the difference is whether or not you build your deck before the event (Constructed) or if you get cards at the event itself (Limited). Because you're given cards during Limited Format game events there is usually a charge to play. The most common example I am familiar with is the Booster Draft. In a Booster Draft everyone at the table opens up a Booster Pack, selects a card, and then passes the pack to the next person down the row. For more information on Limited Formats I highly suggest you visit the official M:TG website for Formats (as I am only familiar with Constructed Formats) the link is listed below.

Sanctioned Formats: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/Resour ... sanctioned
Casual Formats: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/Resour ... ats-casual

Useful Links
Official Website: http://www.wizards.com/magic/
Card Search Engine: http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Default.aspx
M:TG Wiki: http://wiki.mtgsalvation.com/
Last edited by dreadlord on Tue May 04, 2010 5:54 pm, edited 5 times in total.

Wyrm
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Re: New to M:TG? Click here!

Post by Wyrm » Wed Apr 14, 2010 11:59 pm

Don't forget the pie.

dreadlord
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Re: New to M:TG? Click here!

Post by dreadlord » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:19 am

Wyrm wrote:Don't forget the pie.
How could I forget the color pie?!
Image

Thanks for reminding me. :)

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Re: New to M:TG? Click here!

Post by The Airman » Thu Apr 15, 2010 6:31 pm

Pi doesn't have a color.

Looks good, but new players can get decks at around ten dollars that will be pretty damn effective. I started out with a five dollar deck and stepped it up to twelve, and now I'm in the twenty-five to thirty dollar range.
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dreadlord
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Posts: 546
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Re: New to M:TG? Click here!

Post by dreadlord » Tue May 04, 2010 5:57 pm

I updated the guide today. I think Cotterbot wants to keep this thread locked. He is allowing me to update it (so will unlock it for me periodically). If you have suggestions for improving the guide please PM them to me.

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