If you’re reading this, chances are that you are interested in Magic, the Gathering. It’s more than likely that you are either new to the game or are a returning player that needs a refresher. Regardless, you probably need some help in answering a question that you have in your head.
“Where to begin?”
It depends on what you want to do in the game.
MTG is a game that is so simple that players have come up with new ways to play over time because playing with a 60 card deck against another person got old as the game aged. Now people play with 2+ other people, build 100 card decks, draft pre-built booster packs, or buy a pack and rip the cards that come in them (yes, people really do this…).
So that’s why I’m here writing this: to give you a guide on where to begin on your journey to this wonderful game.
If you’re looking to play casually.
This one is pretty easy, considering that there are multiple ways you can go about this. The easiest way to do this is just go to Walmart, Target, Kmart, or whichever retail store you like to go to, and buy a pre-built “Planeswalker Deck” with your friends. These decks are your typical starter decks that will give you a way to start playing the game immediately for around $12. Each set from Kaladesh to Ixalan has 2 each, giving you a total of 10 decks to choose from.
If you want to build your deck from scratch, then I would recommend you buy yourself a Deckbuilder’s Toolkit. These give you a bunch of bulk cards from the recent sets for you to work with, plus a couple of booster packs.
But if you want even more options for pre-built MTG decks, Card Kingdom has their own line of starter decks that are based off draft archetypes throughout MTG’s past. Each are $9.99, and I personally would recommend buying these more than I would buying a Planeswalker Deck.
Once you’ve played enough and figured out your style of play, start researching cards and writing down decks that fit your play style.
The best site to do this on is Tappedout. There, you can make any kind of deck and post it for others to view it and give their feedback and recommendations.
Another way that you can get your hands dirty in deck construction is a format called Draft.
Most local game stores hold a draft tournament where you are handed 3 booster packs. When you are told to, open one up and pick a card out from it face down. Once you’ve made your decision, pass it to the right and repeat. Once all packs are gone, you open another one, and pass to the left when you pick a card. Then after those are gone, you go back to pass to the right.
Once you’ve picked all the cards you can, construct a 40 card deck out of your pool. Then, you go head to head with other players with the decks they constructed themselves.
“But what if I don’t have anyone to play MTG with?”
May I recommend Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014?
This game is not only the best way to learn the rules of MTG, but it has a collection of pre-built decks that are ready for you to play. You can unlock even more decks by playing it’s single player campaign. It allows you to play a handful of formats like Two-Headed Giant and Sealed.
After you get bored with this game, the next step is to head on over to Magic, the Gathering Online. Here, you are given the ability to purchase all the sealed Magic products on a digital client and play with other players casually. Do be warned that there is a $10 fee to start up your account.
If you are looking to buy singles, then sites such as MTGO Traders will have them available. All you do is make your purchase, then contact the bot name they give you to acquire said purchase.
If you’re looking to play competitively.
Now this is where we got completely off the rails of (mostly) what I said in the previous sections of this post.
Remember the pre-built decks that I was talking about?
AVOID THOSE AT ALL COST!
If you’re wanting to get into the game on a competitive level, then the sad truth is is that everything I said previously isn’t going to get you far in the tournament environment. As they always say, “Don’t take a knife to a gun fight.”
Before you even get started on your competitive career, you must know that there are multiple formats. The ones that are the most popular are as follows:
-Standard (consists of sets that contain the 5-6 most recent sets).
-Modern (consists of sets that go all the way back to 8th Edition).
-Legacy (contains all the sets throughout MTG’s history).
These formats are the ones that you will see being played in the big tournaments, such as a Grand Prix or a Pro Tour.
The cheapest out of all 3 of these upfront is Standard, with the downside of a yearly rotation. The most expensive is Legacy because of cards that keep rising in price due to availability. And then there’s Modern, which can be both cheaper and more expensive, depending on what’s Tier 1 and availability of cards.
My recommendation is to start out with Standard, since it works with a smaller card pool than the other two.
Now don’t do what I did back when I first started standard and throw together a bunch of cards and go to a tournament, because you’ll get into an awkward situation where someone calls a judge on you cause you are not playing a legal deck.
But how do we prevent this from happening???? RESEARCH!!
The best site to study the meta (what decks are being played the most) is MTGGoldfish.
They have an entire list of decks that are currently being played across all competitive formats, along with decklists of the recent iterations of said decks and beyond.
Once you’ve picked a deck that you’ve researched, find a local game store near you that’s holding tournaments of the desired format. The most popular one is Friday Night Magic (on Friday nights, of course). It’s usually a $5-$10 entry fee with 3-4 rounds. Call them first to make sure of their scheduling.
-When playing casually with your play group, make sure that you run it by with your peers so that way you aren’t playing with something that is going to make the game not fun for everyone.
-When playing your first ever tournament, chances are that you won’t win it. Rather, enjoy playing in it while studying what other people are playing while learning your own deck.
That is going to do it for today’s post. Stick around as next time as I go more in depth about competitive Magic, the Gathering.
See you next time!