8 Tips for New Magic The Gathering Players

There has been a proliferation of new Magic: The Gathering players lately. And much like life, where there’s a whole range of reasons why they got in.

Whether you are in it because of boys or whether you are in it because your friends are in it, the game is very brutal when you play with experienced players. Y’know, like DOTA.

Fortunately, there are a few quick tips to shorten the whole learning process, since Magic is a rather complex game with many nuances. Here’s a list of skills you want to practice on first:

(A caveat: I am not going too deep into why you want to learn these things first. Just take them as they are, for now)

1) Do everything in the last possible minute
– Put everything you learnt about procrastination in college into Magic. Cast Instants and Flash spells during your opponent’s last end step, if possible. Cast non-flash creatures during your second main phase. Activate your activated abilities last. Remember: in Magic, whatever gets declared last gets resolved first.

2) Remember that number of cards is the most important resource
– Yes, life loss causes game loss. However, this is why Wrath of God (or, if you are young enough, Supreme Verdict) is such a powerful card and why Sphinx’s Revelation is so expensive. Remember: Pay attention to how many cards of an opponent a single card causes to go into the graveyard. (Awkward English, I know.)

3) Statistics is the name of the game
– It really doesn’t matter what a certain card combo did in that one round. What you should be more interested in is how many other decks can that combo beat. Additionally, don’t feel discouraged if you lost 3 rounds out of 3. Only start to doubt your strategy after the 10th or 15th round. Remember: Think in terms of percentages and likelihood, not whether one card “handles it”.

4) Don’t scoop
– Play until you lose all your life or your cards. The reasons are twofold: You may be in a stronger position than you think; You want to learn what else his deck has so that you can sideboard against it. This is particularly important in tournaments. You can of course ignore this if your opponent seems to derive particular pleasure from tapping and untapping his own stuff over and over and over…

5) Have a budget
– Just because a card looks expensive doesn’t mean you can’t afford it. Decide early on how much money you are going to sink into the hobby. If you are running on a limited allowance, just keep it slow and plan out which cards you are going to save for. Whatever you do, do not crack loose boosters just for a chance to get a specific card that you want. Cracking boosters in bulk, however, is more economically and statistically feasible. Remember: Always think long term. Don’t gamble unless you are okay with throwing your money away.

6) Always draft for Rare pick
– Do not ever play regular drafts where you get to keep the rares you picked. Well, you can but your tuition fee will be way higher since you would have a much diminished motivation to not suck.

7) Remember to have fun in casual formats
– What this means is that when building an EDH deck, you would do well to remember that the whole point of EDH (Okay, fine. Commander) is to have casual fun. What does this mean? Just don’t be a douche. The in-complete douche list will be in a future post. Save your competitive edge (Or as they call it where I come from: Kiasuness) for the tourneys.

8) Don’t be too lazy to understand the cards
– This is very common with new players, myself included years ago. Sometimes when you are faced with a card with 3 point fonts, your eyes just glaze over and just give up trying to understand them. Remember: Even if you don’t understand after the third explanation, you can always ask what destroys or nullifies it.


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Hankit Mok

I live to tell stories. Sometimes, I get paid for them.

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