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How to Get Started with MTG

Jan 26th 2018

How to Get Started with MTG

Your friends have talked about it for years. You’ve seen the decks in your Friendly Local Gaming Shop. Maybe you’ve even flipped through some MTG singles or watched some videos about the game online. Now you’ve decided that 2018 is the year you are ready to take the plunge and start playing Magic: The Gathering. Welcome! Being a newbie to MTG can feel a little overwhelming. After all, there are more than sixteen thousands individual cards out there, with hundreds more added to the market every year, and the rules for using those cards can be confusing at first. So it’s no wonder that a lot of would-be MTG players wander into our game shop looking a little overwhelmed and a lot confused. Our team is always happy to sit down with you in person and help you get started, but if you’d rather find your help online, this is the guide for you. We’ll give you some of our very best basic tips for getting started with the game. This guide is meant for those who are interested in getting started with MTG but don’t own anything yet and need to know what’s required to play; we’ll save game play and strategy tips for another day.

Getting Started with MTG

What You’ll Need to Play

At its most basic, the only thing that you’ll need to play is a deck of 60 MTG cards. If you are just trying the game out for the first time, we recommend picking up a pre-made deck. You can purchase an Intro Deck, a Duel Deck, or a Deck Builder’s toolkit that will give you the 60 cards that you need to get started. Try playing with this basic deck for at least a couple of games; this will get you used to the mechanics of the game and give you a chance to experiment with some of the different colors of decks available. Once you’ve experimented with them a little bit, you’ll want to pick two colors and start personalizing your deck.

The Colors

  • White. Peace and goodness. 
  • Blue. Wisdom and knowledge. 
  • Black. Power and death. 
  • Red. Emotion and action. 
  • Green. Nature and spirituality. 

Each of the colors will play a little differently, giving you different options for gameplay and strategy. That’s why it’s a good idea to explore each one before you commit to the colors you like to play the best.

Rules for Your Deck Build

  • 60 cards in total 
    • 25 land 
    • 25 creatures 
    • 10 spells 
  • Creatures and spells should be in the same two colors 
  • No more than four copies of any one card (except basic land cards)

Optional Items for GameplayOptional Items for Gameplay

While a deck of 60 cards is the only absolutely must-have to play MTG, there are a number of items that could be useful to have and make playing a little easier. 

  • Card sleeves. These help protect your cards from damage and prevent them from getting dirty from the oils and dirt on your hands. 
  • Deck box. This will help keep your cards gathered in one safe space and give you an easy way to transport them to the next game. 
  • Card mat. These mats keep your cards off of a sticky or dirty table top and make it easier to pick up your cards without damaging the edges. 
  • Dice. You can use a twenty-sided dice to track your life (which starts with 20 points), but some people prefer to rely on good old fashioned pencil and paper.

What You Don’t Need to Play

A huge budget.

It’s easy to get carried away with buying booster packs, boxes, and singles to add to your deck. Professional Magic players can spend hundreds of dollars every month, tweaking their deck until it’s perfect for their gameplay style. But you can really choose to spend as much or as little as you want; you don’t have to pour your monthly budget into playing the game. If you want to stay casual about playing, you can stick to the pre-built decks and enjoy playing the occasional game against your friends. If you decide you want to go beyond the casual level, consider setting a monthly budget for how much you are willing to spend on new cards and accessories.

A lot of time.

Some people play MTG hours each week. Some are casual players who play once a week, once a month, or even less. You can choose to spend as much or as little time as you want on this hobby, and with millions of players out there, there will be someone who will happy to pick up a deck and play with you whenever you are ready.

Pushy know-it-alls.

It’s true: there are millions of Magic players around the world. Most of them are awesome people who will be happy to sit down with a noob and introduce you to their favorite game. But there are occasionally those who might try to make you feel bad about your deck choices or relative inexperience. Just thank them for their time and move to another table. We promise there are many, many friendly Magic players available to help you out when you need it, and you’ll find a lot of them in our store on a daily basis.

How to Take It to the Next Level

Once you’ve spent some time playing with a pre-built deck, you can start customizing it. To do this, you’ll simply purchase booster packs from your local game store. These packs will have a variety of cards inside that you can use to replace cards in your basic set, giving you new gameplay options. There are new cards being added to the MTG lineup all of the time, so you are always going to have new options. Don’t replace too many cards too quickly; this could actually make you a weaker player as you won’t have experience with the deck and know how best to play it. Replace a few at a time and then play with it for a little bit before you add more new cards to the lineup. Over time, you’ll build your playing experience and be ready for a more complex deck!

Ready to Get Started?

If you are ready to purchase your first Magic: The Gathering deck, the team at The Dragon’s Lair can help you. We’ll help you pick a great starter deck and then help you find a great tutor to get you started on your first game. We have many MTG players in our store every evening, so you are sure to find someone here who can walk you through the basics and give you some tips and strategy for your first game. Come down and see us for our full selection of MTG singles, decks, boxes, and accessories or shop our inventory in our online store!