How do I get started?
What you will need to start MTG
2+ players and enough decks to support them
2 x 20 sided Die (or your phone)
That’s pretty much it, when you have met these requirements you are ready to get started! You might now at this point be asking, but where can I get magic cards? Or I don’t want to go to the bother of getting my own cards in case I won’t like the game. To source magic cards you can often find them fairly cheap online (like most things these days) or you might be lucky enough to have somewhere that sells them locally, for example the closest shop to me is in Derry and sold at Angry Cherry (beside the bus depot) and at the Students Union in Magee. An intro deck these days will cost you around £10-£12 and give you everything you need for one player. Alternatively you could split the cost with a friend and get a Duel Deck, this will give you 2 separate decks for around £14-£20, these are both fantastic options for starting the game.
If you do not want to jump straight into the physical version of the game it is now offered online through Magic The Gathering Online or through the likes of Steam, Xbox and PSN via the Duels of the Planeswalker series. This is an invaluable resource for new players as it lets you both test the game without a great investment and also allows for easy acquisition of the rules.
From here I will get into some of the basics of the game.
There are 5 basic colours of Magic Cards:
Red (R) – Mana of this type is usually given by Mountains.
Green (G) – Mana of this type is usually given by Forests.
Blue (U) – Mana of this type is usually given by Islands
Black (B) –Mana of this type is usually given by Swamps
White (W) – Mana of this type is usually given by Plains
There are also Colorless spells, these do not have a color associated with them and are almost exclusively artifacts.
Spells can also share colors so you might have a creature card which is Green, Red and Black. This makes it a multicolored spell.
When playing a card in magic you usually have to pay its Converted Casting Cost before you can cast it. Playing cards are referred to as Casting Spells. The different basic colors have different attributes associated with their cards; Green is very creature focused and most likely to run you down with big hefty creatures such as giant boars, elephants, beasts and basilisks! Red will have smaller creatures who get in quick followed by “Burn” spells which will whittle away your creatures or bypass them and burn you! Blue is very utility heavy and will try to control the board by preventing spells from being cast or flying over your creatures with theirs. Black will kill your creatures and make you discard cards from your hand! White will exile your creatures to a nonexistent plane and usually use humans to triumph over the other colors.
Anatomy of a Card
Name: This details the name of the card, each card should have a unique name and makes them immediately identifiable.
Converted Casting Cost: This is the amount of Mana required to cast the card (in this example it costs 2 Mana of any colour and one Green Mana.
Card Type: This tells you the type of the card you are casting, this will tell you if it is an instant, enchantment, artifact,etc. Pay attention to this as it effects when you can cast the card.
Subtype: This will tell you the type of spell that you are casting, some instants and sorceries may have a subtype, but it is rare. All Creatures will and sometimes there are benefits to playing cards of the same subtype.
Set and Rarity: Each release of MTG has a different set, the most recent sets are: M14 Core set, Theros and Born of the gods. Rarity denotes how common the card is, there are 4 types of rarity. Common (black), Uncommon (Silver), Rare (Gold) and Mythic Rare (Orange).
Types of Cards
Cards which are not spells:
Land – These are the resource givers of the game, these produce mana through which you can cast your spells. You are limited to playing one of these per turn.
Spells you can only play on your turn (you can play any number of these if you have enough mana to support casting them):
Creatures – these are usually what do the damage to the opponents life or protect your own. These range from rats, small goblins, Large goblins, ogres, giants, dragons, krakens, leviathans, gods ,aliens and many more. They have a power and toughness associated with them and will often have an ability which you can play with throughout the game, which might have an activation cost or be triggered if certain conditions are met.
Enchantments – these are permanents which will have static or activated abilities associated with them, there are some versions called Aura’s which attach themselves to other permanents like a creature for example. These will often buff your creatures or give you some form of advantage, like when you gain life you may also draw a card etc.
Artifacts – these can function much the same way as enchantments where they will have abilities which effect the game state or equipment which can attach themselves to creatures. These can also come in the form of creatures, but I will go into that more later down the line.
Planeswalkers – These function kind of like an extra player on your side of the field. They will have 3 abilities which you can use 1 of per turn. Planeswalkers are a big threat, when they hit the field they become a target very fast. Your opponent will have the choice of attacking you OR your Planeswalker.
Sorceries – These are spells which you can only play on your own turn. These are not permanent cards, they resolve as soon as they enter the battlefield and then hit the graveyard. Sorceries might do something like: Destroy target creature, Target creature gets +3,+3 until end of turn,etc. They will usually benefit you in some way.
Spells you can play at any time you have priority:
Instants – These are essentially fast sorceries. They can be played anytime you have priority meaning you can cast them at times you cannot play other spells, such as during your opponents turn! These can impact the board greatly and affect the board right away! They resolve as soon as they are played and then go to the graveyard, they are not permanent.
When multiple instants are cast they do not resolve at the same time, when someone casts or activates an ability on top of you activating, casting, changing state, etc. they enter into something which is called the stack. The stack accumulates all the cards which are played and each card after the first is added to the top of the stack. When all players are finished playing/ adding to the stack it will resolve from the top to the bottom, this means that spells cast first will often resolve last and their target might not be valid anymore. I will go into this in more detail later.
So what are you waiting for? Jump onto the Magic the Gathering site and use their store locator to find the store nearest to you! Or jump onto your gaming platform of choice and get the latest Duels of the Planswalker!
The world that MTG is set in is as fantastic as it is fictional. The sheer variety of cards and lore it has gathered in its 20 years of existence is quite enticing, after you have taken your first steps into one of its many planes (realms) you won’t regret it! Next time, I will give you an introduction to playing the game and how different cards interact with each other.
If you are in the Derry Area and want to get in touch, please join the Facebook group page we have for the locals of Derry: MGT Derry
By: Marcus Kirk