Magic: The Gathering – Getting Started

Magic: The Gathering has many mechanics and so much technical jargon that it can sometimes sound like a brand new language to new players. The big creatures, counter spells, and stack effects are enough to make any new player’s head spin. However, everyone has to start somewhere. Even the pros have been newbies at some point. We’ve all made play mistakes and forgotten triggers, and it happens. No one has ever picked this game up and been instantly awesome at it. Having said this, here are a few tips for some of our newer players to get started with.

First, you’ll need to get a general feel for the rules and the flow of the game. I have always suggested that new players should pick up the Magic: The Gathering games for Xbox, Playstation, or Steam. These games are great for beginners. The game allows you to pause the magic matches to read critical rules and interactions as you go, without feeling like you have to flip through a book or look something up on the internet every five seconds. The step by step tutorial explains everything and doesn’t allow players to make play mistakes. Speaking from experience, this was great for me as a new player. I didn’t feel like I had to ask someone questions constantly and I could take things at my own pace. If I wanted to read every card on the field, I could pause and take my time.

After playing through the game a few times and getting comfortable with the decks and the flow of each turn, find a local gaming store. Most stores will have a casual magic night where you can play without a strict rules set and more experienced players are more inclined to take their time and explain rules and just generally relax and have fun.  This is also a great way to find out what some players are having fun with. One player may have a blue deck, or another may play with a black and red deck. Take the time to ask questions and find out why they like their decks. You may find out you like what they’re playing for the same reasons.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, and yes, you will need cards to get started playing with anyone in a game store. However, Magic does provide beginner packs for each core set, and they’re usually the best place to start. These are given to Magic: The Gathering store locations for new players for free as a way to get newbies started in the game. The cards are simple, without much card text and easy interactions. There are also pre-constructed decks that come out for each set known as intro packs. Each intro pack includes a 60-card deck, a set of rules, and 2 booster packs. These packs are a little bit more involved because the additional booster packs give you the option to customize a bit more, but these intro packs aren’t free. At $14.99, they are the least expensive way to get a pretty good starter deck that is a little bit more than a starter.

With all of the ins and outs of Magic, most players tend to find where they are most comfortable after playing for at least a month or two. This is when play mistakes you first made start to seem trivial and the flow of the game is much easier to understand. Yet, saying “Untap, Upkeep, Draw” will stay with you forever, though. I know this because I’ve been playing for years, and I still say it. This game is ever changing, and the rules are more liquid than solid, but after every rules change or update, the feeling and the joy of the game hasn’t changed since day one. This game brings players together like I’ve never seen before. We may all be waging war against each other on the field of play, but overall magic players are the friendliest, most intelligent, and over all just the most fun players of any game I’ve played, physical or not. I highly recommend anyone start playing this game, regardless of age, simply for the fun of the game.


Running a Role-playing Game

Some view running a role-playing game as a job with too much pressure; others view it as a delight and have a blast while they run it; then there’s me. I view it as both. It is a job to maintain the game and its integrity but it can also be a lot of fun. It is a job for me, planning the encounters and keeping the tempo up while my game is going on but that’s the job side. The flip side of that coin is when I see the sheer delight in my players when I see them doing something amazing like quad critical hitting the villain of the campaign after he was beating the players up which means rolling a 20 four times on a 20-sided die. It’s like being Shakespeare and bringing happiness to people through a play. I’m the director and parts of the cast while my players help me write the awesome tale.

When you are told that “I look forward to your game, it is some of the only happiness I get after working all week” is an awesome feeling that you are making a difference in someone’s life and bringing them happiness from the mundane daily grind. That gives me the drive to carry on running my game.  To know that you can make a difference is what counts. Many feel powerless to help others; but through the act of running a game you can bring a lifetime of memories and fun. It is essentially the gift that keeps giving because once someone learns how to play they can try their hand at running and then the circle of giving happiness is complete.