Monday, May 17, 2010

Magic: the gathering for beginners

Just a little over a year ago, I decided to learn Magic: the Gathering. A collectible card game, in which you collect cards and create decks that are meant to battle other players and their decks. After over 12 months of learning this complicated game I have come to two conclusions: Magic the Gathering is addicting; and Magic the Gathering is expensive.

I started playing the game, trying to spend as little money as possible while giving myself the best chance to win. I spent very little money, and played in Magic the Gathering Online casual rooms to learn all the rules. The amount of things you must learn to simply understand how things work in Magic is a little daunting. You need to know and understand dozens upon dozens of keywords and abilities like haste, vigilance, exalted, flanking, terror, shroud etc. Each keyword has a very different function in the game. Understand and knowing these keywords is extremely important for a beginner.

Art vs Cost
The artwork has drawn me to this game since it first came out while I was in middle school. The cost of the game kept me from playing it for an entire decade, although I was always eager to learn it at some point. Then, during an attempt to create my own card game, at conventions and playtesting groups it become apparent that I needed to know and understand Magic the Gathering, since everyone was comparing my (much more simple) game to Magic the Gathering. I have also spent many days searching for free online CCGs or MMO games to play, and have written about the good ones on this site including Urban Rivals and WarStorm. The funny thing is, both of those games are easily compared to Magic: the Gathering and while fun and much cheaper, just do not have the depth of the game of Magic.

Four Figure Investment
I first of all want you to know, that if you want to learn Magic the Gathering and want to be successful, you will need to invest about $1000 into the game. You can do this begrudgingly (like me) and try to find ways to beat the system or win with the cheap cards (like me), and eventually creep towards the $1000 mark... or you can bite the bullet and enter the game playing with the best cards money can buy. You will immediately have the best tools to work with and be able to learn how to play the most powerful cards. In retrospect, I wish I would have bitten the bullet initially and just purchased all the best cards instead of buying packs and gambling for good cards. In the end, I am still only partially invested in the best cards and am well over the four figure mark. The other thing to note, you never stop paying money (unless you quit) because you need to enter tournaments or buy cards from the newest sets. Wizards of the Coasts (the creators of the game) have a brilliant system set up to negate any staleness with their product by introducing new and better cards multiple times per year. I do want to express the 'investment' phrase in regards to MTG; it truly is an investment to buy cards in Magic, because cards hold their value and can be sold back for a relatively high percentage anytime you want to quit the game. However, damaged cards and unimportant cards are nearly worthless. Meaning, buying packs does not yield a good return on your investment (unless you are lucky), whereas buying powerful cards will have a much better return (sometimes more than you invest). I am no expert in which cards to buy at what time, but there are people who are very knowledgeable at this sort of thing. I feel pretty confident that I could sell my entire collection piece by piece and get about 40% of what I invested (keep in mind I have purchased many low return packs and therefore my percentage is very low). Which means I have about 600 dollars worth of Magic cards that I own.

Friends and Tournament Play
I was terrified to play in tournaments, partially because I did not know the rules very well and partially because I had a terrible no rares deck. I do think tournaments and Friday Night Magic events (weekly events for players to play each other) are a blast, and a great way to use your cards. You could be very happy just buying a few cards and playing with friends over the dinner table. The game is fun enough and accessible enough (in intro packs) that anyone wanting to simply TRY the game can do so for about 20 dollars and even get a few good cards in the deal (probably a 10%-20% return rate, but worth it in order to try the game). The game is fun on so many levels, that you as a playing can determine your own level of involvement. You could plan your weekend around tournaments, read articles daily and play in online PTQs; or you could buy one pack a month from WalMart and play with your college roommate after classes of Fridat afternoon. Either way, there are many ways to enjoy this game.

This is my first real blog about Magic: the Gathering and I hope it may be of some use to new players. I wish I would have recorded more things during my start, and will reference some of my old notes when writing future articles. Basically, I want to help the new player who may or may not be serious about the game, get a head start and learn all the tricks that took me forever to learn. Simply things about the game of Magic that old players forget they even know. If you enjoyed this article, please let me know.


Anonymous said...

I've got a friend who's trying to get me interested, but I am indeed extremely daunted by the depth of knowledge required

Anonymous said...

You made it sound a little more difficult than it is. The basic rules of the game are actually very simple and they are used as a foundation upon which all other rules build. I would definately recommend a least trying the game, keeping in mind that it does get expensive if you wish to compete. I would say buying pre-built decks and modifying them is the easiest (and cheapist) way to compete.

Joe said...

Agree that the game is actually very easy to play. All you need is to throughly undestand the basics! My younger cousin is able to win with just simple strategies found in this book! And he just started like playing 2 week ago. Check ths book out!

Discover How you can Absolutely Crushed your Opponents Even You Just played Magic for a Week!

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