Games for Everyone Magic: the Gathering

So your friends play Magic. What do you need to start playing with them?

Photo credit: whitewhiskermusica

I’ve been in your seat before. You overhear your friends talking about mana, lands, something called a Myr Retriever, and you think to yourself: “what the heck is a planeswalker?” But since you’re reading this article, that means you’ve got at least enough interest to poke your head in the door to the world of Magic. So allow me to be your guide to the strangest and most fantastic card game you’ll ever play.

If you’re absolutely brand new, Magic is a lot like poker, if every card in poker bent the rules in its own way, and had the artistic equivalent of the Mona Lisa on it. Alright, I’ll admit it, Magic isn’t just like poker, but there are certain bluffing elements that it borrows.

So what is it like?

Anyhow, let’s get down to business. The first thing you’ll need to ask your friends is: “What kind of Magic do you play?” This is a big question, because it determines what actual factual Magic cards you’ll have to get your hands on. There’s a lot of different ways to play Magic, and they’ve all got their own benefits and playstyles, but the easiest way to find out how your friends play is to simply ask!

If you’re told “We just play with the cards we’ve got,” cherish the games you’re about to play. It’s Magic in a pure, distilled form. Pick up some packs from sets that sound neat to you, get some lands, and sift through your friends’ bulk. Later on in the article I’ll mention some helpful accessories for your gameplay experience as well.

But the most likely answer you’re going to hear is Commander, and luckily for you Commander has never been easier to get into! The premise of Commander is that you’ll be playing in a multiplayer free-for-all with a 99 card deck and a legendary creature that acts as the, get this, “commander” of your deck. Many Commander decks are deeply thematic, and this style of play is casual by design. It’s the most board-game-y way to play, most of the gameplay is hanging out and slinging cardboard spells at each other. It’s the most popular way to play for a reason.

And the best part is you can pick up Commander decks that are ready-to-go right out of the box! Deck building is a beast in and of itself, so this lets you skip that step of the process. (But if you’re ready to take on the challenge, check out a deck building guide HERE.) The most recent Commander decks from Wilds of Eldraine are both solid options, because not only are the Commanders interesting and unique in gameplay, but they also look absolutely rad.

So your friends play Magic. What do you need to start playing with them?

Check these out HERE and HERE.

So you’ve got a deck. Excellent! You’ve nearly got everything you’ll need. A couple more items are considered “essentials” to the game, starting with sleeves. Keeping your cards pristine is a part of the culture in many trading card games, and with sleeves you get that AND an excellent shuffle-feel to your deck. The world of sleeves runs deep, but you can’t go wrong with ye olde tried and true Matte Dragon Shields. Some like to match the color of their sleeves to their decks, but I’ve recently become partial to art sleeves with a design on the back.

So your friends play Magic. What do you need to start playing with them?

One last thing I’d classify as absolutely necessary to play Magic is dice. Not a lot of them, per say, but having a handful of ‘em kicking around to keep track of counters on permanents or your life total will keep this already quite complex game from being any more difficult. A set of 7 polyhedral dice should get you bye, but adding a selection of d6’s on top can’t hurt.

The first few games of Magic you play are going to be… well, frankly a lot. But stick with it. Under the surface of far too many numbers and cards, you’ll find a game that is infinitely engaging, and so deeply customizable to your exact style of play. And you’ll find counterspells, but I’ll let you form your own opinion of those.

Ready to play? Check out our Commander events in-store on Wednesday and Saturday, as well as Draft on Wednesday and Friday!


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