A beginner’s guide to Magic: the Gathering

Hobby & Collectibles

Defeat your enemies in Magic: The Gathering – a collectible trading card game that gives you the power to cast spells and battle creatures both in-person and online.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

What is Magic: The Gathering?

Many of us are familiar with the concept of trading cards, and Magic: The Gathering is precisely that, a trading card game centered around the fantasy genre. There are over 20 thousand cards printed with over 20 million players and new ones joining all the time. The first cards were released in 1993, and many consider Magic: The Gathering to be the first trading card game.

MTG was invented by mathematician Richard Garfield and published by Wizards of the Coast. These beautifully illustrated trading cards allow players to cast spells, compete in magical duals, summon creatures to protect them and so much more. MTG is a strategy game that has tournaments held worldwide and has players who are considered professionals, making them celebrities in the world of gaming.

Magic: The Gathering: Planes of the Multiverse: A Visual History

Start with one deck and see where the magic takes you. The more you play, the more you learn about the lore of the different worlds and the better your strategizing will become. Check out the newest Magic: The Gathering: Planes of the Multiverse: A Visual History if interested in learning more about the worlds and characters of MGT.

Magic: The Gathering Basics

Magic The Gathering Spellslinger Starter Kit

The Magic The Gathering Spellslinger Starter Kit comes with everything you need to begin your battle. All you need to do is find an opponent and have the courage to jump into action. This set comes with two ready-to-play magic decks and a quick start guide to help you learn as you play.

Each player will draw seven cards at random from their deck, and among each deck will be 60 cards which, at their simplest, are land, spell and creature cards. Each card will detail the abilities and power stats. To play a card, you must pay the mana cost. Mana comes in five different colors, and each color has a unique meaning

Land cards

The five different land types correspond with the five different mana colors, planes for white mana, islands for blue mana, swamps for black mana, mountains for red mana and forests for green mana. At the start of every turn, you will play a land card to generate the mana you need to cast spells.

Creature cards

The fantasy creatures in MTG range from dragons to fairies and so much more. Once you play a creature, they will remain on the battlefield, ready to attack or defend, until they are defeated.

Artifacts and enchantment cards

Casting an artifact or enchantment spell and then attaching the spell to a creature will enhance that creature’s abilities. Think of artifacts as magical objects that sometimes represent machines or equipment and enchantments as lingering magical effects. Both are permanent, which means they will remain on the battlefield until destroyed.

Sorcery and instant cards

When casting sorcery or instant spells, remember that many only have a temporary effect, and you can only cast them during the main phase of your turn. Once used, they go directly into the graveyard, where the used spells and defeated creatures dwell. 

The goal of this competitive game is to engage in magical battles and be the last one standing. The longer you stay alive, the bigger the threats will become, and with so many variations to this card game, being strategic with your attacks while maintaining your defense is vital.

How to play Magic: The Gathering

Both players start with 20 life points, and the goal is not to let your life points drop to zero while also trying to zero out your opponent’s life points. Whoever reaches zero first loses.

MTG Commander EDH Command Zone Tray with Life Counter

You can gain life points through certain spells, and there is no limit to how many life points you earn. In other words, life points are how you keep score during a MGT battle. Keep track of life points with a dice set or this MTG Commander EDH Command Zone Tray with Life Counter.

In the top right corner of your card, you will find the casting cost, which will tell you the number and color of mana needed to cast a spell. To use a land card to pay mana, tap the land card by turning it sideways. Tapping shows that you are using a card for that turn, and during the beginning phase of your turn, you will want to “untap” all your tapped cards before drawing a new card.

During the main phase, you can play a land card to increase your mana resources on the battlefield and then cast any number of spells that you can afford. Then you will move on to the combat phase and attack by paying the mana and tapping the creature card unless that creature has summoning sickness. Summoning sickness means that when you play a creature from your hand, that creature can’t attack until your next turn.

After the combat phase, you will move onto the second main phase, which is exactly like the first main phase. Then you will move onto the end stage and discard your hand back down to seven if needed.

Get started

With countless players come countless resources, so if you do your research and take the time to learn the basics catching on to the rules will be a fun experience. Once you get down the basics, you can begin to build your deck and discover more complex magic that involves combining mana colors. When you build your deck, consider each color’s meaning and remember that planeswalkers are some of the most powerful cards, so if you have them, use them wisely. A great way to start your deck is by purchasing collector boosters which include at least four rare cards in every pack.

According to BestReviews buyer’s guide for collectible trading cards MTG is the best of the best. This strategy-based game is great for casual and competitive gaming and with the convenience of the MGT arena you can take your cards online and learn more from the MTG community.

 MGT 2021 Arena Starter Kit

Find the source of the magic with this MGT 2021 Arena Starter Kit which includes everything you and your chosen opponent needs to play at home or online.  

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Bailey Gates writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.