Magic: The Gathering: An Early Lesson In Strategy

January 8, 2014 in Collectable Card Games, Featured, Magic the Gathering by crew

So after my last article that I hope you all enjoyed I wanted to tell you where I went next in my ‘First Steps as a Planeswalker!’ and share what I experienced next.

Stalling The Enemy

Having started battles against a good friend of mine I quickly began to realise where the base of my Blue deck was leading me. For those of us who are new to Magic I think here is a good point to warn you that playing against a blue deck can be one of the most frustrating things you can experience (as my friend John will attest to). What they are very good at doing is preventing their opponent from doing what they want. Usually by cancelling that creature that you wanted to play or stopping sorcery in its tracks. With cards such as Essence Scatter and Cancel.

Cancel & Essence Scatter

These cards are used by waiting for your opponent to exhaust his resources, paying the cost to play a spell, and then in response casting my own spell that prevents the opponents spell from resolving. This leaves them having used their resources up for little to no reward.

I really enjoyed these cards and with the cards I had accumulated I quickly loaded up my deck with cards that worked perfectly at stalling and preventing my opponent’s plans. At this point there were dozens of games played between us. My blue deck went up against a starter Red and also Green deck that had just had some minor adjustments made to them based on a few cards that we had picked up from a few booster packs.

Remember booster packs are a good way to bolster the cards you have and give you new options for your decks! A lot of places familiar with trading card games will do them slightly cheaper the more that you buy. Some do reasonably priced booster boxes if you and a few friends wanted to split one these can be a great way to go. Alternatively there are sites out there that sell single cards and you can pick and choice what you specifically want.

Magic The Gathering 2014 Core Set

Dealing Damage!

Now at this point I was learning a very important lesson in my beginning steps through Magic the Gathering and I will share this with you. My deck was great at stopping my opponent. Unfortunately, what it then wasn’t doing was anything to actually win the game. Because I was so focused on stopping my opponent’s spells I found that I was not doing damage or contributing enough to other ways of winning. I was able to get some creatures out like Jace’s Mindseeker that I showed you last time but usually this wasn’t enough to win the game for me. What I had done is loaded up on cards like Wall of Frost to delay my opponents creatures. These work well at doing their job but didn’t help me take those crucial 20 points of health off my opponent. Eventually I was finding that I was becoming overwhelmed when I was unable to prevent everything that my opponent was doing as the game went on.

The significant lesson that I had taken away from these games was that I need to incorporate a specific winning mechanic that would work well with the type of cards that I enjoyed and it really brought home to me the idea of a balanced deck. After a little bit of research I thought I had found just that. I was about to dive in to the realms of a ‘milling’ deck. What a deck that ‘mills’ does is aim to attack the opponent’s library (Deck) rather than their health. This is trying to make them run out of cards forcing them to lose the game by not being able to draw any more cards when they are required to.

Traumatize & Jace

I knew that I had cards like the Mindseeker that forced my opponent to remove 5 cards from their library so I began looking for other cards that would do the same in the same set that I was playing in. I discovered other cards such as Tome Scour and Traumatize along with a Jace Planeswalker card that I liked the look of.

It’s worth noting here that Planeswalkers play a little differently, rather than play like a creature they can be attacked like a player can, they treat their tokens as health and have to pay the cost in tokens to do their abilities. For example Jace starts with four tokens I can use his top power shown on the picture to take him to five tokens. If he was attacked by a creature with three power and I was unable to block it. Jace would then go down to two tokens. If his tokens are reduced to zero he is removed from play.

The next time I would come to play my regular opponent I would have a few more tricks up my sleeve. Look out for my next article where I will let share if these adjustments to my deck had paid off!

Chris Elwell

If you would like to write articles for Beasts of War then please get in contact with me via