For a long time now I had been intrigued with Magic the Gathering and looked at it from afar thinking that I could really get my teeth into it. Unfortunately I always found the prospect of starting somewhat overwhelming. That all changed a couple of months ago and I finally made those first few steps into a new world of creatures, land, spells, and planeswalkers!
What I should point out here is that whilst I had never played Magic the Gathering I had played a different collectable card game many years ago at a locally competitive level so I had a basic understanding of where to start with collectable card games and knew what I was getting myself involved with. I wanted to share my steps towards a new and possibly overwhelming hobby with everyone and give my thoughts and feedback on starting afresh in to a gaming system that has been going strong for many years.
My very first steps were to go to a local hobby store and get some advice. In my opinion local hobby stores are an invaluable source of information. Hobby stores should always be considered a first port of call for somebody new to a hobby or gaming system. I am very fortunate to have a few different stores where I live. It was in one of these stores that I was asked the golden question! What colour would I look at playing? In Magic the Gathering there are different colours of cards that have a different style of playing and this can define what you look to do. I had been a little familiar with these having played the video game previously so I had a rough idea where to start. If you are brand new to Magic the Gathering it is worth having a look at their website, especially this section relating to the different colours. The website for Magic the Gathering has a lot of useful information and even a ‘learn to play’ demo that is well worth checking out!
Another great place to go for an idea of what you are getting in to is to have a look at the new series on Geek & Sundry called Spellslingers. This will give you an idea of exactly what it is that you are thinking about getting involved in. If you haven’t already checked it out you can find the first episode here. You can’t go wrong doing plenty of research before you start a new hobby or gaming system. The better armed you are at the start the better!
Knowing that I wanted to start with a Blue themed deck that are commonly focusing on Deceit and Intellect the staff at my local hobby store gave me a few suggestions of what sort of things to look at picking up first. It’s worth noting that there are no right or wrong ways of doing this as there are plenty of ways to get started from deck builder toolkits to a whole box of boosters. As part of my first steps I picked up a couple of bits for myself and for my friend John who I knew I would be able to have regular games with. There is a lot to be said about starting a new hobby and being able to pick up that little bit extra to get a friend involved too. This worked out quite nicely as it was around the time of his birthday so it helped justify spending money on to my partner. As I am sure we have all experienced at one time or another, spending those hard earned pennies on some glossy card is not always the best way in to the good books with your significant other.
The key parts that I picked up here were some of the intro decks that had just been released with the new core set. What this did was instantly provide us with a deck each to play with that included a set list of cards and a couple of booster packs to add in some variety once we get our heads around the basics of the game. Intro decks are fantastic for providing a starter deck; they give you sixty cards of roughly twenty five lands, fifteen spells and twenty creatures to give you a taste of the chosen colours playing style. Land are important as these are what you spend to play your spells and creatures by playing and ‘tapping’ land cards each turn this gives you the resource that you need to play your creatures and/or spells.
If you are brand new to trading card games it is worth noting that a booster pack is the main way that you will obtain cards once you have started and are usually referred to in the wider community as blind buys. This is because it is a random selection of cards that usually consist of a rare, some uncommon, and some common cards. What this means is that you may not actually get something that you need however you may get something that your friend needs allowing you to trade cards.
Now we were both armed with an Intro deck and a couple of boosters I expanded this with a ‘fat pack’ for us both. This gave us a set of land cards that are the resources of a deck, several more boosters and a couple of card deck boxes and a nice storage box going forward.
Before we dived into our booster packs we had a good look through our intro decks seeing what sort of cards that we had and trying to figure out what our play style was with these. The Intro Deck that I started with was called Psychic Labyrinth offering a mostly blue deck with some supporting white cards. Playing a blue deck appeared to focus around neutralizing my opponent’s creatures without actually fighting them. This was evident with cards such as Claustrophobia that allowed me to enchant one of my opponent’s creatures effectively nullifying the creature’s presence in the game until the enchantment would be removed.
Another interesting card in my intro pack was Frost Breath that could neutralise two of my opponent’s creatures for a turn or two if played effectively. John’s intro deck was a green based deck called Bestial Strength that appeared to focus on playing strong creatures and overwhelming its opponent. This Intro deck sets up the use of cards such as Advocate of the Beast who has a plethora of beasts at his disposal to keep giving tokens to making them grow in power and toughness as the battle goes on. This deck was supported with some black spells that focus on a win at all costs basis such as Doom Blade to destroy any non-black creature it deems necessary. Now all that was left was to dive in to some games!
One card that had really pulled me in, and not just because of the fantastic artwork, was Jace’s Mindseeker. Not only was it a reasonable flyer in its own right, I loved the idea of playing a card that gives me the chance to use some of my opponent’s cards against them! It will be interesting to see how this card pans out in my games and if this is something I would look to build a specific deck around at a later date.
These were just my first steps within the hobby and I hope to do more articles to let you know how I get on! I am sure that many experienced Magic the Gathering players will be able to point me in the right direction going forward as I look to explore the hobby and maybe attend local events such as ‘Friday Night Magic’ at a local hobby store.
Check my next article on Magic the Gathering to see how my first few battles went on and where I go next in my next steps as a Planeswalker in the Magic the Gathering Multiverse.
If you would like to write an article for Beasts of War then please contact me at ben@beastsofwar.