When some­one gets ini­tial­ly inter­est­ed in Magic the Gathering, one of the first things they ask is “How can I get start­ed?” quick­ly fol­lowed by “but how much is that going to cost?” Magic has a rep­u­ta­tion as an expen­sive game to get into, when in real­i­ty get­ting start­ing with casu­al play (which is — let’s face it — where most of the fun is to be had) doesn’t need to cost very much, or any­thing at all. This guide is geared towards com­plete­ly new play­ers, or casu­al play­ers, who might have received old cards from friends, and also serves to inform vet­er­an play­ers on get­ting play­ers start­ed in their beloved hob­by.

Ruleset of the Planeswalkers

If you want to sim­ply learn the basic rules of Magic the Gathering, then Duels of the Planeswalkers is where most peo­ple start get­ting into  — or get­ting back into — Magic. I would rec­om­mend Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 or 2014, as the­se offer a good starter expe­ri­ence with­out the con­fus­ing pres­sure of freemi­um ele­ments. A lot of play­ers are too embar­rassed to play with more expe­ri­enced peo­ple right away, and a good solo expe­ri­ence again­st an AI is a nice way to ease you into Magic the Gathering. There are a lot of online places that basic rules can be looked up as well.

Doing it for Free

new players side 1Ideally, the first phys­i­cal cards a new play­er gets shouldn’t cost them any­thing at all. I’m told that select stores offer a sam­ple deck that can be given to play­ers for free as a taster (the first ones always free right?), but I have nev­er actu­al­ly seen this in per­son. Perhaps they are less wide­spread in the UK, or just my area. I only found out about them when M15 came out, and some cards were legal, but not in boost­ers — com­ing from the sam­ple decks. Though if you can get hold of one of the­se, they are great.

The best thing vet­er­an play­ers can do is give away some of their old draft fod­der. They might nev­er leave your stor­age box­es, and have no val­ue to you but for those Core Set com­mons you are nev­er touch­ing again are gold-dust to play­ers who don’t have a col­lec­tion. New play­ers don’t care if cards are good or bad, they just need any cards to learn to play with. Build some of your old bulk into decks and offer to teach that friend who has expressed inter­est in Magic. Some stores also take in so called “draft chaff,” and share it out to new play­ers.

In the past, I’ve seen com­mons sim­ply thrown away by vet­er­an play­ers who feel they are just clut­ter, and that’s a real waste. If you want to start some­one off with deck­build­ing, don’t for­get they will also need lands. Most of us take hav­ing too many lands for grant­ed, but new play­ers need enough of them to not have to con­stant­ly take apart their decks.

I should note, though, that if some­one isn’t inter­est­ed in get­ting into Magic then sim­ply dump­ing some old com­mons on them is just going to irri­tate them. Be help­ful but not overzeal­ous.

For you new play­ers, the best way to get bet­ter at the game is to spend time with oth­er Magic play­ers and play games; most of us have a Magic play­ing friend who taught us the game. If you don’t have any friends that reg­u­lar­ly play Magic then that can be trick­ier quest. Good stores tend to be wel­com­ing to new play­ers. Even if those play­ers are not big spenders because fos­ter­ing a com­mu­ni­ty keeps them in busi­ness. So don’t feel put off from ask­ing for some help from your local shops. Many peo­ple will lend you a deck to try the game out. Taking that first step can be the hard­est part, but it will reap rewards.

What Not to Buy

Let’s talk about the pur­chas­es new play­ers shouldn’t make. A big mis­take I see a lot of new play­ers mak­ing is that they think they are going to open a fat pack, or a boost­er box, and have a Standard playable deck right off the bat. I can tell you right now this isn’t going to hap­pen. If you sim­ply enjoy buy­ing, and open­ing packs, then go for it. If you are play­ing Sealed or Draft — for­mats not suit­ed to com­plete­ly new play­ers — you aren’t going to get much game­play from the­se packs and box­es.

Players try­ing to intro­duce their friends to Magic the Gathering should make sure to start from first prin­ci­ples; sim­ply putting some­one into a draft, or a pre-release event, isn’t going to be a good time when they don’t know the rules. Don’t have them run before they can walk.

Equally as much, I see a lot of new play­ers going for intro packs as their first pro­duct. These are bet­ter than loose boost­ers in terms of game­play. Since you have a pre-constructed deck, but they are made up entire­ly of bulk. For the price that you would pay, an intro pack’s main poten­tial source of val­ue is in the two boost­er packs includ­ed, and they might not con­tain any­thing use­ful to put in your only deck. Intro packs do have the advan­tage of being Standard legal, but their power-level is only appro­pri­ate for casu­al play.

Choosing Wisely

What you buy first is dic­tat­ed by what you want out of the game. The three prod­ucts I would rec­om­mend are Deckbuilders Toolkits, Clash Packs, and Duel Decks.

If you’re look­ing for instant game­play then a Clash Pack/Duel Deck is far supe­ri­or to an intro pack because you get two decks designed to play again­st each oth­er. This is a cheap way to have bal­anced and fun game­play, and as we men­tioned in our review of the Magic Origins Clash Pack the best of the­se prod­ucts are also just a plain good val­ue.

new player insert 1

If you’re look­ing to learn more of the deck­build­ing side of the game, and you want to have more of a pool/collection of cards, then a Deckbuilders Toolkit is ide­al. It’s the pro­duct many in my play­ground bought to get into, or back into, the game as it pro­vides 285 cards, a decent amount of land, and a box to put it all in. I some­times just seek out the Deckbuilders Toolkit box­es; they are only card­board, but they are stur­dy, have attrac­tive art, and are a handy size for trans­port­ing cards at a cost of about $2. The full pro­duct costs not much more than an intro-pack, but has the ben­e­fit of includ­ing near­ly 200 more cards. Bulk is bad for vet­er­an play­ers but is cer­tain­ly prefer­able for new ones.

Branching Out

Players inter­est­ed in dif­fer­ent for­mats like Commander should also look out for the pre­vi­ous year’s Commander prod­ucts. You can cur­rent­ly get the Commander 2013 and 2014 pre-constructed decks for around $20 online — well below MSRP. You can real­ly go straight into a Commander game with them. Many of the decks also include gen­er­al­ly pow­er­ful cards like Wurmcoil Engine and Skullclamp.

As we’ve dis­cussed in a pre­vi­ous arti­cle, Cube is a great way for play­ers new to draft­ing to learn how to draft for free, or for a very small fee, depend­ing on the cube own­er.

Summing Up

The dream route into Magic involves men­tor­ing from old­er play­ers, and not spend­ing a pen­ny on cards. But when that isn’t pos­si­ble there are a lot of good options for most kinds of play­ers out there. Not all Magic prod­ucts will be of use to a new play­er, and burnout due to over expen­di­ture is a good way for new play­ers to rapid­ly loose inter­est in the game. Products that pro­vides new­bie friend­ly game­play and resources should be the first rec­om­men­da­tion from exist­ing play­ers. And remem­ber, every­one was new to Magic at some point. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t be a snob towards peo­ple less famil­iar with the game than you.

https://supernerdland.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/HEADER-MTG-BUDGET.pnghttps://supernerdland.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/HEADER-MTG-BUDGET-150x150.pngJohn SweeneyTrading Card GamesTraditional GamesMagic The GatheringWhen some­one gets ini­tial­ly inter­est­ed in Magic the Gathering, one of the first things they ask is “How can I get start­ed?” quick­ly fol­lowed by “but how much is that going to cost?” Magic has a rep­u­ta­tion as an expen­sive game to get into, when in real­i­ty get­ting start­ing…
The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.
John Sweeney
John Sweeney is a ter­ri­bly British man with a back­ground in engi­neer­ing. He writes long-form edi­to­ri­al con­tent with analy­sis of gam­ing, games media and inter­net cul­ture. He also does the occa­sion­al video game ret­ro­spec­tive with a week­ly column about Magic the Gathering thrown in for good mea­sure. He also does most of our inter­views for some rea­son, we have no idea why. A staunch sup­port­er of free speech and con­sumer rights; skep­ti­cal of agen­da dri­ven media and sus­pi­cious of unac­cou­table author­i­ty but always hope­ful for change.