Magic: the Gathering has never been bigger than it is right now. Wizards of the Coast has done an incredible job making Magic one of the strongest entertainment and gaming brands in the world. Much like what Wizards of the Coast has done with Dungeons & Dragons, they have been able to redefine their popular tabletop games and helped propel it into the forefront of the tabletop gaming industry. But new players can struggle with getting started with Magic, and it's important to know just how many different ways there are to play!
These days, Magic: the Gathering operates more like a game system than a game itself. Anything from classic 1 vs 1 battling to multiplayer battles now has everything from a supported ruleset to a ban list. There have never been more ways to play than today!
For new players, the consensus first choice for how to play the game is the Magic: the Gathering Prerelease. A Prerelease event is considered a “Sealed” event, where players are each given six booster packs to build their deck. Each deck will be 40 cards, with a breakdown of 17 lands and 23 other cards. Sealed provides a level playing field for new players who are just getting started with Magic as you don’t have to worry about players with gaudy collections because everyone will be building it at the same time!
Prerelease is a great time to practice deck building as these events have a lower power level than traditional Magic decks. Prerelease Kits are also available for purchase after events, and players of any experience level can grab some friends and see who can build the best deck from the new set.
One of the most polarizing formats in Magic is a Booster Draft. In a Booster Draft, each player will be given 3 booster packs and a spot in an arrangement of six or eight players. Then, each player opens their first booster pack, thumbs through it and selects one of these cards. They then pass the pack to their neighbor, wait until they are given a pack and then make another selection. This concludes until all 3 packs have been opened. Players will build a 40 card deck, following the same formula as above, and then compete. Draft allows for players to recognize trends in the card they are being passed by each player such as:
- What colors people are or are not choosing
- What strategies are being taken
- Sometimes even what style of deck people are attempting to play
Booster Draft benefits much the same as Sealed, lower power level and more deck building practice is fun for players of all experience levels. Wanting to draft from home? All you would need for a group of 8 people would be a Booster Box of your favorite set and some basic lands.
Once you have been given sufficient practice at deck building and the mechanics of Magic: the Gathering, it is recommended you start building your first Standard deck. Standard simply refers to a rotating format of accepted sets in Magic: the Gathering. This means that instead of having to worry about finding cards from the last 26 years of Magic, each player uses only the most recent sets. You can always check to see what is in Standard by going here, or by asking your local game store employee!
Standard deck construction minimum is 60 cards for the main deck, with a 15 card sideboard for tournament play. The sideboard allows you to modify your deck after the first game of each round, but before the next round starts your deck must return to its unmodified state.
We have a large inventory of Magic: the Gathering singles available in our store and online! You can search via set or just by the card’s name.
Commander & Eternal Formats
For fans of the older cards of Magic: the Gathering there are formats dedicated to using them. Such as:
- Modern (everything from 8th edition to now),
- Legacy (all Magic sets),
- Vintage (all Magic sets with some restrictions),
- Commander (all Magic sets).
While all of these sets do have their separate ban list, they also have their own meta-game that is interesting and unique. While all of these formats are great for Magic and Magic players, let’s take a closer look at Commander.
Commander is a singleton format. Which means you can only use 1 of any given card in your deck construction. The deck must also select the namesake Commander card, which is a Legendary Creature or Planeswalker that you will build your deck around. The deck must only contain cards with the shared color to your Commander, so choose wisely! Commander decks must be 100 cards including your Commander. This makes for a lot of interesting combinations for you to discover!
With all the deckbuilding restrictions and differences with Commander, it is highly recommended that a new or returning player simply pick up a Commander Preconstructed deck. Typically one of the most celebrated Commander products every year, the Commander Preconstructed deck always delivers a fun and easy way for a new player to get started with Magic: the Gathering Commander.
In the next article, we will cover how to best buy into your Magic: the Gathering collection! So stay tuned and let me know in the comments if you have any questions about getting started with Magic!