Finding Your Spark – Your First Steps Into Magic: The Gathering


Recently, I’ve seen many posts on Reddit and other forums about new players looking for advice. The answers vary and usually involve bumbling around many different websites, buying various product, ect. I’d like to take a quick detour on our typical subjects and go basic today on The Planeswalker’s Apprentice.

For some of you this may be review or very simple but I’ll go into the topic as if a player is 100% new to Magic: The Gathering. Now, before you do anything, you need to know bare bones basics on what to expect from this game. Magic: The Gathering is a collectable card game that can be played in multiple ways with two players or more. Each player represents a powerful spellcaster called a Planeswalker and each card in their deck represents a spell or resource this spellcaster knows. Each match against an opponent is a random encounter between Planeswalkers, two magic wielding gunslingers if you will, both vying for supremacy in the showdown. The game is collectable and can become an expensive hobby since players attempt to get the best individual cards needed in order to strategically defeat their opponents. All the available cards have varied strengths and weaknesses and no two games, even with players playing identical decks, are ever played the same. Players are defeated in multiple ways, most commonly by going from 20 to 0 life.

Intrigued? Great! If you are interested in Magic: The Gathering it’s because you most likely either saw Magic products in stores, saw people playing it and was curious or heard about it from a friend. Each one of these casual introductions offer a different path you should take to get involved in the game. Let’s have a look…

A Little Help From My Friends

So you have friends that have been talking about Magic? Great! They are a valuable resource to pull from. Your friends will be your best supporters and teachers as you begin to learn about the game. They will also most likely be your best link to your card pool as many friends often give basic decks to newer players to learn from as well as trade cards with during their Magic careers. In my opinion this is the easiest way to learn how to play.

Curious from Afar

Let’s say you have seen the colorful and artistic packs at a local retail store and were curious about the game. Chances are you may not know someone in your social circle that plays. You may have talked about the card game to friends or family and they have possibly even been curious about it. If you don’t know anyone that plays your initial step into the game may be a bit of a shock.

My recommendation to you is to locate your nearest gaming store. Wizards of the Coast (the maker of Magic) makes this easy for you by offering a Store Locator. At these gaming venues, you can find like minded players, some that have been playing for many years and have a wealth of experience. You can also find cards for purchase as well as entire 60 card decks for sale. These stores are a great location to buy, trade and learn about the game from players that are more than willing to teach you the game of Magic. As you learn they also have more serious games where you can pit your deck against the best of the best for prizes. Soon this store will be the home of your hobby and you will make friends with fellow players and store keepers alike.

A bit uneasy about meeting strangers? Have no fear, you have several options. If you are interested in getting your feet wet by virtual means, I suggest playing the most current version of the Duels of the Planewalkers , also known as DotP. This game will be able to tutor you in the basics of Magic without any embarrassment that may come for more shy players as you play the AI in duels. There is also Magic: The Gathering Online, or MTGO a more serious version of DotP where you can purchase your own decks from thousands of cards with real money and play actual players around the world. The learning curve is steeper on MTGO and there is no tutorial as you play. Each version is enjoyable.

Your First Deck Purchases

The first step in thinking about your first deck is to figure out what colors would suit you best as well as what strategy you would like to employ on your way to victory. I always recommend a two color deck for starters. Playing a two color deck provides more balance while learning and also teaches it’s owner about deck building and strategy. I won’t get into the characteristics of the Magic colors and deck strategy but you can in this past post.

Secondly, you must research a way to get a deck of these color combinations and this requires you to do a little homework. Decks can be built differently and beginner decks are no exception.

  • Preconstructed Theme Decks – This is my favorite way to make a beginner’s deck. These decks can be purchased for under $15 and have an easy to learn strategy. usually, only 1 or 2 copies of a card can be found in these decks and the quickest and cheapest ways to strengthen the deck is to play it, remove what cards are poor or weak, buy a second copy of the the deck and combine the two. From there, singles can be purchased to focus the deck later.
  • Event Decks – Event Decks contain a fully playable deck for a low cost of $20. These decks contain more rares then a Theme Deck and have a good strategy beginners can learn to play with. Improving the deck comes in the form of purchasing singles.
  • Deckbuilder Tool Kits – These usually float in the $20 range. Inside you get a few packs of random cards and some common staples. A deck can be made from the cards inside but they will vary in strength based on the randomness of the packs. Only go this route if you want to make a deck from bare bones and plan on building slowly while you learn.
  • Singles – This is the most difficult route to build as a beginner. Research is needed as well as chasing down singles. You will get virtually no play time till your whole deck is purchased.I do not recommend this as your beginner deck plan.

My early recommendation to you is do not rely on packs. They are exciting to open but the only good they do for you is build the amount of random cards you have. Rarely will you be able to luck up and get a card you need for a deck and even more rarely will you get your hands on something worth trading off. Spend your money wisely on singles that you know you need, both in commons or specific rares to make your deck better. Your wallet will thank you.

By following these simple steps, my hope is for you to find your spark and enter the world of Magic: the Gathering. I’ll see you soon on the other side of the table.


Aiokii has been teaching people how to play Magic for over 20 years. Contact him at , Facebook or post in the comments below. Check out, for Magic: The Gathering on a budget discussion.

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