Mistakes Beginners Make – The Planeswalker’s Apprentice

Serj fell backwards, recoiling from the blast. His Master, touching his brow and sent three more phantom missile blasts into his chest. Serj was desperate. Over the last few weeks he had garnered knowledge but his spell pouch had abandoned him lately. He never seemed to draw upon enough lands to cast his new found spells.

Seeing an opening, he desperately reached into his bag, feeling around for an orb of energy. Yanking it out he looked at it begging for mana. Disappointed, he hung his head dejectedly, realizing he needed to brace for yet another impact from his teacher.

Hello again Apprentices! I’ve been seeing quite a bit of questions from newer players lately. In today’s installment of The Planeswalker’s Apprentice we will take a brief look at all the things I have seen new players do wrong over the years. All of these issues can be remedied with time and experience so let’s have a look…

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Not Enough Land

New players love to pack “just one more spell” into their decks and neglect their mana base. If you don’t have the lands you need to cast the spell, it won’t matter what you pack into your deck. If you are new, keep at least 24 lands in your deck until you learn more about mana and the amount of lands you need to make your deck run properly.

Winning Bigger

I’ve seen many new players drool at the sight of a 10/10, tossing it into their decks. Granted, a 10/10 is a formidable adversary but at what expense? Many large creatures have a down side. Sometimes winning bigger isn’t the answer, especially if the negatives outweigh the positives. Why not play manageable creatures that you can reasonably cast instead of drop tons of resources into a massive behemoth late in the game?

Losing Less

New players have a tendency to look at life gaining spells in a different light than experienced players. New players see life totals as a scoreboard and not a clock. Consider which is easier. Bringing a player to an infinite amount of life or dealing only 20 damage? Why spend 4 mana on a spell that can give you life, when you can spend 4 mana to deal damage?

Depending On One Card

Over the years I have seen many new players see a spell and fall in love with it. Realize that your deck has 60 cards in it and just one spell isn’t going to make that much difference. What if it’s countered? Killed? Even if you had four copies of the card, relying on one spell is unreasonable. Build your deck around your great spell, just tossing it into an already existing deck is foolhardy and rarely works.

Trying To Do Too Much

After a few weeks of playing Magic, new players may wander to the phase where they see a 5 card combo and want to make a deck around it or wander into a five color deck without the necessary dual lands. Extending yourself is just as bad, if not worse than depending on one card to win the match. Keep it simple early on in your Magic career and learn your deck inside and out. You will also learn other players deck’s in the process. Be reasonable and don’t try too do too much with one deck.

Fitting a “Plan B” Into the Deck

Sometimes it’s hard enough to win a match as a beginner with one game plan. Please don’t try to fit another win condition in your deck as a “Plan B”. By adding another win condition to your deck you thin cards for your original game plan, making your deck twice as weak.

Not Attacking

Most new players are nervous about making a mistake. When they get into positions where multiple creatures are in play, they often decide not to attack. Why? For a beginner it’s easier to not attack then fall into the trap of an opponent playing an instant or surprise block and looking foolish. The remedy to this comes from learning what decks are out there and what to expect from the opponent. This takes time but can be remedied.

Chump Blocking Early

It’s turn three and both players are at 20 life. The opponent has managed to put out a quick 4/4. The beginner player has a 1/1 out with a decent ability. The 4/4 attacks and the beginner chump blocks, killing away his 1/1 and losing his helpful ability. Not good. Spare your creature the shame of being a chump blocker and keep that ability on the board. Especially when the game is early. Don’t look at the life totals as a score. Look at them as a clock. If you are hit by 4, you just lose a little time to win, not a score of 20 to 16.

Not Observing Everything

Why is the opponent keeping untapped Islands? Why is he attacking with a small creature even if you have large blockers? Why is the opponent keeping a hand full of cards even though I’m beating him down with many creatures? All of these plays are one of two things, traps or bluffs and experienced players can spot things like this. Luck plays a part in magic but everything that happens in a game of Magic happens for a reason.

I hope this helps. I’ll see you all next week.


Aiokii is the Overlord of Chump Blocking. In fact, he has a Fathead of Yotian Soldier on his living room wall. Contact him at  https://twitter.com/TheAiokii , Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thepaperchampionblog or post in the comments below. Check out http://www.reddit.com/r/budgetdecks/, for Magic: The Gathering on a budget discussion.

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