Mistakes New Players Make 2 – The Planeswalker’s Apprentice

Last week I wrote an article about the mistakes I have seen over the years from new players. Thanks to your feedback, it’s been suggested that I discuss some points further with remedies and sample decklists. Once these examples have been illustrated here, I’ll be adding them to the original article and it can be used as a primer of sorts if need be.

Not Enough Land

We all want to pack our decks with amazing spells and fun creatures but having to many of these spells and not enough lands choke the deck and stalls our game play. This all goes back to the first rule of deckbuilding and is an easy issue to fix. Take each card you have included and ask yourself, “How does this card make me win?” If you respond with a sentence that starts with “If…” or “when…” consider taking it out. It may be a filler card. Filler cards are cards that may support your deck but do not meet the focus of what makes your deck win, such as life gain spells or spells that protect your creatures. New players just have to buckle down and take out filler spells from their deck and rely on the strength of the main focus. Until a player understands the importance of lands I always recommend the hard rule should be to include 24, no more no less so after the filler cards are out, put in your lands and then add filler spells as you see fit.

Serj’s deck is a good example of how to distribute land properly.

Winning Bigger

Winning bigger can be illustrated easily by the creature Leviathan.


A 10/10 trample creature is a great creature, but at what cost? First of all, you have to survive long enough to get eight mana into play, most likely relying on a Mono-Blue deck. If you do manage to get out such a costly creature, you must sacrifice your deck’s main resource to make it untap as well as attack. By trying to win bigger, you are using an unreasonable amount of mana and resources and it’s just not with it. Solving this issue takes some research. Notice how large creatures get in your games. Typically, you won’t be facing anything much larger than 6/6 . It’s fine to use large creatures but be reasonable, putting all your eggs in one basket is a bad idea in Magic. Do a little homework and you could find something a little more affordable, as large as anything else you will see and with a bonus ability, like this little fishy…


Losing Less

Life gain in Magic is one of my pet peeves that beginners do.Take Stream of Life for example.


Gaining X life seems pretty good right? Just imagine how much life you can gain at the end of a game where you have six, eight, maybe even ten lands! Wrong, wrong, wrong. There are only several cards in Magic that allow you to win by having a stupid amount of life and if your deck doesn’t have those spells, there is no need to play spells like Stream of Life. All your effort in a match should be focused on using every resource at your command to beat your opponent and that usually involves reducing their life total to zero. Your life total is not a scoreboard. It’s a clock. Adding more time to your clock does nothing to reduce your opponent’s clock. There are viable decks that involve winning by increasing your life total such as Soul Sisters but 100% of that focus is doing so to increase it’s creatures strength which is dependent on life gain. Use your resources to destroy creatures and deal damage instead. A spell like Blaze brings you so much closer to winning than a life gain one…

EN MTGHOP Cards V3.indd

Not Attacking

Much goes on with a Magic battlefield and for new players it can be very overwhelming. Many of them will choose not to attack and save themselves from the embarrassment of being surprised by an instant they have never heard of or have creatures killed in bad matchups they overlooked. Experienced players typically know what spells are in each deck type’s arsenal so surprises are few and far between but new players haven’t seen what they contain. The only way this can be remedied is by playing and seeing what is out there. Experience is key and falling into pitfalls is part of the learning experience

Chump Blocking Early

Again, new players do not see life totals as a clock but a scoreboard. A player with a 1/1 creature with a snazzy ability which would be useful later in the game will chump block a 2/2 nobody just to keep the score tied early in the game. A fellow player r/RhysticStudy from Reddit said it best with this flowchart for beginners…

1) Can your blocker win/survive the combat? If yes, block; if no, go to 2.

2) Will failing to block result in your death? If yes, block; if no, go to 3.

3) Will you opponent gain tremendous value from a an effect if they hit you? If yes, maybe block, but only if you have a really blowout play ready for next turn. If no, go to 4.

4) Do not block.

Keep in mid also that an opponent’s untapped mana may also increase the risk of shenanigans. Instants can be played to increase creatures strengths. If an attacking creature could easily be killed by one of your blockers and the opponent has untapped mana, allow the damage through, especially early in the match. It could be a bluff but if you are over 10 life, a little damage won’t kill you. The only way to protect against this fully is experience and knowing what a deck is capable of.

Depending On One Card

There are some really amazing spells out there but if you have been playing Magic for any amount of time, a player simply does not just toss a great card into a deck and things work perfectly. Decks are built around great cards. If you find what you think is a great card, focus on that. Build onto your deck to make that card even better. Find ways to search your deck for that spell. Protect that spell. Find ways to make sure you have enough mana to cast that spell when the time comes. If the spell is essentially important to the deck, make sure you have four copies of it.

Next week I’ll be going over something near and dear to my heart, something that would change Magic: The Gathering Forever! I’ll also be slipping a small treat for you long time readers in around Wednesday. See you soon.

Aiokii has been leaving one Forest untapped for the last 20 years regardless if Giant Growth is legal in the format or not. 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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