Pojo's Magic Book Reviews
Magic The Gathering - Official Strategy Guide. - By Beth Moursund
First off, this is an absolutely beautiful book. The book is fully illustrated, in color, on high quality paper. It was created in 1997, and contains Fifth Edition Cards. I realize that 7th Edition is out now, but 5th & 7th Edition cards aren't that much different. All the broken cards were removed from the base set by the time 5th Edition cards were printed. ;-)
This book is more than a simple how-to-play guide. It contains detailed info on: Rules; Deck Building; Creature Combat; and the timing on playing cards in your duels. Size is 7-1/4" x 9-1/4".
O.K., I'm going to be blunt ... This is absolutely the best book for a beginner to buy. I can't think of any book that will teach you the finer details of the game better than this. As a beginner, photos of actual cards help immensely in learning the game. Only "Official" books show the actual cards. This book is great for a beginner who wants to advance to intermediate and tournament level play. The book is dedicated to teaching you all about the strategy of playing with the 5th edition cards. There is a fantastic attack sequence description in this book. The book also details banding, instants, and interrupts which can be very confusing to beginners. Good information is also included for creating and playing with the 5 basic decks: an inexpensive Weenie Deck; a Big Creature Deck; a Burn Deck; a Permission Deck; and a Land Destruction/Discard Deck. Sugg. Retail Price is $16.95, so its about $14 at Amazon.com. If you are new to M:TG, this book should be at the top of your list. You won't be disappointed. Beth Moursund is about the best M:TG author out there.
If you are a very experienced M:TG player, I'm guessing you probably won't learn a whole lot. But then again, this book is actually cool to read, and the quality is top notch.
Counterpoint from John:
In your review of
Magic: The Gathering - Official Strategy Guide you say
that this book is ideal for beginners. Are you truly
suggesting that beginners learn 5th Edition
rules? The sequence of things has changed, so why
should we tell them to confuse themselves with the former
sequence (you made reference to the attack sequence delineated
in the book)? Furthermore, it explains the
difference between instants and interrupts, according to
your review. When I teach a new player I explain it
simply, there isn’t any difference. That is true,
under current rules. If they inquire about the why,
then I say that under old rules spells that targeted other
spells or (not saying this, but previous to 5E) made mana
were interrupts and had special windows of opportunity you
could play them in. Then I further suggest to them
that they not concern themselves with that.
“This book is
great for a beginner who wants to advance to intermediate
and tournament level play.” NO! As a
certified judge I am deeply concerned by a major Magic
website suggesting new players wishing to go to
tournaments should first learn the wrong set of rules,
without telling them that it is the wrong set of rules.
I deal with issues created entirely because of a poor
understanding of the rules all the time. Please
don’t do this to me.
“...the 5 basic
decks: an inexpensive Weenie Deck; a Big Creature Deck; a
Burn Deck; a Permission Deck; and a Land
Destruction/Discard Deck.” Ok this point has
nothing to do with the rules or being a judge. This
has to do with being a player. Permission decks, in
their many forms, have been powerful since before I ever
played the game and will continue to be for much time to
come. Weenie decks used to be a serious powerhouse,
and are still decent in some of the more inclusive
tournament types. A big creature deck? Senior
Stompy was decent, but how is this a “basic” deck?
Burn decks fall into the same category with weenie decks.
New players will most likely be playing with type 2 cards,
and these two decks just aren’t very powerful there, at
least in their true forms. To me a burn deck should
enjoy Disking, because of it’s almost complete lack of
non-land permanents, otherwise it’s a deck with burn in
it—not a burn deck. Land destruction/discard
deck.... how do I say this? There are very powerful
LD decks. There are some powerful discard decks,
especially in type 1 (hippie & hymn). They are
both strange forms of control. As we all know, to be
a good control deck you must have a valid plan as to
establishing card advantage. Land destruction does
this by making the cards in their opponents’ hands
worthless (because they can’t cast them). Discard
does this by making your lands worthless (there’s
nothing to use the mana on). Putting them in the
same deck is counter-productive, end of story. That’s
why Pain/Suffering is such a terrible card. A
LD/Disc Deck should be better labeled as a scrub deck, and
it most certainly is NOT a “basic deck”. This
may not be your fault, as you did not write the book, but
I would like to see something in your review about the
reliability of the information in that section, or just
say these aren’t really the basic decks. Where’s
the combo deck?
Anyhow, I do commend
you on your efforts to make apparent to the Magic players
some of the better reading material at their disposal,
especially beginners. I just wish there was a book
for them that would help them learn the game and advance
their play without screwing them up.
Pojo Comment: John ... I do agree with you that better books could be made now. WOTC has basically stopped making books (along with magazines) ever since they sold out to Hasbro.
Yes ... the meaning & timing of instants of interrupts has changed since this book was published .. but I still think this book will teach folks the basic fundamentals that most senior players take for granted at this time:
Tapping for mana, blocking, banding, first strike, trample, pumping, fast effects, etc. Veteran players know this stuff. Beginner's don't. And Beth makes this stuff simple to understand. Beginner's will still see older cards that say instants & interrupts ... and at least they'll have an understanding of what they meant a few years ago.
Thanks for your evaulation!! - Pojo
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