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Part 6 – So, This is your First CCG?
by Dark Messenger (with editing by Brockiflower)

So, this is your first Card Game? Magic the Gathering is the most successful and longest lasting TCG [Trading Card Games] in existence, so you choose wisely.


Magic the Gathering was started in 1993 by Richard Garfield. He wanted a game like Chess that involved thinking and was timeless, but also wanted a game that could change with every expansion, to the keep the game fresh [Beckett, "The First Wizard"]. Over the years, the sets shifted from popular history and folklore to an actual series that sustains itself. The story lines of Magic are linked akin to the Final Fantasy Series of Video Games. The books provide insight into characters, but do not get the books involved too much with your game or as a friend said "I don't want to kill my enemy’s Toshiro, he’s my favorite character."

Several cards I am sure you have heard if you have been around any card shops: Black Lotus, Moxes, Wrath of God, Birds of Paradise, and may be even Power 9. These cards are some of the oldest cards and were very famous for their effects and rarity. The reason these cards are so highly thought of is there very brokenness. Black Lotus, for example, gives you 3 mana [what you use to cast spells] of any color for the price of sacrificing this artifact that costs no mana to summon. That is like giving a person nothing and them giving you 3 dollars. Power 9 is a term to describe the best nine cards in this game: Black Lotus, the five Moxes, Ancestral Recall [Draw 3 cards for one Blue mana], Time Walk [Take another turn for 1 colorless and one Blue], and Timetwister [ 2 colorless and one blue to put your hand and graveyard in the deck and then draw 7 cards].

When you start you need to remember several things. First off, everyone started where you stand now. Building a Tier 1 deck should not be your primary goal, at least until you understand Tier. Tier is the term used to explain how good and/or popular a deck is. You primary goal should be to understand where this game came from and how are you going to get there, rather than building the best deck.

Moving On...

Well, first things, first. You are missing out of 11+ years of history and terms. It is okay, it is expected and no decent player will mistreat you for it. Try to find a local player to sit down and teach some of the finer points of playing Magic the Gathering. One helpful piece of technology is on the WotC main page, http://gatherer.wizards.com/, which allows you to search for any card in almost every conceivable way, It also provides all the official rulings for all cards.

The Formats

Type 1 [Vintage] - for vintage every card is legal except for ante*, un-sets**, chaos orb, and shooting star, also vintage has a restricted list
Type 1.5 [Legacy] -
for legacy there is no restricted list
Type 1.X [Extended] - extended rotates every 3 years, it isnt always 7 blocks, infact it will be up to 9 before it rotates again
Type 2 [Standard] - Only the two most recent Blocks and most recent Core Set.
Block - Only one entire Block. No outside cards.
Limited - You are given packs [Tournament packs or conventional] and you make a deck from that. Check with your card shop to see how they do their drafts.
(There are also other popular formats such as Peasant Magic, and 5 Color Magic, which are not explained here.)

*The original version of Magic had ante cards where the person bided away the top card of their deck. Ante cards were banned when Organized Play started up.
**Unglued and Unhinged were two sets created purely to mock Wizards of the Coast, Players, The MTG Universe, and the DCI. They are not legal in tournaments

It's recommended that you start in block, but more than likely you will play casual, which is vintage/Type 1 format. Play in drafts and try to get the commons from non drafters pack openers. As you move forward, you will learn value, and eventually acquire good cards, which you can trade or deck to make your deck better and can move into different formats.

To the Game…

The point of this game is to win through reducing your opponent life to zero [from 20], forcing them to deck out, or alternative win conditions. A straightforward beatdown [a deck that relies on creatures to attack] should be your first deck, regardless of color. Using lands to summon your creatures, you will attack your enemy. If he has creatures, he may block and then a battle pursues. This is repeated until one player is defeated. Will it be you or your opponent?

The number one skill is building a deck. When building your deck you need to remember this:

Constructed decks must contain a minimum of sixty cards. There is no maximum deck size; however, you must be able to shuffle your deck with no assistance. If a player wishes to use a sideboard, it must contain exactly fifteen cards.

With the exception of basic land cards, a player's combined deck and sideboard may not contain more than four of any individual card, counted by its English card title equivalent. All cards named Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest are basic. (Pojo Note:  Snow covered lands are also considered basic lands). 

When starting to build your deck, you want an excellent mana curve and a reliable win condition. A mana curve is basically the ability to play a card every turn, i.e. play a card on turn 1, play a card on turn 2, etc… and a win condition is a card that can win the game for you.

Here is a sample Mono Green Aggro [beatdown] decklist, with cards from 9th Edition and Kamigawa block. This is a simple and straight forward beatdown that is currently legal in Type 2, post the release of 9th Edition.

26 Creatures

[4] Northwood Ranger
[4] LLanowar Elves
[4] Sakura Tribe Elder (Champions of Kamigawa)
[4] Elvish Warrior
[4] Craw Wurm
[4] Humble Budoka (Champions of Kamigawa)
[2] Rootbreaker Wurm

14 Other Spells

[4] Giant Growth
[4] Commune with Nature (Champions of Kamigawa)
[4] Kodama’s Reach (Champions of Kamigawa)
[2] Naturalize

20 Lands

[20] Forest (Any set)

This deck is also all commons, so it shouldn't be too hard to acquire these cards. As you get better cards, you can update this deck, or splash a new color. Red and Black are good splashes, or you can add a blue element to this. Some good cards to go after for the mono green agro that currently out:
- Umezawa's Jitte
- Jugan, the Rising Star
- Arashi, the Sky Asunder
- Kodama of the North Tree

Those cards are only examples. All the information in this article is to help you to play this great game. Join the ranks of MTG legends, but remember this, this is a journey that only you can make. You can find help along the way, but you need to make the journey.

And now, for some parting advice for the new player:

- Pre constructed decks do in fact suck, however, they sometimes offer good cards, like Uzemawa's Jitte or Eternal Witness.
- The best cards are not always rare and almost never shiny. Just because a card is shiny, does not mean it is a good card, nor does it mean a rare card is good.
- If a competitive player puts a card in his deck, there is a good reason that it is in there.
- Never trade your best cards until you understand what you are trading for.
- Listen to advice of people not trading with you or playing against you in a casual game.
- Never be afraid to ask a question, even if it sounds stupid.

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