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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:
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.
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.
Type 1 [Vintage] - for
vintage every card is legal except for ante*, un-sets**,
chaos orb, and shooting star, also vintage has a restricted
Type 1.5 [Legacy] -
for legacy there is no
Type 1.X [Extended] - extended rotates every 3 years, it
isnt always 7 blocks, infact it will be up to 9 before it
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
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
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.
 Northwood Ranger
Sakura Tribe Elder (Champions of Kamigawa)
Humble Budoka (Champions of Kamigawa)
14 Other Spells
Commune with Nature (Champions of Kamigawa)
Kodama’s Reach (Champions of Kamigawa)
 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
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
- 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
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