Magic: The Gathering - Board Game Box Shot

Magic: The Gathering

Magic: The Gathering logo

In the Magic game, you play the role of a planeswalker—a powerful wizard who fights other planeswalkers for glory, knowledge, and conquest. Your deck of cards represents all the weapons in your arsenal. It contains the spells you know and the creatures you can summon to fight for you.

2012 Core Set booster packs

Trading card games like the Magic: The Gathering TCG combine collectable cards with a strategy game. You don't know what you'll get in a Magic booster pack. You just start a collection and trade with other players to get the cards you want.

The best part about a trading card game is that it's always changing. You design and build your own unique decks, and each Magic game you play is different. New Magic expansions are released a few times a year, and each new expansion brings new ways to stupefy and defeat your opponents.

images © Wizards of the Coast

Learn how to play:
Publisher "Planeswalker Primer" Videos

Part 1

"Welcome to the Multiverse"
2:54

Part 2

"The five colors of mana"
4:11

Part 3

"Game zones and parts of a card"
4:11

Part 4

"Card types"
7:18

Part 5

"Parts of a turn"
7:04

Part 6

"The next step"
6:11

User Reviews (57)

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3
Reviewed My First Game
10
58 of 60 gamers found this helpful
“The Original”

Magic: the Gathering is the original CCG. Richard Garfield didn’t just create a new game. He created a whole class of games that has (one could argue) made it possible for the game industry to explode to the heights we enjoy today.

Of course, historical interest isn’t what keeps me cracking packs, building decks, and casting spells 16 years after I first tapped a land for mana. Garfield created a game system that has proven to have incredible depth.

The color pie and mana system create a wonderful tension in deck construction: you can’t play all the best cards in the same deck because the game will punish you–unless you spend time and resources to get the colors you need–but those are resources you need to keep your opponent’s goblin horde at bay. It’s beautiful.

Magic is no slouch after the decks are shuffled and actual gameplay begins, either. There’s resource management, combat tactics, bluffing, engine building. You will get screwed by a bad draw from time to time, but the amount of room for skilled players to crush their weaker adversaries is astonishing.

Haters will hate, though. And sometimes they have a point. Keeping competitive in tournament Magic can be expensive. There are trade sharks that live to separate you from your chase rares. There are obnoxious kids who will smirk when you have to look up the text of some obscure Japanese-version card (foiled and signed, of course). But these are metagame issues. When you can find a good group to play with, those complaints fade into the background and Magic truly shines.

Simply put, It’s an incredible, infinitely deep game. Richard Garfield and, very importantly, the amazing designers and developers that have continued his legacy have produced such a cornucopia of gaming goodness, it’s almost ridiculous. Even if Wizards never printed a new card, the scope of the game is so immense I don’t think I’d be able to explore every facet of the game in another 16 years of play. There are a ton of great CCGs (and LCGs too) that have followed in Magic’s wake, but I don’t think I could say that about any of them.

 
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3
Amateur Reviewer
Strategist
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10
53 of 55 gamers found this helpful
“The most customizable, refined, and expanded game on planet earth.”

Magic the Gathering is a fantastic game that everyone should try. Despite what you may have heard, Magic CAN be both simple and cheap to play.

At its core, Magic is a game where you play a wizard who summons monsters and casts spells in an effort to kill the other wizards in the game. Everyone plays with their own customized deck. The main play involves playing land cards and using them to pay for spells and monsters. Overtime you can put in bigger and better effects. Each player starts with 20 life and is usually playing with a deck of 60 cards. Run out of life or cards and you are out of the game.

That’s the basics. The problem with describing magic is that the decks and the rules are so customizable that you can do almost anything with it. You can play one on one or multiplayer. I’ve played with as many as 8 other players at the table but I recommend no more than 5. There are five different colors of magic each with their own theme and style. There are literally hundreds of different sub-games and house rules and alternate ways to play so that you make playing Magic the Gathering into a themed battle, a role-playing style game, a cooperative effort, or mix up how the battle goes in a variety of ways.

Odds are, if you’ve played Magic the Gathering and didn’t like it you just weren’t playing it right. It’s so customizable that it’s almost impossible to think that there’s no version of the game that would be fun for you.

Sound complicated? Don’t you worry. Magic can also be very simple. Get a deck with some basic cards and just go have fun. I recently taught my 5 year old daughter how to play and she understood it completely.

Despite being collectible, Magic doesn’t have to be expensive. If you want to check it out, go buy a set of Duel Decks. There are a variety to choose from. One of these packs will cost you roughly $25.00. For that price, you will get two 60 card decks with lots of fun cards that are designed to play well against each other. If you don’t spend another dollar on Magic you still got a great two-player game at a great price, and these decks can be played against any other magic deck that your friends might own.

When you want more, more will be out there. Try out some other duel decks or buy a few packs and start to make your own deck. As long as you don’t get too crazy about it, you will only be buying more Magic when expanding the game sounds fun to you. It only gets ridiculous and expensive if you start to obsess about having every new expansion or winning in tournament play.

If wizard battles, magic tricks, and monster summoning sounds fun to you, you can’t do better than Magic the Gathering. It is the most expanded, most play tested, most refined, and most customizable game on the planet earth. Buy a set that looks fun and give it a shot. You’ll enjoy endless hours of replay for no more money than you want to put into it.

 
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7
Paladin
Herald
Advanced Reviewer
BoardGaming.com Bronze Supporter
7
57 of 60 gamers found this helpful
“It's not a game! Its a System!”

When I started playing Magic: the Gathering actively, in 1995, the recent game expansion was Homelands. When I decided to quit active playing, it was the time of Apocalypse (2001). Yet since then I play casually using the remains of my former collection.

Magic is not just a game. It is a multi-layer system of games.

The first layer is of course playing the actual M:tG games. You get your deck of cards (the cards represent magical spells and sources of magical energy), your opponent gets their own deck… and you both try to defeat each other by reducing the adversary life points, poisoning him or making him have no cards to draw any more. Since there is a huge variety of possible decks and each deck may give various outcomes due to its shuffling, the resulting spectrum of possible games is virtually infinite.

The second layer is deck-building. In order to play a game on the first level you need a deck! This level can be skipped by buying pre-constructed decks (ready to play), but it is much less fun. There are, in general two methods of building a deck: “draft” when players build their decks using a limited pool of cards trying to use them as effectively as possible; and “open” when players build their decks out of the cards they possess (with some limitation if necessary).

This leads us to the third level of the game – the collection building. And it is also a game! A real game for real money. There is not to many players worldwide who can just buy each and every card they want to have, since the number of different cards is huge, some of them are really scarce, and the initial distribution of cards among players is random due to the method the cards are being sold (in closed semi-random packages). Thus trading cards between players becomes essential. This makes Magic a game of economy on its deepest level!

Magic: the Gathering was my favorite game for six years. Then I realized that it consumes more and more of my time and money as new sets appear each few months (causing my mind to be exhausted analyzing new possible card interactions, and my wallet to be drained). Fortunately I don’t regret my time. I had spent it well. And for the money… If you are good enough playing the third level of the game you can get more when selling your collection than you invested in it!

Magic is a great gaming system. But it has three big drawbacks: it is very complicated, quite costly and really addicting.

 
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6
Novice Reviewer
Knight-errant
Gamer - Level 6
9
40 of 42 gamers found this helpful
“It Created and Continues to Define an Entire Genre”

When Richard Garfield created Magic The Gathering back in 1993 he unleashed a leviathan upon the gaming world. In its wake, every man and his dog sought to jump into the new Collectable Card Game ocean but a very few managed to survive and flourish like the original beast did. Most other games were lucky to last longer than a year. Now, almost 20 years later, Magic continues to thrive and remains the yardstick by which all other games of its ilk are measured against.

This incredible longevity has come almost in spite of perhaps the most loathed sales approach in the gaming world: The blind purchase of randomized cards in booster packs. Throw in rarity and cards of widely varying power and it’s almost enough to send a gamer crazy. But it’s this sales format that also give the game a lot of its thrill. Any Magic player to have ever opened a handful of boosters can tell you of the rush of excitement as they paw through their cards and spot that chase rare! The innocuous booster has also helped to define some of the favourite Magic play formats including a host of drafting variants.

So what has allowed Magic to survive for the last 20 years despite the fact that thousands upon thousands of gamers all around the world have handed over hundreds if not thousands of dollars over the years all the while grumbling and cursing Wizards of the Coast and their greedy ways?

There are a few reasons and the first was there at the games inception. The immense variety of cards that makes up the game and the ability to customize your play experience with this variety has been integral. The ability to build decks, almost as an extension of your own personality, and to continually fine tune and tinker has continued to stimulate gamers for years. This essential element would later go on many years later to inspire the creation of Dominion which has become its own juggernaut.

The other important ingredient for Magic’s success over the years has been its ability to continually reinvent itself over the years. Whether it’s the release of new themed sets of cards every year or new play formats, Wizards (with the assistance of the playing community) has worked hard to keep magic fresh. While you’re still essentially playing the same game, the play experience you’ll have in 2011 feels notably different to the feel you had playing in 2006 and rest assured it’ll be quite different again in 2016. Each year of Magic brings a slight variation on Magic’s fantasy theme and a host more variety for players to fiddle and tinker with as they look for the next killer combo or just something wild and crazy to try.

But at the end of the day all of this is possible because it rests on a **** solid game as its foundation. Basic game play is essentially very simple and offers good strategic and tactical decisions. Variety adds some complexity to the game but taking this on piecemeal through the addition of individual cards makes the complexity more manageable. And these days it is quite possible to play Magic on your own terms whether they be defined by play style or budget.

All of this contributes to Magic’s ability to maintain its dominance over the Collectable Gaming world and, even after almost 20 years, leaves everyone else playing catchup.

 
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39 of 41 gamers found this helpful
“Great but not for everyone”

This review is primarily intended for those who have never played Magic the Gathering and who are wondering if it is the type of game for them. Magic is a customizable card game that has been around for about twenty years. Players duel one another with decks that consist of a variety of mana, creature, and effect cards. The different mana types represent different types of play styles. For example, green, or forest, mana decks have the strongest creatures; whereas, black mana decks rely on cards that can destroy an opponent’s creatures and drain her/his life points. There are also decks that combine different types of mana. The goal of the game is to reduce your opponent’s life points to zero before you run out of life. Since this is just a basic review to help you decide whether or not to give the game a try, I will not explain all of the details involved in playing Magic; rather, I will list some pros and cons. Personally, I love Magic, and many other people do as well; however, it is not a game for everyone. Below is a list of some pros and cons that should help you decide if it is worth trying for you. I would like to add that if you want a quick overview of the game and want to try it before you buy it, you can download Magic 2012 on your Xbox 360, PS3, or on Steam. This is cheap and will allow you to play several types of decks, and this version of the game walks you through how to play, so it is a quick way to learn the rules.

Following is a list of general facets of the game that you may want to consider:

Number of players: Magic can be played by two, three, or four players. In a two-player game, opponents duel one another. This is the most standard way to play. A three-person free-for-all is also possible as is a four-person free-for-all. Another fun way to play is in teams of two called two-headed giant where partners share life points and can attack either of their two opponents. It really is not feasible to play with more than four players, and Magic is not a game that one can play alone.

Difficulty: Magic is not terribly difficult to understand. I do not find it any more difficult than most other card games like it. At first, it can be a bit overwhelming as there are many different abilities that cards can have that need to be learned; however, the rules are clear in most cases, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to play. My nine-year-old son and some of his classmates have no trouble understanding how to play. With that being said, Magic is not a game that very young children can probably understand, but I would say that it is reasonable for most children ten and older to understand. Of course some parents may not be comfortable letting their children play it, as some of the themes might be unappealing to them. That would be up to parents to research and decide on their own. Additionally, it will take a fair amount of research if you get into the deck-building aspect of the game to learn what card combinations work best.

Price: Magic can end up being very expensive. I have seen players wear shirts that state, “My deck cost more than your car.” In some cases, that may not be much of an exaggeration. Of course players could each just purchase a pre-made deck and play against each other with those cards and nothing else. If this were the case, then the game would not be very expensive; however, it is likely that you will want several different decks and that you will want to build your own decks. Rare and highly sought after cards can be expensive with individual cards topping the twenty dollar mark at times. Not all cards are that expensive, and a fairly good deck can be built without spending a fortune, but to build your own ultimate super deck, you may have to fork out in excess of one hundred dollars. In addition to the cards, you will probably want to buy sleeves, some kind of storage case for the cards, and you might want to spend extra on play mats, counters, and other optional items. Really the amount of money you spend on this game is up to how obsessed with it you become. It’s just something to be aware of before you take the plunge. You might end up spending a lot of money on it, and if you want to be truly competitive with the public, then plan on spending money on the game fairly regularly.

Speed of play: Magic, when compared to most board games, plays quickly. I would say that the average time that a duel takes is about twenty minutes. Playing with more than two players will probably extend this time a bit, but Magic is still a fast game. This makes it an ideal starter game to an evening of gaming or makes it practical to play several games of Magic in a single get together. There is very little set-up time as well. The game is quite portable and can be played just about anywhere.

Popularity: Magic is very popular making it readily available and making it easy to find people to play with. Even if you don’t have any friends willing to play it, there are always games and tournaments being played at local game shops.

Game is always evolving: Since Magic is so popular, new expansions are constantly being released. The rules are frequently changed and expanded as well. These facts have turned off some players who find it overwhelming to keep track of all the changes, and don’t want to keep buying cards. It could be a good thing too, if you become interested enough to follow it. There is a steady stream of new content and a nearly unlimited amount of variations possible.

Theme: Magic has a broad fantasy theme. This will interest some and bore others. If you only like Euro or war games, then Magic may not be for you.

Luck factor: Ideally Magic encourages strategic decision making, but with the drawing of cards, there are always occasions when you will end up with a bad sequence of cards – like too much or not enough mana – where your skill is undermined by your luck. So, there is some luck involved, but it is mainly in what cards you get, and strategy will win most duels.

That pretty much sums up the pros and cons of Magic at a basic level. I love the game and have played it regularly for years, and I gave it an 8/10. However, I understand why some people do not like it. I hope this review helps you decide where you will fit. If you’re still not sure, then my best advice is to download the digital version mentioned earlier.

 
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Marquis / Marchioness
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Professional Advisor
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
9
40 of 43 gamers found this helpful
“An thrilling, but expensive, hobby”

Pros:
- Enticing strategy
- Nearly limitless deckbuilding opportunities
- Basic rules are easy enough to learn
- Each expansion adds a lot to the game and is significantly different so that the game never feels “old”

Cons:
- An expensive hobby to keep up
- A significant time investment to collect the best cards for your deck and playtest thoroughly for an optimized deck
- Comprehensive rules are so complicated that even game Judges will have difficulty understanding or knowing all of them
- Errata to cards are expected to be known by the players and are only available online. Errata sometimes changes as well.

I love MTG. Magic comes out with 1 base set and 1 block per year. A block is composed of the base set and 2 “expansion sets” with the same theme/storyline. This collectible card game has been around for well over a decade and they still manage to come up with unique cards and even unique abilities.

With so many cards available, the card combinations are endless. There are even multiple tournament styles for players to still use their old cards when they are no longer allowed in “standard” tournament play, which is only the most recent 2 years worth of cards.

 
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9
I'm a Gamin' Fiend!
Knight-errant
Advanced Reviewer
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
8
37 of 40 gamers found this helpful
“A living entity that feeds on cash, and yet I let myself get sucked in...”

This is a real bear of a game to try and review, especially when I like to do my best to let people reading my reviews to know what they are getting into. Most established gamers at least know that Magic the Gathering exists even if they don’t understand what it is about. I will try to fill in a couple blanks.

I suppose to being with I will say that if you want to go into the game store and purchase a game, take it home, play it and never need to purchase anything else, this isn’t for you. Getting into Magic is expensive. REALLY getting into it to play in tournaments every Friday will likely be a noticeable drain on your finances.

Let me try and put it this way. Board gaming is a hobby. Magic the Gathering is a hobby in of itself. The original set came out around 1993 if memory serves, and new sets have come out pretty regularly since. I was into the game back in the mid to late 90′s and got back into again recently, and boy have things changed. My understanding is every year essentially a new core set comes out followed by three themed sets that generally correlate to one another. Each new set is going into introduce not only new cards but new card mechanics. In addition to this over time old rules have been changed from the way the originally worked, and even an entire card type was abolished. Certain cards have been banned from tournament play, some because they deal with an ante system that essentially allows to to gamble cards in your collection, while others have been deemed too powerful or disruptive so they cannot be played.

To top this off, just having a deck and wanting to play in a tournament isn’t enough. There are all kinds of different tournaments that are held at your local game store, and you have to learn what cards and sets are allowed at what. Most sanctioned tournaments are restricted to the newest set of cards that have been released. Then you have tournaments where you purchase a starter deck and a few booster packs and make a deck with what you get from your purchase right there. Others have unopened boosters that players do a draft to get cards from to add to a starter pack. Then there are Vintage and Legacy tournaments that allow you to play any card in your collection. This means if you always want to play in the newest tournaments, you need to keep buying the new cards. There is more to the hobby then just building a deck is essentially what I am saying here.

So, what do you need? Well, you local game shop sells starter pack and booster packs. There is more, but lets focus here for the beginner. In the past, you could purchase starter packs. You can still find some of these for older releases online. With each starter pack you get 60 cards including 3 rares, 9 uncommon, 26 common, 22 land, and a rulebook. Nowadays, there are mythic rares, which of course are rare rare cards. One of those three conceivably could be one of those. Land is required for every deck, but once you have enough you have enough. Often the rarer the card, the better the card, but this is not always so. You can build a perfectly respectable deck out of nothing but commons, as long as they are the right commons. These tend to run in the neighborhood of $10 – $20 a piece.

Booster packs have 16 cards, nowadays consisting of 1 rare, 3 uncommons, 10 commons, one basic land a tips and trick card. These will run you about $3.50 to $4.00 a pop. These are where you will get a good chunk of your new cards.

There are also pre-made event decks of all kinds with new releases, which can get you going but won’t get you anything rare. They also are currently selling what they call fat packs with several boosters, a couple event decks, life counters, MTG lore, learn to play books and that sort of thing depending upon the release. The event decks look to run in the area of $10 – $14 and the fat packs around $40.

Most game hobby stores will also buy and sell singles. Some of the rarer, more desirable cards can cost obscene amounts of money. For instance, my most expensive card is a Guardian Beast, which runs $35 – $40 dollars. There are many more cards that go for much more. This means that if you have the money, you can build any deck you want, and there are tons of stores who sell singles online, so you can get them shipped directly to you.

So what do you do with all of these cards now that you have them?

I will give a basic overview of the game, mostly because I have already gone and babbled quite a bit. Most games consist of two players. You use your cards to build a deck. A deck consists of a minimum of 40 cards, and if in a tournament or a group’s house rules a possible maximum number. Basic land is the foundation of any deck. Land provides mana which is used to cast spells. Spells consist of sorceries, which can only be played on your turn, instants which can be played (pretty much) anytime, creatures, who do the fighting for you and enchantments, which may provide a buff or debuff on a creature or other permanent card (a card that does not get discarded once used) or something that affects the caster in a positive manner or the opponent in a negative manner, or even a global effect for both players. Most non-land cards are of a certain color, black, blue, green, red and white. Each color has a certain flavor of mana associated with it, provided by the different basic land cards, swamp, island, forest, mountain and plains respectively.

Cards of a certain color will require at least one of its affiliated mana along with a possible number of colorless mana, meaning any other color. The colors tend to follow themes, black is a lot of sacrificing creatures or your own life total, blue is deck manipulation, drawing and causing the opponent to discard, red has a lot of direct damage spells, etc. This is an oversimplification and going into what each color does would take forever, just know that each color does some things better than another. In addition, there are artifact cards that tend to be cast entirely with colorless mana, but there are more cards that can destroy them easily.

Creatures you summon have a power and toughness and can be used to attack another player or block an opponent’s creatures trying to attack you, although a creature that attacked a turn cannot normally block the same turn. Your instants and sorceries cause or heal damage, revive or destroy creatures, cause you to draw or discard, etc. Many creatures have special abilities that can be triggered in addition or in place of attacking and blocking.

You begin a turn by drawing a card. You can lay down a land if available, then summon creatures and cast other spells. Your opponent can answer with spells of their own if available, rinse and repeat. Over time, you lay down more land, allowing you to cast more powerful spells and summons. There are dozens of special abilities you will need to refer to until you are familiar with them. I would say this game is still, for all I have mentioned here, subject to the old cliche; easy to learn, hard to master. The intricacies of the cards, the combinations of colors and abilities to explore are endless, limited only by your collection and the time you put into mastering the craft.

I enjoy this game. I enjoy playing it, I enjoy seeing what I get in a pack of cards, so help me I even enjoy sorting through the stinking things, putting them in order so I can find them easily, reading the flavor text, etc. But be forewarned, if you are not willing to put time, effort and money into the hobby, I would stay away. I just don’t want anyone getting sucked in like I did without some idea of what they are getting into.

 
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BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Zealot
Critic - Level 1
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45 of 49 gamers found this helpful
“I kicked my habit years ago... Ok, I relapsed once or twice.”

I’ll admit I’ve spent way too much money on Magic over the years. I started playing in high school and it was a torrid love affair that ended when I wound up broke. I picked it up again in my early twenties and again spent more money than I should have for about a year until I grew tired of it again. Then AGAIN in my late twenties but that tryst only last six months or so.

The game itself is actually quite good. If there’s actually anyone reading this that doesn’t know what this game is about I’ll give a small synopsis. You make a deck consisting of spell cards and lands in order to whomp the holy **** out of anyone you play against. Lands give mana which is used to cast spells to summon monsters, gain artifacts, fireball the pants off of some poor schmo or do nasty things to your opponents directly. Each player has 20 life and if you end up with zero or can’t draw any cards you lose.

I like the premise and I like playing but the obvious cash grab this thing has turned into over the years has made me loathe Magic and CCGs in general. Rampant rules lawyering has also made me shy away from Magic since so much of what is legal is in some official FAQ online and if you don’t keep up with the ins and outs of the official rulings you can get screwed HARD.

The cards are good quality, the art is generally good and the game is fun but I’ll not indulge in this ever again since I now have a kid to feed and a mortgage to pay. If you’re single, have money to burn, like strategic rules lawyering CCGs and don’t mind buying a new core set EVERY FREAKIN’ YEAR then this game can be, great fun. Otherwise stick to something that won’t force you to live on the streets after retirement.

 
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5
I Walk the Talk!
I Play This One a LOT
7
30 of 33 gamers found this helpful
“Fun and reliable, but newcomers beware: You may never leave!”

In the world of Magic the Gathering, a planeswalker is someone or something that has the ability to travel between the planes of existence, and generally cast powerful spells and summon powerful allies. Now that you know what a planeswalker is, Magic the Gathering is a collectible card game (CCG) where you play the role of one of these planeswalkers, and your goal is to defeat another powerful planeswalker (your opponent(s)).

The basics:
Once you have collected enough cards, you will build a deck usually of a minimum of 60 cards. You will pack your deck full with offensive spells like fireballs, defensive spells like creating a fog or countering opponents spells, and various creatures and/or allies that you can summon to aide you. You cannot cast any of these spells without the resources with which to cast them, mana. All spells and mana come in five basic colors or combinations thereof (red, black, blue, white, green), which each have a different flavor. You will be drawing from your deck, laying out one mana per turn (if you have one), and then using your mana to cast the spells. Sounds simple right?

Not so simple:
Magic the Gathering has been around since 1993, and has developed over time a multitude of different mechanics. This keeps the game complex, and veteran players interested, but at the same time may create a small barrier for newcomers. That being said, it is still relatively easy to teach someone the basics, and they can slowly pick up on each mechanic.

Cash money ya’ll:
My main gripe with Magic the Gathering is their genius ability to keep drawing people back, and releasing multiple sets per year. This means that if you want to keep up to date, you may need to have slightly deep pockets. Now they do sell single cards almost everywhere, and you can just build a deck this way, but where is the fun in that?

Overview/Conclusion:
Magic the Gathering is fun and complex card game that can be played through in less than 30 minutes. It can be easy to teach to a newcomer if they are somewhat familiar with games, but can turn into a daunting task to teach to a non-gamer (I wouldn’t recommend it as a first). It will most likely keep you coming back for more if you can afford it (or sometimes even if you can’t). I recommend giving it a try as it can be loads of fun as long as you have people to play with (this game is practically everywhere), but with a warning: you may get sucked in forever!

 
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Count / Countess
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42 of 47 gamers found this helpful
“Review of Commander format”

Without a doubt, Commander (also known as EDH, or Elder Dragon highlander) format is my favorite way to play Magic: the Gathering. It is a multiplayer format that encourages longer, more social gmaes and politicking is a key to winning. What makes it this way?

1. 100-card singleton decks: No more than 1 card with a given name. You’ll see more variety, and themed decks are easier to play. In the Constructed format, usually cards are added in increments of four to make the deck “do its thing” more consistently. Commander allows you to use fun, neat cards that aren’t always viable for the needs of a Constructed format deck.

2. You always have one creature to cast: Each Commander deck has a general. This is always a legendary creature whose color identity defines your deck. Instead of being in your deck, this card is in the “command zone” and is always available to cast and re-cast. Each casting after the first requires two more colorless mana, though.

3. Higher life totals: Each player has 40 life. And even though life gaining can get sick and ridiculous, it’s not a problem. Why? 21 damage from any one general will put you out of the game.

4. Longer play times: When you want to have a fun evening, a couple hours on a game tends to trump a bunch of 20 minute games. As a “kitchen table” player, I like this much, much more.

Commander format is a great format for casual players like myself. It allows me to choose “cool” cards and not worry that my deck will lose because it doesn’t have the four copies each of the same eight cards everyone else’s deck has. If you play Magic and haven’t tried this, I encourage you to make it a point to build one of these decks and go to town!

 
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Noble
Amateur Reviewer
9
33 of 37 gamers found this helpful
“One Insane Game!...but expensive if you wanna join the higher ranks”

I’ve played Magic The Gathering for some years and it’s THE BEST cardgame on the market. It’s as simple as that. One downside for competitive players (like myself) is: It’s gonna cost you A LOT of money and A LOT of time. Seriously.

The good thing of the game is that there are a lot of different cards. Every couple of months, a new series of cards is released. Every series of cards has his own story, new cards, redesigned cards, new races, new theme,… It’s really lots of fun to collect many cards.

The game has his own economy, which is a good and a bad thing.
The good thing is: you don’t need to buy hundreds of boosterpacks to obtain a rare card.
The downside is: some cards cost more then €100 each.

This game is a good example of a game who’s easy to learn, but hard to master. With so many different types of cards and strategies, it’s gonna take time to learn them all and if you want to play competition, you need to know them all.

Of course, for the people who are competitive but don’t want to invest a lot of money in it, there are drafts and pre-releases. Some of the stores who sell MtG cards organize these gametypes.

And if you are a player who just wants to enjoy the game without the need to prove yourself, there are dual-decks. These premade decks (2 in a box) cost around €20 and contains the following:
- 2 themed decks
- a short story around the theme
- a how to play “manual”
If you want to try MtG out, I recommend buying a dual deck.

Furthermore, I want to say that the community of this card game is really good. Most of them I encountered are friendly, polite and wants to help you if needed.

 
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Rated 100 Games
Mask of Agamemnon
Advanced Reviewer
9
26 of 29 gamers found this helpful
“The most enduring of CCGs!”

Magic: The Gathering has been around for a while now. Thousands of cards have been printed and the variety of decks is pretty much endless. The game is still a favorite of many and the professional circuit is alive and kicking. This game will be with us for a while longer!

The premise of Magic: The Gathering is simple. You build a deck of 60 cards (this is for constructed formats, limited formats like Sealed Deck and Draft set the minimum at 40 cards) with which you try to beat your opponent. In the world of Magic: The Gathering you are a Planeswalker who can draw upon the power of the land to gather mana to cast all kinds of spells. In game terms you need to include lands in your deck (about 22, but that is just a basic amount for a basic deck), because the lands give mana (there are five basic lands, giving white, blue, black, red and green mana respectively). With this mana you cast creatures to attack your opponents, search cards in your deck, reanimate creatures gone to dust earlier and create all kinds of effects, depending on the deck you play.

In most matches it is about life. Both players start with 20 life and when one’s life total reaches 0 that person has lost. However, it is also possible to win by emptying the deck of your opponent – when he or she has to draw a card and can’t, he or she loses also. And in the long run of the history of Magic other cards have been printed that give different winning conditions.

The basic game is easy to learn and new players can get into action quickly. Most people start with a basic deck with lands and creatures and some spells that give cards or help creatures to survive. Later on you might try other decks that use different approaches to winning. On the Web you can find many, many different deck lists, each tailoring to a specific format or type of player. In essence, the possibilities are unlimited.

Of course, the game is a Collectible Card Game, so you have to watch out not to spend all your savings on this game. Personally I played a lot during the past ten years (also in tournaments), but these days I play less because a tournament isn’t as cheap as it used to be. Also the amount of cards in cupboards and drawers in my house is reaching its limits. Still, whenever I play (mostly at pre-releases – tournaments just before the release of a new set), I enjoy myself, because Magic: The Gathering is a smart game which challenges you to make the best of the cards you get.

So, if you have never played, try it! There are probably a lot of people who would give you a stack of lands and commons for free and otherwise a few boosters isn’t that expensive (if you leave it at that). Then if you want to really play you can find all kinds of tournaments to play in. But you might just enjoy a game with your friends. Magic: The Gathering games usually don’t last that long, so you have time enough to play a lot of games on a game night. Good luck! Have fun!

 
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4
Gamer - Level 3
Rated 25 Games
8
28 of 32 gamers found this helpful
“Hate the business model of TCG's, but can't deny the gameplay”

I quit Magic: The Gathering after the fifth/sixth edition, only to come back a few years later and play a few sealed decks.

When I lived in Sacramento, California back in the mid-late 90′s, A few friends and I played Magic weekly. I always looked forward to those nights, building and tweaking my decks before the next Wednesday rolled around.

Then everyone started racing for rares, buying large sets on ebay for hundreds of dollars, and the game completely lost it’s appeal. I would attend tournaments, and watch young kids get obliterated by the “rich kids” who’s parents were able to shell out the dough to buy them all of the “uber rares”.

I quit, and gave my collection to a kid who was having a particularly bad day and was devastated. Made his day for sure, although my two friends who were with me spent a bit of time chiding me over “Throwing away” a collection worth (apparently) a chunk of cash. I bought boosters. I never sought out rares, I never SPENT a chunk of cash on it. I was lucky with some boosters. I didn’t care of their value, I just loved the game and wanted to play, and had accumulated my cards over the course of a year. Then you get a new edition, cards get banned, and you are left buying yet another set (if you want to attend events and tournaments, instead of just playing at home with friends). The loss of playing at home with my friends, and their move to more “serious” play actually dragged this down for me, since I had no interest in “Seeking out” specific cards.

When I returned years later, I chose sealed deck as the way to go. Sure, it takes away from the fun of assembling your own deck, and trying out your own strategies (Slightly mitigated by allowing boosters or drafts), but it keeps it on a more FAIR/EVEN playing field. Every time I walk into the game store I drive out to, and see the college kids playing Magic, I want to sit down and have a go. But I just refuse anymore to support the TCG model.

8/10 for the gameplay alone, though. It was the most fun I had out of a trading card game. I’ve played Legend of the Five Rings, Mythos, X-Files, and a few others over those years of Magic, and although others were enjoyable, nothing came close to Magic for me. If you want to avoid the cost, sealed deck is the way to go, imo.

 
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Intermediate Reviewer
8
37 of 43 gamers found this helpful
“My most expensive collection of cardboard!”

Where to begin? Well I began playing MTG in the late nineties but lack of both funds and like minded gamers saw the phase last only six months or so and the cards swapped for some useless, time lost bauble with one of my peers I’ve no doubt forgotten by now!

Fast forward to three years ago and another of my friends asked if I would be interested in a couple of decks he was given as he wasn’t that bothered, so in a reversal of a decade ago away went one of my useless trinkets and*o to the future bane of my bank account.

MTG is such a quick to learn (but difficult to master!) game that within a few weeks of play with my partner and a few friends, who soon became a regular gaming circle, I found myself elbow deep in a few hundred more cards and multiple house decks! such is the pull of MTG.

To be honest i don’t entirely agree with the whole TCG system of emptying your wallet every three months or so when a new expansion comes out but with Magic i don’t seem to mind! (this probably being the inner hypocrite speaking) and this is probably in part down to the beautiful artwork on offer. I have to admit to being easily swayed by pretty pics in a game but the quality of art in MTG is easily some of the best on offer from any TCG out at the moment and in terms of game play and ease of learning, my eight year old son learned how to play in one sitting and beat me in the next! (always a proud and simultaneously emasculating moment for any gaming dad)

The game has stood the test of time, where many such games have fallen by the wayside, and has as many detractors as it does fans but games don’t last this long and make as big of an impact on a genre that MTG has without doing a lot of things right, and i for one hope they continue to do so because if not I’d have to find something else to empty my wallet for!!!

 
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2
9
31 of 38 gamers found this helpful
“Magic: The Spending”

A game that is in its ideal form an engaging, immersive romp – where you take on the role of a dimension-spanning wizard(ess), using spells and monsters to defeat an opponent – sadly, unrealized.

This game is diluted by the culture of “win-buying” surrounding the game; in any casual format the individual who has spent the most on cards will likely take the victory.

There is a lot to be said for the fun of a game’s replay value. Combine casual, friendly games with the ease of learning Magic (the basic “pay mana for spells” stage, supplemented with knowledge of specific abilities’ names), and the interesting and engaging quality cards – artwork, flavor text, and an evolving background story filled with larger-than-life characters, magical events and sorcerous creatures – and you have a fun game between friends.

When the game’s balance is threatened by the simplicity of there being “haves” and “have-nots”, however – those whose decks are padded or conversely unpadded by expensive rare cards – there is no fun outside of very formulaic draft tournaments, where people’s skill is matched evenly and the amount you spend is rigidly controlled.

This is a game that seems to be replayable under very specific – and often costly – circumstances; a steady stream of capital for the game’s creators.

And while I am not averse to paying for my fun and for the hard work of artist and creators, I am averse to feeling a bit like a sponge being wrung out by the game makers.

 

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