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

User Reviews (65)

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I play blue
Cooperative Game Explorer
98 of 105 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Wallet: The Lightening”

It’s 2001. My little brother and I each have our allowance for the week – $5. Not too shabby. We go to our local collectibles shop and browse the 3 for $1 comics bins, a veritable treasure trove of adventures. Then, it catches our eyes. A little foil packet with some gnarly art. I want it. I buy it. I have no idea what I’m getting myself into.

It’s 2014. I’ve had my Magic phases – I remember my first time drafting, back in Shadowmoor with its twisted Faeries and soul-snuffing Cinders (still my favorite set to this day). I’ve quit and come back a few times. That’s all behind me now. I have one deck I bust out regularly and a couple others, with a handful of loose cards. No boxes of excess. My only regular opponent is my girlfriend with her (dirty good-for-nothing) Vampire deck. So why the **** do we still bust out this game? What gives?

How does it look?: Magic is a drop-dead gorgeous game, broadly speaking. There’s massive variability in art quality as you retreat further and further into the older cards, but Wizards has kept tighter and tighter quality as the game has flourished. Every set has a theme. This makes Standard (limited to recent sets) tournament play really, really cool – decks tend to be thematic and the game tells a story. Any sense of cohesion is usually thrown out the door for other formats, where cards from many sets mingle and the art quality tells the history of Magic as a whole. Still cool, but not always pretty.

How does it play?: At its core, Magic is a simple game. On your turn, draw a card into your hand. You may play one land. Then, you use your lands to play other cards from your hand for their costs. This leads to a natural progression – each turn, you can play more cards, or more expensive cards. After you play anything you’d like, you can have any creatures you control attack an enemy player. They can defend, some things will probably die, and the other player may take some damage. Then you can play some more cards from your hand if you’d like, and then it’s your opponent’s turn.

The fun is in how individual cards interact with those rules and with each other. For example, a player could build a deck that focuses on cards that let them play additional lands per turn, thereby accelerating their ability to play bigger, more expensive cards. Or someone might focus on alternative means of dealing damage – don’t like to use creatures? Focus on throwing fireballs at your opponent! Every deck has the potential to be a personal statement. If there’s something you think is fun, there’s probably a way to make it happen.

Overall Impression: Magic is a mixed bag. It shows its age. The system of playing Lands is less efficient and predictable than modern systems that allow players to play any card face down as a resource, or that give each player one additional resource per turn. Your pace is dictated by your draws.

I never liked the tournament scene – people take this game seriously. Like, thousands of dollars seriously. For a just-for-fun game, Magic scratches a good itch. Playing with a tight group of similarly skilled players means you can usually fine-tune your decks until they’re well-matched and provide unpredictable and balanced games. That’s super satisfying, and the customization of decks means that you can usually shake things up by swapping out a few cards. It’s a bit like playing Dominion with different sets of cards.

Magic is a long-lived game for a reason. It’s what you can thank for keeping your Friendly Local Game Store afloat. If you haven’t tried it, I’d recommend asking someone for a demo and giving it a shot. No rush, though – it’ll be there. Waiting.

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Vanguards - Summoner Wars
Amateur Reviewer
84 of 92 gamers found this helpful
“MTG: King for a reason”

Let me start this off by saying that I have been playing Magic the Gathering or MTG since the beginning. Throughout time the game has had some ups and downs, as to be expected with any game that has been around this long but throughout MTG has maintained its strength.

For those that do not know Magic the Gathering is a CCG where you buy cards and build a deck to compete against other people. Each person starts off with 20 life and the first to zero loses. The basic rules are fairly simple to understand, but the more technical rules can get a bit complicated. I am not going to get into all the rules here as there are plenty of sources for that information. (posted a link to the official comprehensive rules to help)

One of the biggest complaints against this game is its price. Starting out you can spend less than $20 and have a solid deck that you can play with against your friends. Will this deck win tournaments? probably not. However Magic is not a “pay to win” game. With its nearly endless deck combinations and various strategies MTG has enough depth to it that cards alone will not win the game.

The other big complaint is how competitive it is. If the tournament scene is not your style and you want more casual games the best answer for this is to just play with your friends and gamer groups. When you go to any formal WOTC/DCI event you should expect people to be serious about winning, as you should probably expect at any competitive tournament.

For its few downsides MTG is and immersive game that you can spend years getting to the core of. If you are a power gamer or strategy gamer then this is for you. There is a little bit of a luck factor, but that can be fairly well mitigated through clever deck construction.

If you are looking for a serious game with a massive community then Magic the Gathering is the game for you.

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Advanced Reviewer Bronze Supporter
66 of 73 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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Novice Reviewer
Gamer - Level 6
61 of 68 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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5 Beta 1.0 Tester
Expert Grader
Gamer - Level 5
61 of 68 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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Gamer - Level 8
Expert Recruiter
Count / Countess Beta 1.0 Tester
61 of 68 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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I Am What I Am
61 of 68 gamers found this helpful
“Gathering The Magic”

It wasn’t that long ago that I somehow got myself into playing MTG. I have been playing for about a year and a half now and it is still as exciting as the day I bought my first booster pack.

Magic the Gathering really is an expensive game. For people like myself especcially. I am one of those people that play MTG for the lore and for the excitement factor of opening up a fresh booster pack. The expensive way to play, however in my opinion the most fun.

It’s more than a fun game to get into. The hardest part in my case was trying to find friends that were willing to buy some cards and jump into the MTG world with me. These days it has become more and more difficult, unless I was to step into my closest ‘Good Games’ and be annihilated in less than 5 minutes.

It is easy to learn the basics but very hard to master. It is a game that requires a fair amount of strategy and problem solving. You need to be able to build a deck of roughly 40 or more cards and have each card able to play off of each other in a way that will grant you victory.

All in all however, it is one of the most fun and excitable games I have played in my life and I am happy to throw away my mortgage!

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61 of 68 gamers found this helpful
“A fun game but can get expensive”

Magic the Gathering is the most successful CCG in the world, I love playing it with my friends. But can never get to serious about it, because the nature of collectable deck-building games is that the person who spends the most money has a big advantage. Though many will argue that a really good player can win with a deck that is only ok, I’m just not to keen on the idea that money is a factor in how likely you are to come out on top. So for me Magic the Gathering will always be an awesome game to play with a few friends using store bought decks and I’ll always come back to it. But it’s not a game I’m willing to get too serious about.

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Gamer - Level 3
Rated 25 Games
60 of 67 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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60 of 67 gamers found this helpful
“Complex & Frustrating Fun...”

Magic The Gathering is one of those games you love to hate. You love it when you’re winning and you hate it when you’re losing. WOTC has done a bang up job at making “Land” into the perfect scapegoat resource for all to blame as the reason they lost the game; I myself am guilty of this cruel reality. The developers of Magic The Gathering know their audience and are great at getting the word out about new cards that are very similar to older more powerful cards. This creates a nostalgic reminder for older players of why they previously had a cardboard crack addiction and loved playing Magic in the first place, this often brings them promptly back into the game.

If you’re looking into getting into Magic for the first time, so far I probably haven’t made much sense. Basically you’re getting yourself into a world you will most likely fall deep into and enjoy for many years to come. The downside to Magic The Gathering is: it is an expensive habit that can suck the life out of your wallet, it can take up way too much of your time, and even for some cause poor hygiene. I would caution anyone in the category of a new player to tread carefully when making your decision to join the pool of players for this amazing game.

The economics behind the game can be mind boggling and the the artwork, especially with thin the last few sets, is absolutely stunning. If you like highly strategic and creative games, Magic The Gathering definitely gets my vote for an amazing choice to play. With that said once you’ve started down the road of Magic The Gathering you will likely be a life long player dedicated to it more so than any other game on your roster. Be prepared to give up some time you spend on current long time favorites if you start playing. It is well worth starting up if you can afforded the time and money commitment. You have been forewarned!

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Intermediate Reviewer
60 of 67 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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Miniature Painter
Rosetta Stone
Advanced Reviewer Beta 1.0 Tester
60 of 67 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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I'm a Gamin' Fiend!
I Play This One a LOT
60 of 67 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?

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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Rated 100 Games
Stone of the Sun
Advanced Reviewer
Novice Advisor
60 of 67 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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60 of 67 gamers found this helpful
“An excellent game with endless value”

I must state that magic is timeless owing to the sheer number of strategies that can be executed due to the multiple components that it contains which are constantly being extended. Every time a new ‘Block’ is released the game is revitalised as a new mechanic is often introduced.

Magic boasts artwork of unparalleled quality, which I believe is part of the reason it has become so popular – as the game has grown more mature, the quality has increased to its current level, which add a new level of excitement to the game.

Multiple reviews have been posted so I will not go into the gameplay details and repeat the rules. I would however point out what I consider to be an issue for new users.

To me, Magic is a game that is fairly hard to get into – the sheer number of rules (over 900 and counting) makes it daunting to learn. A new player needs to be taught by another experienced (not to mention patient) player who is willing to go through the stack mechanic and the combat stages many times until the player has become more experienced. Similarly as new player will often possess a deck of limited organisation and runs the risk of being beaten over and over again by players with well refined decks (I consider myself an experienced player but struggle to compete against players who use Deck Builders tools and purchase individual cards to create incredibly powerful decks) which can remove the fun factor for the new player.

I would advise anyone interested in playing Magic to seek out a good community of players who are prepared to teach you how to play it well and build up your confidence.

In summary, an excellent game, but hard to get into initially.


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