Tabletop Time – Magic : The Gathering

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About The Game

Magic the Gathering  is a card game that started in 1993 and is still going strong today. It’s based on a battleground, which is really is just your table, where the players summon creatures represented by the cards. Some cards also represent a different variation of spells and abilities which the players can cast either instantly or in their turn. These cards can really get annoying…especially if you get the only badass card you have in your deck countered. Many feuds happen in Magic!

How Do You Play It?

Let’s start with the basics! There are countless rules and sub-rules, so we won’t go into extreme detail but we’ll keep to the main rules so you can get the gist of it. Every player has a deck (or as we like to call them, libraries) with at least 60 or more cards in it. In these decks you get to choose what you want to put in them, but be aware you can only have four times the same card with the exception of basic land cards. People try to look for a healthy balance between land and non-land cards, so they can effectively play their decks.

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At the start of the game players place their library to the left or right of where they are seated, with the space in the middle of the table being used as the main battleground. Each person picks 7 cards, keeping them hidden from others, and can have a maximum hand size of 7 by the end of your turn. Any extra cards go into the graveyard, which is located just under the library, face up. These cards cannot come back unless a card states otherwise.

Normally in a two player or multiplayer game, each player rolls the dice and the highest roller determines who begins the first turn.  You start with 20 health (most people used the 20-sided dice as a life counter) and whenever you as a player take damage, this goes down. When it reaches 0 you’re dead and out of the game. You can block incoming damage by various means such as; creatures under your control blocking an opponent’s creature or various spell cards that cancel incoming damage.

To begin the game the player who was chosen to start takes the first turn and looks through their “hand”, the 7 cards you pick before game, then places either a land or creature card onto the battlefield. At this stage you’ll only really place a land card and finish your turn, unless you have a card that costs 1 mana. Land cards are tapped (turn horizontally) for this mana and is essentially the currency of the cards you cast.

The goal of the game is to play enough of these cards to knock all opponents’ health down to  zero, whether you do it with spells or creatures is up to you. To each their own tactics! With so many varieties of cards, these tactics are seemingly endless.

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Here is the order of the game and how it’s palyed, with small explanations on some of the cards.

Stages

  1. Beginning Phase
  2. Un-tap step
  3. Upkeep step
  4. Draw step
  5. First Main Phase
  6. Combat Phase
  7. Beginning of combat step
  8. Declare attackers step
  9. Declare blockers step
  10. Combat damage step
  11. End of combat step
  12. Second Main Phase
  13. Ending Phase
  14. End step
  15. Clean-up step

Card Types

Land cards – there are 5 types of land. Forest, Swamp, Mountain, Plains and Islands. (Since 2016 there is an additional land that is “colourless” called Wastes.)

Creature cards – these are minions that you control to attack or defend.

Instants – these cards can be used at any time during the game.

Sorcery – can only be used during your turn.

Artifacts – these can add additional improvements to your creatures or gameplay.

Enchantments – these can add additional improvements to your creatures or gameplay.

For a more comprehensive look at the game, please visit the official rulebook by Wizards of the Coast (click here)

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Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Great multiplayer game
  • Gets friends together
  • Strategic thinking
  • You can be creative in building decks
  • Games are never the same
  • Endless deckbuilding opportunities
  • Can enter tournaments to win prizes

Cons

  • Can get expensive
  • There are a lot of rules that keep changing as they add new ones in
  • Some cards are banned in the official tournaments
  • Personal opinion

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Why Did You Start Playing It?

We started playing this with our friends because we wanted a hobby that didn’t include monitors or anything computerised. So we came from behind the screens and into the real world to have fun with our friends in the real world. This still goes on today as we try to create a MTG Night at least once a month…it is extremely fun because we are all together playing something we enjoy. For me, Kelly, I have always really had Magic in my life as my father used to play it professionally and at home. At some point he also officially judged the tournaments run by Wizards of the Coast and ever since I was little, I’ve always wanted to play the game. I love being able to play with friends, but most of all I love the connection I have with my father because of it. It really brings people together.

Why We Recommend It

There is no one definitive winning deck as there is always a possibility that you can win. You have to use your deck smartly and really think about what you’re going to next. In some games it really has been all up to what cards we decided to play in sequence. It’s a hobby where you can control how much you spend on it and in casual games at home, you can even proxy cards. We recommend this to people who want to think strategically and like a diverse type of game. It can get extremely challenging, but it is still very fun.


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