How to start playing magic the gathering 2020

Interested in Magic The Gathering? This guide will be explaining the game itself, rules and formats as well as how to play.

Magic has been around for over 25 years now which is remarkable, it’s well alive and accessible to many folks as a fun hobby. However, things aren’t that simple. The game is extremely complex and prices can get overwhelming expensive.

  • First, download Magic Arena, practice online and get used to it without much hassle.
  • Second, search for a local game store and go to friday night magic to get in touch with the community and familiar with strategies.
  • Don’t buy a random deck straight away as I initially did, it’s a waste of money.
  • Research, learn and think about their mechanics and what colors you feel attracted, as if “the wand chooses you“.

Hobby stores also have “Welcome Decks”, you should ask for a them and play around, see what fits you and your style.

What do the colors mean?

Each one of them as different atributes, personalities and interactions, by combining them you create a deeper and more complex playing style.


Standing for order or justice. With the power of righteousness they keep evil at bay. Consisting in Lifelink, enchantments and small creatures (referred to as weenies).

Let’s not forget angels and flying creatures that tends to be it’s strategy.


This is about knowledge, technology and opportunity to excel at anything. Most commonly known for “control decks”, it’s power comes from deceiving your opponent.

Leave them wondering whether you can or can’t do something to counter his spells and make you draw more cards.

Often very difficult color to start with and it’s best used in combination with others.


You are willing to go all out and sacrifice everything for victory?

Destroy, leech, bring back your allies from the graveyard in a blink of an eye. Conquer your opponent with massive hordes of fearless zombies.


Ruled by chaos, fervently guided by emotion and impulse. Red decks are great starter decks for beginners.

Go straight for your opponents health and direct damage them so fast, they won’t have time to blink.


Representation of nature itself, with gigantic creatures deep within forests.

Strengths may vary, but they help each other, in order to bring big creatures to help or create multiple of them to crush your foes without mercy.


Drafting is a limited format that consists in eight players taking turns to pick from booster and passing to their neighbors.

Usually it’s given three sealed booster for each contestor, the end goal being the construction of a forty-card deck.

The contestors don’t construct their decks out of the three pack they are given.

Instead, each opponent will open the first and select one of the fifteen cards contained within and pick a card.

After picking, the player will proceed to pass the rest to the next player of the left.

The following will now receive fourteen cards from his right side, he one and passes on to the following person. This goes on until all are chosen.

The second will be opened and the same process will occur although they will be passed on to the right. Once complete, the same happens but to the left side now.

Once the picking process is done for all the packs, the 8 players should have a total of 45 spells, carefully selected to build an improvised 40 card deck to play.

Why is this format good?

This format teaches beginning players the basics of competitive game play.

These include proper deck building, mana cost to land and spell to creature ratio and the most fundamental aspect, the evaluating sense of good and bad cards.

The best way to learn is to experience it first hand as you might know, but it’s difficult to go into a draft without knowing what to do.

I too share the same feelings, as I too felt clueless to what was happening for the first few times, don’t be afraid, ask questions and pay careful attention.

There are important steps you can practice in your drafts. First, take a look at the rare card and find out if it’s a strong or useful card. A creature or Planeswalker are always powerful.

Second, look at its mana color. Draft decks are mostly single or dual color at most. So, when choosing, stick to a color or two. It is best if you stay with the color of your first choice.

When drafting, be conscious of the casting costs that will be in your deck.

You want to make sure you are able to cast them from your hand as you build your land progressively, and you want to have a good chance of consistently pull the right spells.

It’s important to cast a one mana creature on turn one, a two on turn two and so on. Although this is not the case most of the time, but it’s usually the most effective way to start.

Now comes the creatures, spells and land ratio. There is a simple ratio, usually given in pre-release packages. 17 lands, 5-8 spells and 15-18 creatures.

For starters don’t obsess on making the best possible deck, just enjoy the game with what you have drafted. Organize by colors, mana costs, creatures and non-creatures and physically build the ramp to have an idea of how your curve is and if you have doubts about a card, take it out.

Since it might be your first-time, my recommendation is just play and have a good time. Hopefully someone and your opponents will help you out in your game by giving advices and reminding you of triggers (effects from creatures or spells).

I didn’t quite enjoy my first-time drafting, it was very confusing and nerve racking, but my now magician friends helped me and it has been a pretty good experience since then.

How to play

The starter rules of Magic The Gathering are straight forward.

  • Each player starts with 20 health points, if one gets to or below zero, they lose.
  • If you run out of cards in your library meaning if you have no more to draw from.
  • To cast a spell, you must pay it’s mana cost, which is located on the top right corner. This resource can be colorless, multicolor or a basic one.
  • Different spell types include, creatures, instants, enchantments, sorceries and planeswalkers in recent expansions.

There’s a lot to learn, slowly, patiently and you’ll get there!

Alright, now onto the good stuff!

What are the best formats to start?


It’s without a doubt the most budget friendly format which contains only common types, from prices ranging 15 to 80€.

Like other formats pauper is constructed, requires a mininum of 60 cards, with optional 15 as sideboard.

Check out MtgTop8, MTGGoldfish for ideas

This format is eternal, taking note of small ban-list.

Here are some starting archetype points:

  • Tron
  • Skred Fairies
  • Burn
  • Delver
  • Boros Aggro
  • Stompy
  • Affinity
  • Elves
  • Bogles


Standard is a rotating constructed format, restricted to 60 cards and allowing 15 as sideboard.

It’s a good to acknowledge new expansions, but this format can get extremely expensive as it rotates and you can’t use previous expansions.


A new format that doesn’t rotate.

Constructed deck with the typical 60 cards, 15 sideboard.

Ban-list is mostly fetchlands.

  • Felidar Guardian
  • Field of the Dead
  • Flooded Strand
  • Leyline of Abundance
  • Nexus of Fate
  • Oath of Nissa
  • Oko, Thief of Crowns
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Polluted Delta
  • Smuggler’s Copter
  • Veil of Summer
  • Windswept Heath
  • Wooded Foothills

This makes Pioneer cheaper than Modern.

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