In a few hours Friday Night Magic begins at the local comic store. My deck is assembled. And I already have a sneaking suspicion it’s not ready for veteran combat in a standard play.
If you’re new to this weekly Magic the Gathering column, here’s the back-story. I’ve Played magic on XBLA. Loved it. I was a Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG soldier, but I’m an n00b when it comes to the Magic TCG. So this column is definitely for those just getting into Magic, but we encourage you to share your stories.
Now, let’s get back to the game.
Instead of diving into my first few card battles with a seasoned MTG player, my first rounds were against another TCG gamer who has not played MTG either.
We both started with the Intro Packs. These are ready to play packs that come with 60 cards and two additional, sealed-booster packs for you to continue to build your deck.
The most important reason to get a MTG intro deck and not just start off with 5 booster packs is the educational curve that you’ll undoubtedly have to conquer if you’re a total n00b. And that’s before you even get into the whole mythology behind MTG so that you can know the difference between your Theros and your Ravnica.
I chose the “Manipulative Monstrosities” pack. This pack focuses on blue and red mana, which are represented by Island and Mountain lands. There are 16 Island cards in this particular Intro Deck and 10 Mountain cards – over one-third of my total deck. This deck has a higher ratio of mana cards to Creature or Other spell cards than the other packs. For instance, my opponent’s deck was the “Blazing Beasts of Myth” deck. It comes with 14 Mountain cards and 11 Forest cards (green mana).
Both of these decks are from the Theros block, the latest MTG set in standard play, which are themed along the lines of Greek god lore.
The most powerful creature in my deck was the Shipbreaker Kraken. It’s a rare card, which requires four mana cards of any type to cast along with two blue mana cards – for a total of six mana cards. In a normal round, you’ll probably only play one mana card during your turn, unless another card allows you to do otherwise. This means that in order to use the Kraken, I had to wait at least six turns. Also, since a creature can’t attack when it first enters play (this is called summoning sickness), I really have to wait at least seven turns to use it.
The “Blazing Beasts of Myth” deck uses a similar setup. However, there are two rare Creature cards in this deck instead of one. “Blazing Beasts of Myth” has the Ember Swallower and the Polis Crusher. Each card requires four mana cards to cast. However, both of these cards are not as powerful as Shipbreaker Kraken, which has six power (attack strength) and six toughness (defensive strength).
The Theros creature cards have the unique ability to become “monstrous.” So on any given turn, typically at least two turns after the creature entered play, you can pay a higher mana cost to add various modifiers to your creatures.
If you’re playing with an unmodified intro decks for the first time probably find yourself pulling mostly mana cards. Getting mana is a great thing. More land cards “generally” means stronger creatures and spells. Also, if you’re just starting out, it the intro packs keep the game at a slower pace so you have time to read the cards, double check the rules and not feel like you’re losing instantaneously.
When I played the digital version of MTG, games would move at a quicker pace. I had more cards that require a lower mana cost. Also, those cards often had some really cool effects that would change gameplay. The cards in these intro packs were very plain vanilla. Even the mana cards are just that – mana cards only with no additional effect. My favorite card wasn’t the Rare Kraken, but rather the rare spell named Curse of the Swine. This card required two Island cards and an additional “X” mana cost. The X is a variable that augments the power of the card. In this case, I could exile X creatures and for each creature exiled this way I would get a green Boar creature token with two power and two toughness.
Both the Shipbreaker Kraken and the Curse of the Swine helped me to win each of my two battles so, for now, they’re staying in my deck.
These decks were a great intro to the game, especially for people completely new to MTG. Like all TCGs, you get faster as you better learn your cards and your deck. However, I think as I begin to open up booster packs. I’ll be looking out for Creatures and Spells that have a lower cost to activate so that I can start controlling the action right away.
It looks like I’m going to have to pick up a few deck boxes so that I can bundle a few strategy decks together and try them out.
Be sure to come back next week to follow my complete adventures as I continue my journey from a NOOB to a seasoned MTG player.