BearSleuth Opinion Piece: Starting out With Magic The Gathering

I don’t know whether it’s just me and my circle of friends but board games seem to be making a comeback! Not the tired Hasbro brand of antiquated fun but instead a new beast entirely. Board games such as Munchkin, Settlers Of Catan and even the humble Cards Against Humanity have all made their presence known at recent gatherings of friends and I don’t think this phenomenon is solely being experienced by yours truly. Board games are great, they create talking points and they are often much more inclusive than video games. However, if board games are making a comeback then what is the next step? My theory: Magic The Gathering.

Deckheads


Alright wipe that smug grin off your face, I completely understand why around 90% of the geeks in the audience don’t want to play Magic they don’t want to turn into that guy. If you have ever been near a Magic community you know that guy or girl who simply cannot talk or do anything without relating it back to Magic. My friends like to call them deckheads and it summarises them quite nicely. I once met a gentleman who was pushing forty, smoked about 40 a day and had to limit his spending to a mere £300 a week on magic cards. I couldn’t have a conversation with him that wouldn’t loop back to Magic somehow and after a while I actively avoided him. That being said, not everyone that touches the One Ring becomes Gollum and I know a lot of people who have played Magic and gone on to lead perfectly normal lives. This is because Magic rocks.

Social Magic


If you want a great game between mates where you are all attempting to scheme and play each other in an attempt to reaching a final goal of emerging victorious then look no further. Magic at a wider multiplayer level (games of 3-12 players) rely heavily on social skills to form alliances, make deals and co-operate against bigger threats. The game is pretty simple in that, at least in the majority of formats, you have to attack your opponent until you deplete his or her life total to this end a play can summon creatures to fight for them or use a wide variety of spell which are capable of everything from dealing damage to changing the way the entire game is played. This creates a great atmosphere as other players begin to react to each other and one guy can easily become the dick of the game by summoning a load of douche creature (think the Lannisters with more horns and tusks).

Getting Started


I’m hoping that will have sold you on Magic but in case it hasn’t the only way I really recommend for discovering is Magic would be good fit for you and your friends is by playing it. You can download Magic Duels, a free game on most app stores, and give that a go to get a feel for the game or you can go one step further and buy a starter pack for around £12.99 this will give you your first deck and two packs of cards which will contain a nice mix to get you started.

The Colours


Before I go, if you do decide to go down the starter pack route you are going to need to know which colour you want to be. Every starter pack comes with a deck that will be made up from a primary colour (the colour of the pack normally) and a secondary colour, you can check what colours your pack is by looking at the top of the box. Colours effect the way you play and what your deck says about you so I’m going to end on a quick rundown of the colours:

  • White


This colour normally symbolises order, it’s not necessarily about being good but it is about maintaining control through reasonable methods. You will never be sacrificing your own creatures or dealing damage to yourself with this colour. White tends to win tying down the opponents board in some way, gaining so much life that the opponent simply cannot win or creating an army of smaller creature.

 

  • Green


My personal favourite. Green represents life and vitality, this is symbolised by big creatures and a lot of energy (or mana) to cast them. Green players tend to win through rushing their enemies with huge creatures or being able to cast a multitude of spells on a turn which overpower their opponent. I would recommend this colour for starting players.

 

  • Blue


Every other player will hate you, the entire game will be focused around killing you quickly and yet you will still somehow come out on top. Blue represents logic and mind magic, it is the colour of illusion and control which makes it very powerful. I find blue decks can be a little slow and hard to put to full use when you are starting out but once you get the hang of them they are a lot of fun. Blue players win by fucking with their opponents and changing the way the game is played.

 

  • Red


Power, fire and more power. Red is all about smacking your enemy in the face hard and fast until they collapse in front of you. In most games Red will start strong, possibly tail off a little around the mid-point and them come back like a Phoenix to annihilate the competition. Red players win by dealing damage pure and simple.

 

  • Black


If you want to be vile and villainous then this is the only colour for you. Black is all about sacrifice and sly movements in the dark. While black cards and players aren’t evil their methods are almost certainly questionable and risky. Black cards then to work on a risk reward basis, requiring the player to give something away to gain a powerful boon. Black players tend to win through putting the opponent in a tough position or causing opponents to fight among themselves due to a change in the board state.

 

I may do more on this topic as time goes on so keep checking back and remember, never become a deck head!

…That was this week’s BearSleuth Opinion Piece!!! Check back tomorrow for a brand new Comic History 101!!!

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