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Magic: The Gathering - Trading Card Game

Liliana from Magic: The Gathering

Walk the Planes

Magic: The Gathering is one of the world's best-known trading card games and has been around since 1993. The game was the brainchild of Richard Garfield while he was a student at the University of Pennsylvania and since it launched, the game has grown to have more than 35 million players around the world. 

Each game of Magic: The Gathering sees two players battling it out with decks of cards, casting spells and sending creatures into battle in a bid to get their opponent's life total down to zero while protecting their own. There are other ways to win a game of Magic: The Gathering, but attacking an opponent's life total is the most common one. 

New sets of cards for the game are released every couple of months, with the most recently released sets of cards used in the standard format. Older cards are used in various other formats of the game, such as Historic, Vintage, and Commander. Some cards are banned from being played due to their power level or how they interact with other cards, while others are restricted in how they can be used. 

Magic: The Gathering Artwork

Getting Started with Magic: The Gathering 

There are a couple of different ways to get started in the world of Magic: The Gathering. If playing with people face to face is your thing, then heading down to your local game store is a great way to start. Magic: The Gathering is the most popular trading card game around, so wherever your local game store is, they're likely to stock it! You can find out where your store is by using the store locator tool on the Magic: The Gathering website.

The company who make the game give local game stores free demo decks to help new players learn how to play - they're called Welcome Decks. Win or lose the demo game, you get to keep the deck, so not only will you learn how to play, but playing will kickstart your collection too.

You can go to a local game store for a demo game pretty much whenever you want, but Open House events are great places for new players. Open House is an event where new and experienced players get together to have a casual play tournament using only Welcome Decks. Everyone gets a free, special edition promotional card for taking part, and you'll have lots of chances to learn more about the game's mechanics. 

If playing online is more your speed, then you have two choices to make: Magic Arena or Magic Online. Magic Arena is the game's new way to play online and is available on Windows and Mac desktop platforms for free, but mobile versions haven't been released yet. The game has only recently come out of open BETA testing so it's a bit limited compared to the massive breadth of formats available to players on Magic Online. 

If that wide range of game modes is what you're looking for, and you want to explore just how much depth there is in the game, then Magic Online is the way to go. Magic Online is free to download and after you sign up, you'll be given more than 1,000 cards to get your digital collection started and to build decks with. 

Magic: The Gathering Planeswalker

Improving Your Skills 

Whichever way you get started, you'll quickly come to realise just how deep that Magic: The Gathering really goes, and for many, that's a big part of the fun. You can dive into more than 25 years of short stories and novels, hundreds of thousands of different cards and game mechanics, or the countless different formats on offer... it's all there waiting for you! 

If you want to become a better Magic: The Gathering player then you're in luck because there are a massive amount of resources out there for you. MTGGoldfish is a major hub of news, deck ideas, and strategy guides, while the official 'mothership' website hosts articles from around the game's community. Videos are a good way to learn too, and Tolarian Community College is the most popular Magic: The Gathering YouTube channel around. 

Like most games, the best way to actually get better at playing is to play! Heading down to your local game store or playing online against other players on a regular basis is a good way to learn more about how the game works, the best ways to play it, and to get tips and advice from other players. Events like Friday Night Magic, also known as FNM, are the first rung on the competitive ladder and would be a good place for a player who's looking to improve their skills to become a regular at. 

The competitive, organised play scene at the higher levels of the game have been in constant flux over the past few years, but players competing in the Magic Pro League and Rivals League are seen by many as the best players in the world. Watching event coverage from those events will also help you to become a better player!