Sidenorna on How to Teach Magic: The Gathering

14 Jun

About a month ago on the podcast I co-host (5wowthings), we had @OriginalOestrus as a guest and discussed Magic: The Gathering (linked here if you want to listen). @thebiggameover wanted to know how magic worked, and we explained to him it is a very difficult game to learn.

If you don’t know, Magic: The Gathering is a trading card game created by Wizard’s of the Coast, the same guys who make the Dungeons and Dragons table top game. A game of Magic represents a battle between planeswalkers, who employ the magical spells, items, and creatures (depicted on individual Magic cards) to defeat their opponents. It has a very organized tournament system from which a community of professional Magic players has developed.

While a lot of people have heard of Magic, not many know how to get into the game. Some who have tried have found the rule set daunting because, let’s face it, there are hundreds of rules to learn and only hard core players know them all. After listening to that episode, Sidenorna, one of our newer listeners, wrote me on a good way to teach someone. So if you know someone who would like to learn, or would like to learn and know someone who plays, direct them here as she has written up a great teacher’s guide.

I have played Magic: The Gathering on and off and again for many years. Now, to master Magic is a lot of work, but not to learn it. Magic in it’s whole is overly complex filled with details and some odd rules, but the basic game of magic can be broken down in many easier steps. Here is the key that has helped me teach a few people over the years.

Step one, start with two super basic decks made of about 40 cards. Use only creature cards and lands of one color and limit the abilities the creatures have to simple and passive abilities, or none at all. Things like flying, first strike, pumping, the basics that are easy to understand. Avoid abilities that require tapping or abilities that are spell like. Play a game as normal with the person learning, teaching them the untap, upkeep, draw, main, attack, and then second main phases. The key is to keep it simple. I know this may be boring to the teacher, but the point is to teach, not to have fun just yet.

Once the new player has this down, add in a new type of card; either enchantments/ artifacts, or sorceries. Things that are not creatures that are usable only on your turn. Again, make sure you keep the spells simple. After they are familiar with the rules of those types of spells, add in instant spells.

Above all else, if they having a hard time getting a rule or idea slow down. Sure those are only three phases and one big one that is a bit vague, but they can be broken down into smaller steps. The big issue with teaching magic most people have is they want new players to dive right in, but much like anything worth doing this it is about taking small steps.

And there you have it, guys. Keep it simple, break it into smaller steps. I’ve learned from teaching my cousins that the attack phase is the hardest to understand, so remember to break that up especially. Hope you found this as useful as I did (I think I can teach my youngest cousin to play now), so have fun and game on!

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