How To Play: Magic: The Gathering – Setup, rule summary and strategy

Quick Summary

In this comprehensive strategy guide, we have explored the exciting and intricate world of Magic: The Gathering. From understanding the rules, constructing powerful decks, strategic gameplay, and mastering combat, we have provided you with the knowledge and strategies to conquer the game.

This guide has delved into the art of deck construction, highlighting the importance of a balanced mana curve, synergy, and careful card selection. We have explored various gameplay elements, including resource management, card advantage, metagame analysis, and combat positioning. By focusing on these key areas, you can gain a competitive edge and increase your chances of victory.

Whether you are a novice looking to learn the fundamentals or an experienced player aiming to refine your tactics, this guide has equipped you with strategic insights and practical tips. Remember to adapt to the metagame, continue learning, and enjoy the process of mastering the game.

With every turn, may your spells find their mark, your creatures dominate the battlefield, and your decisions lead to triumphant victories in the dazzling world of Magic: The Gathering. Now, embrace your true potential, gather your cards, and embark on an unforgettable journey.


Welcome to our comprehensive guide for succeeding in Magic: The Gathering. Whether you’re a newcomer trying to grasp the intricacies of the game or a seasoned player looking to enhance your skills, this guide is your ticket to mastering the challenges that await in the realm of Magic. Within these pages, we will provide a detailed outline of the game rules and equip you with the best strategies for achieving victory in every match you play.

Understanding the rules of Magic: The Gathering is instrumental in developing a strong foundation for gameplay. From the nuances of casting spells and summoning creatures to the intricacies of combat and resource management, we will cover everything you need to know to navigate the game confidently.

But knowing the rules is just the beginning. To truly excel in Magic, you must strategically analyze the metagame, construct powerful decks, and make insightful plays. That’s why we’ll delve into advanced strategies, including deck construction techniques, card advantage, tactical combat maneuvers, and much more. Armed with these winning strategies, you’ll be able to outsmart your opponents and make dazzling moves that swing the tide of battle in your favor.

So, ready your cards, sharpen your mind, and embark on a journey through our guide as we unlock the secrets to conquering the world of Magic: The Gathering.

What’s in the box

  • Cards (60 in a deck)
  • Rulebook
  • Tokens and Counters

How To Play Magic: The Gathering: Rules Summary

1. Deck Construction
  1. Each player constructs a deck with a minimum of 60 cards, using a combination of land cards and various other cards such as creatures, spells, and artifacts.
  2. A deck can contain multiple copies of a card, with the exception of specific cards with restrictions.
2. Game Setup
  1. Each player begins the game with a starting life total of 20. Life totals are tracked with a pen and paper or with dice, starting at 20.
  2. Both players shuffle their decks and draw seven cards as their starting hand.
  3. A random process determines who goes first.
3. Game Phases
  1. Untap Phase: Players untap all tapped cards and move to the next phase.
  2. Upkeep Phase: Certain effects may trigger during this phase, and players can decide to play specific cards or abilities.
  3. Draw Phase: Players draw one card from their deck, increasing their hand size by one.
  4. Main Phase 1: Players have the opportunity to play land cards, summon creatures, cast spells, and use various abilities.
  5. Combat Phase: Players can choose to attack their opponent with their creatures and block attacking creatures.
  6. Main Phase 2: Similar to Main Phase 1, players can play additional cards and abilities.
  7. End Phase: Certain effects and abilities may trigger during this phase, and players can make decisions accordingly.
4. Winning the Game
  1. The game ends when a player’s life total reaches zero or if a special condition is met, such as drawing from an empty library.
  2. A player wins if their opponent’s life total reaches zero, while the winning player still has at least one life remaining.

With a grasp of these basic rules, you’re ready to embark on your journey into the exciting world of Magic: The Gathering. Remember, strategy, deck construction, and tactical play are key elements in achieving victory. Good luck!

Best Magic The Gathering Strategies

Maximizing Victory with Deck Construction Strategies

Deck construction is a critical aspect of achieving success in Magic: The Gathering. By carefully selecting your cards and building a well-rounded and synergistic deck, you can gain a significant advantage over your opponents. Here are some key strategies to consider:

1. Have a Clear Game Plan
  1. Identify your desired playstyle, whether it’s aggressive, control-oriented, or combo-based.
  2. Select cards that align with your chosen strategy and build the deck around it.
  3. Include key cards that further your game plan and use them to your advantage.
2. Balance Card Types and Mana Curve
  1. Maintain a good balance between spells, creatures, and other card types.
  2. Ensure a proper mana curve, which means having a balanced distribution of mana costs throughout your deck.
  3. Include enough low-cost cards to have an impactful early game and strategically scale up in power with higher-cost cards as the game progresses.
3. Synergize with Combos and Theme
  1. Exploit powerful card combinations by including purposeful card interactions.
  2. Focus on building a deck around a specific theme or mechanic to maximize synergies.
  3. Identify cards that work harmoniously together and create devastating combos to swing the game in your favor.

By following these deck construction strategies and continuously refining your deck based on playtesting and analysis, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle any opponent and increase your chances of victory in Magic: The Gathering.

Mastery of the Mana Curve and Resource Management

Effective mana curve management and resource utilization are essential elements in your journey to victory in Magic: The Gathering. Here are crucial strategies to ensure optimal resource management and achieve strategic advantage:

1. Understand the Importance of the Mana Curve
  1. Ensure a smooth distribution of mana costs throughout your deck by having a balanced mana curve.
  2. Include enough low-cost cards to maintain a steady flow of spells and creatures in the early game.
  3. Strategically incorporate higher-cost cards, ensuring they don’t overpower your deck’s overall curve.
2. Prioritize Mana Sources and Land Optimization
  1. Allocate sufficient space for land cards based on the recommended percentage for your deck’s mana curve.
  2. Consider the colors of your spells and include the appropriate number of corresponding land cards to support consistent casting.
  3. Focus on land optimization by including cards that generate additional mana or help fix your mana base.
3. Utilize Resources Efficiently
  1. Strategically assess the utility and versatility of each card in your deck to maximize their impact.
  2. Avoid overcommitting your resources and carefully strategize card usage to withstand your opponent’s threats.
  3. Consider potential card advantage gains and calculate risk versus reward when deciding which cards to play.

With proper mana curve management and resource utilization, you can maintain a balanced and efficient deck, ensuring consistency and enabling strategic maneuvering throughout the game of Magic: The Gathering.

Gaining the Upper Hand: Card Advantage and Card Selection

Securing card advantage and making astute card selections are pivotal in your quest for victory in Magic: The Gathering. Here are vital strategies to maintain card advantage and make informed card choices:

1. Understand Card Advantage
  1. Favor cards with built-in card advantage mechanics, such as drawing additional cards or retrieving cards from the graveyard.
  2. Prioritize spells and creatures that generate value, like those that create tokens or prompt card exchanges.
  3. Utilize board wipes or removal spells to gain card advantage by removing multiple threats with a single card.
2. Make Informed Card Selections
  1. Ensure card synergy by selecting cards that work well together based on their abilities or shared theme.
  2. Consider the current metagame and include cards that address prevalent threats or exploit weaknesses
  3. Strategically adapt your card selection based on the shifting dynamics of the game and your opponent’s strategy.
3. Plan for Resourceful Card Draw
  1. Include cards with efficient draw abilities to replenish your hand and maintain a steady stream of resources.
  2. Effectively utilize card search mechanics to find specific cards needed to advance your game plan or counter opponents.
  3. Balance your deck’s card draw capabilities to avoid potential drawbacks, such as excessive reliance on drawing cards.

By prioritizing card advantage, mindful card selection, and leveraging resourceful card draw mechanics, you can maximize your ability to control the field, outmaneuver your opponents, and ultimately triumph in the world of Magic: The Gathering.

Cracking the Code: Understanding the Metagame

Gaining a comprehensive understanding of the metagame is crucial in your journey to victory in Magic: The Gathering. Here are key strategies to help you decode and respond effectively to the metagame:

1. Research and Analyze the Meta
  1. Keep your finger on the pulse by following top-level competitive play, observing popular decks, and tracking the metagame trends.
  2. Analyze tournament results and study winning decklists to identify dominant strategies and emerging trends.
  3. Stay informed about card releases, expansions, and banlist updates to anticipate their impact on the metagame.
2. Recognize Archetypes and Tech Choices
  1. Familiarize yourself with the different archetypes in the metagame, such as aggro, control, midrange, and combo.
  2. Understand popular tech choices within each archetype, like sideboard options and specific card inclusions to counter prevailing strategies.
  3. Identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities of common metagame decks and exploit them through effective sideboarding.
3. Adapt and Innovate
  1. Adjust your deck to counter prevalent strategies in the metagame, including altering your mainboard and sideboard choices.
  2. Innovate by introducing unexpected cards or new approaches to surprise opponents and catch them off guard.
  3. Be prepared to make agile and calculated adaptations to maintain a competitive edge in response to the ever-evolving metagame.

By arming yourself with a deep understanding of the metagame, analyzing its trends, recognizing archetypes and tech choices, and adapting your strategies accordingly, you gain a significant advantage, make intelligent deck choices, and increase your chances of emerging triumphant in the complex realm of Magic: The Gathering.

Decisive Strikes: Mastering Combat and Positioning

Mastering combat and positioning is a crucial skill in achieving victory in the realms of Magic: The Gathering. By utilizing effective combat strategies and maneuvering your forces strategically, you can emerge triumphant on the battlefield. Here are essential strategies for achieving success:

1. Assess Battle Situations
  1. Carefully assess the battlefield, taking note of your opponent’s creatures, spells, and available resources.
  2. Analyze the combat math to evaluate the likely outcome and potential risks of each engagement.
  3. Consider card advantage, life totals, and future turns when deciding whether to engage in combat or hold back your forces.
2. Engage in Tactical Combat
  1. Make use of combat tricks and instant-speed spells to strategically boost your creatures’ power or toughness during battle.
  2. Avoid overcommitting your forces, considering the possibility of removal spells or potential combat tricks from your opponent.
  3. Recognize optimal combat exchanges and prioritize eliminating key threats or weakening your opponent’s defenses.
3. Prioritize Board Presence and Positioning
  1. Maintain board presence by deploying creatures strategically and adapting your offense or defense as needed.
  2. Be mindful of card interactions and synergies to optimize your board state and enhance the effectiveness of your forces.
  3. Position your creatures wisely to capitalize on powerful abilities, facilitate future advancements, or help thwart your opponent’s strategies.

By analyzing battle situations, executing tactical combat maneuvers, and strategically positioning your forces, you’ll gain an upper hand and secure victory on the battlefield of Magic: The Gathering.

Mastering the Game: Conquer the World of Magic

Congratulations on completing our strategy guide for Magic: The Gathering! Armed with a solid understanding of the game’s rules, deck construction strategies, and tactical play, you are now prepared to dive into the thrilling and competitive realms of Magic. Remember, success in Magic: The Gathering relies not only on your ability to construct powerful decks but also on strategic decision-making, adaptability, and mindful gameplay.

As you continue your journey, immerse yourself in the vibrant Magic community, attend events or gather with fellow players, and never shy away from seeking new knowledge and insight. Magic: The Gathering is a game of endless possibilities, with boundless deck combinations and strategic depth that guarantee each game will be an exhilarating and unique experience.

Embrace the art of deckbuilding, master the metagame, and sharpen your skills in combat. Be open to learning from victories and defeats alike, as they will only serve to further refine your strategies and broaden your gameplay understanding. And most importantly, have fun. Magic: The Gathering is a game that grants players the power to cast extraordinary spells and forge unforgettable memories.

Now, go forth and conquer the world of Magic. May your deck be packed with potent spells, your strategies be cunning, and your victories be abundant!</p

Want to know what we think of Magic: The Gathering? Read our detailed review of Magic: The Gathering here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.