October 16, 2015

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Intro to Magic part 2

Hello and welcome back to the multiverse, new player.

In our last article we looked at some of the different types of cards that you will find in a typical game of Magic the Gathering. These card will come together in a process called deck construction to make the decks or libraries that you use to play. We will look at how to build a deck in a later article, for now let’s assume that you already have a deck to play with.

Today, we are going to take a look at how a game of magic is played. A game of magic is broken down into rounds. When playing the game of Magic, each round of the game is broken up into turns, one for each player. Each turn is made up of five phases. The five phases are called Beginning, Main, Combat, Second Main and End Phase. We will be taking a look at each on in turn today.


Let's start with the Beginning Phase, which is broken up into three basic steps. Step one, the untap step, is fairly simple. You untap all permanents under your control (That’s lands, creatures, artifacts and enchantments), unless told otherwise by a card in play. Step two, the upkeep phase, happens immediately after your untap step. It's at this point that some activated abilities on cards in play may trigger. For example, Stab Wound tells a player to lose two life during their upkeep, so that would happen during this step. Players with available mana can also cast instants at this point. Finally, we have the draw step, where you pick up your first card. It should be mentioned that the first player in a game of Magic does not draw a card during the draw step.

The Main phase is when you get to put permanents onto the battlefield. Usually you will start by playing a land, let’s say in this case you are playing a green deck. So, you play a Forest. Let’s assume the game has gone on for 3 rounds. After we have fielded this card, we should take a quick look at what we have out on the battlefield.

On the battlefield


It’s the top of turn three and already we are in good shape. The abilities of both our creatures mean we have a total of 5 mana to play around with. A quick look at your hand shows you a few options.

In our hand


First, you could spend most of your mana on playing the Prized Unicorn. This however would leave you with only one mana left, and no spells in hand that cost that much. You would be “Tapped Out.” You could play your Elvish Visionary, hoping to use its card draw ability to get one of your larger creatures from with your deck. You could enchant Mantle of Webs onto your Leaf Gilder, making it a 3 / 4 force to be reckoned with for the rest of the game. Or you could play Titanic Growth and turn your Elvish Mystic into a massive threat. Let’s start by tapping two forests to play our enchantment. At this point we have 1 Forest and two other mana sources available, so while we could play more cards this turn, lets not for now a move on to the next phase.

Combat is where the action is at. We have a beefy Leaf Gilder and a dinky little Elvish Mystic, but we also have the power to make one or the other a much larger creature. So let’s choose to attack with only our Elvish Mystic, in the hopes that our opponent will block with one of his larger creatures. Our opponent chooses not to block. We choose to save our Titanic Growth for another time, instead dealing one damage to our opponent.

Now our second main phase. This one happens, technically speaking the same as our first main phase, only most of our battlefield is tapped. We have fewer options, and only one of them good as playing Titanic Growth now would be a waste. So let’s play our Elvish Visionary, its enter the battlefield ability triggers us to draw a card.

Our Draw


While not a bad card to get this early in the game, its not the card you were hoping to turn up. We were hoping to get a Terra Stomper, which would have been an amazing turn four play. Instead, because we have no more mana to tap, and there for no more cards to play, we are going to move to the end phase.

In the end phase we clean up from our turn. All end of turn effects resolve, and all if we had more than 7 cards in hand at the end of the turn we would discard cards. As it stands right now, we don’t have any effects that are ending and no cards to discard, so our turn ends without incident. Also note that all damage on creatures is erased.

After the end phase, its time to move onto the next player’s turn. Their turn will play out in the same way as yours, with a beginning phases, main, combat and end phases. We repeat this process until one player is either out of cards to draw when they required to pick up, or until one player's life total gets to or goes below 0. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you win by 1 life or 100 life (Thanks, Ajani, Mentor of Heroes), all that matters is that you win and that you have fun doing it. That’s it for this weeks intro to Magic. Please join us next week as we go over common abilities that one might come across in a standard game of Magic.