New Player/Collector, General Questions

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Hi, all. I've been curious about Magic for a while for a couple of reasons: First of all, I picked up the Duel of the Planeswalkers 2013 game over the summer and learned how to play - the game itself is really interesting. Secondly, as a collector of things like comic books and action figures I'm interested in collecting certain cards as much as I am interested in playing the game. I have never played a trading card game or any sort of face-to-face game before.

A couple of weeks ago a good friend of mine also became curious about the game, so his roommate, a long-time player, set up a booster draft (I think that's what you call it) for us with some current and returning players. Very low-pressure, I could ask a million questions, etc. I only won one of my six games but had a very good time. This took place an hour's drive from my house and is not going to be a regular thing.

That's all of my experience with the game: A few matches against an AI in DotP 2013 and a beginners' booster draft. I live a few minutes away from a card shop that does Magic events almost nightly including FNM, but when I went there and asked if they had anything that a beginner could participate in the response I got was a half-hearted "hmm...not really."

I suppose that my main question should be this: how does one get a start in this game when the local scene isn't very beginner-friendly? I live in a city with at least three places to play so not all is lost, but I'd still like some advice. I've considered practicing with Magic Online but the idea of buying digital cards just doesn't even register for me - not only would I be cheating myself out of collecting real cards, but the very practice is just insane. My friend and I are buying and exchanging cards but our schedules sync up pretty rarely, so I can't play with him regularly. Any general advice you guys can offer on this front is much appreciated.

My second question is about deck building and collecting in general. The collector in me wants to get a large variety of cards out of my booster buys, so I've been seeking out pre-Ravnica boosters (especially Avacyn Restored since I really like things like valkyries and angels and want to use them in play). A store nearby has a ton of pre-Ravnica boosters including Dark Ascension, Innistrad, 2013 Core, etc. Given that most FNM events seem to be Standard and the way that Standard-legal cards rotate out by block, is it a waste to seek out older cards this way?

That's all that comes to mind right now. Thanks in advance for your advice.

generally buying boosters for cards is a bad idea
unless you get lucky or buy lots of boosters to even out the odds, you're unlikely to come out ahead

if you want a large collection look for playsets (4 copies) of common+uncommon
those will run you $20-40 depending on set and shop and you'll have a very large collection very fast and cheap

of course, if you enjoy the lottery aspect, go for boosters

try to concentrate on RTR, that set will be legal until October 2014, M13 and Innistrad block will rotate out in October 2013
proud member of the 2011 community team
I live a few minutes away from a card shop that does Magic events almost nightly including FNM, but when I went there and asked if they had anything that a beginner could participate in the response I got was a half-hearted "hmm...not really.

That's really a shame: They should realize that inviting new players is good for the game and good for business. I would not necessarily give up on the store: Talk to another employee (you'd be surprised at the difference in personalities), talk to some players, or go back there when you have a bit more experience under your belt and a decent standard deck. I tried several different stores before I found one were I felt comfortable with the owners, store policies, social interaction among the players, and little things like restroom cleanliness (you'd be surprised at that too!).

Also, there are some events that are inherently more friendly towards beginners, because they use a sealed format were you construct your deck from booster packs. This puts players on a more even footing and include the Magic Celebration event and the pre-release tournaments. The next one of these is the Gatecrash pre-release events the weekend of January 26.

Finally, there is an option using Magic Online (MtGO) that avoids the problem of feeling that you are spending your money on electronic cards. When you buy the game ($9.99) you get a so-called Planeswalker deck (which has nothing to do with Duel of the Planeswalkers). This is a special collection of cards that cannot be traded and that can only be played against decks with other Planeswalkers cards, but with which you can build a wide range of decks. There are about five additional Planeswalkers decks that cost $4.99. So, for a relatively small investment ($10-$35), you can build many different deck types. It is never hard to find a Planeswalker game and you will learn tremendously. I exclusively play in this format online.

My second question is about deck building and collecting in general. The collector in me wants to get a large variety of cards out of my booster buys, so I've been seeking out pre-Ravnica boosters (especially Avacyn Restored since I really like things like valkyries and angels and want to use them in play). A store nearby has a ton of pre-Ravnica boosters including Dark Ascension, Innistrad, 2013 Core, etc. Given that most FNM events seem to be Standard and the way that Standard-legal cards rotate out by block, is it a waste to seek out older cards this way?

You have to decide where you get the greatest enjoyment. If collecting gives you a lot of enjoyment, you can collect basically from any expansion set you want. There are formats, such as Vintage, Legacy, and Modern (see www.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/Resources.aspx...) that use older cards, but they are not played as often as Standard.

Conversely, if playing gives you more or equal enjoyment, you should focus on collecting from Standard (which is still over a thousand cards to collect). As Enigma explained, you'll get the most value by collecting out of the Return to Ravnica block, but to build a deck that does well at a store Friday Night Magic event, you will most likely need to supplement from cards from the Innistrad block and Magic 2013. I started playing more seriously just this summer, and have collected extensively from Magic 2013 and Return to Ravnica, and have bought specific cards from the Innistrad block to help build more competitive decks.

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />That's all of my experience with the game: A few matches against an AI in DotP 2013 and a beginners' booster draft. I live a few minutes away from a card shop that does Magic events almost nightly including FNM, but when I went there and asked if they had anything that a beginner could participate in the response I got was a half-hearted "hmm...not really."





That could be taken a variety of ways. For example when you say beginner does the person understand that you know the basic rules of the game? I mean FNM isn't there to teach people how to play and can be very competitive at times, however, with some exceptions it is a "new player friendly" environment.
Don't be too smart to have fun
To learn the mechanics, Duel of the Planeswalkers is not a bad place to start, and MtGO is even better since it really breaks down all the steps. The best way is with a friend who has been playing for a while and has patience.

That could be taken a variety of ways. For example when you say beginner does the person understand that you know the basic rules of the game? I mean FNM isn't there to teach people how to play and can be very competitive at times, however, with some exceptions it is a "new player friendly" environment.



You make a very good point, I was actually so put off by the cold response I got that I didn't go on to explain that I knew how to play the game. It looks like they do Friday night booster drafts so I'll call to see if they have one tonight and go to it - if they're jerks about it then I won't go back, plain and simple.

Thanks to Enigma and Hreth for the advice, I'll stop buying boosters outside of drafts for now and if I decide to get serious then I'll look at the aftermarket for the angels from Avacyn, keeping in mind that they'll only be legal until October 2013. I'll also check out MtGO since I'd be okay with paying $15 for the account and a W/U deck to practice with.

on MTGO check out the "planeswalker" cards
one pack is already part of your account (that costs $10), for an additional $5 you get more pack, each with big amounts of cards (that cannot be traded, but they are much more powerful than tradeable cards for $5)
just be careful which packs you buy, generally cards that are only as a 1-of in a pack are restricted (which means you cannot use more than 1 in your deck), so buying multiple of the same pack is not generally recommended

this is the cheapest way to play Magic Online, and you get powerful cards you wouldn't be able to afford for that little money otherwise
proud member of the 2011 community team
I just thought that I would post an update. last night I went to the booster draft and had a decently good time. I didn't win any of my games (not that I thought I would) but two of the three people I played with were very friendly, patient and gave me a lot of good advice. The third guy wasn't rude or anything, just all business which I understand what with it being a paid tournament.

For my deck I tried making a white/blue deck with a focus on detaining or otherwise incapaticating creatures, the idea being that if I could render my opponent unable to block then I could attack all at once with several creatures for big damage. That ended up not working out because I never got any big, damaging creatures, I had to use my many bird tokens to block big damage from black creatures and I didn't draw enough of my control cards. My mana curve sucked too, which led to me having nothing to do in the first couple of turns. For those curious, this was my deck:



One thing that I got out of the experience is that I need more matchup knowledge, which means studying all ~275 cards in the RtR set. That combined with the fact that I can't practice drafting without paying ~$15 each time has me putting serious thought into whether I want to stick with the game. Does anyone have any tips for practicing for drafts without losing money? If I do go to another draft I'll try making a more agressive deck with something like red - even though I like the white cards thematically white doesn't seem to be working for me and I have, like, ten of every common white and blue at this point.

My card shop also has "Sealed Deck" on Tuesday nights where you build a deck from six boosters for $20. Given that six boosters should cost more like $24 I might check that out some time.
The best way to get better at drafting as you point out is just to draft. However, any kind of limited environment helps which includes cube drafting or sealed deck building and in some ways even playing constructed matches will help you get better in your drafts. Cube drafts are basically where you build your own limited environment and you can do an unlimited number of drafts using the same cards. Constructing a good cube can be expensive but if you find someone who already has one or if you group with a few people to build one you can draft as much as you want.

The other thing is to read articles pertaining to drafting. Steve Sadin writes the draft articles on the daily website and he does a pretty good job of pointing out the main strategies employed. For example in this article

www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.a...

he talks about how your midset needs to change from pack 1 to pack 2 and how evaluating cards changes. One example he uses is pack 2 centaur herald becomes a premium pick for populate decks but pack 1 pick one it seems pretty foolish to grab centaur herald. If you go through and read all of his articles on RTR drafting then you'll have a much better idea of what to look for in your next draft.

I love Sealed deck. The advantage that you have in sealed deck is that everyone doesn't start out on the same level. Some sealed pools are just a lot better than others. While in constructed or draft you might not have a chance to win very many games but in sealed if you get lucky and open an amazing pool then you'll have a good chance to win even against better players.

Without going through your draft pick by pick I only feel comfortable saying that you've drafted a deck that is too slow to win early-mid game and there is nothing to look forward to end game. You either need to speed it up significantly with more efficient and aggressive creatures and spells or you need to have an end game plan. I haven't drafted RTR much so that's all I feel comfortable saying about your draft. It's pretty good for a first try but I don't think anyone will be surprised that you couldn't win with that list.

One other note I should mention is that the first pack might have moved you into blue/white and then it dried up. This would be a difficult situation for anyone (especially a fairly new player at their first draft), sometimes it's the circumstances and not the player who creates a bad decklist.

Ok, one more thing: I don't know if this situation came up for you but cancel > fall of the gavel (generally speaking but especially in this decklist). While I'm not certain because I don't know your picks or your card pool but it seems like some of  your card evaluation could improve as well.
Don't be too smart to have fun
~snip



Ah, I some of the people at another table were talking about spending hours or days building cubes but I had no idea what they were talking about. Yeah, I can see how building a pool of cards from which to simulate a draft would be prohibitively expensive.

What you said about my deck having nothing to look forward to in end game is absolutely right - one of the decks that I've looked at before is the Angelic Might intro deck from Avacyn Restored (I know it's outdated, but I really want to collect and play with angel cards) and the strategy there seemed to be staying alive until you could summon an atom bomb or a vector cannon and then get aggressive. I thought that I could try something like that, not knowing at the time that there really aren't any powerful white creatures in RtR - the most powerful I've seen is Selesnya Sentry at 3 power. Angel of Serenity is very powerful but you obviously shouldn't even factor drawing one into your gameplan for a draft. Alternatively I also tried to pick out cards like Eyes in the Skies that would let me amass an army of weak creatures to poke with, the idea being that my opponent wouldn't be able to block them all. Again, because I didn't have the cards to start anything in the early game my opponent got an early lead on me in number of creatures and I was forced to pass on attacking most of the time so that I could have creatures to block with (or at least I felt that way).

I actually had the chance to grab a Cancel but I don't remember what I picked at the time instead. I did put a lot of value in Fall of the Gavel because I thought that the ability to regain life would be really good. My first opponent explained to me why it isn't.

Sealed Deck seems like a good value since I can walk out with cards from every color and get six boosters for the cost of five (that still seems too good to be true, I must be missing something).


Sealed Deck seems like a good value since I can walk out with cards from every color and get six boosters for the cost of five (that still seems too good to be true, I must be missing something).



You're not missing anything. It's a way for them to sell additional packs as well as generate interest in Magic for the players. They will still make money (since they're selling the packs for more than they bought them for). It's a similar concept as selling a booster box (36 packs) for $120 even though they sell the individual packs for $4 each.

Sealed and draft is how I've built my collection. I haven't really ever bought singles.

If those guys that you're playing with at the tournament have cubes then maybe you could draft thier cube with them some day. It's one thing to own a cube and another thing entirely to have 8 ready and availible friends to come draft it with you whenever you like. If you give them your number maybe they'll call you next time they're cube drafting.
Don't be too smart to have fun
Thanks for the tip about Sealed, I'll make sure that I have a couple of decks in mind before I go to one. This is like when I was first getting into Street Fighter, I couldn't pick a character because I didn't know what my preferred playstyle would be. It took me a really long time to discover that I liked zoning/keepaway the most. Likewise, with Magic I'm just now learning what some of the possible deck styles are (populate, control, guild-themed, etc.) and it's going to take a while for me to discover which style works for me without just picking the color/cards I like the themes or background of.
For my deck I tried making a white/blue deck with a focus on detaining or otherwise incapaticating creatures, the idea being that if I could render my opponent unable to block then I could attack all at once with several creatures for big damage. That ended up not working out because I never got any big, damaging creatures, I had to use my many bird tokens to block big damage from black creatures and I didn't draw enough of my control cards.

Has anyone taught you the BREAD Acronym? It is meant to teach you the priority for picking cards in any sealed format. The first three letters stand for Bombs (really strong creatures that win you the game, like Angel of Serenity), Removal (e.g. Detention Sphere in blue/white), and Evasion (anything with Flying, Intimidate, Unblockable). Unfortunately there is less agreement on what the "A" stands for: Aggro is common and makes sense, I've also seen Advantage (as in card advantage). Nobody knows what the "D" stands for, but it is basically everything else you need to fill your deck (Dregs).

My card shop also has "Sealed Deck" on Tuesday nights where you build a deck from six boosters for $20. Given that six boosters should cost more like $24 I might check that out some time.

I really enjoy 6-Booster Sealed, but none of the local shops here do it except durign the prerelease and release events. It's a great format for beginners, teaches deck construction and play while removing the pressure of the draft (and the loss of rares during rare redraft, if your store does that). The price is great too; even with the best online prices you're looking at something like $2.75/booster. If you subtract the $5 the store would minimally charge for organizing/prizes, you're looking at an equivalent of $2.50/booster. I would go every Tuesday if I had access to something like that.

In any case, I'm glad you had a good experience and that you meant some friendly, experienced players. 
One thing that I got out of the experience is that I need more matchup knowledge, which means studying all ~275 cards in the RtR set.

This is actually another advantage of Sealed: You only need to know the cards in one expansion set. Eventually, though, you'll want to play Standard, and that will mean learning more cards. But the more you play the more you will pick up naturally. I started playing again with Magic 2013 and the first time I faced Tamiyo, the Moon Sage and Snapcaster Mage I had no idea what hit me – I literally sat in a daze and watched my life drain away...

One good way to learn the cards is to get a copy of the Player's Guide for the expansion set in question. If you buy a Fat Pack for the expansion set (a good idea anyway), you will get one included, but if not, some stores sell them separately (for example, Starcitygames.com has them for $3.99 each, typically). Wizard's own online database, Gatherer, is also a great resource, especially for building constructed decks.

Thanks for the tips, Hreth. One of my draft opponents told be about BREAD but by that time it was too late for me to apply it, of course. Still, it's something I'll have in mind for next time.

I also didn't know about the Player's Guide, I'll seek that out.
I also didn't know about the Player's Guide, I'll seek that out.



The Fat Pack themselves are pretty good deals: Player's Guide, nine booster packs, all the land you could need for deck building, and a great storage box, for $35-$40.