Have some questions before investing in MTG...

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Hello all, 

I will go straight into the matter...

I have some questions before investing in MTG. I am a new player to MTG but a veteren to tcg/ccg in general. I was going to start years ago, but money and time were an issue. 


I plan on playing using Return to Ravnica Block forward since the other cards are cycling out this year. I plan to become a more serious player next year and I want to use 2013 as a "training" step. I am new, so my evalutation may be grossly inaccurate but I reviewed the cards in the Return to Ravnica Block and I felt that the cards were balanced. Everything appeared to have it's strengths and weaknesses. So is this game really as balanced as it appears? Does everyone play the same deck/style? What is your perspective on diversity and balance in MTG?
 
My next question is simply where is a cheap place to buy cards? Any tips on the cheapest method of obtaining cards? I don't have a lot of money, but I want to be as competitive as possible. 


Thanks, 5Element
the metagame fluctuates, there are some decks that dominate for a while until someone finds a deck that beats them
check out the decks of the week to get an overview of the different decks (they are mostly for online tournaments, which means no Gatecrash yet)

as for actual shops, I can't really recommend any, because I only play online
the cheapest method of getting a deck is to simply buy the cards the deck needs. if you want to be fairly competitive on a strict budget go for red decks (you'll find some in the link above)
proud member of the 2011 community team
So is this game really as balanced as it appears? Does everyone play the same deck/style? What is your perspective on diversity and balance in MTG?

I'm assuming we're talking about the Standard format, since it's the most common format and you discuss sets rotating out. I think Magic is remarkably well balanced right now: There are at least a dozen deck archetypes that are viable in a competitive environment. By viable I don't necessarily mean that a dozen deck types could win a tournament, but they can come out with a winning record and be fun to play. Obviously, this also depends on the type of tournament: I'm thinking mostly of store events, particulary Friday Night Magic (FNM). I, for one, tend to bring a new deck almost every FNM, and my worst result ever has been 2-2.

One challenge you will have is that if you limit yourself to Return to Ravnica (and, I presume, Gatecrash, which just came out), you will not have access to a lot of good cards from the Innistrad block and, to a lesser extent, Magic 2013. You will still be able to build good decks, they just won't be quite as competive. For the purpose of learning how to build decks, this can actually be a good thing, because your choices will be more constrained and it will be less overwhelming to get an overview of the cards. If you are going to play store events, you may also want to consider sealed tournmanets, like booster draft, which are usually limited to a single expansion set (most drafts probably focus on Gatecrash right now, since it just came out).

My next question is simply where is a cheap place to buy cards? Any tips on the cheapest method of obtaining cards? I don't have a lot of money, but I want to be as competitive as possible.

To be perfectly honest, playing competitive Magic is not cheap. You can play a mono-color deck (red is the preferred choice for maximum competitiveness, but there are some builds in green and white, as well, that work pretty good) for about $100. Dual-colored decks will usually cost anywhere from $200 to $600, if you are buying cards in mint or new condition. Here is a good article on building a red deck on a budget:

Dirt Cheap Dirty Red

As for best prices, there is no single place with the lowest prices. I usually compare prices between ebay and tcgplayer.com (an online market for the TCG community) and also use a major online store. Occasionally I buy cards from my local game store, but the selection there is limited so it's often hard to find exactly what I want. Many stores have a loyalty program, so once you stick with them you will start earning discounts.

Thanks for the tips. It's interesting you recommend Red since that is one color I am considering using. I know using Ravnica Block forward will be a challenge, but I don't want to jump into the deep end just yet when it comes to competitive play. Sort of stay in the shallow end and gradually move up though 2014. Plus I read M2014 is coming out this summer so I will still have that to build from. 

It's also great news to know that there is more diversity than other games. Tired of playing tcgs that has everyone running one deck. 
Thanks for the tips. It's interesting you recommend Red since that is one color I am considering using. I know using Ravnica Block forward will be a challenge, but I don't want to jump into the deep end just yet when it comes to competitive play. Sort of stay in the shallow end and gradually move up though 2014. Plus I read M2014 is coming out this summer so I will still have that to build from. 

It's also great news to know that there is more diversity than other games. Tired of playing tcgs that has everyone running one deck. 




A lot of the diversity depends on the local metagame. For example there have been times in standard where a particular decklist was good and easy to construct. Meaning most of the cards that worked well in the decklist were cheap to acquire. While standard may have been diverse at the time at the top levels of play, at the local level you will find that people will gravitate towards inexpensive builds. So some stores might see a lot of a particular deck type and/or style.

What I'm trying to say is that while the game itself might be diverse, you'll have to test out the local scene to see for yourself because it might seem different at a local level event. There is a lot of depth to the game that you might not see in other TCGs so take some time to explore and try new things.
Don't be too smart to have fun
What are your opinions on other colors besides Red(Especially for mono-color decks)?

I like White, Green and Red right now but I am thinking of using Blue for Instant/Sorcery counter. I read in another post that life gain was garbage. Is that true? 

What's your experience battling these colors?





Thank you, 5Element.
I read in another post that life gain was garbage. Is that true?



The problem with lifegain for the sake of lifegain is that it doesn't make you win the game any faster; it just makes you lose the game a little slower. This may or may not help you stabilize by buying you the extra turns you need, but it doesn't provide card advantage or board advantage, both of which are usually more important than life total.

That said, lifegain effects aren't universally bad. There are ways to turn it into card advantage, board presence, direct damage, or even a win condition.

There are also lifesteal effects, which combine lifegain with damage to a player or creature. These effects are usually looked upon more favorably because of their offensive capabilities.

There are also effects where the lifegain is an added bonus to an already good ability. Sphinx's Revelation is extremely popular in standard right now as a potent stabilizing spell.
What are your opinions on other colors besides Red(Especially for mono-color decks)?

I like White, Green and Red right now but I am thinking of using Blue for Instant/Sorcery counter. I read in another post that life gain was garbage. Is that true? 

What's your experience battling these colors?





Thank you, 5Element.




The colors are pretty well balanced. In general you want to be playing 2 or more colors but it's possible to win with mono colored decks too. Each color has it's strengths and weaknesses so it's a good idea to use multiple colors to maximize strengths and shore up any weaknesses. In addition with Ravnica Block there have been a lot of powerful multicolored cards that have been printed recently so it's a good idea to take advantage of those cards.

Lifegain has been used in the past to combat certain strategies but as puzzledmint suggests it's typically not great. For example if you and the opponent have no cards in hand and he's got a creature in play would you rather draw angel's mercy or divine verdict? There are plenty of cards with lifegain that are good. I remember the was even a deck that played rhox faithmender and healer of the pride to really push the lifegain strategy and it had some recent sucess.


Don't be too smart to have fun
all colors are viable on their own to some degree
red simply has the advantage of being the fastest

other colors can also work on their own in the current Standard, with black probably being the next best candidate to red, the "problem" is simply that they are much better if you add a second or even third color, and with the current mana base you can easily do it, if you ignore budget restrictions
proud member of the 2011 community team
What are your opinions on other colors besides Red(Especially for mono-color decks)?

I just put together a mono-white deck that I think will be fun. I'm not sure it will be supercompetitive, but it has the potential for a combo that gives infinite life, which is a cute little combat trick.

I read in another post that life gain was garbage. Is that true

First Rule of the Magic Forums: Dont' trust anyone who tells you that something is garbage. Focus on advice that is neutrally worded and that provides a rationale.

Lifegain is problematic if it is a one time effect and if it doesn't help you move towards a win condition (usually bringing your opponent's life to 0). For example, Heroes' Reunion is rarely worth casting on its own, because it's a one-shot effect and all it does is delay the inevitable. There may be some very rare occasions where the extra 7 life is enough to swing for lethal damage, but not enough to warrant running the card.

Compare this to Trostani, Selesnya's Voice or Thragtusk. Trostani is a good defensive creature on her own, because of her tougness and in a token deck she has the ability to populate. Her lifegain is a bonus, but can be useful against aggro decks. Same with Thragtusk: He is an aggressive beast with 5 power and, if he dies, leaves behind a useful 3/3 body. The 5 lifegain is a sweet bonus.

Now let's look at what happens when you combine Trostani, Selesnya's Voice with Thragtusk. If you have Trostani on the board, then you get 8 life when Thragtusk enters the battlefield and another 3 when he dies (due to the 3/3 Beast token). Now you have some real efficiencies and synergies, resulting in a life boost gain of 11 coupled with some good creatures on the board. This can really make a difference.
Thanks for the explainations on life gain. They make a lot of sense. I actually thought cards like Heroes Reunion were good(due to being a mtg noob).

I noticed that Blue has a lot of spell counters. I guess my goal is to have a balanced deck to be prepared for anything. 

Are the Blue counters really neccessary?  
blue cannot destroy or otherwise permanently deal with permanents, the best they got is bounce and counter

so they are necessary to a degree
proud member of the 2011 community team
blue cannot destroy or otherwise permanently deal with permanents, the best they got is bounce and counter

In general, yes, but now we have Rapid Hybridization. Ribbit! I love that card.

it's a functional Pongify reprint
it's a very rare effect for blue to get, just like direct damage
proud member of the 2011 community team
My advise, do not forget to invest in the TIME to play ALOT.

Many players have thought they were going to buy wins by getting and playing all the good cards. Only to find out that at competitive events EVERYONE has the good cards and skill and practice is often the differance between a W and a L.

So getting the cards is only half the battle. You will need to play multiple times a week against good players to get good.

And you will lose alot at first, even with the good cards.

I try to make it to FNM and at least 1 competitive REL a week.

Oh and it will cost more than you think....

From scratch a new standard deck will run you at least 2-300$ bucks.....even RDW will now....given that most of the peices are no longer as cheap as they were.

And most standard decks run 5-700$ a peice and you will want more than 1.

The mana base for most decks is 200 on its own right now.

All this being said, being competitive at large events is alot of fun and well worth the costs. 
$200+ dollars? Fudge that is too much. I plan on making decks out of a bunch of commons, uncommons, and affordable rares lol. 

Hopefully when I get serious next year I will be in a better place financially. 

What is REL and RDW?

I plan on playing as much as possible. There are many FNM, and people in my area that play.

I have a question on tokens and switching control of opponent's creatures, and changing other cards into creatures (land/aritfact, etc...).

Do they have summoning sickness and if so, am I able to block with them?

Some cards confused me so getting this cleared up will help a lot.
$200+ dollars? Fudge that is too much. I plan on making decks out of a bunch of commons, uncommons, and affordable rares lol. 

Hopefully when I get serious next year I will be in a better place financially. 

What is REL and RDW?

I plan on playing as much as possible. There are many FNM, and people in my area that play.

I have a question on tokens and switching control of opponent's creatures, and changing other cards into creatures (land/aritfact, etc...).

Do they have summoning sickness and if so, am I able to block with them?

Some cards confused me so getting this cleared up will help a lot.


REL stands for "Rules Enforcement Level". The more competitive the tournament, the more strictly the rules are enforced. Local level tournaments like pre-releases, FNM, Game Day and general drafts and constructed events are Regular REL, which is the most relaxed REL.

RDW stands for "Red Deck Wins". Its a deck archtype that plays fast creatures and burn spells, like Goblin Guide, Lightning Bolt etc. If someone asks "What does your red deck do?", the answer is "It wins" (as in, it wins games as quickly as possible).

A permanent will be affected by "summoning sickness" if:
- it is a creature
- you have not controlled it continuously since the last time you began a turn

Therefore, if you take control of someone else's creature part way trough a turn, it will have "summoning sickness". However, if you have controlled a land since before you started your last turn and you make it into a creature, it wont have "summoning sickness" (the rules dont care how long it has been a creature, just how long you have controlled it).

Note that it will still be able to block (if you control it at the start of an opponent's declare blockers step), since the only things that "summoning sickness" prevents are:
- attacking
- activating abilities with or in the cost   

Hope that helps

~ Tim
I am Blue/White Reached DCI Rating 1800 on 28/10/11. :D
Sig
56287226 wrote:
190106923 wrote:
Not bad. But what happens flavor wise when one kamahl kills the other one?
Zis iz a sign uf deep psychological troma, buried in zer subconscious mind. By keelink himzelf, Kamahl iz physically expressink hiz feelinks uf self-disgust ova hiz desire for hiz muzzer. [/GermanPsychologistVoice]
56957928 wrote:
57799958 wrote:
That makes no sense to me. If they spelled the ability out on the card in full then it would not be allowed in a mono-black Commander deck, but because they used a keyword to save space it is allowed? ~ Tim
Yup, just like you can have Birds of paradise in a mono green deck but not Noble Hierarch. YAY COLOR IDENTITY
56287226 wrote:
56888618 wrote:
Is algebra really that difficult?
Survey says yes.
56883218 wrote:
57799958 wrote:
You want to make a milky drink. You squeeze a cow.
I love this description. Like the cows are sponges filled with milk. I can see it all Nick Parks claymation-style with the cow's eyes bugging out momentarily as a giant farmer squeezes it like a squeaky dog toy, and milk shoots out of it.
56287226 wrote:
56735468 wrote:
And no judge will ever give you a game loss for playing snow covered lands.
I now have a new goal in life. ;)
REL specifically stands for rules enforcement level. At different levels the rules are either loosely enforced (warnings) or strictly enforced (game losses or disqualifications).

RDW is Red Deck Wins. It is a deck archetype that is generally playable no matter which format you play in. It typically features cards like lightning bolt, goblin guide or other spells which are focused on keeping up pressure on the opponent in the form of damage. They typically have low casting costs.

Any time a creature comes under your control it has summoning sickness. It could be an effect like mind control, or momentary blink, or krenko's command but it doesn't matter because they all have "summoning sickness". The times where this is different is if the creature has haste so an effect like act of aggression or hostility which gives the creatures haste allows them to attack the same turn they come into play.

So now the question is what does "summoning sickness" mean? It means they can not attack or use abilities which have the tap symbol in their activation costs. For reference the tap symbol . Other cards such as captivating vampire which cause creatures to become tapped can still activate. Activated abilities such as selesnya guildmage which do not require tapping can still be activated.

With that said if you change a land into a creature like mutavault then it will only have summoning sickness the turn that land came into play under your control. If the enchantment, land or artifact like selesnya keyrune has been in play since the beginning of your upkeep it will not have summoning sickness even if it is later changed into a creature.

In addition lets look at another scenerio. You play selesnya keyrune you can activate it's ability to tap for mana on that same turn. Let's say you choose not to tap it for mana but instead play march of the machines. It becomes a 3/3 creature but you can not activate the ability to tap it for mana since it is a creature that came into your control this turn. You can activate it's ability for the cost of GW to make it a green and white wolf creature if for some reason you wanted it to be. Obviously next turn you can attack or use it's tap ability as needed.

edit:// LMTRK beat me to the punch here but it's interesting that we used the same two examples for RDW but maybe not so considering the two cards.
Don't be too smart to have fun
$200+ dollars? Fudge that is too much. I plan on making decks out of a bunch of commons, uncommons, and affordable rares lol. 

Hopefully when I get serious next year I will be in a better place financially.

Learn to draft, and do it well, and you can get back in cards more than what you pay for the draft. But in all honesty, Magic is not a cheap hobby if you want to play competitively. If you are playing with just friends, your strategy is fine. Also, as mentioned above, there are some competitive deck archetypes that are definitely cheaper than others.
$200+ dollars? Fudge that is too much. I plan on making decks out of a bunch of commons, uncommons, and affordable rares lol. 

Hopefully when I get serious next year I will be in a better place financially. 

What is REL and RDW?

I plan on playing as much as possible. There are many FNM, and people in my area that play.

I have a question on tokens and switching control of opponent's creatures, and changing other cards into creatures (land/aritfact, etc...).

Do they have summoning sickness and if so, am I able to block with them?

Some cards confused me so getting this cleared up will help a lot.



Hopefully the stores in your area offer a variety of types of events.

One of the best ways to play cheap and pick up cards at the same time is to play in sealed or draft events.

In sealed everyone buys a set number of packs and thats all you can play with. In draft everyone buys a set number of packs and than you pass them around, each taking a card from the pack; what you end up with is what you build a deck with.

Sealed and draft are a great way to get exposed to a wide range of strategy and play mechanics and no one will be sitting there with a deck full of mythics and every dual land.

I'm a returning player (stopped for about 14 years) and to learn the new changes and get used to the new sets, most of what I've been playing is sealed and draft. I win a fair amount in those and even when I don't I will usually walk away with a few decent rares from drafting. In constructed formats like standard I'm still getting crushed.


I'm a returning player (stopped for about 14 years) and to learn the new changes and get used to the new sets, most of what I've been playing is sealed and draft. I win a fair amount in those and even when I don't I will usually walk away with a few decent rares from drafting. In constructed formats like standard I'm still getting crushed.

I just started drafting and have done just two FNM events, and placed middling. However, in the re-draft that followed I was able to pretty much recoup my investment. For example, in my first draft, I re-drafted Boros Reckoner, which, at the time most people didn't realize was a rapidly upward trending card. So, even if you don't win, you can pick up some nice cards. The main point for me about drafting though, is that I think it will make me a better player and deck-builder and that it adds variety to playing Standard.

I recommend Drafting as well.  You see different interactions with the cards and everyone starts at the same level (you don't play against someone with a $300+ deck vs. your $10 deck), the only difference is the experience of drafting.  The stores I play at have a $10 buy in (already better than buying 3 packs) and you pick rares at the end based on ranking (this varies from store to store).  This is a great way to get the cards you want (as opposed to random chance at a booster pack or big money buying individuals) and improve your play.  Sometimes people will give away their commons and uncommons as well, and it never hurts to ask.  Looking at the play tables at the end of a FNM you can often find packs people have left behind (minus the rare most of the time) to scoop up.

If you happen to get a promo card your can sometimes trade them with people for something better.  I traded a promo Acidic Slime valued at $10 at the time for 5 or 6 rares.  An uncommon for rares to me is almost always a good trade.
The stores I play at have a $10 buy in (already better than buying 3 packs) and you pick rares at the end based on ranking (this varies from store to store).

That's a great price. I'm still a complete neophyte at drafting, and rare re-draft worried me at first, but the more I think about it, the more I like it.

rare redrafting is for people that actually like drafting ;)
proud member of the 2011 community team