The Casual Play FAQ: A Guide to the Game of Magic

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The Casual Play FAQ: A Guide to the Game of Magic

Welcome to the Casual Play Forum. This forum is a great place; full of different views, opinions, and ideas. Here, you have the option to both give and receive advice. This FAQ is to inform and explain many important aspects of Magic and how to better understand the game. It is also to be used as a gateway into participating in the Casual Play Forum. With this information you should be able to enjoy the game more.

How this Forum Works

[size=3]Rules and Regulations[/size]

Getting Into the Game

Understanding the Game

Creating Your Deck

Enjoying the Game

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Styles of Play

Everyone has their own personal set of preferences. Players have their own reasons for playing the game, how they play, and what they play. The designers of Magic have taken the broad spectrum of customers, and broken them down into a few major categories. They keep these archetypes in mind as they design new sets. They always try to give each archetype cards that best suits their tastes.

Player Archetypes
Wizards of the Coast R&D (research and development), the people who make the game of Magic, design Magic cards with three types of magic players in mind. Most players will fit into one of the following categories.

The category most often associated with newer players, who are attracted to huge, monstrous creatures. A pure Timmy will not care if he or she loses nine out of ten games, as long as the player won one game with a large, exciting effect.

This variety of player cares most about creativity. A Johnny will want to put together their wacky combination of cards, or simply win by using a card often discounted by other players. These players are often associated with elaborate and intricate combos.

This type of player to have a name assigned to it, a Spike is a player whose goal is simple: victory. Spike plays the game of Magic because he/she likes the thrill of beating another player. The winners of high-profile tournaments are often associated with the Spike archetype. These players will play whatever wins, and whatever they feel like will give them the best opportunity to win.

Players who fall under this category are dictated by a cards' art and flavor. They enjoy the subtle messages, as well as quality of the art. They would rather play a card in a specific edition, as opposed to another, simply because they prefer the art on one. These players got into the game for the art and flavor, and can simply be collectors and never play a single game.

Player Personalities
Players can not always be assigned to just one archetype. People are often a combination of two or more of the categories.

This player will enjoy both massive creatures and cool combos. These players will go at elaborate lengths to create a huge effect or creature, if only simply to say they can.

This player wants to win, but by doing his/her own thing. These players will play decks that require difficult or complicated decks that are unique or special in some way. However they won't play it unless they also know that it is effective and will consistently win.

This style of player wants to win at all costs, but wants to with a large creature or effect.

This individual wants to win, but by dramatic fashion or effect. This can be done by an efficient, fast combo, which has a flashy effect. Some ways this can be done is by creating an "infinite" supply of a resource. Those resources can be life, tokens, damage or many other things.

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Formats and Card Elegibility

Relevant Vocabulary

Dexterity Cards - Dexterity cards are ones that require physical maneuvering or change of a card, and is relevant in how its handled as opposed to only based on it's affect like other cards.

Ante Cards - Ante cards are what they sound like: cards that involve betting. These cards affect the game outside of its' flavor limits and stretch into the physical "real world".


Block Constructed
Block allows you to only use the most recent block to create various decks. Block has their own ban & restricted list, but often are similar to those of T2.

Type 2
Type 2 is also known as Standard. This format allows the two most recent blocks, as well as the most recent core set. This format is the most common format used for tournaments and is a big source of revenue for Wizards of the Coast. This format is very popular for numerous reasons. New players are often limited to what they can buy at the local card store, and thus are accessible to only the newest blocks. These blocks are used in standard and creates an easy gateway to competitive play. Another is that Standard provides a wealth of variety, with new decks, concepts, and cards coming in relatively often, yet not completely limited to a small cardpool like Block Constructed. Another benefit is that Standard is Wizards of the Coast's most profitable format, and thus put more focus to support it.

Type 1.X
Type 1.X is also known as Extended. This format allows cards from blocks created in the past 7 years as well as the last 3 core sets. Every year, the set that has been in the format the longest switches out of the format for most recent block. Also once a new core set comes out, it replaces the oldest of the legal core set in the format.

Type 1.5
Type 1.5 is also known as Legacy. Legacy is a sanctioned format, that allows all blocks and core sets. This format differs from Vintage, in that there are no restricted cards. You are not allowed to play ante or dexterity cards in this format; and there are cards that are banned from play.

Type 1
Type 1 is also known as Vintage. Vintage is a sanctioned format, that allows cards from any block. In Vintage there are no banned cards besides ante or dexterity cards. However, there are some cards that are considered too powerful, so they are restricted. Restricted means that you are limited to having only one of the card in your deck or sideboard. In this format, there are many staples that are often seen. These staples are often very powerful and consequently, restricted. Vintage is known for being a very expensive format to get into, as the staples used in vintage are often reused in every deck. Also many were created in the early years of Magic so there are a limited supply of the cards. Although Vintage has the reputation of being expensive, there have been budgetized decks that have been successful. This format is also known as a format that contain very fast. Decks in Vintage generally determine the victor by turn 4, but often require many more critical decisions and game-changing choices than other formats.

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Sideboards and Metagame

What are they?

A sideboard is an additional 15 cards you are allowed to keep beside the 60+ in your maindeck. In a 3 game match, you are allowed to swap any number or combination of those 15 cards into your maindeck. A meta, or metagame, is the environment you play in and what type of decks you are likely to see.

Why are they Important?

The Sideboard usually are almost always composed of Metacards, or cards that are usually good, but are especially good against specific decks. Since these cards aren't good against all decks, you can keep it in the Sideboard so you can put them in when you need them, without sacrificing deck effeciency against every deck they aren't effective against. If you know what your Metagame is, then you can accurately predict which decks you will see, and how to best create your deck and sideboard to best counter it.

What is a Transformational Sideboard?

A transformational Sideboard, is just what it sounds like. In rare occasions a deck has enough commonalities with a different type of deck that you can simply switch a few cards and have an entirely different strategy. These decks are very rare, and good ones are rarer still.

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The Basics to Magic Theory

"Magic Theory" is a phrase used to describe the application of the principles of probability and statistics to the game of Magic to best explain and educate how to most effectively play. Magic is an extremely intricate and varied game, and because of this, many rules are more theoretical. It is difficult to mathematically "solve" most aspects of the game.

There are many concepts and theories that can be applied to Magic. This article will cover them, with a brief explanation, and links that further explain it.

Basic Concepts:
  • Tempo
  • Card Advantage
  • Virtual Card Advantage

Advanced Concepts:
  • Who's the Beatdown
  • The Philosophy of Fire
  • Protection and Watering Down Your Deck
  • The Fundamental Turn
  • Card Advantage vs. Card Quality
    • Tutoring
    • Card Selection
    • Card Importance

  • Interaction Advantage

Basic Concepts

Tempo is a measurement of what pace you are setting the game, and how far ahead of your opponent you are staying. It is also a way of measuring who is maximizing the materials they have. The more you do over the course of the game, the more likely you are to win.

Card Advantage

Card Advantage is the assessment of amount and quality of cards available to each player. The more options a player has (the greater the card advantage), the more likely that player is to win.

Virtual Card Advantage

Virtual Card Advantage is like Card Advantage, but less definite. Instead of the straightforward way of Card of Advantage, which is essentially drawing cards, or sending a card to the graveyard/removed from the game zone; it is a way of gaining Card Advantage without "doing anything". It rather makes their cards useless, as opposed to getting rid of them.

Advanced Concepts

Who's the Beatdown
Who's the Beatdown is the assignment of being the aggressive or passive. Depending on the styles of the decks, there is always a deck that is more aggressive and should try to win as fast as possible; and, there is always a slower deck, that should try to slow the opponent down until they can gain control of the game.

The Philosophy of Fire

The Philosophy of Fire, is a way of determining the individual worth of each card; and how much damage it should do.

Protection and Watering Down Your Deck
Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Circle is a reference to the Circle of Protection: cycle. It refers to these cards to indicate protection from a color in general. It is an explanation and reasoning why diluting your deck with subpar cards, that are effective against a specific deck, is not going to make the deck any better. Diluting your deck only makes it worse.

The Fundamental Turn
This theory is based on how a decks' clock dictates your play. How fast the opponent can win, is crucial to what resources, and steps you can, and should take to prevent them from winning. It also explains when a deck has their fundamental turn, and the importance of it.

Card Advantage vs. Card Quality

While Card Advantage is the process of either gaining resources, or causing your opponent to lose resources; Card Quality is the aspect of magic where certain cards perform better than others, depending on the situation, and how to get them.

  • Tutoring

    One of the most common ways that exemplify the importance of Card Quality over Card Advantage are "tutors". Tutors are cards that have the specific function of retrieving another card. These cards net you no Card Advantage, but do net you a specific card that may be necessary for any variety of reasons. Tutors are also effective in that, they allow a deck to have less copies of specific, or situational cards. These tutors can allow you to run a "toolbox". This means you can run four different copies of single cards, while running four tutors. This essentially gives you five of each spell, without cluttering the deck.

  • Card Selection

    Card Selection is a similar theory to explain the benefits of tutors. This is the belief how, while you are not able to search the deck for a certain card, you are able to decide what cards you wish to receive. The term "Filtering" is a common word that goes along with Card Selection. Filtering is the process of sorting out the desired cards from the cards you do not want.

  • Card Importance

    Some cards are more important than others. There are a variety of reasons why a card could be more important, but all are able to dictate the game. This rating, or grading of a card, is what helps determine which card you want most.

Interaction Advantage

Another way to view the game, and how there is no such thing as card advantage. It is simply an allusion that shows in quantified way how many options you have, not what gives you card advantage.

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Introduction to Combo

Combo's are a combination of cards that provide a specific effect that can not be achieved alone. Some examples of what combo's can do are: do 20 damage, do an "infinite" amount of damage, cause the opponent to draw 60 or more cards, or prevent your opponent from doing anything. It is impossible to do an "infinite" amount of anything in magic, as you do have to choose a specific number. However you can choose an incredibly high number (such as 100,000,000 damage) so the effect is the same. A combo usually wins you the game.


The first combo deck to be played competitively was based on the interactions between Lich and Mirror Universe. The combo works by putting your life total at 0, and then switching your life totals, resulting in your opponent having 0 life, and therefore losing.

The first truly successful combo deck appeared in Mirage block. This deck was called "Prosperous Bloom," or "Pros-Bloom", after its' two main combo components, Cadaverous Bloom and Prosperity. The deck worked by removing cards from your hand from the game to get mana to fuel the combo. Then you would play Prosperity, draw cards to refill your hand, and then remove cards from the game again, and continue this cycle. This would eventually give you enough mana to play a Drain Life to win the game.

Pros-Bloom was so good, that its' spectacular success led to the banning of Squandered Resources. This prevented Pros-Bloom from being the powerhouse it used to be.

Innovations and Progress

As years passed, players began to understand the game better, and the card pool of Magic was expanded, more and more combo's naturally were created. These combo's also started to become more and more efficient. Gone were the days of 7cc 4/4's attacking and blocking each other. Combo had pushed the game forward, and other styles of play had to compensate to keep up. With each discovery and each new revision, Magic players had come to understand how to best play and design combo decks.

In 1998, combo demonstrated its' incredible potential. Urza's Saga, Urza's Legacy, and Urza's Destiny comprised the Urza set. This block ushered in what is now referred to as "Combo Winter". This block had more banned cards in Standard and in it's Block Constructed than any other set. It also has cards banned in Legacy, and restricted in Vintage. While it was legal it also had banned cards in Extended. This set is also home to the first "emergency-banned" card. Memory Jar was set to be printed and allowed to play; however, last minute Wizards of the Coast realized this mistake, and banned it before it could completely and single handedly change the game.

There was a saying that came of this set, that games were decided by the flip of a coin. This was to illustrate that who ever went first won, because they could create a turn one combo win. While this is slightly exaggerated, the point is nevertheless quite obvious. Combo reigned supreme, and players were frustrated by the sheer dominance and interactiveness of it. R&D does promote combos, because it creates an entirely new and exciting flair to the game. They are now much more aware and careful about creating too powerful a combo, largely in part of the Urza set.

In 2003 a new mechanic was released into the Magic world, and reinvented how combo was played. A card with the storm mechanic was copied for each spell that was played before it that turn. This mechanic was abused by playing many spells before it, and achieving an exaggerated effect from the storm mechanic. The majority of spells played beforehand were and are mana acceleration cards that simultaneously add another storm copy and provide mana to fuel it and other spells. The five storm cards printed in this set were Mind's Desire, Tendrils of Agony, Brain Freeze, Wing Shards, and Hunting Pack. The only reactive card of those five is Wing Shards. It also can not win on it's own, and consequently saw the least amount of play.

Storm has made a major impact in all formats. Combo was drastically changed with the printing of storm. Some decks that were spawned out of Storm include, Burning Desire, Meandeck Tendrils, Dragonstorm, Solidarity, TES, TPS, Grimlong, Desire. These all had success ranging from moderate to dominating a format.

Storm led to the most powerful deck ever created. This deck was called Burning Desire, or more commonly named Long. Burning Desire was named for how the deck abused Burning Wish and Mind's Desire. Long was a reference to Mike Long, and while he did not design the deck, he was one of the first players to really advertise it. Long has long been known as one of the best deck designers in the game, and thus it was coined Long.

Burning Desire was only vintage legal, and once it started to show signs of being truly degenerate, Wizards did some intense testing of the deck. Through these tests they discovered the deck wins at least 60% of the time on turn one. Not only was it extremely consistent on turn one and two, it was extremely consistent through disruption. Many variations have been derived from this deck post-restriction in an attempt to restore it to the decks' former power.

Meandeck Tendrils is known as the fastest deck ever created. It was named after Team Meandeck, a group of players who worked cooperatively as a team, and Tendrils, after Tendrils of Agony, its' win piece. Played correctly, it wins nearly every time on turn one. However it is also known for being one of the most complicated decks ever. Even the creator, and one of, if not the best combo player ever could not play it correctly every time. It required absolute focus, and to calculate the correct order and sequence of spells took too long for sanctioned play. In a sense, the deck was so good that no one could correctly play it.

In Time Spiral, Wizards reprinted Dragonstorm and printed Empty the Warrens. Dragonstorm became a dominate deck in standard and Empty the Warrens became one of the best alternate win conditions in the game.

What Makes a Bad Combo, Bad?

It is too Complicated
With the vast array of effects in Magic, there are ways to list chains upon chains of cards to create a unique effect. However if it takes an abundance of cards to create that effect, it makes it difficult to assemble all those cards. The deck will also lose space for other useful cards, such as disruption and draw, because you are tied down by these combo pieces. If a combo is complicated and diluted, it also becomes much easier to disrupt.

It is too Slow
Magic is an interactive game. While you are preparing to complete your combo, your opponent(s) are not going to just sit around and patiently wait. They are going to attempt to either stop you, kill you before you finish it, or complete a combo of their own before you can. If your deck is too slow, you are never going to be able to do your combo before you die. The deck could be too slow because of several reasons. Here is a brief checklist to see what your problem is.

The Slow Combo Checklist:
  • Centerpiece(s) are too expensive: Never have enough mana to play it?
  • Not enough draw or tutors: Can never seem to find the right cards?
  • Too many filler cards: Always seem to draw cards that do nothing?
  • Too many lands: Always seem to be manaflooded?
  • Not enough mana: Can never seem to have enough lands, or other mana sources?

The Combo Pieces are too Dependent
Combo decks are different from other decks in that they have cards that are especially important over others. While every card in the deck should be effective and beneficial to the deck, these combo pieces are the cards that you build decks around. If a card in the deck relies on another to be great, it is synergy. If a card in the deck is terrible unless coupled with another card, that is being too dependent. There are exceptions to the rule, but generally every card in the deck should be able to carry its' own weight.

The Combo is Ineffective
What is the point in a combo if it doesn't do anything? Unless you are aiming for a wacky or spectacular effect, or simply just trying to do something, so you can say you did, if your deck is dedicated to achieving a combo you want that combo to win you the game in one form or another. One common mistake of newer players is to try to do an effect that doesn't always win you the game. Megrim is a common example. Many players see the face value of it and dedicate their decks to Megrim and various forms of discard. They fail to realize that you can only discard so many cards from an opponents hand and nearly every good discard card costs three or less. This makes it is very difficult to win by using Megrim.

[b]The Combo is Unreliable[/b]
Sometimes a combo is dependent on what your opponent does or does not do. You want your combo to always achieve what you want it to, and be affected by little to nothing. If you can't rely on your combo to work, then you're going to have some games where it is simply impossible to succeed.

What Makes a Good Combo Deck, Good?

"What Makes a Good Combo Deck, Good?" you ask? Well there are several elements. While it is not required to have all of these present to have it succeed, the more you can include, the better.
  • Power
  • Consistency
  • Speed
  • Resiliency
  • Protection

Let us compare your deck to a cruise liner. The cruise liner needs a powerful engine to push such a massive vehicle. In this case power is loosely defined as how effective the combo is, and how dominate is the overall deck. Without enough power, the deck flounders and does nothing. When determining this there are several things to ask yourself.
  • Does it work?
  • Will it win, set me up to win, or prevent my opponent from winning?
  • Is there any chance the opponent can prevent this?
  • How well does this fare against a wide variety of decks?

Consistency is how reliable your deck is. If your cruise liner turned left only 50% the time you wanted to turn left, it isn't very reliable. If you can only accomplish your combo and win 1 out of 100 times, then it is not very reliable. You want to be able to play out your combo as often as you can and be set up to maintain your combo pieces as quickly and often as you can. You need to be able to steer the ship whenever you want, just as you need to build the deck to perform whenever you want and as often as possible. The two main ways to make a deck more redundant and consistent is to have tutors and draw spells in your deck. This allows you to get the necessary cards as soon as possible.

For combo decks, the goal is to fully complete the combo. The faster you can do it, the more likely you are to outrace your opponent. If your cruise liner takes ten years to progress 10 miles, not many people are going to want to get on the ship. If your deck takes 30 turns to complete, then you will never win. Speed is often attained through mana accelerators and a consistent deck. Mana accelerators give you more mana than you would otherwise have by playing one land a turn. This allows you to play spells ahead of schedule, thus speeding up your deck.

Now your cruise liner has all the power, speed, and reliability in the world. Now say that if a wave were to hit it, the ship instantaneously explodes. This kind of durability needs are the same needs for a good magic deck. You want your deck to be able to withstand as much trauma as possible and still be able to win. The more your combo and deck can endure, the more often it will work and you will succeed.

While Resiliency is a key ingredient to a good combo deck, sometimes it is best to help your cruise liner. Your cruise liner has been upgraded so it can sustain the impact of common waves, but is unable to deal with larger waves from storms. If you have a weather tracker and GPS on the ship, you can steer clear and stay unharmed. In your deck, this can be achieved by adding disruption. This will either allow you to prevent them from stopping you, or prevent them for winning as you set up your combo. There are many forms of disruption, but the most prevalent in combo decks are discard and counters.

[size="3"]Relevant Links and Sources:[/size]

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The Magic Rule Book

This is a source of rules and regulations, regarding the game of Magic.

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The Rules Q&A Handbook

This is a source for Q&A sources regarding more rules and effects and specific cards.

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Purpose and Rules

[color=darkviolet]The Casual Play Forum[/color]

Welcome! This forum is dedicated to the enjoyment of all players and provide an avenue for casual players to give or receive critique. There are also many games and events available. Text Dueling has become a staple of the past few years and will most likely continue to thrive, so long as there are players who want to play a few games of magic.

The Code of Conduct
The Code of Conduct is the outline of all rules and regulations of the boards. Violation of the Code of Conduct is grounds for warning, temporary suspension, or banning of ALL the accounts the owner may have. Multiple warnings or suspensions can result in being banned.

Guidelines to Using the Form

While the Code of Conduct is in full effect in the Casual Play Forum, there are also other guidelines and recommendations for all posters. These guidelines provide a friendlier, more effective, and more pleasurable experience for everyone.

Do Not ask Posters to Make a Deck For You
While this may seem extremely easy for you to do, in the end you are most likely robbing yourself. Learning to build decks is a crucial experience for any Magic player. It is an effective way of understanding many concepts and expands your cardpool knowledge. You will also receive more responses if you are accommodating. Remember. These people are going out of their way to help you.

Label Appropriately
No one is required to help anyone, nor should anyone be expected to. Keeping this in mind, other posters will be more inclined to help you if it does not require more effort to. You want to keep your topic concise and well articulated. This will prevent confusion and a deterrent for any potential critique. An appropriately named thread title also will give him or her a good idea of what to expect of the thread.

Budget and Format Limitations
Any monetary of format restrictions should be addressed in the original post, or topic post of the thread. This will prevent a user from spending time into a well thought-out post, only to find that your budget negates any and all suggestions made.

Make it Easy to Understand
Some decks are also new or foreign to posters. Explaining in a thorough and easy-to-understand manner will benefit both you and other posters.

Some things to keep in mind while explaining:
  • How you plan on winning
  • Particular card selection / Metagaming
  • If you have any reservations or specific requirements.

If you Post a Deck, Expect it to be Critiqued
Do not post a deck if you do not plan on listening to critique for it. It will clutter the front page and prevent another deck that wants critique from being viewed.

Regarding Multiple Threads
Having multiple threads is allowed, but not duplicates. If you accidently create a duplicate thread, you can simply stop posting in one of the threads and let it die out by inactivity. Spam threads are of course not allowed either.

Be Legible
It isn't a requirement to write out every post and entry like a report you'd hand in for a grade. For the benefit of other posters, it is much easier to help and understand if it is written out with the correct spelling and correct use of grammar. Remember: the easier it is for others to help you, the more help you'll receive.

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Tags and Other Useful Codes

Autocard is a link that takes a card name and links it to the cards' page on gatherer.

[card]Llanowar Elves[/card] or [c]Llanowar Elves[/c].
Will result in: Llanowar Elves

[card=Llanowar Elves]Mana Elf[/card] or [c=Llanowar Elves]Mana Elf[/c]
Will result in: Mana Elf

Deck Tag
The Deck Tag takes your deck and formats it into an organized format. It also automatically autocards all the cards in the deck.

[deck=Mountain Deck]Lands 60* Mountain[/deck] Note: Current coding prevents this from working.
Will result in:

"Hide-Show" Boxes
These boxes, known as "sblocks" are used to minimize how much space a certain post or section takes up. It can also be used to hide things, until a time where the reader is supposed to read it. Two examples could be, if it were a riddle or the punch line to a joke.

[sblock]This is hidden.[/sblock]
Will result in:
This is hidden.

[sblock=This is hidden]This is hidden.[/sblock]
Will result in:
This is hidden
This is hidden.

Spoiler Tags Note: current coding prevents these from working.
Spoiler tags are used to cover a text and hide what it says. It requires the user to highlight it to view the message.

[spoiler]This is invisible.[/spoiler]
Will result in:
This is invisible.

Mana and Tap Symbols
Mana Symbols are little pictures of the corresponding color mana or numbers to represent the colorless mana. These symbols are appealing to the eye and can be used to show the costs of a spell. It also shows X, Y and Z, as well as tap and untap symbols.

Will result in: yz

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The Color Pie

What is the Color Pie?

The color pie is a set of characteristics and flavor tendencies of each color. When R&D starts to design a new set, they always keep this set of characteristics balanced on color. Some cards contain more than one color, and thus have an infusion of different attributes. This will provide a source to explain styles, spells, creatures, and flavor that is distinct for each color.

Each color has a set of creatures that are commonly recurring. However they are not exclusive to their own color. Some creature types fit under more than one color, and sometimes creature types are mixed to form a mix of color elements. I have included a list of some examples of reoccurring creature types.

There is also a link for each color on an in depth analysis of each color.


  • Goblins
  • Dragons
  • Giants
  • Warriors
  • Shamans


  • Elves
  • Beasts
  • Trolls
  • Druid
  • Treefolk


  • Soldiers
  • Angels
  • Cats
  • Kithkin
  • Spirits


  • Merfolk
  • Faeries
  • Wizards
  • Drakes
  • Birds


  • Zombies
  • Demons
  • Skeleton
  • Rogues
  • Horror


  • Golems
  • Scarecrows


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DCI and Playing Competitively

DCI, or Duelists' Convocation International, is an official organizing body for the game of Magic. This body regulates and enforces the rules of Magic and competitive play, as well as provide a system for rankings and prizes.

How do I Become Involved?
In order to play in sanctioned events, players must register for membership and receive a DCI number (PIN). The DCI maintains a global player ratings database. Hosts of tournaments and events record the results and notify DCI. Members then are able to view their entire tournament history and rankings online.

What are the Rules & Regulations
DCI has developed a set of rules to better ensure a friendly, fair, and competitive atmosphere.

For more information, you can visit:

What are the Penalties?
There are a series of rules and regulations to ensure fair and equal play. Frequent or flagrant rules infraction can be grounds for penalty. Penalties can range from verbal warning to a lifetime ban.

For more information, you can visit:

How to Register
To join DCI, just go to any sanctioned tournament and tell the administrator you are not registered, and ask for a registration form. Then simply complete the form and return the form to the administrator. The administrator will then give you a registration card with a member number.

To find a sanctioned tournament in your area, you may use the Tournament Locator.

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How to Best Help Yourself and Others

The Casual Forum is a place where you can receive advice for your decks, and get a another opinion or view on your deck. It is also voluntary and it is not guaranteed you will receive any responses. There are several ways to increase your chances of gaining responses.

To Best Receive Help

Order is Good

People are going out of their way to help you. They will be more inclined to give that help if it is orderly and easy to read as opposed to a confusing and random layout. Keep all notes and explanations simple and concise, so they spend less time reading about it, and more time giving advice.

Take Advice as Advice

Posters are going out of their way to help you. If they suggest a change that you don't agree with, if they haven't already given you an explanation why, ask for one. If they have but you still disagree, give them a reason why so they have an opportunity to try to explain. They may or may not be correct in what the optimal build is; but, don't forget they are there to help. If you take suggestions personally then people will not want to help you.

Be a Helpful Member of the Forum

If you become an active and helpful member of the forum, you end up benefiting yourself. Posters are more likely to open your thread if they recognize your name, as opposed to a thread where they don't recognize the poster. If you are recognized as a member who is very helpful, posters are also more likely to put more effort into their critique and advice.

Be Legible

If your notes and explanations are riddled with mistakes and grammatical errors, no one will bother reading past the second sentence. It isn't expected to have perfect sentence structure or phrasing, but there is a expectation to be at least fairly well worded and thought out. If you have problems with your grammar or vocabulary, simply enter it into most any text processor, and they will provide a spellcheck and basic sentence structure check. It isn't perfect, but it almost always makes it legible.

You Get What You Give

A well organized, articulate, and interesting deck or thread is going to receive more than a thread with a deck list and no explanations. The presentation of your thread depicts your effort and how much effort others will give back. It is much more appealing to give help to someone who will appreciate it.

How to Best Give Help

Explain Yourself

Everyone has a different amount of knowledge than other people. Posters may or may not know what you mean, or why they should use a card. To prevent confusion or misunderstanding, it is best to give an explanation for your reasoning. Even a tiny note about it is better than nothing. You can usually get a general idea, by their decklist or notes how experienced they are, the extent of their cardpool knowledge and understanding of your suggestions.

Be Respectful
You are going out of your way to help a poster, and if you want to do it correctly, you should always be respectful. Baiting, or offensive behavior is against the Code of Conduct, and will be reported.

Remember, It's Their Deck
No one is forcing you to help others and conversely, no one is forced to take that advice. If they disagree with your advice and analysis, that is their choice. They may not understand your reasoning, and further explanation may be neccesary. They may just not agree with it, and it is ultimately their choice what they do with their deck.

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Updates and Upkeep

This will be used as a records and notes page for any important changes or additions.

History of Posts, Updates, and Completions (From 03/25/09 - 05/01/09, updates weren't recorded.)
  • 03/25/09:The Casual Play FAQ: A Guide to the Game of Magic
  • 03/25/09: Styles of Play
  • 03/25/09: Styles of Play
  • 03/26/09: Formats and Card Eligibility
  • 03/26/09: Formats and Card Elgibility
  • 03/31/09: Sideboards and Metagame
  • 03/31/09: Sideboards and Metagame
  • 03/31/09: The Basics to Magic Theory
  • 04/09/09 Introduction to Combo
  • 04/14/09: The Basics to Magic Theory
  • 04/29/09: The Magic Rule Book
  • 04/29/09: The Magic Rule Book
  • 04/29/09: The Rules Q&A Handbook
  • 04/29/09: The Rules Q&A Handbook
  • 04/29/09: Purpose and Rules
  • 04/29/09: Tags and Other Useful Codes
  • 04/29/09: The Color Pie
  • 04/29/09: The Color Pie
  • 04/29/09: DCI and Playing Competitively
  • 04/30/09: Tags and Other Useful Codes
  • 05/01/09: Introduction to Combo
  • 05/01/09: The Magic Rule Book
  • 05/02/09: DCI and Playing Competitively
  • 05/02/09: How to Best Help Yourself and Others
  • 05/03/09: Purpose and Rules
  • 05/03/09: The Color Pie
  • 05/03/09: Updates and Upkeep
  • 05/05/09: Styles of Play
  • 05/05/09: Formats and Card Eligibility
  • 05/05/09: Sideboards and Metagame
  • 05/06/09: How to Best Help Yourself and Others
  • 05/06/09: The Basics to Magic Theory
  • 05/07/09: Handling the Opponent
  • 05/07/09: Board Position
  • 05/07/09: Handling the Opponent
  • 05/07/09: Board Position
  • 05/10/09: The Casual Play Forum: A History
  • 05/10/09: The Casual Play Forum: A History
  • 05/11/09: Casual Formats
  • 05/11/09: Casual Formats
  • 05/11/09: Drafting
  • 05/16/09: Board Position
  • 05/30/09: Casual Formats
  • 05/31/09: The Rules Q&A Handbook
  • 05/31/09: Updates and Upkeep
  • 06/03/09: Casual Formats
  • 06/04/09: Drafting
  • 06/04/09: Creating a Playgroup
  • 06/29/09: Drafting
  • 06/29/09: Creating a Playgroup
  • 06/29/09: Creating a Playgroup
  • 06/29/09: Brainstorming a Decklist
  • 06/30/09: Brainstorming a Decklist
  • 06/30/09: Brainstorming a Decklist
  • 07/03/09:: Creating your Deck
  • 07/03/09: Creating your Deck
  • 07/04/09: Tags
  • 07/04/09: Tweaking and Tuning your Deck
  • 07/19/09: Tweaking and Tuning your Deck
  • 07/20/09: Tweaking and Tuning your Deck
  • 04/14/11: Tags and Other Useful Codes 

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Handling the Opponent

When you play an opponent, you try to best execute your plan and win before they are able to. There are many ways to do this, but the objective is the same. While you are racing the clock and attempting to accomplish your plan, your opponent is also doing the same thing. Sometimes it is necessary to disrupt their plan. This will prevent them from winning, bide you time, and/or protect your means of victory.

Disruption cards are cards that effect your opponents ability to win or execute their plan. There are disruption cards that effect the board position, disrupt their hand, or manipulate the stack.

General Disruption/Control Information


The following will be a list of various forms of disruption, and their application and uses.

Counter Spells


Land Destruction

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Board Position

Board Position is a way of measuring the tools available to each player in the form of permanents. Simply put, permanents are anything that stays on the board. Permanents have a huge variety of effects and abilities, and all progress the game forward in some way.

Examples and Testing
Board position is one way of measuring who is winning, beyond the amount of life each player has. Here are some example of showing how board position can be more important than life totals.

Example 1:

Your Board Position:
2x Forest
5x Grizzly Bear

Life Total: 2
Cards in Hand: 0

Your Opponents Board Position:
10x Plains

Life Total: 10
Cards in Hand: 0

It is your turn. Theoretically say that neither player has any outside effects, and cannot draw. All permanents are untapped. Who wins?
You are. Even though they have more life, you have enough fire power to take them out in one attack and they have no answers or defense for it.

Example 2:

Your Board Position:
10x Mountain
4x Raging Goblin

Life: 20
Cards in Hand: 0

Your Opponents Board Position:
10x Forest
2x Grizzly Bears

Life: 20
Cards in Hand: 0

It is your turn. Theoretically say that neither player has any outside effects, and cannot draw. All permanents are untapped. Who wins?

There are several ways to play this. The two extremes are, to attack with all your creatures, while the other is to wait and let the opponent attack first. If your opponent plays it correctly, there is no way for you to win.

If you attack first:

They block two goblins:
The grizzly bear would then block and kill two, leaving them at 18 life. Then they would be able to outrace you, dealing 4 damage a turn, while you can only do 2.

They block one goblin:

This will deal 3 damage to them, while they can still do 4 damage a turn. They will eventually outrace you.

If they don't block:

You will do 4 damage a turn, and they will do 4 damage a turn. This will result in you winning.

If they attack first:

You block both creatures with one goblin each:

This would result in you losing two goblins, and them dealing no damage. This leaves you with two 1/1s, while they have 2, 2/2's. They will eventually win, as they can deal 4 damage a turn, to your 2.

If you assign two goblins to one bear:

This will eliminate one bear, and deal two damage to you, putting you at 18. You will then be able to attack for two each turn. However they will be able to outrace you, as they did damage first, and you both started at 20 life.

If you assign two goblins to each bear:

Then all 6 creatures will die. Baring any outside influence or other effect, this will effectively end the game, and whoever draws their entire library first will lose.

Example 3:

Your Board Position:
6x Swamp
4x Zombie Cannibal

Life: 20
Cards in Hand: 0

Your Opponents Board Position:
4x Islands
1x Cumber Stone
1x Serra Sphinx

Life: 1
Cards in Hand: 0

It is your turn. Theoretically say that neither player has any outside effects, and cannot draw. All permanents are untapped. Who wins?

Unfortunately, your opponent is going to win this game.

You have 4 Zombie Cannibals and enough life to withstand an attack from their Serra Sphinx; therefore, you can attack and Serra Sphinx and your opponent can only block one. With your opponent at 1 life and only able to block 1 of your creatures, you would normally win this game. However, Cumber Stone makes it impossible for you to win. This is because it causes your creatures to have a power of 0 so you can not do any damage. This isn't true for your opponent, though. They can fly over and attack you at will.

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The Casual Play Forum: A History

The Casual Play Forum has been around since the beginning of the boards. It has had thousands and thousands of decklists and threads. There have have been thousands more of posts and critique. This will offer a brief historical background of threads that were especially significant. This may be because they set a new standard, were a special event, or were very memorable.

there will be much left out and missed. Much of this is from memory, and Pre-2005, my knowledge is even more limited.

The Casual Deck Clinic

Created: 6-27-04 (Updated version, not original), Closed: 5-13-2006
Creator: Father Lennard

This was as it sounds, a deck clinic for casual decks. The purpose was to submit a decklist and various specifications, and one of the various 'Deck Doctors' would then attend to it with advice and details on how to improve it.

The Casual Deck Clinic

The Tribal Deck Clinic

Created: 3-23-2003, Closed: 3-6-2006
Creator: JoshC653

This was used as a thread for various posters to submit a tribal decklist for advice and critique. A tribal decklist is one with emphasis on a certain creature type. A large variety of tribal types were critiqued and improved in this thread and was a source of help for many posters

The Tribal Deck Clinic

The Terribly Terrific Tribal Tune-up Tutorial Thread!

Created: 10-25-2003
Creator: Uncle Mikey

This thread is especially aimed to the relatively new players that don't have much experience outside of T2. It's the place to come and learn how to improve your casual tribal decks. It's also a place to learn about new tribal creatures and spells you hadn't considered before and get a general impression for solid deck-building. Feel free to ask me questions and I might even follow a link to your deck thread, but please do not post your decks here; instead, send them over to the nice folks at the Tribal Deck Clinic.

This thread was to be used as a reference tool and source for players searching for deck ideas and card suggestions in regards to tribal play. It has a diverse range of creature types, and gives card examples and decklists to help give an idea of how the creature type will play out.

The Terribly Terrific Tribal Tune-up Tutorial Thread!

Skankhair's Casual Player's Handbook

Created: 9-3-05, Closed: 2-26-2006
Creator: Skankhair

Skankhair was one of the first truly recognized posters in the Casual Forum. He created a handbook that covered many elements of the game that newer players had trouble with. It also included many insight on various types of decks and tribal deck advice.

Skankhair's Casual Player's Handbook

The new Casual Decks FAQ: A (relatively) Comprehensive Guide to the Game of Magic

Created: 11-1-2004, Closed: Pending, 2009?
Creators: meepoo2, Veru, the sengir vampire

This was an overview of relevant knowledge that new players often have trouble learning. It gives a variety of topics explanations, as well as practical uses.

The new Casual Decks FAQ: A (relatively) Comprehensive Guide to the Game of Magic

Text Duels

Created: Early 2005
Creator: Preanubis

I am currently unable to locate the original thread. I do remember it was created by Preanubis. It was an original idea that caught on immediately. The thread became huge and extreme cluttered. It was much bigger than the 1,000 post limit that is currently active. Originally the limit was set to 5,000. It was further trimmed down to the current 1,000 post mark.

Hey all,

The word just came down the pipe that in order to improve boards speed all threads with more than 5000 posts will be closed, which certainly includes this one. This is for size and speed reasons only, not for any CoC violations, so feel free to start a new Text Duels thread.

WizO Myst
TCG Message Boards Team

Text Duels 2

The Text Duels 2 thread was created in order to help create space for more games. There were many games going on at once in the original thread, so it became a hassle to find your opponents' previous moves. This thread was a secondary option, yet still became far too big. This spawned many other Text Duel threads. It got to the point where it became too popular, and took up half of the front page. This created technical difficulties with the forum as it was too much processing at once. It also prevented many decklists to be pushed to pages 2, 3 and further. Preventing actual deck critique.


Created: 2005
Creator: Unknown

Group-Make-A-Deck, or GMAD was a game that instantly took hold; very much like Text Duels. The premise of the game was to, as a community, build a deck. There was a topic card chosen and afterwards, each poster was to post one set of a card to be added to the deck. This card was to support the chosen topic card and a brief explanation was encouraged. Text Duels were also similar to this in that they spawned many unique threads, with posters creating their own game. Eventually it cluttered to much of the forum and was forced into one mother thread.

After a while the game was discontinued and forgotten. Later on, there was an attempt to bring it back. This attempt ultimately failed but is the closest I can find to the original mother thread.


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Casual Formats

There are several ways and variations of playing Magic. Variations from life, deck size, mana, and other various effects and restrictions can all drastically effect how a game can be played. These variations of how to play or create your deck create a whole new dimension of gameplay. This will explain some of the more common casual formats.

General Overview

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Drafting is a form of competition in which players 'draw' from a certain cardpool to create decks and compete against each other with that deck. The winner is dictated by playing ability, deck building ability, drafting knowledge, and preparation.


Drafting, and How it Works:
Types of Drafting:
Tips and Strategies:

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Creating A Playgroup

What is a Playgroup and Why do I Want One?

A playgroup is a circle of friends or opponents that you play on a consistent basis. If you have a big playgroup, you get to play against a larger variety of decks, have access to a larger trading cardpool, have more multiplayer options, and have a higher chance of having someone who wants to play when you do.

How do I get a Playgroup?

There are many ways to go about this. One of the most common is to just talk to your friends, and ask them to try and see how they like it. Giving them a quick rundown on the rules and how it works, as well as supplying a fairly basic deck is a good introduction point.

Another way is to find players through your local cardshop. Other players in your area will also be going to that shop, and it is a central hub for many players of various games. Participating in any tournaments or gatherings run by the store is a good way of meeting other players.

What if I Can't Find Anyone to Play?

There are many other available options if you can't find other players in your immediate area. One is to commute to another area, usually to a tournament that you've found or heard about (after checking it is reputable of course). Another is to use various online means of playing.

How can I Play Online?

There are several ways to play online. Magic Online is run and organized Wizards of the Coast. It is an online way to buy cards and play against other players from all over the world.

There are also other programs and servers that allow you to play online. Some of these programs include Apprentice, and more commonly used, Magic Workstation (aka MWS). These programs let you test and create decks from any cards that you choose. These programs are free, and available online.

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Brainstorming a Decklist

How do I Just Think of Ideas?

Decks can be created from seeing a specific card and deciding to build around it, wanting to make a wacky combo work, or just creating the best deck you can with the available cards. There are many other reasons to design a certain deck but all require some kind of purpose to do. Even if the purpose is to throw random cards together for a deck.

What Should I Keep In Mind?

Deciding what you want your deck to do is the most important part of creating a successful deck. Making a deck that has 45 ways to win but each way works only 1% of the time is far worse than a focused deck that works 97% of the time.

Everyone has a specific amount of money at their disposal. Some decks cost more than others and you want to keep in mind what you can afford and how much you want to spend

Who am I Playing Against?

There are different 'powerlevels' or tiers of magic decks. Some are meant to just to have elaborate effects, but not incredibly dedicated to destroying the opponent. On the other extreme, some decks can win on turn 1. Depending on your playgroup, a certain level of deck may be appropriate. In a truly casual setting, you don't want to blow your opponents out of the water every game. That will lead to frustration and you not having anyone to play. Conversely, you don't want to be blown out every game. It (usually) isn't very fun to have no chance to do anything.

While you want to stay in a reasonably close zone to other players, you always don't want to sacrifice your deck for it. It is sometimes frustrating to have to handicap yourself because other players can't afford, or don't want to create a 'stronger' deck. Think of this as a way to stretch your creative muscles and truly test your abilities. Create a deck that uses only commons, or one that uses a fun combo. Don't take it as an insult or complaint, but a way to challenge yourself.

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Creating your Deck

How do I Know Which Cards to Put In?

First it is key to know, or have a good idea what you want to do. Do you want to beatdown with tokens? Make a deck around a wacky combo you discovered? Perhaps you'd prefer to win with a giant 9/9 beast.

Either way, you're going to have to figure out what you want your deck to do. Take this idea and find cards that fit into this theme or strategy. Some cards will work more obviously than others.

What if I Don't Know Many Cards?

The longer you play Magic, the easier this becomes. When players first start out, they of course have a more limited knowledge of card names, which cards work together well, etc. This becomes easier as you play more and learn more about the game.

There are multiple ways to find cards that work. The first way is to use Gatherer, provided by this very website. It is a search engine dedicated to the entire Magic cardlist database. You can search for cards based on name, type, what they do, even the artist or flavor text.

Asking for Help
Another way is posting on various websites asking for help and suggestions. There are many websites that do this across the internet. Some are dedicated to specific formats or rules, and some are more general. This website has a strong community with good advice across all the formats.

[color=darkorange]Looking Through your Cards[/color]
Going through your collection of cards is also a way to decide which cards to use. This is effective in the sense that it already tells you what you do or do not have, as well as a good indicator if you're going to be able to even make the deck. However it is difficult because you have to sort through all your cards

What if I Can't Think of 60 Cards?

Probably the best way to go about this is to take what you have, test it a few times, and decide what else you need. Playing the deck gives you a better idea of what cards you need or would work well with the core of the deck.

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Tweaking and Tuning your Deck

Goldfishing or Solitaire

When players refer to goldfishing or solitaire they mean playing the deck alone against no opposition. This doesn't let you see how it plays in a real game situation, but it allows you to see what kind of draws or consistency you have within the deck. It is a way to do preliminary tests without any help and see the basics of how it is working.


It is impossible to know exactly how a deck will play without actually playing it. This does not mean you can't have a pretty good estimation, though. By looking at a deck's curve, mana requirements, manabase, win condition, and other variables, you can have a fairly good idea of how it'll play. Going through endless stats and compiling them for yourself is rarely fun and is often extremely tedious. Luckily there are programs that help with some of the important statistics.

Magic Workstation is one such program that is used to build decks from any combination of cards in Magic. Another is a deckprogram under Magic Deck Statistics at Both have the ability to check many useful stats such as manacurve, color ratios, spell ratios, probability of drawing, hand samplerhas a built in deck analysis that tells you the curve, mana requirements, and other such information.


Playtesting is a key part of perfecting a deck. No matter what you see on paper, you can never be absolutely certain how it'll do in actuality. Playtesting is exactly what it sounds like: testing the deck by playing it. If you have a known meta, or know what types of decks you are going to be playing the most, you can playtest against those decks. This will allow you to refine your deck and see what works best in certain situations.

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Happy late 4th of July present Casual Playgoers!

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Didn't want to post anything till it was confirmed that you were done updating. The entirety of the Casual Play forum owes you a huge thanks for this monstrous guide.

In a word:

My trade thread
I have noticed that [noparse] and [/noparse] doesn't work. you use [*[*b][/b]c] instead, it will look like this > [c]hill giant[/c]^^
How to Autocard
card: [c]cardname[/c]-> [c]Vampire Nighthawk[/c] -> Vampire Nighthawk
Cool thread! I'm definitely a Timmy/Spike. I want to win, but love doing it with big creatures or a splashy effect. I hate the cheap decks/direct damage discard approach. Nothing pleases me more than stomping someone with a big nasty green monster!
141434757 wrote:
Thread is so legit it's unbelievable, lol. Though I'm interested in knowing what gain there is to fish here. No, foreign prince, I will not invest in your grand profitable banking corporation.
Wow great info! I'm pass this on to some people I'm trying to lure into playing!
I need some serious help. I've been playing for a week or two against two of my nephews that have been playing for years. They trash me every time I sit at the table. I just want to know if a blue and red deck is worth playing. One of my nephews said that i should play a counter/burn and after looking it up i wanted to know if it would work or if he just wants to trash me again.
I need some serious help. I've been playing for a week or two against two of my nephews that have been playing for years. They trash me every time I sit at the table. I just want to know if a blue and red deck is worth playing. One of my nephews said that i should play a counter/burn and after looking it up i wanted to know if it would work or if he just wants to trash me again.

Do this:
make a new thread.
Copy - paste.
Then you are likely to get good advice. this is not the thread for it.

Good luck 
How to Autocard
card: [c]cardname[/c]-> [c]Vampire Nighthawk[/c] -> Vampire Nighthawk
Thanks for this guide! I got some ideas for new combos...(Lava Axe + Furnace of Rath + Fire Servant on turn 6 if they're not already dead) BTW, if anyone cares, I have only played non-red three times: borrowing a friend's EDH white-green deck (Elspeth was awesome), my sad, sad attempt at a similar deck, and a black-blue counter/discard deck that worked pretty well for awhile. But nothing has ever compared to simply annihilating the other guy with Lightning Bolt or Fireball (Hey another combo idea: Lightning Bolts + Fire Servant + Kiln Fiend). Nothing is better than FIRE and LIGHTNING. Even lava is practically liquid fire!

Does a creature with first strike/infect together weaken the creature it is fighting before it deals damage, therefore making the first strike/infect creature take less damage?

I liked the game to bring the safety and rewarding

Take this idea and find cards that fit into this theme or strategy. Some cards will work more obviously than others. I think it

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