A BRIEF EXPLANATION OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING

  1. Magic is a collectible card game that is somewhere between wizard poker and wizard chess
  2. Each player has twenty life points. At zero, you lose. Each player starts with seven cards in hand and draws another to start each turn.
  3. There are creatures, non-creatures, and lands. Each deck has 60 cards, and no more than 4 of any one card. Traditionally, you aim for 23 lands- a faster deck may want fewer and vice-versa
  4. Creatures are the guys who attack and block. The first number is their attack, the second is their defense. So a 2/4 would deal two points each attack and could survive up to four points of damage each combat.
  5. Non-creature spells engage the game in other ways. They may enhance or cripple creatures, get you extra cards, or produce another effect
  6. Lands are what pays for your magic. You can play one a turn, and each turn they reset. So ideally by turn four you have four mana (what lands produce) and next turn you have five, etc.
  7. The interaction between mana and spells is important. For reasons of tempo, a 2/2 for one mana is terrific, but is a terrible investment at four mana
  8. However, a 5/5 for for four mana is obviously stronger than a 2/2.
  9. This introduces us to the curve! Cards should curve into each other. Generally more expensive cards are bigger creatures or larger effects. But cheaper ones are crucial for tempo!!
  10. Balance is key, but some decks aim to be exceedingly cheap and quick to catch you of balance. Similarly, others try to stall out and control you as a more expensive deck grows stronger with time.
  11. That introduces our rock-paper-scissors dynamic; cheap aggro decks, slower control decks, and midrange decks that seek to bridge the gap
  12. There are five colors in magic, each with their own play style and flavor
  13. Red is aggressive, direct damage and midrange pounders. The fastest color.
  14. Green is under costed creatures that get huge fast and mana (land) acceleration
  15. Blue is less tangible magic that counters spells and draws cards
  16. Black is kill spells, and graveyard reanimation and disrupting your opponents draws
  17. White is protection and removal, plus synergistic small guys
  18. All colors do all things; green is traditionally the best for beginners and blue is traditionally the best for experts.
  19. You can mix more than one color. Most people use two, quite a bit use three all in one deck
  20. The game has gone on for 22 years now. There are about 18,000 cards. I am probably familiar with 13,500 of them.
  21. Have fun!
  22. The joy is in the creation, experimentation, synergy and creativity
  23. It's the closest I feel to an engineer
  24. It gets intensely complicated when competition is raised. If your fast red deck can't handle a Kor Firewalker what should you add to get around it? Dark Confidant is great but weak to the ever popular lightning bolt. Etc, etc.