When you really know how to play, Magic becomes an intense game of strategy, balance, and problem-solving. It’s not so much a matter of how to win, always it is a matter of how not to lose. There’s a distinct thrill to seeing fortunes reversed when the game is nearing its end.
The best players know their decks inside and out and they know a great many of the cards their opponents are playing tool. Knowing the cards is more than just recognizing the picture and being able to name it, it’s comprehension of exactly what the card does, when it can do it, what color(s) it is, what it is strong against and what it weaknesses are. Further, it means considering how it works with other cards in your deck.
With something like 1,000 new cards coming out year after year, many of them never before printed, trying to keep up many seem overwhelming. Fortunately once you know the game you don’t have to know every card. You can see a new card for the first time and quickly understand it for what it is as soon as it enters the battlefield and respond accordingly. The first step in being able to do this is to read the card. Read the whole card, name, mana cost, type, power / toughness, and rules next. Then read the rules text again and make sure you read it all and actually understand it. Magic cards are worked a little unusually and it takes some getting used to before you can really interpret the language. It is an exacting language that has been developing for over twenty years within an enormous community. The wording of a card’s rules text has been carefully constructed for a special effect and misinterpreting a card can be frustrating. Thankfully, in casual play, most players are happy to help you understand how a card will work. Just remember, Knowing how it works doesn’t mean it can’t have unexpected result when another player changes the game!
There are far more cards in Magic that affect rules of the game than those which do not. Most cards do something simple enough like tapping another creature, or countering a spell, a minor effect. There are others that create major game changing effects, like destroying all creatures. If a card is in play and it tells you something is true, believe it! The rules of the game extoll this above all else! The game changes often and unexpectedly and can leave players reeling. Players have to reply on their cards, so deck construction is an important factor, but so is strategy. A player who plays cards because they can; will likely be defeated, by one who plays cards when they must.
I have been following this game ( off and on ) for over fifteen years and have experienced, (off and on) for over fifteen years and have experienced, first hand, the evolution of the game. I have done my best to use my own language through this guide. Due to the exacting nature of some rules that has not been entirely possible. The goal is to show readers a clear path to understanding their cards and the game.