Beginner Planeswalker Guide: Preparing for BattleAugust 9, 2018
This is part 3 of a series of Magic articles aimed at welcoming people into Magic: The Gathering! If you are an experienced Magic player, I hope you can use this article series to help your friends become Planeswalkers. If you are new to Magic, let me show you some things that will help you break into the game.
Your Planeswalker spark has been ignited. You are ready to battle in a game of wits. You have a deck (called your library from here on out) full of creatures and spells, ready to fight for victory. Whether you decided to battle with an army of loyal soldiers, woodland creatures, zombies, an arsenal of counterspells, or you just want to fling fireballs, you first have to set up your game with your opponent.
As you prepare for battle, you and your opponent shuffle your respective libraries. Once you are finished shuffling, you offer your library to your opponent to cut. They can shuffle it, cut it, or decide not to cut. Most people do a standard cut in half, taking the top half and putting it on the bottom before returning your library to your side of the table. It’s like shaking hands respectfully before you go into battle.
Set your library down in front of you, either to your left or to your right on the table, known as the battlefield. That will be your deck (library), so leave room in front of you for your land cards, and entire battlefield for creatures and other cards (permanents) to live and fight on. Try to leave room for like, 10 cards at least to be spread out. Also leave room for your discard pile (graveyard) next to your library.
Next decide who will go first. You can arm wrestle, have a staring contest, or roll some dice. Any way you want to make this decision fairly is up to you and your soon to be enemy. The first player has a slight disadvantage of not drawing on the first turn, but after that all turns will have identical phases and steps and that disadvantage is overcome quickly.
Once that is decided, draw 7 cards from your library. These 7 cards make up your hand. Make sure you have a decent balance of land cards and other cards that you’ll be able to play in the first two or three turns. If not, it may be time to mulligan.
Deciding whether or not you want to keep your hand or if you want to take a mulligan is an important decision and helps pave your fate, so choose wisely. If you decide that you will not be keeping that first hand, you take a mulligan – put those cards back into your library and then reshuffle.
Then you can draw 6 cards (the number of cards in your hand reduces by 1 whenever you take a mulligan). If you accept this new hand, continue to the next step. Otherwise, you can keep taking mulligans until you’re down to a hand size of zero. This isn’t recommended for new players.
When you feel like your hand is armed for success after taking your mulligans, you get to look at the top card of your library before the game starts and decide if you will keep that card on the top or move it to the bottom of your library. This action is called “Scry” and it is a mechanic on some Magic cards as well. If you kept your original hand of 7 cards, you won’t get to scry.
Once both players have decided to keep their hands, it’s time to play! Join me next week for the battle!