Beginner Planeswalker Guide: Magic EtiquetteOctober 4, 2018
This is an ongoing 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.
At this point, we’ve discussed all the basics to start playing the game of Magic. Before you head into a store to play in a tournament or invite a group of experienced Magic players over to play, let’s talk about basic play etiquette and set-up.
First of all, I recommend that you use sleeves to protect your cards. This just helps prevent wear and tear and can keep the value on cards that might be worth something. There are ample sleeves to select from and I recommend checking out what your local game store has in stock. You might also want to pick up a few deck boxes to store decks in as well.
Note: If and when you decide to play in an official Magic tournament, you will need a DCI number. This is the way that Wizards of the Coast tracks your points for high-level tournaments and the way stores record how many events they run. It’s the perfect amount of digits to be in your phone as a phone number, so you don’t have to worry about memorizing it, but you also don’t want to lose it once you have an account.
When you sit down to play a game, a lot of players like to use playmats. This is a great way to know where your battlefield is and can also display an aspect of your personality or interests, such as your favorite color or some cool art that you like. Set your deck of sleeved cards in front of you on one side and make sure to have something to keep track of your life total and your opponent’s life total. I recommend using pen and paper, but you can use dice or fancy life counters that exist out there. Most players also like to have some dice to track things like token creatures and +1/+1 counters when a creature gets a permanent boost from a spell or ability.
As your opponent sits across from you, be sure to introduce yourself and shake hands. This is the first step to good gamesmanship. Generally, players shuffle their deck and then offer the opponent to cut. This is a sign of trust and respect. Once the cut has been completed, randomly decide who is going to play first. Usually, people roll dice and the person who rolls high choices if they want to go first, or someone rolls 1 die and says “odd or even.” If you pick odd and it’s an odd number that is rolled, you’d get to decide. But if you are playing with friends you can decide who goes first in any fun way you want.
Wish your opponent good luck. You each draw your starting hand of 7 cards. The player who is going first also has to be the first to decide if they are going to mulligan. Then, the second player decides if they are going to mulligan. This goes back and forth until each player is happy with their hand. At this point, the battle begins. Be sure to communicate clearly with your opponent what your life total is and phase of your turn you are at all times.
Magic is usually a game where you play best out of three games. After one game, the player who lost gets to decide if they want to go first for the second game. If players each win one game, the person who lost game two gets to decide for game three. After the third game is complete, the round has an official winner.
No matter what happens, always be respectful and courteous. This includes not overtly bragging about winning and not being a sore loser. The appropriate level of table talk might vary if you are playing in your living room with friends, but please keep in mind whenever you play in a store or public place that the environment is intended to be fun for everyone.
If you personally ever have an issue in a store or need a rule clarification, call a judge. Judges are there to help and should be available at any official Magic event. The game of Magic can be very complicated and everyone needs this assistance sometimes.
After a battle, thank your opponent for playing. Congratulate them on a win and whether you won or lost, wish them luck on their next game.