Card collectors usually stand in their own camp of board gamers and it’s common that board gamers avoid card collecting games like Magic The Gathering. But is it justified?
I have always been a bit afraid of these types of games. First, how do you start? How do you build your own deck if you never played the game? How do you diversify your experience if you manage to put together a deck?
But then, a friend of mine taught me how to play Magic and I loved the game. Yet, I was still afraid of the starting point. What is that #1 step into the Magic world?
Meet Magic The Gathering Game Night. My new favorite game and the game I’ve played literally every day during the last 3 months.
What is it about?
If you’re not familiar with Magic The Gathering, it’s a deck-building card game. The game is essentially a battle between powerful mages who cast creatures and spells by drawing magical power from natural sights around them.
Magic The Gathering is not just another card game, but it’s one of the first and most popular card trading games in the world. Despite being released in 1993, it has a massive community and constantly releases new cards. The game is so big, that you might see a Disney movie or Netflix series about its world within a few years.
If you are unfamiliar with the Magic set up, let me walk you through shortly. There are five elements that you can draw magical power (mana) from. Depending on how much mana you have, you can cast spells and creatures and fight your opponent, draining them of life force.
How a game of Magic essentially looks like.
So out of all this world has to offer, why should you try Magic The Gathering Game Night? This game is an extremely simple way to try out all the best parts of the game without spending hours searching for the right cards and equipment (although, to be fair, you can just pop by your board game store and ask to put together a starting pack).
Game Night comes with five ready-made decks, dice, and tokens, in other words, it has all that you need to start playing it out of the box. And the game actually comes with a beautiful box! I know the pain of not being able to store a game in a box, heard from many board gamers, and experienced it myself with my other favorite card collecting game, Arkham Horror The Card Game.
Just like any other board game, it comes with rules and suggestions for advanced play. Once you master the five ready decks, you can start mixing them together and try different combinations of cards. You can play it with up to five people and as it has quite simple cards, it’s an awesome choice for an actual game night. You will be able to explain the rules and in 5 minutes you’re ready to start playing the game.
What I enjoyed
- Ready-made decks and a variety of options. You have five decks, each corresponds to a unique element and has a different playstyle. One deck allows you to revive your creatures, some have a few very strong creatures, some have an army of weaker ones. None of them is stronger, they’re just different. It’s very entertaining trying to find the right balance that you personally would enjoy as a player.
5 ready-made decks come with their own play descriptions.
- Options for deck-building. Tired of the ready-made decks? Try to build your own. The rules for deck building can simply be put as mix and match whatever you like. Each deck comes with 60 cards that can be split into two 30 card packs and matched with another 30 cards from a different deck. That alone essentially comes to 45 possible unique decks!
- Replayability. It just comes out of the number of possible deck combinations alone, even without taking a look at all possible expansions.
- Very smooth start. You start humbly with a deck corresponding to only one element. Each card has text explaining what it does, so it’s very easy to learn the basic rules and just start playing and figuring it out on the go.
- It comes with a box and feels like a board game. If you’re a board gamer like me, you might be unsure how to store your precious cards. This game has no problem of this kind, as it comes with a beautiful pentagon-shaped box.
- Beautiful art. There’s little I can say here, just take a look at how each “Land” card is depicted. There’re multiple designs of these basic cards, each with amazing thematic artwork.
Magic power can be drawn from five elements.
- So many ways to get really engaged with the game and community. During the last three decades, this game has built up a whole library of content. There’re active communities with regular events, one hosted in Poromagia. You can find lots of information on the game on the internet, join its Facebook groups, Reddit, and forums. Magic The Gathering is a real industry with an active community.
What could be better
- Although I did love the game, I’m not sure what to do next if I want to expand my collection. It feels that there are a million cards available and I’m a bit lost where to go next. But this answer is probably very simple to figure out if only I asked the community.
Editor's note: Recommended first-buys
There are many great Magic products to get you started with your collection. We picked a few recommendations to give you some...
- Bulk Smash! - Bulk Smash! is Poromagia's own product, which was designed for both beginners and more experienced Magic players. The box includes two kiloboxes (~1300 random MTG cards), two Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths Draft Boosters, two Spindown Lifecounters, 4 packs of Sleeves, 1 pack of Basic Lands (80 lands) and two Rare cards from each of Magic's five colors, artifacts, and multicolors. You really get bang for your buck and a huge pile of cards to start building decks with. The box is built with "two of each product", so it is also a great purchase with your friend. You get 41,50 € worth of items for just 29,95 €.
- Kilobox - One kilogram (~650 pcs) of random MTG cards. Kiloboxes rarely have any hidden treasures, but sometimes you can find a Rare or two. Kilobox is a cheap way to expand your collection and give you some fodder to practice deckbuilding with. You'll get a kilobox for just 7 €.
- Planeswalker Decks - These are ready to play decks with a Planeswalker card as the centerpiece of each particular deck. The playstyles, colors, and strategies vary by the Planeswalker commanding the deck. You can purchase Planeswalker decks from 9,95 € to 13,95 €.
- Deck Builder's Toolkit - "Once a new player understands Magic's basic rules, the Deck Builder's Toolkit jumpstarts their collection and introduces them to deckbuilding." Toolkits include 4 Draft Boosters, a pack of 125 cards, 100 basic lands, a deck builder's guide, and a reusable card storage box. It is quite similar to Bulk Smash!, with the difference being that Bulk Smash! has more cards in it and also from older sets of Magic.
- Ikoria Commander 2020 Decks - Once you have a grasp of how to play, some deck building and you start to feel familiar with the basics of Magic and want some more challenge, Commander Decks are just the thing for you. Commander is a singleton format (you can play a maximum of 1 of each card, except for basic lands) where your deck has 100 cards and a Commander, which you can play from a Command Zone. Commander is the most popular form of Casual Magic and you can find gaming company amongst Commander players pretty much anywhere you go.
- Draft Boosters - Boosters are the "classic way" of building your collection. Back in the days, there were not many other Magic products than Draft Boosters or Booster Packs as they used to be called. Each booster pack contains 15 random cards, which of 10 are commons, 3 uncommons, 1 rare or mythic rare, and 1 basic land card. By buying boosters you never know exactly what you are going to get and that's part of the thrill in it. You might open the most precious treasure of the whole set or just the card you are looking for! Just remember to keep in mind that the card pool in each set is so wide that it is more likely that you will miss than hit the exact card you are looking for. Boosters are still a great way to expand your collection since even if you don't hit the cards you need, you can always trade your openings for someone who has use for them.
Is this game for you?
If you ever wanted to try a card game but weren’t sure where to start, Magic The Gathering Game Night is right for you. It’s an amazing game that holds your hand as you explore the fascinating world of Magic, loved by millions from all corners of the world.
It’s also a game for you if you wanted to have a light game for your friends to spend nights on. Very easy to start, it’s just a great game by itself, absolutely worth a place in your collection.
Editor's note: If you want to delve deeper into Magic, we recommend checking out our Loitsijan polku -series about getting started with Magic. The series has 20 episodes and it has been published in Finnish.
I’ve been playing as long as I remember myself. When I was a kid I dreamt of building my own games, and now I’m trying to make it a reality. Board games carry me away into a different world where I can be a knight, a researcher, a kingdom builder or a zombie fighter. Love semi-coop and engine building games. Favorite game of all times: Dead of Winter.