Magic the Gathering is the #1 collectible card game in the world. Conceptually, each player takes on the role of a powerful wizard who has a collection of spells – aka their deck – they use to try to defeat the other players. Also included in the deck are land cards which supply the mana needed to fuel the wizards’ spells.
Thematically, magic cards come in 5 basic colors:
• White – Protection, Order, and Healing
• Black – Death, Disease and Destruction
• Blue – Manipulation, Control and Trickery
• Red –Aggression, Fire, and Chaos
• Green – Growth, Life, and Brute Force
Victory can be achieved in a variety of ways, and the beauty of the game is being able to utilize the hundreds of thousands of cards available to make a deck specific to your own playstyle and theme.
There are a variety of structured rules – called “formats” – which govern different types of magic games.
Limited formats are so-called because they require players to build their decks from a more limited pool of cards than Constructed formats. Limited formats require players to open a specified number of Magic products, they then must work exclusively with the cards that came from that product. Due to the nature of Limited formats, players cannot build their decks in advance of the tournament and must build their deck within the tournament itself. Typically, the only two limited formats that see official sanctioned play are Sealed Deck and Booster Draft, though occasionally a Rochester Draft pops up.
Constructed formats, as opposed to Limited formats, allow players to build decks from the entirety of the legal cards available in the specified format. The formats differ based on the card pool allowed, which affects each format’s accessibility, power level, and complexity. In Constructed format tournaments, players build their deck in advance of the tournament. Of the constructed formats, the most popular are Standard, Modern, Legacy, Vintage, and Pauper.
Casual formats consist of many alternatives for playing the game. Often these formats are designed to accommodate larger numbers of players or to allow two or more players to work together as a team. While there are several casual formats with specific rules, such as Planechase, Commander, or Tribal, players often create their own rules to apply to these games or invent completely new options for playing. A few competitive versions of casual formats do exist, but most often the emphasis on casual play is to simply have fun with a group of friends.
There are many websites that can give you an overview of these formats or how to play the game, but we’d love for you to stop by the store and we’d be happy to give a demo and teach you how to play.