Dr Dick’s World of Wacky Wizards has been around for almost 25 years. It’s almost inconceivable that there are people out there that haven’t played Magic.
But it’s true. I don’t get it but I’ve crunched the numbers, and they definitely exist.
So this week is dedicated to those that have never picked up a cardboard rectangle and pretended it was a wolf.
6 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOU’RE NEW TO MAGIC
This is really for newer players, but you veterans can probably get something out of it as well.
YOU’RE NOT TERRIBLE AT MAGIC
Really. There are a lot of rules and things to remember, but anybody with a basic understanding on strategy and risk management should manage to hold on for a while. It might take a few goes, especially if you have a marginal teacher, but if you learn from your mistakes and losses, you’ll grow as a player.
A good resource to use is wizards.com since they are very vested in you learning the game in order to have as much fun (and spend as much money as possible). You can also download Magic Duels on Steam/iOS and learn most of the rules that way. Duels is a stripped-down version of the full game, but it has most of the stuff and has a decent tutorial.
If you have terrible friends, you’ll probably have a bad time around the kitchen table against their turbostasischain monstrosity, but stick at it. Those people will die from terrible diseases, as is the will of the universe.
Rest assured, you're not terrible at Magic.
YOU’RE TERRIBLE AT MAGIC
I mean, let’s be realistic. Your Centaur deck may kick all kinds of ass, but once you go to an actual tournament with an entry fee and prizes and such, your opponents will beat you like it was their job.
Tournaments are the big scary. People are generally pretty good, especially if you’re new and you show a willingness to learn. They want the W off of you, sure, but after the match, most people will be willing to answer questions about what you could have done better, and even help you with making better deckbuilding choices.
This is because people are nice, and other people are assholes. The nice people will want you to get better since a rising tide levels all boats. The assholes want you to get better because they’ve already beaten you, so you getting better will only affect people that aren’t them and that can only affect their tiebreakers* positively.
*don’t worry about what tiebreakers are just yet.
JUDGES LIKE ANSWERING QUESTIONS
Being a judge for 22 years, I have lost track of the number of phone calls, texts, and IMs that I have received from people that I have never met, asking me some random rules question. I always try to answer, because this will directly affect their current enjoyment of the game, and I’m usually too startled, exhausted, or punchy to tell them to get stuffed.
Judging involves few rules questions nowadays, since the rules are in decent shape. You can usually extrapolate a ruling from knowing another ruling, and most things are fairly intuitive.
(Coming soon, 6 things about the rules that aren’t intuitive)
So if you have a question, there are many places in which to ask. Reddit and Facebook have groups dedicated to rules and discussions, and most stores employ or have access to people that may not be “real” judges, but generally know what they are talking about.
So ask your question. I guarantee you’re not being annoying.
YOU’RE BEING ANNOYING
It’s the curse of the new player. We need you to keep the game fresh and full of people, but at the same time, new players can be super-frustrating in a pen-in-the-eye sort of way.
You’re going to play slowly, play things out-of-sequence, and get basic stuff completely wrong.
We just want you to be aware of it, and be aware that we know, and we’re being patient. But please, for the love of gods, please learn from all of this and get faster and better.
Most people do, some people don’t. In 22 years of history, I could totally name names, but I’m a sweetie pie and I won’t.
THAT ONE TIME YOU DID A THING WITH A BAD CARD DOESN’T MAKE IT GOOD
We all have stories about how we tried out a bad card and we made it work once. The way I choose to personally play Magic is to give myself stupid challenges. That is how, in a Friday Night Magic event, I cast Part the Waterveil and copied it four times to take 5 turns in a row and create a 30/30 land. That deck was dumb, and the combo I used was dumb, but I got a cool story out of it.
Here’s the important thing: If anyone had informed me that this deck and/or combo was dumb, I would not try to defend it. It was stupid as hell. I knew what I was doing, and I wanted to do it.
If you’re playing with a card that’s overcosted, ineffective, or just plain idiotic, people will tell you. If your response is to tell a story about how this one time it got you a win, please know that I can build a scenario where every card in Magic could potentially win a match for someone.
Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t play with bad cards. I mean, have fun. You do you.
What I am saying is that your defense of the bad card shouldn’t be that it is in fact, a good card. It’s not, and you should own that.
AVOID THE TEMPTATION TO BE A DICK
As you get better, you’ll occasionally find people don’t handle that very well. They’ll see you as an auto-win, and they might not respond in a positive way if you actually take the match from them.
Those people might even sometimes try and get you on a point of law. It’s easy to become flustered and try to combat this kind of thing by trying to emulate it.
Frankly, people like this are fairly rare in the Magic community, and they don’t last long. Be better than that. Improve. Learn your craft. Success is the best revenge. Most pro players on the tour haven’t been playing more than about 5 years.
Above all, resist the temptation to turn into someone you would hate to play against.