What was the hardest thing for you to learn when you just started Magic?

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Posted on Aug. 22, 2017, 7:47 p.m. by SketchyScribbler

I'm making a how to play magic video/presentation and I'm trying to find a few points to make for newer players to understand.

So, what was the hardest thing for you to learn when you just started Magic: the Gathering?

SteelSentry says... #2

I mean, I still don't understand card advantage, and I've been playing for a while.

August 22, 2017 7:52 p.m.

SteelSentry says... #3

For things beginners need to know right away, the stack and priority are a little un-intuitive at first

August 22, 2017 7:54 p.m.

Qolorful says... #4

If you mean learning the rules then for me the hardest thing was definitely priority.

If you are teaching deck building then the idea of not putting all your eggs in one basket. Like, you have a strong combo but if you aren't ready to respond to someone's ability to outplay that specific card or combo then your deck won't do well anyway

August 22, 2017 8:02 p.m.

Atroxreaper says... #5

Phasing >.<

August 22, 2017 8:06 p.m.

Panas says... #6

combat math! _

August 22, 2017 8:19 p.m.

Homura_Akemi says... #7

That you could only have 4 copies of nonbasic lands lol. When I first started playing I thought I was so cool because I had 24 Dread Statuarys in my 60-card casual deck.

August 22, 2017 8:47 p.m.

maxon says... #8

I remember calling a judge at an FNM event to make sure I wasn't being swindled when a wrath killed everything, including a Blood Artist. It didn't make sense to me that the ability of Blood Artist could go off after it died. That was also the moment I realized how intricate everything really was in the game and made me even more excited to continue learning. For my girlfriend learning, making sense of a 1/3 blocking a 2/1 took some time. Just knowing when it's "safe" to block can be daunting I think for new players.

August 22, 2017 8:53 p.m.

Oloro_Magic says... #9

Well my first deck was storm so learning the stack and the instances when I could cast certain spells was the hardest. Basically, I made it hard for myself and I think new players need to know where to start in terms of deckbuilding options.

August 22, 2017 9:01 p.m.

brandontraps says... #10

Definitely the stack. It takes a bit to grasp and even after you think you got it you find little tricks that make you think you have no clue how it works lol

August 22, 2017 9:01 p.m.

The hardest thing for me getting into MTG was learning how to judge the value or power of a card. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that my friends, who had been playing for 5+ years before me, just had better cards, and that the handful of packs and a precon I had stood little chance against their incredible collections of cards.

August 22, 2017 9:03 p.m.

Qolorful says... #12

Ahh the classic, "but this card is soooo strong"

August 22, 2017 9:14 p.m.

ThyArtIsMagic says... #13

The stack for sure. I didn't even now it existed when i started.

August 22, 2017 9:17 p.m.

miampizza says... #14

Learning the Keywords and how they interact with the board, like Exalted and cards that generate tokens whenever they attack, or putting +1/+1 counters on Persist creatures. That kind of stuff.

August 22, 2017 9:53 p.m.

Lowenstein says... #15

Like a lot of people are saying, you don't really want to overload with information and complicated stuff like the stack or priority. I think that is definitely good for after they know how to play basically.

But new players definitely need to understand attacking, blocking, and fighting creatures, and if you should block/attack or not.

August 22, 2017 10:01 p.m.

kanokarob says... #16

I had the good fortune of having migrated from yugioh, so everything was pretty easy to pick up, either because it was similar enough to what I already understood, or it was a much simpler iteration of the same concept.

The Stack? Oh so its how Chains should have been.

Combat? Oh so it's less "point and click" than Battle Phase.

P/T? Oh so it looks at ATK and DEF during damage calc.

I suppose if I had to pick something that I had trouble with, it was understanding when to let something happen even if I could stop it. When I didn't need to Fog, what I didn't need to Counterspell, etc. But that's more a product of experience and skill than a part of the general game-learning process.

August 22, 2017 10:27 p.m.

I'm seeing a lot on combat phase and the stack here. This is good, I'll be able to work with this!

I'm in the process of writing the script as I type here, and will post the final product in this thread as well as a new thread later.

You guys have been a huge help, thank you!

August 22, 2017 10:55 p.m.

killroy726 says... #18

The first thing I ALWAYS say to anyone I'm teaching magic is the first rule is there are always exceptions to the rules. With as many interactions mtg can be a very complex game that takes time to learn and even longer to master.

August 22, 2017 11:09 p.m.

itachi45 says... #19

When it's best to retain priority, pass priority, and priority in general.

August 22, 2017 11:58 p.m.

Winterblast says... #20

As a bloody noob it was definitely judging a cards strength, not making emotional card choices because you like the artwork or whatever and end up playing only weak cards. Also damage on the stack took a while to learn...when I was good at using that feature they changed the rules, lol.

Another common mistake I can remember from the beginning is the confusion of lands and mana pool, that Dark Ritual doesn't fetch 3 swamps or whatever. Basically every invisible location in the game took a while to understand, especially because we didn't have internet available all the time and everywhere to look up rules and explanations and it depended much on how well one understood an English rulebook and could then explain the other kids. Different wording on older cards and the importance of oracle text (like when summon changed to creature and interrupts vanished) was also a problem back then...it could still confuse new players today.

Now I think it's hard to remember all they layers, although I know instinctively what is in a higher layer than another...up to layer 4 or 5 maybe, then I have to look it up over and over again. After 15+ years of playing the game. I only know by heart how the cards I play myself work with layers and time stamp, such as Humility and Mishra's Factory

August 23, 2017 3:43 a.m.

Tiertanas says... #21

I started with yugioh, so for me it was the differences between the stack, and chains.

August 23, 2017 6:39 a.m.

Tiertanas says... #22

For example, in yugioh you can respond to activations of cards being played and abilities being used, but once the chain is resolving you have to let it resolve before other things can be played, it got further complicated with "may" abilities, such as, if you have a creature that says "when it dies you may", and I cast murder, and you respond with a counter spell, and I in turn use a second murder in response, the chain would kill the creature in the middle of it, and need to finish resolving regardless of the effect since it's not mandatory, so your creatures effect "misses it's timing"It got even more confusing for me when you crack a fetch in response to something, then use your new mana to cast something. That's not possible in yugioh so it messed with me for the longest of times.

August 23, 2017 6:46 a.m.

guessling says... #23

New players definitely need to learn the stack ... eventually ... but I think it's better to start them within the current standard with a limited srt of keywords and drafting level interactions that are rarely supercombos and are fairly simple to explain.

At first there are colors, archetypes, keywords, turn phases, and card types to pin down.

After playing with packwars packs and promo starter decks to get the above basics , EDH (noncompetitive) can expand keywords and introduce multiplayer nuances. EDH (noncompetitive) is good for kids that inherit collections.

Only after this would I start introducing complex full supercombo legavy/modern stack dependent t4 clock competitive modern and legacy format decks and rules. The basics of the stack aren't even that complicated when dealing with a single instant removal effect and one activated ability of the removed card. It's when multiple multiple effects go off that it gets confusing. I wouldn't even go there until the interaction of 2 effects is clear (but I would get there in time).

I started CCGs with magic, strayed into Pokemon when that's what people around me played (finding it simplistic), glanced at Yugioh (it seemed solved), and currently I'm really getting sucked into Star Wars Destiny while still playing MTG.

The hardest thing for me to learn was the subtle EDH multiplayer politics.

August 23, 2017 7:25 a.m.

Qolorful says... #24

Well worded guessling. I'd like to add that the best place to start them is definitely standard. The fact that it is only the most recent sets allows for a level of simplicity and accessibility that can't be found in modern or edh. Even frontier could be possible though (m15 and on if you don't know). After some exposure to standard I think edh is the best, partly because it is an eternal format, and partly because it is the most fun in terms of card interaction and deck building. I find I always had an easier time building edh because i didn't need to deal with deciding how many copies of a particular card went into the deck.

August 23, 2017 7:36 a.m.

Winterblast says... #25

guessling it probably depends most on the age you start playing with. We have a new player in our regular EDH group who started playing magic with some sort of android version with limited card pool. He was directly taken to paper EDH from there and bought the new anthology and a HOU display...as far as I have understood it, he is quite excited that the chosen format allows much faster and powerful play than the computer card game he was learning with, even though he chose to go mono g until he has the manabase for more colours. I don't know if it's the age (we are all around 30) or if that game he played on the phone was already so good in teaching the rules but he understands the stack and even strategic gameplay in mostly competitive multiplayer games as if he had already played for years and he gets some basic understanding of a combo deck after seeing how it works.

I think it's important to teach that magic gameplay is logical and that you can make objectively good and bad moves in a given situation. There are players who never get that, even after many years...And that's more important than maybe having to ask for a keyword once in a while. You can always look up game mechanics like turn structure, abilities, combat rules and so on, but you can't look up decision making based on the information you collect from the cards on the table.

August 23, 2017 8 a.m.

pskinn01 says... #26

I heard someone teaching someone the stack, and moving the turn along.
He said imagine holding a pez dispenser, you can put something (spell or ability) in it.
Then you can keep holding it to put more things in it (holding priority) or pass it (passing priority).
The next playercan respond by putting something on top. And passes.
When a player gets the dispenser back with their own piece on top it gets eaten (resolves),
then they may put more in and continue to pass it around.
When the current player gets the pez dispenser back empty(meaning every player passes on an empty stack) the game moves to the next step or phase.

He said in most games this is done by taking short cuts. Cause most people dont just sit around and go i pass priority in games. They use short cuts like, Im going into combat to denote they are trying to leave precombat main phase. But it seemed to help the person understand better, so thought i would share it.

August 23, 2017 8:27 a.m.

DaftVader says... #27

Once you know about the stack, and what the keywords are, the rest is just reading each card - so I'd prioritize those two areas.

August 23, 2017 9:52 a.m.

Podma101 says... #28

Along with everyone else, the Stack and Priority is the hardest thing for new players, along with how cards interact with the stack (what kinds of cards can be played when, when is the right time to respond, ordering triggers in the correct order, etc)

pskinn01 that is perhaps the best description ever. I'm going to go buy a pez dispenser and different colored pez to teach my girlfriend, cause her and the stack don't get along very well

August 23, 2017 9:53 a.m.

Rzepkanut says... #29

Yes! I agree with Winterblast, Magic computer software is the best way to learn nowadays. When I learned (way back in 1994) we used that insanly complicated rule book that came in starter decks to figure it out. It didn't work very well. My buddy and I had a Revised starter and a bunch of Fallen Empires packs and we tried to learn all on our own. We were 12 or 13 years old and nobody helped us at first. I thought the mana pool grew every turn (like with Upwelling in play) and so our decks had almost no land in it. Later after we had truly learned the game I taught my dad. I remember he couldn't understand why having 2 Zuran Orbs in play didn't give him 4 life per land. Actually that argument led to him quitting the game. Fast forward to today. I got a magic online account less than a year ago (finally) and my understanding of the stack and priority has advanced from it even after having been a magic player for almost the entire existence of the game.

August 23, 2017 10:24 a.m.

I got my brothers into magic before I ever started playing at FNMs or anything, so once I finally learned how the game works (stack, priority) and tried to explain to them that things didn't work the way we had been playing before for a number of years (no, you can't play instants in response to my land drop, you can't tap down my attacker after he attacks, etc.), they didn't like it and now no longer actively play. I'm sure that other people have experienced the same thing and ultimately left the game. The best idea I can figure is to make sure that the random do-nothing insert cards in booster packs have a link to the official rules rather than just to the generic wizards website or at the very least a more noticeable statement on the card that says that the rules are on the website. I remember having the wizards phone number I'd call when I wanted a ruling on something ("does a X/1 stop the damage from a creature with flanking since it becomes a X/0 and dies when it blocks?" was a big one I remember. Yes it does).

August 23, 2017 10:45 a.m.

DarkLaw says... #31

Being yet another guy who came from Yugioh, I'd say that my biggest difficulty came from trying to understand what the heck mana costs were about. I found it so difficult to judge based on mana cost. Should I play many small creatures in one turn or one big one? Should I mull a hand with 5 lands, a cheap blocker, and an expensive game-winner? Combat (and damage in general) was also a bit of a kicker.

August 23, 2017 1:05 p.m.

TheDevicer says... #32

My very first difficulty was with learning summoning sickness was a thing. I remember that clearly. The next bit I recall struggling with was the absurdly challenging task of building good decks. I remember just staring at my Simic collection for about 30min with my cards are spread out and not really getting what made certain cards better than others and what the curve should look like.

August 23, 2017 2 p.m.

landofMordor says... #33

I think "judging the relative power of cards" is key, as well as "learning when even a card as powerful as Goyf is a worse play than Storm Crow". I kid, but you get the point: Storm Crow is a better play when they have a Serene Master, even though Goyf is powerful in a vacuum.

August 23, 2017 6:30 p.m.

Redace878 says... #34

I think remembering "Untap, Upkeep, Draw" is pretty important, as well as how mana/the mana pool worked.

August 23, 2017 8:19 p.m.

Sulk says... #35

Multi block is an important rule. Easy to learn when you start, but hard to learn you have have played a long time. The legendary creature rule came as a shock to me. How sorceries can only be cast in your main phase. Above all, how instants and mana abilities can be used in response. Also, tell them how combat is declear attacks,declear blocks, a phase for tricks, then damage.

These were just somethings that I was never tort and had to learn the hard way.

August 24, 2017 5:45 a.m.

Sulk there's not actually a step dedicated to combat tricks. The way it works is, at the beginning of the Declare Blockers step, the defending player(s) declare their blockers, then there's a round of priority, followed by the damage step. Almost all combat tricks take place during the Declare Blockers step, after blockers have been declared.

This is a minor distinction, but it is worth noting.

August 24, 2017 2:17 p.m.

Sulk says... #37

Guess your right, it's just useful in games with people who don't know much magic so you don't have to explain the stack, spells resolving and the like. Guess its just me though... Thanks for telling me.

August 24, 2017 2:36 p.m.

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