Magic: The Gathering is a collectible card game patented by Richard Garfield in 1993 and developed by Wizards of the Coast (Hasbro). It is most often played between two players in a head-to-head dual. Many variants exist, including the popular multiplayer formats two-headed-giant and commander (a.k.a. Elder Dragon Highlander).
Typical Question Types
Questions at all skill levels are welcome here, from beginner to expert. As with all Stack Exchange sites you should ask practical, answerable questions and demonstrate some level of effort before asking. For up-to-date information, please see the FAQ.
Often the most interesting questions will involve the interaction between new cards and existing rules. As there are hundreds of new cards released each year, with a historical library of over 13,000 cards, the realm of possibilities grows steadily. The best questions will strive to be general enough that future readers will be able to apply the answer to new cards by understanding the strategy, while being specific enough to be useful to the original poster.
Finding the Official Game Rules
Magic: The Gathering rules, both basic and comprehensive, are maintained on the official Wizards of the Coast site. The basic rules cover most things necessary to begin playing. The comprehensive rules cover all mechanics of the game in depth. Tournament rules have been developed for more serious competitions. Comprehensive rules are usually referred to by section number, and will often be quoted as in the following example.
104.3j In a Commander game, a player that‘s been dealt 21 or more combat damage by the same commander over the course of the game loses the game. (This is a state-based action. See rule 704. Also see rule 903.14.)
I believe that you would indeed lose the game, per 104.3j.
Either format is acceptable, however you are encouraged to keep rule quotes as concise as possible as the rule text may be updated over time by Wizards of the Coast, but the section number is less likely to change.
Linking to Card Images and Text
Use the syntax
[mtg:Cardname] where Cardname is the official English name of the card. This syntax uses the public API released by WoTC to generate a link to the card on the official card database at gatherer.wizards.com. Example:
[mtg:The Cheese Stands Alone] becomes The Cheese Stands Alone. This feature has bugs, some of which have workarounds.
Questions to Avoid
Questions which lend themselves to "What is a good combo with _____?" or "How can I improve my deck?" tend to be either too short-lived (due to new sets being released) or too localized (unlikely to help anyone other than the asker).
Often these questions can still be asked, but should be worded in a more general manner, so that they stay relevant to future readers. For example, this example of a traditional "bad question"
How can I improve my red deck?
can be reworked to be much more specific as
I play a red aggressive style deck which has been losing to blue control style decks regularly. What strategy is used to counter control decks, and how can I incorporate that into my deck?
Since aggressive and control style decks are staples of the game they will likely continue to exist for quite a while. Discussing a strategy to undermine a particular style is relevant to future readers, and individual cards or combinations discussed can serve as examples for anyone attempting to solve the same type of problem. Often why a card is good to include is more important than what card should be included.
Deck Construction Questions
Within some guidelines, deck construction questions are welcome here. When asking your question please take a moment to evaluate how the question can be made interesting to a future reader. This discussion on the meta site attempts to give some framework to these somewhat open ended questions.
- try to be specific about a theme you are attempting to achieve (e.g. a wolf-swarm deck)
- groupings that can make the deck work (e.g. creature bonuses, mana ramping, etc.)
This allows people answering to avoid the 1 card per answer style answer, and suggest a group of cards that are strategically related towards the final deck "solution". Future readers may then pick and choose the particular elements they find most helpful and disregard the rest.
Other questions to avoid follow the guidelines in the FAQ. Open-ended discussions ("How do the story lines of the MTG novels intertwine with the flavour text of the cards), rampantly speculative questions ("What is upcoming in future set releases?") or unanswerably subjective topics ("Which colour is best?") are specific examples of questions that are likely to be closed as off topic.