I am working on a multimedia presentation (a series of images with an audio of explanation; video can be used too but should be less than the images) about Magic The Gathering. The scope is to explain to an audience of new players, who don't know anything about the game, the basis about how to play a game; it should be a replacement for the MtG Basic Rulebook that shops giveaway during the Magic Celebration event.

I found that the Rulebook is structured in a way some concepts have to be explained more than once and in different parts of it (e.g. the stack is introduced under the "sorcery" section, partially explained under "the stack" section and further information can be found under "casting a spell"). I would love to be more clear and consistent in my work.

This is the structure I'm thinking about:

1.  The basics
    a.  What is MtG
    b.  Parts of a card
    c.  Tapping
    d.  Making mana
2.  Card types
    a.  Land
    b.  Creature
    c.  Sorcery
    d.  Instant
    e.  Enchantment
        i.  Aura
    f.  Artifact
        i.  Equipment
    g.  Planeswalker
3.  Game zones
    a.  Library
    b.  Hand
    c.  Battlefield
    d.  Graveyard
    e.  Exile
4.  Basic playing
    a.  The stack
    b.  How to cast a spell
    c.  Attacking and blocking

But I'm still not convinced: the stack is one of the most important concepts of the game, yet one of the most difficult to understand. It's required to understand how cards interact, thus it should be explained before the card types, but if done this way people learn about the stack without knowing what a card is. The same problem happens with the concept of tapping, which requires knowing what a card is but is one of the first things to say when taking about the mana, lands and attacking.

Is this a reasonable order, or is there possibly a better structure for the presentation? When should I present tapping, and the stack? And why? Please remember that the audience has never heard of MtG and thus knows nothing about it.

  • I would recommend checking the tutorials of the various Duels of the Plansewalkers games to help find a starting point. Obviously don't copy them directly (not only is it somebody else's work, but it's an incomplete picture, missing things like planeswalker cards and a strong explanation of the stack), but the DotP games are designed to get people into the card game, so they should be helpful for creating a presentation to do the same thing.
    – Brian S
    Sep 3, 2014 at 14:06
  • How long is your presentation? If it's 5 minutes, you might need a lot fewer sections.
    – corsiKa
    Sep 3, 2014 at 14:55
  • @corsiKa Since it's multimedia is can be as long as I need. The optimal range is between 15 and 20 minutes of presentation
    – Mangusto
    Sep 3, 2014 at 16:14
  • After a long discussion with another user, I think this question should be closed as primarily opinion-based. At best, it belongs on an an academic stack exchange where experts talk about the best ways to teach in general. At worst, it is begging for the opinions of other users to share the way they think your presentation should be organized. For what it's worth, this is how Mark Rosewater would do it.
    – Rainbolt
    Sep 3, 2014 at 17:15
  • 1
    I'm going to say this here because it got buried in the other discussion. In my opinion, this question perfectly matches the Good Subjective guidelines, and should therefore stay open.
    – murgatroid99
    Sep 3, 2014 at 19:11

1 Answer 1


Start simple, build their knowledge step by step and only introduce new concepts when they're comfortable with what's gone before. When I introduce a new player, I always start with the basics:

  • MtG is a card game using a deck of shuffled cards
  • The colours of magic and their themes (Red - destruction, blue - subversion, green - power etc)
  • The types of cards - creatures, instants, sorceries, artifacts
  • Life totals
  • How to win the game
  • Creature and spell damage
  • Phases of a round
  • The stack

With that information, a person can watch a game and more or less understand what's going on, without having to understand all the complexities. After watching a few games, most players can start to step through games at which point, they learn by making mistakes. :)

  • I like the order in which you would explain the game, which is just a little different from mine. Do you think that the colours and themes are relevant for new players? I mean, in their first games I think it's just going to be a creatures beat down, no matter which colour(s) they chose for their decks..
    – Mangusto
    Sep 3, 2014 at 16:21
  • @mangusto Colors and themes are important IMO. The very first thing I was taught is that I am a powerful mage casting spells from memory. Knowing that helped me understand the victory conditions, because knowing the "WHY" helps understand the "HOW".
    – Rainbolt
    Sep 3, 2014 at 16:31
  • 1
    @Rainbolt Quoting the Basic Rulebook: "White is the color of law, order, and structure. The sprawling Plains, populated by soldiers, clerics, and angels, provide white mana. You send coordinated armies of smaller creatures into battle to teach the enemy a lesson." I think this is a pointless explanation - maybe because it's not the may I learnt how to play the game - that does not increase the knowledge of the new player. Btw, I agree about telling that each player is a powerful mage.
    – Mangusto
    Sep 3, 2014 at 16:41
  • @Mangusto Understanding colors can be useful, but perhaps not the way they explained it. I agree that the explanation given in the comprehensive rules is too verbose for a five minute presentation, but it could be useful for an hour long presentation. White typically does have many smaller creatures. Blue typically evades or controls. This knowledge can help players recognize archetypes while drafting. Drafting is the stepping stone into competitive play and obtaining more cards.
    – Rainbolt
    Sep 3, 2014 at 16:52
  • Could you perhaps explain why you think this is a good idea? See blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective for more about what kinds of answers we're looking for.
    – Cascabel
    Sep 3, 2014 at 22:46

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