I've played TCGs before, most notably Yu-Gi-Oh and Hearthstone (aka Magic Lite), and now I'm looking to get into MTG with a few friends that already started.

In the past I've always preferred something like the Shaman from Hearthstone, or spellcasters in Yu-Gi-Oh. Styles of either aggressive-tempo or control (as far as I understand them). However I typically dislike things like zoo or extreme stall (read: Hearthstone Priest).

Looking around and doing a bit of research I'm primarily interested in either a red/blue counter burn, red/blue tempo aggro, or black decks in general (roughly in that order).

My question is, given that background, where should I begin and is there a particular way I should try to buy cards? Buying singles is the most cost-effective way to make a specific deck but I'm not that focused yet -- so should I buy a fat pack? Booster box? Etc etc.

Thank you in advance for any suggestions and input!

  • I don't know how viable is it in your country, but here if you roughly know the theme you option, the auction sites are a great option. People often sell good thematic decks for a reasonable price, at least here. Or collections from a particular color. Boosters in any form aren't viable economically if your only interested in part of their content.
    – tsuma534
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 7:24
  • I found that in general, giving new players an idea about the facettes of Magic is very helpful for them to lay out their future plans of building a collection. Do you already know about formats, the rules, tournaments (if you're interested in them), ...? Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 9:10
  • Thank you for the information tsuma; I am interested in other colors and cards in general, just currently think what I mention above is going to be my focus. I have a slight inkling from what I saw when researching deck types the third man, but honestly don't know anything about the different formats or tournaments.
    – New Here
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 9:33
  • 2
    You may find these questions helpful: boardgames.stackexchange.com/a/11941/9958 and boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/30075/…
    – diego
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 13:06

2 Answers 2


Hi and welcome to MTG!

So, Magic is a game with many formats, similar to how Hearthstone has Standard and Wild modes. I'll list the most common ones for you:

Standard: Cards that were released within the last few "blocks". Right now this is every main set released until now since Battle for Zendikar, which came out October 2015. This format rotates cards out as they get older, kind of like Hearthstone's Standard.

Modern: Every card that's ever been legal in standard since the release of Eighth Edition, in 2003. Cards don't rotate out of this format, but if a card does bad things to the game, it can be banned from tournament play.

Legacy: Every card that's ever been printed, with some banned cards. Magic's been around since 1993, so that's 10 years worth of cards that aren't in Modern!

Vintage: Every card that's ever been printed, period. Nothing is banned in Vintage, although you are "restricted" on certain powerful cards. Normally you can play up to 4 of any given card in your deck, but restricted cards you can only have one in your deck.

These are the "core" formats, where you play with a typical 60+ card deck. Vintage and Legacy are almost certainly too expensive to recommend to a new player (competitive deck prices reach into the thousands), and even Modern is pretty pricey (competitive decks are minimum a couple of hundred dollars, and some are much more). Standard is not terribly expensive, but since cards "rotate" out of the format you won't get to keep playing the same deck forever.

If you want to start playing, these competitive formats aren't the easiest way. The simplest route is to buy starter decks and just jam a few games with your friends! It won't line up with the deck archetypes you listed, but you can move on to building those later, when you have more experience. In the most recent set released, Kaladesh, the starter decks are called "Planeswalker Decks". Buy one of each and start playing with a friend, just to get a better grip on the rules. If you want, you can also buy packs (from Kaladesh or from whatever set looks interesting to you) and add/replace cards of the appropriate colour to your decks, to customize them.

Once you've played for a little bit and have a good grasp on the rules, you can start buying singles to build a deck for whatever format you choose (as yes, that is far more efficient than cracking packs), or if you want to play at a game store/more competitively, you can start playing Limited. In Limited, you crack packs and then build a 40 card deck out of the cards you got and play against other people. It's much cheaper (at least in the short term) than any other competitive format, everyone's on an even playing field because you're all opening the same kind of pack, and it's a very interesting, different experience to playing with constructed decks!

I hope this was helpful and I hope you have fun!


Depending on how you want to play, there are a couple of ways to get started.

If you want to just play casually or with friends, I could recommend an older event deck: Wrath of the Mortals. The deck is no longer standard legal, but it's just below the powerlevel of a good standard deck. It has lots of spells and creatures that benefit from casting lots of spells. It's a semi-tuned deck, but it has enough going for it to give you a good variety of the archetype.

If you want to play standard or at sanctioned events at a game store, then I would look at some recent events. At Pro Tours, professional players display a variety of powerful decks, and often times there are controlling/tempo decks that would be good to look at. Since they are very public, these decks tend to be expensive, but they give you a good idea of what to look for. There is often video coverage as well, so you can see the decks in action.

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