Teaching New MtG Players

A colleague told me that his kid was getting into Magic. Since I have a largish collection of draft chaff, I thought I might make the kid and his friend a couple of decks.

Well, we are teachers, so obviously I started to think about this from the point of view of teaching. However, here’s another problem: I can’t really control the process.

These aren’t complete beginners. They know something about gameplay. My colleague told me they had bought some beginner decks, which they had played against each other, but he described them as one product, so I’m not quite sure what that would be these days. Based on this, I decided to make these two a couple of 30 card decks, which are mostly creatures with some limited interaction.

My thinking here is that I want to make decks, which are easy to play, but where you have room to discover things. Here’s the first one:

1 Beloved Princess
1 Venerable Knight
1 Youthful Knight
3 Flutterfox
2 Henge Walker
1 Diamond Knight
1 Steadfast Sentry
1 Inspiring Captain
2 Ardenvale Paladin
2 Prized Griffin
2 Trapped in a Tower
1 Pacifism
11 Plains
1 Idyllic Grange

What’s to learn?

There are some synergies here. [card]Flutterfox[/card] has three Enchantments and three Artifacts to look at, although the latter are much more vulnerable. Also, [card]Venerable Knight[/card] requires another knight to be at it’s best, which also means that you have to pay attention to the types of the creatures in the deck.

Lifelink is not very strong. This might not be as clear to new players, especially young ones, but hopefully the addition of [card]Beloved Princess[/card] will teach them that much. Actually, I’m going to tell them that there’s at least one card in each deck, which should be replaced immediately.

The Adamant and [card]Diamond Knight[/card] are hopefully two more hints at the strength of good deck design.

There’s also a mix of white abilities: flying, first strike and vigilance. Not too much first strike, but just enough that they’ll hopefully remember to pay attention to it, so that they don’t get blown out by it.

The other deck is black-green.

1 Sedge Scorpion
1 Blood Burglar
1 Malevolent Noble
1 Tempting Witch
1 Lost Legion
3 Sporecap Spider
1 Fierce Witchstalker
1 Gravedigger
1 Wicked Guardian
1 Keeper of Fables
1 Rabid Bite
1 Reave Soul
1 Foreboding Fruit
2 Bake into Pie
1 Outmuscle
5 Forest
5 Swamp
2 Golgari Guildgate

This feels much more complicated. You have tokens, you have instants, you have sacrifice effects and you have a much harder time enabling the singular Adamant spell in the deck.

Still, there’s much here. There’s [card]Malevolent Noble[/card], which can eat both the multiple food available, but is also strong against the removal of the other deck (which leaves the creatures on the table).

[card]Reave Soul[/card] might be a bit too strong against it’s counterpart, because every creature falls to it, but there is the interesting decision on when to use it, as some of the creatures will grow beyond it.

Clearly, this deck has a lot more decisionmaking to it. Even sequencing your lands will matter from time to time. So, why? Well, obviously both players in a game will learn from each other, so if I have two decks, which are on somewhat different levels of complexity, the one with more experience can play the more complicated one and both will get something out of it.

I’m also giving them a bunch of commons and uncommons. I would apportion them, but that wouldn’t be practical, so I’m just asking my colleague to do that for me. I’ll try to divide them thematically, so that they’ll have chances to discover various things one at a time. Just giving them a bunch of adventure cards mixed with planeswalkers and sagas might not be a good idea, but introducing these concepts one at a time would work out much better.

Or I would do that, if I had the time. Now, what I did, was just go through a bunch of cards to take out something that would be completely unbalanced for this very small meta of two people. Anyhow, it would be an interesting exercise to do this. Arena does this a little bit.

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