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Getting back into Magic: The Gathering after a loooong hiatus

krunchyfrogg

Explorer
I last played during Ice Age. I just found out today there are no interrupts anymore.

Anyway, my D&D group wants to play M:tG when prepping for games (we have a player who is crucial to the story but is often late because of work).

Here's the caveat: I don't have a lot of money to spend. What kind of current deck can I make that's decent filled with cheap commons and uncommons?

Keep in mind that I don't know the new cards.

Thank you.
 
I have recently returned to M:TG myself as well!

I played from 1996 to 2000 (roughly from Alliances to Apocalypse, but the bulk of our cards back then consisted of the Ice Age, Mirage, and Tempest blocks), and last October a friend convinced a group of us to try the waters once more for a single afternoon (we used my old card collection, which nostalgia had impeded me from selling). Now there's 14 of us avidly playing again and organizing regular mini-tournaments at a friend's restaurant. It was like giving free samples of liquor at an AA meeting.

The changes to the game surprised many of us; some are explicit in the cards, while others have more to do with the new design philosophies. Here's a quick summary of the main changes the game has undergone (besides two designs changes to the cards themselves) from the 90's that I can remember:

-There's no more mana burn. If you overgenerate mana, it just goes away at the end of the turn.

-The mulligan is now a basic rule of the game (there's even a few cards that mess with mulligans themselves). You can redraw your hand as many times as you want, but with one less card each time (down to zero. I've read some decks that actually make it reasonable to mulligan down to 2 cards to make some strategies work).

-Legendaries are now only player-restricted, so if I play a Tobias Andrion and then you play another, both remain in game. If I play a second one, my previous one is destroyed.

-All creatures now follow a "Race-Class" subtype structure, so the old "Summon Creature" we were used to has given way to stuff like "Creature - Human Warrior" and "Creature - Legendary Naga Wizard Zombie Space Banana". This was followed by "The Great Update", in which older creatures without the new format were revised, so that old copy of Folk of An-Hava is now legally classified as "Creature - Human". This became important with the surge of "tribal mechanics" in the past decade (decks built around the idea of empowering specific types of creatures).

-Damage to multiple creatures blocking a single attacker is now assigned by the active player (ie, the attacker), instead of the other way around.

-A lot of mechanics that previously existed as specific cases have been standardized into keywords. For example, "Creatures damaged by this creature are destroyed", a long-standing staple of Black, is now simply called "Deathtouch", while things like walls changed the "This creature cannot attack" to "Defender".

-Due to changes in design philosophy, some traditional strategies have either become more expensive to play or have fewer options. Chiefly among them are counterspells, discard mechanics, land destruction, and creature removal. For example, while the old Counterspell had a cost of UU, it stopped being reprinted in 8th and now there are either cheaper but specific counterspells, or more expensive general counterspell (the equivalent to the old Counterspell card now costs UU1).

-The game has become significantly more creature-based. I read somewhere that Wizards felt creatures were at a disadvantage in previous edition when compared to instants/sorceries, so they've made the latter more expensive/with more drawbacks when it comes to handling creatures, while considerably bumping the power of the former, to the point that newer creatures outclass almost every similar equivalent from the past.

-Enchantments now have a subtype called "Aura". This word now sums up all the various "Enchant Creature", "Enchant Land", etc.

-There is now a fourth rarity class above Rare, called "Mythic" (the icon is orange). I think it's like 1 Mythic every 10 boosters or so.

-"Expeditions" are extremely rare non-basic lands that get printed from time to time and can show up randomly in any booster, regardless of the set. These are always foil and can fetch prices well above 100 USD. I've heard they show up every 200 boosters, but I'm not sure if this is true.

-Speaking of non-basic lands, they are now ubiquitous, mainly because the game has greatly expanded on the multicoloured realm.

-In that line, colour combinations that used to be taboo are now highly supported. For instance, the Khans of Tarkir set from last year was all about "wedge decks", that's it, decks with two sister colours plus one enemy colour (such as Green-White-Black or Black-Blue-Green).

-Planewalkers were introduced as a new type of permanent. They are extremely powerful cards that have a "Loyalty Counter", which acts as both their individual life total (down to zero and they are destroyed) and a resource you can spend to activate their powers. They usually have 3 powers, some of which increase their loyalty and others which decrease it, often with an "ultimate" superpower that more or less can end a game when played properly. They are not considered creatures, and thus cannot attack or block, but opponents can use their creatures to attack either you or a planewalker you control. Each point of damage removes a loyalty counter.

-The Formats have expanded and got renamed, such as Type 1 now being "Vintage" and Type 2 being "Standard". "Modern" is a new format that allows cards only from 8th Edition forward, while "Commander" (formally EDH, a format where you play a Singleton 100 deck with a legend that works as a commander and has special abilities) has become so popular Wizards even sells pre-made decks for it. M:TG Online made some other formats popular that have now expanded into the physical game, most notably "Pauper", which only allows common cards.

-Cubes have become a very popular way of playing casual M:TG. A cube is basically a custom set of cards you put together and then use as a pool of cards to create random boosters, thus allowing you to play draft with it. The main advantage is that they allow you to create both a fair playing field (as everyone gets to draw randomly from the same pool) and it lets you determine beforehand the style of decks available (for instance, you could make an Urza's Saga cube to play like it was in those days, or a cube that has no flying creatures in it).


Those are the main changes I can remember, but I'm sure I'm missing a lot of stuff.
 
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Here's the caveat: I don't have a lot of money to spend. What kind of current deck can I make that's decent filled with cheap commons and uncommons?

Keep in mind that I don't know the new cards.

Thank you.
Regarding your question, I'd totally reccommend trying a Pauper deck; they are both very cheap to make (as they only allow common cards), and have really interesting strategies available to them. TappedOut has a lot of already designed decks for this format (and for any format, really, should you prefer to play something else), which you can find here: http://tappedout.net/mtg-deck-builder/pauper/

A thing to consider if you are planning on playing again is how cards are being sold. If you want a quick plunge into the newer sets, I'd strongly advice getting a Deckbuilder's Toolkit, which include a sizeable number of fixed, semi-random, and random cards (the fixed cards are always the same, while the semi-random tend to vary little from toolkit to toolkit), plus some lands. It's specifically designed to grant you a broad spectrum of deck building strategies, and are very cheap considering what they provide (getting more than one is less cost-effective, though).

Boosters are less random than what they used to be, mainly because they are now designed to be used in Draft format. As a result, a single booster can often support several different decks, but because of this they are very unreliable for getting cards for a specific deck. In this case, if you are aiming to build a specific deck, it might be more cost-effective to purchase cards individually (places like CardKingdom have become truly massive card dealers these days).

Finally, I would advice skipping the themed products such as Duel Decks, Event Decks, and the like. Though they are great if you just want a quick deck to play (Duel Decks include 2 pre-constructed decks designed to be effective against one another), if you like to build your own stuff they are often not very effective.

Hope it helps!
 
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ccs

39th lv DM
Personally I'd invest in 1 box of whatever the newest set is (at the cheapest price you can find) + about 20 of each basic land.
Then I'd build decks out of that.
Will those be the greatest decks ever? No, though depending upon how well you construct decks & play they'll still win you some games. You'll have a variety AND you might get some stuff useful for later trade/sale.
3-6 months later? Repeat the process.

In the meantime browse through the card lists on Wizards of the Coasts site. Then make a shopping list of singles.
 

krunchyfrogg

Explorer
Thanks guys! I really appreciate the help!

Cristian: I browsed that site, and they have a section for budget decks too.

Some people in the comments sections were talking about how they bought their decks for $10 shipped or something. Where can you buy these cards online at their listed values?
 

krunchyfrogg

Explorer
Is there a place that sells these deck builder tool kits the cheapest?

I'm just browsing at Target (Star Wars blu ray - yay!) and a Magic Origins deck builders toolkit is $41.99. Is that decent?

They also have Fate Reforged, Magic Origins, Oath of the Gatewatch, and Khans of Tarkir intro packs, all with different names, for $15.99.

Also, what's the newest set?

I hate being an askhole, but I'm totally lost here. I don't have a ton of cash to be splurging on a game and want my money's worth!

Thanks!!!
 

ccs

39th lv DM
Is there a place that sells these deck builder tool kits the cheapest?

I'm just browsing at Target (Star Wars blu ray - yay!) and a Magic Origins deck builders toolkit is $41.99. Is that decent?
I think the newest set is Inisrahd-something-or-other. Came out last Friday or maybe it's coming this week. I know the local shop had some sort of pre-release or launch event this past Friday (they were open at midnight & that only happens when a new MTG set hits).
Just Google searching Magic set release dates should work.

That Origin tool kit?
Looks good enough selection wise to get you playing. But not at that price. Check Amazon. I bet you could get several tool kits for that $.

Other sites to buy cards from:
Troll & Toad
Coolstuffinc.
Star City Games
No idea how thier prices are nowdays....
 

Jhaelen

Villager
I don't have a ton of cash to be splurging on a game and want my money's worth!
... then you shold make a wide bow around MtG (or any other CCG). You'd get way better value buying into any of FFG's LCGs (e.g. Android: Netrunner), or games like Summoner Wars.
 

ccs

39th lv DM
... then you shold make a wide bow around MtG (or any other CCG). You'd get way better value buying into any of FFG's LCGs (e.g. Android: Netrunner), or games like Summoner Wars.
This is poor advice.
Because you do NOT have to spend crazy amounts to just play some casual MTG games while killing time waiting on a friend. Nor do you need to worry about keeping current based on the tourney scene.
 

Jhaelen

Villager
This is poor advice.
Because you do NOT have to spend crazy amounts to just play some casual MTG games while killing time waiting on a friend. Nor do you need to worry about keeping current based on the tourney scene.
Edit: Ops, misread.

Actually, that's another point _against_ playing MtG. If you don't have to worry about keeping up with a tournament scene, you can choose the best game of its kind, rather than the one that's the most widely played.

Imho, the only valid reason to play MtG over any other deck-construction game is that it can sometimes be difficult to find other players.
 
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ProphetSword

Villager
-Damage to multiple creatures blocking a single attacker is now assigned by the active player (ie, the attacker), instead of the other way around.
Been playing since Alpha. Pretty certain it has always been this way, unless one of the blockers has banding, which gives the defending player the ability to allocate where the damage goes.
 

Dire Bare

Adventurer
Well, according to statistics, vanilla is the most popular ice cream flavor.
I guess, that's my last comment about that.
Step off man! Vanilla rocks! A good vanilla bean ice cream sounds awesome while playing the world's leading card game! :)

You know what irritates me? Hipsters who like to claim things like, "Oh, that thing, you know it's no good because it's popular and lots of people really like it. You should play something more obscure, totes better!"
 

Dire Bare

Adventurer
-"Expeditions" are extremely rare non-basic lands that get printed from time to time and can show up randomly in any booster, regardless of the set. These are always foil and can fetch prices well above 100 USD. I've heard they show up every 200 boosters, but I'm not sure if this is true.
Almost. "Zendikar Expeditions" was a set within sets from the last block, Zendikar. They were "mythically" rare lands with a special "Zendikar" border that you could find in the "Battle for Zendikar" and "Oath of the Gatewatch" sets (basically 20 released for each set, 40 total).

To my knowledge, previous sets did not have "Expedition" lands, and the current set, "Shadows over Innistrad" also does not have any of these special lands.
 

Dire Bare

Adventurer
Is there a place that sells these deck builder tool kits the cheapest?

I'm just browsing at Target (Star Wars blu ray - yay!) and a Magic Origins deck builders toolkit is $41.99. Is that decent?

They also have Fate Reforged, Magic Origins, Oath of the Gatewatch, and Khans of Tarkir intro packs, all with different names, for $15.99.

Also, what's the newest set?

I hate being an askhole, but I'm totally lost here. I don't have a ton of cash to be splurging on a game and want my money's worth!

Thanks!!!
"Fat Packs" retail around $42 dollars, and consist of 9 boosters, a 20-sided die ("spindown" life counter), a chunk of basic lands, a booklet showcasing all the cards in the relevant set, and a rather nice and sturdy box for your cards.

"Deck Builder Tool Kits" retail at $20 (I think), but can often be found for less. They consist of 100 basic lands, 125 semi-randomized cards, four boosters, a guide to deck-building, and a box (not as nice as the fat pack box).

The "intro decks" include a pre-built 60 card deck, and two boosters, and retail at $15.99.

The most recent set just released like a week or so, "Shadows over Innistrad". Both a fat pack and a deck-builders tool kit have been released for this set and are in stores now. There are five different intro decks for this set, plus a "duel deck" ("Blessed vs Cursed") that isn't officially a part of this set, but is closely themed to it (it basically works as a preview to the set).

If you want to build a new base of common cards, picking up boosters, fat packs, and deck-builders tool kits is a great idea to quickly and cheaply build your collection. If you want some pre-built decks to get you started, all of the intro and duel decks are great also.

If you really get into looking for specific cards to fine-tune your deck ideas, then purchasing singles is more efficient than purchasing boosters or decks, although nothing beats the rush of ripping open a new booster to see what you've pulled!

EDIT: When looking for specific cards, research to see if they show up in an intro deck, duel deck, or other pre-constructed set before purchasing singles. You can sometimes purchase an entire deck for the same price or less than the card goes for as a single.

If you are a collector (which it sounds like you aren't), or just like alternate art promo cards, the duel decks and intro decks have them (usually one per deck). The deckbuilder's tool kits come with a handful of cards you can't get in boosters, usually reprints of cards from older sets.

Consider finding a local game store, and playing "Friday Night Magic". A great casual environment, earn promo cards, and meet new Magic geeks!
 
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Dire Bare

Adventurer
This is poor advice.
Yes, it is indeed.

Because you do NOT have to spend crazy amounts to just play some casual MTG games while killing time waiting on a friend. Nor do you need to worry about keeping current based on the tourney scene.
Even if you get into competitive Magic, the tournament scene, you don't have to spend an arm & a leg, although you probably will spend more than the casual player. Just set yourself a monthly Magic budget, and target specific cards and keep an eye out for bargains. Avoid the cards priced ridiculously high.

I'll never make the Pro-Tour, heh, but I do okay in my local tournament scene. I rarely pay more than $5-8 for a card and I don't spend more than $50 a month, if even that much. Singles and boosters included.
 

SolitonMan

Explorer
When I dip back into Magic (every five years or so I get into it for a block, it seems) I find it easy to get cheap cards on Ebay. You can usually find people willing to sell complete play sets (4 of each card) of the commons and uncommons for reasonable prices.
 

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