Magic - Basic Rules
You are a wizard, or as you prefer to be called, a plainswalker. Your reign is the world of Dominia, but you are not alone; other plainswalkers lie in an eternal struggle with you for the complete power over this world full of wonders.
To fight the others you summon creatures to fight mighty battles for you; you invent artifacts to help those creatures, to heal damage or to do some nasty effect on your opponent; you cast spells to inflict direct damage to your opponent or to keep him from doing the same to you; you enchant the match to bend the rules.
This is a complex challenge and only the best plainswalker will finally survive.
Note: I will describe the rules as if you are playing against one opponent. The rules can easily be expanded to work for multiplayer games.
You and your opponent sit down. Each one of you has his own pile of Magic cards; this pile is called the deck. A deck contains at least 60 cards. There is no maximal number of cards, but you'll see later why most players play with 60-65 cards instead of putting all their cards together.
Every player has 20 life points. It doesn't matter how you keep track about them, you may just remember them, write them down, use dices to show them or use a number of stones to memorize them.
When the game starts, every player draws seven cards.
The players must draw one card per turn, starting from the very first turn. Each player can cast spells while it is his or her turn. Some spells can even be cast while it is the other player's turn.
The game has four areas:
At the end of each player's turn one must not have more than seven cards, so if one has more than that, he or she has to discard down to seven which means to put the cards face up onto your graveyard.
- The library, where you draw your cards
- The graveyard, where used spells and creatures that died go to. The cards in the graveyard lie face up and everybody has the right to look through any player's graveyard at any time
- Your play area, where your living creatures, artifacts and enchantments lie
- Your hand, where you keep the cards to use in the future
End of the game:
A game can be lost in the following ways:
- a player has 0 or less lifepoints
- a player can not draw (his/her library is empty)
- a player has ten or more poison counters (we'll see about that later)
What has a card to say?
A card has several things to say.
Starting in the top left corner we have the name of this card. It is used to uniquely identify that card but has no further meaning.
In the top right corner we find the casting cost of a spell. Lands do not have a casting cost. See extra section for details.
The most decorative element you'll find below: filling almost half the card is the artwork, a picture featuring this cards theme. Usually you should be able to see a connection between a card's title and it's picture, e.g. if the card is a creature the pict should usually show that creature. The picture has no playtechnical relevance.
The line below the picture is very important, it classifies the type of the spell. This is discussed in the nect section.
The text area in the lower half displays some text to explain the cards capabilities. Anyhow, there are some cards that do not need any special explanation. Instead of leaving that area blank it then usually features a flavour text, some text with no playtechnical relevance. It's only purpose is to enrich the games atmosphere by a neat comment to that card. You can identify flavour text as it is printed italicized.
The last line features the artist's name on the left and the creatures power and toughness on the right. If that card is not a creature this space is left blank.
Different card types
As said above the card type can be determined by the line below the picture. The different types are:
- Lands: A land is your source of energy; they make mana. These are the onyl cards without casting cost, but unlike all other cards you can only play one land per turn (to play a land you simly put it from your hand face up down on the table).
- Creatures: A creature is card whose type says something like "Summon xxx", where xxx is that creature's type. The other possibility is an artifact creature, we'll see later about that.
- Enchantment: An enchantment generates an effect working for or against something. Cards that just say "Enchantment" work globally, the effect produced by them affects all players although any special ability can only used by its controller (an example: "Conversion, a white enchantment, will affect the mountains of all players to become basic plains. "Circle of Protection: Black" on the other hand can only protect the controllers life as it needs an activation cost to use it. Activation costs can only be paid by the controller of that card [usually the owner of that card].).
Other enchantments only work locally, they enchant another card instead of the whole game. Those other types are: enchant land, enchant creature, enchant enchantment.
- Artifacts: these are "devices" to be used by any color. Artifacts are permanents like lands, creatures and enchantments. After you have successfully casted them you can use their special ability. This ability usually requires an activation cost and, most times, tapping.
Some artifacts are artifact creatures, which means they count as creatures as well as as artifacts.
- Sorcery: unlike lands, creatures and enchantments a sorcery only works once. You cast this spell (you pay the casting cost and put the card on the table), resolve it's effect (e.g. deal damage) and then you put the spell in your graveyard.
- Instant: Like sorceries instants are not reusable, but instants have one important advantage against sorceries: they can be played whenever you want, no matter if it is your turn or if you are within a combat.
For example you can react to an attacking opponent by using an instant to make your creatures stronger. A sorcery would not be alloowed to be played at such a time.
- Interrupt: These are the real fast ones! Just like instants interrupts can be played at every time, but they work faster! This means: if A plays an instant and B plays an interrupt, A can only use another interrupt to react, because an instant would resolve after B's interrupt did. Therefore an interrupt is the only way to counter a spell (to react to spell in a way as if it has never taken place).
You may have noticed that some cards have different bordercolors. Take a Magic card. Turn it around. There you can see the five different colors of Magic:
"But wait, not every card has one of these colors!" You are right, there are some exceptions:
- White, the pure and peaceful. Very protective, very defensive, and killing with a smile on your face. Of course even white can do something nasty like kiling your favourite creature, but at least you get some lifepoints for it.
- Blue, the magic from the deep sea. Lots of annoying spells, several counterspells and enchantments to steal other player's creatures or artifacts. Blue players are usually unpopular players, although most players have at least one blue deck.
- Black, the fouly pest from the swamps. Want to bring a creature from your graveyard (or even better, somebody else's graveyard) back into play? Don't care about sacrificing a creature just to get some lousy mana? Playing a creatures that "eats" its own friends? No problem, black can do all of this.
- Red, chaos and destruction. Fireballs, lightning bolts, burning everybody to pieces? Here you are, red offers you a broad variety of direct damage cards and neat things like "destroy all white permanents".
- Green, the force of nature. When you think it is easy to beat up someone from the woods, think again. Strong creatures and some ways to protect them against everything.
... which brings us to:
- Artifacts and lands don't have any color, they are called "colorless"
- Multicolored cards. Maybe you have seen some cards with a golden border. Those cards belong to more than one color. You have to look at the casting cost to identify to which colors they belong to.
As mentioned above you can determine a spell's casting cost (a spell is every card except lands and is only considered a spell until it is successfully cast that means unless it is not countered) by looking at the top right corner of a card.
Normal, colored cards have one or more strange symbols and often a number in a circle. The symbol alway represents mana from the card's color, which means a red card needs red mana to be cast.
The correct reading goes something like this:
- You start from the right and count the sysmbols. For example, if you see four little trees, this means you have to spend four green mana to cast the spell. If you have a golden bordered card there will be more than one symbol; so if you find two skulls and tree, you'll need two black mana and one green mana.
So where does all this colored mana come from? It comes from your lands, and it depends on what kind of land you have what kind of mana it produces.
Land Color of Mana Symbol Character Plains White Bright Sun W Island Blue Drop of water U Swamp Black Skull B Mountain Red Fireball R Forest Green Tree G
- To the left of these symbols most spells also have a number in a circle; this means that you have to pay additional mana of any color.
Note: Since the mana symbols are copyright by Wizards of the Coast, Inc., I am not allowed to display these symbols; instead I'll write down the characters shown in the table's last column.
If you see a casting cost of 3GG, you'll have to pay two green mana and three mana of any color for example: GGGGG, WRBGG, UUUGG, BGGGG. You can also use colorless mana (C) for this: CCCGG (some special lands make colorless mana).
- There are some spells that have an X in the casting cost. In these case you can choose how much you want to spend on the spell.
An example: Fireball is a red spell with a casting cost of XR and the following text:
Fireball deals X damage, divided evenly (round down) among any number of target creatures and/or players. Pay an additional 1 for each target beyond the first.
So, how do you use this one? Let's say you've paid six red mana for this spell (you have to pay all mana before casting the spell). You need one mana to activate the spell and now have five additional mana to deal some damage with. You could simply deal five damage to some player's life or to any creature. But the Fireball has a very special abbility: you can divide the damage between several targets! So you could also deal two damage to two different targets (let's say two damage to that nasty creature and another two to that creature's controller's life) or you could even hit three targets with one damage each. As you can see the Fireball gets a bit expensive if you want to hit a lot of targets.