Cheat sheets for new players



  • I'm taking my 9 year old and 15 year old to the Innistrad pre-release on Saturday. Neither has ever played MtG before but both have gotten a crash course the past few days. They have no delusions of winning anything but think it would be a great blast. Since my wife and 12 year old will be out of town I can either take them with me or skip the tournament. Guess we all win. :)

    At any rate, I'm planning on printing out the following cheat sheet for them to use. The purpose is to remind them of the basics. Not teach strategy. Just walk them thru a game well enough that they dont have a judge called over every 2 seconds. Just wondering if there is anything here others would take out or anything else they would add in:

    Phases of a turn

    1. Untap – active player untaps all permanents in play. No other actions may be taken’
    2. Upkeep – Check all permanents in play to see if any have upkeep abilities
      Both players get the opportunity to play instants or activate abilities
    3. Draw step – Active player draws a card. Both players get opportunity to play instants or activate abilities
    4. Main Phase 1 – Active player may put 1 land into play, play instants, sorceries, or play any permanent (creature, artifact, enchantment, planeswalker). Inactive player may play instants in response to active players actions
    5. Combat:
      a) Declare attackers
      b) Declare blockers
      c) Deal damage
      Both players may play instants or activate abilities in between each step.
    6. Main Phase 2 – See main phase 1. Note if a land was played in Main phase 1, another may not be played
    7. End phase – Check all permanents or delayed abilities for ‘end of turn’ triggers. Each player may play instants or activate abilities. When all else is done, discard down to 7 cards.

    Playing spells/Activating abilities

    1. Must have priority – active player has priority. Inactive player only gets priority when active passes.
    2. Determine costs
    3. Pay costs
    4. Put spell/ability on stack. Ability does not leave stack and have its affect until both player pass priority
    5. Spell resolves meaning you do whatever the card text says.
      Common Terms:
    6. Discard – put a card from your hand into the graveyard.
    7. Sacrifice – put a permanent from the battlefield into your graveyard
    8. Permanent – An enchantment, creature, planeswalker or artifact that is in the battlefield.
    9. Spell – A card that is on the stack waiting for its affects to happen
    10. Card – any ‘card’ in the library, hand or graveyard zones
    11. Spell/ability cost – the resources needed to pay for a spell or ability. For a spell it is the symbols in the upper right hand corner. For an ability it is everything before a : in the card text
    12. LIFO – Last In, First Out – spells resolve from the stack in the opposite order they were placed there.

    Game Zones:

    1. Library – a face down stack of cards that you draw new cards from.
    2. Hand – cards that are visible only to you. These are the cards you have to play with at any given time
    3. Battlefield – Where cards become permanents for repeated or continual use
    4. Graveyard – Where cards when they are discarded, sacrificed or leave the stack
    5. Stack – Where a spell or ability is after its cast/activated, but before it resolves and has an effect on the game.


  • I would add -- When in doubt, call a judge.



  • @The-Atog-Lord said:

    I would add -- When in doubt, call a judge.

    Excellent call. Probably worth it to tell the judges who will be there that we have 2 new, young players.



  • I would also explain the ins and outs of Madness to them. It's not as simple as it looks. My wife is a solid player, but she infuriated some of her opponents at the Fate Reforged pre-release asking judges/bystanders rules questions about Manifest.



  • @Khahan said:

    @The-Atog-Lord said:

    I would add -- When in doubt, call a judge.

    Excellent call. Probably worth it to tell the judges who will be there that we have 2 new, young players.

    I always appreciate knowing someone is a new player so that I take the time to make more robust announcements than usual and be nearby to answer questions.



  • It went great. My 9 year old got one of the sickest card pools for a sealed tournament that I've ever seen. It included thing in the ice, jace, westvale abbey, invocation of saint traft, liliana's indignation (absolute allstar in sealed) and her support cards were pretty solid, too. I basically had 50 mins to build 3 decks so I built mine and while doing that told the kids to figure out what colors they wanted to play by whatever criteria they wanted to use. Then I went and built their decks based on their color choices.

    My 9 year old's card pool in the hands of even a semi-experienced player would have been a 4-0. But she went 0-4 (0-2 each round). I watched a few games out of the corner of my eye (arranged it so they sat on either side of me all day) and there were a few should definitely should have won but she just would miss plays constantly because well, she learned the game the night before. My 15 year old actually won a round. She was really psyched about that. Technically she went 1-2-1 on the day but her tie she conceded to her opponent since she was felt unlikely to get enough wins and the guy was a really good sport. Both girls' opponents all day long helped them with play, gave advice etc. A few even kind of played a few of their turns for them suggesting they take an action back and try a different action. None of them took advantage of their green opponents. It was a great experience and I offer huge props and thanks to all the players at Deal Me In Games.


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