So I normally do a lot of top fives at the end of the year in bigger categories, but I wanted to break it down for a few specific categories within board games so you can see what I really enjoy in the various genres […]
Tag: Magic: The Gathering
Deck-building games are showing up a whole lot more on Kickstarter these days, and are becoming a more popular style of game. The best-known game of this type is Dominion, in which you build up a deck of cards to gain victory points. A lot of these games have similar mechanics to them. You have a system that allows you to buy more cards, play cards, and build your deck while trying to gain victory points one way or another. There are two main different types of deck-building games beyond this. There are games in which you build your deck as you go, and there are games where your deck is pre-built, either built for you or by you.
Since You Are Using a Deck, Does it Play the Same Every Time?
No, it really doesn’t. With some games, like Dominion, you often play with different sets of cards, and each card has different abilities. With the Legendary and Teen Titans deck-building games, you play with certain groups of heroes and villains, so the cards come up differently and are generally randomized as well. And with games where you build your own deck, such as Magic the Gathering or Netrunner, they are coming out with new cards regularly, so once you’ve played with some cards for a while, you get new cards to play with. The downside to this is that every time you want to change up and get some new cards, you have to shell out more money. So any of these games can end up being expensive.
How Much Variety is There Between Deck Building Games?
While they aren’t completely you’ve-seen-one-you’ve-seen-them-all, a number of the games do play pretty similarly. The Teen Titans deck-building game is a simplified, more streamlined version of the Legendary game from Marvel. And Dominion doesn’t fall that much out of line with the rest of them. Magic the Gathering seems like it has limited options, if you look at the competitive players, as there are certain decks that will always be stronger than others, but if you play casually, you have a plethora of cards to chose from and can really flavor the game to your own playing style. That has to be a choice made by all the players whom you are playing with, however, because otherwise, someone can just run away with it.
Which Deck-Building Games Would You Recommend?
I can’t speak to Netrunner, but it is a very popular game that holds tournaments. The nice thing about Netrunner is that it is cheaper to get into than Magic the Gathering, as they don’t make cards rarer than other cards, so no cards have a premium price mark-up. But Magic the Gathering is a great deck-building game to get into for several reasons, the first being that you can really tailor it to how you want to play. A while back, Sam wrote an overview article on the different colors of Magic decks and how they play by themselves. Each of them give you viable routes to win, and each of them have some things they aren’t as good at. So by combining colors and figuring out what aspect of the game you really like, you can build up very interesting decks and do so cheaply. The important thing about keeping Magic the Gathering as a cheaper hobby is to play it casually, because once you start playing seriously, it can drain your wallet fast.
The Teen Titans deck-building game is another I would really recommend. It plays a lot like a comic book, and it keeps it simple. There is a feel to it (more so than Legendary) of that comic book story as you are playing, which is what you want when dealing with superheroes. It also seems to play faster than the Legendary game, which is nice, as Legendary can really stretch out if you get stuck in a bad spot. An upside that Teen Titans has is that you are playing cooperatively, as with Legendary, and the players try to defeat the villain together, so that is a nice aspect.
Dominion is the real classic of the deck-building games, though. With all of the expansions, you have the ability to never repeat a combination of cards. It plays quickly, the rules and interactions are simple, and it is a lot of fun to play.
But one fun and random game that should not be overlooked is Red Dragon Inn. The best way to describe it is that you are a bunch of D&D-esque adventurers who are between quests. You go into the tavern and decide to gamble and drink the night away with the treasure that you had gotten on your last quest. All of the different characters you can play are absurd, and it is made even more fun if you, in real life, have a drink in your hand and are doing voices for the character that you are playing. The premise is also absurd; you are trying to keep from getting so drunk or having your fortitude drop so much that you eventually fall asleep on the table — because the last one awake is probably going to get all the money from gambling.
What is a deck-building game I’ve missed that you really like?
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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to our very first Guest Post Wednesday! We’re proud to present a fantastic article on the color designations in Magic: The Gathering, by Sam Nelson. Sam is a good friend with whom we very much enjoy gaming and nerding out, and who […]
Magic: The Gathering 101
Magic: The Gathering is another big game that can be confusing to get into. As compared to Dungeons & Dragons, which is actually much lighter on rules than you would think, Magic: The Gathering has been around for a long time, and all of the cards that have been created for the game can still be used.
Magic: The Gathering is a deck-building game in which players can choose from many different styles of decks. The makers of the game have been printing cards for many years, and they print new sets of cards three times a year. The players can build decks using these cards, which they then use to play against another player’s deck. The first player to get their opponent down to zero life points from a starting total of twenty wins the game. Players lower their opponents’ life points with cards they play from their hand, drawn from their own decks. These decks are generally made up of sixty cards of different types.
There are several different kinds of sixty-card decks: vintage, which use old cards; modern, which use somewhat more recently created cards; and standard, which use cards from the latest sets. What most people start out with, though, is the casual deck style. A casual deck is also made up of sixty cards, but there aren’t as many restrictions on the cards that you can use. This allows people to play with whatever Magic cards they happen to have as they start to figure out the game, even if their collection is a mix of different styles.
This is one of the seven different types of cards.
In the top left is the name. The top right shows how much mana (the currency of the game) you have to pay to play this creature. In this case, the Storm Crow costs one mana of any color (or no color), identified by the number 1 in the grey circle, and one blue mana, shown by the one blue circle at the top of the card. Below the image is the type of card — in this case, creature — and after that is the type of creature, which is Bird, in this case.
Below that is the card text, which will show and explain what abilities the creature has, which for the Storm Crow is flying. The text beneath that, in italics, is known as the flavor text. This text has no real reason to be on the card beyond adding detail to the story that Wizards of the Coast has created for the game. And finally, on the bottom right there are two numbers. The number on the left is the power (attack) number, so the Storm Crow can do a single point of damage to a creature of another player. The number on the right is the Storm Crow’s toughness (defense) — a toughness of two means that if a Storm Crow takes two or more points of damage on a single turn, it dies and is removed from the battlefield and put into the pile of cards known as the graveyard.
Land cards are much simpler; they cost nothing to play, but you can only play one per turn. Land cards can be tapped (turned sideways to indicate that they’ve been used during the current turn) to produce mana, and must already be in play before they can be used for this purpose. This mana can then be used to cast a spell, such as Storm Crow. The swamp shown above could be tapped for one mana to then pay the one mana of any color needed to play the Storm Crow, along with an Island land card that’s needed to get a blue-colored mana to play the Storm Crow. Mana is used to cast any card, but the number and type needed is different, and is represented by the grey and colored circles at the top of each card.
The other other types of cards to go along with creatures and lands are sorcery, instant, artifact, enchantment, and planeswalker. All of these are cast the same way that a creature is cast, and will also show the cost to play the card in the upper right-hand corner. They will also all have text that explains what the card does and how to play it. Instant cards can be played at any point in the game, but the rest of the cards will generally be played on your turn, unless the card specifically says otherwise.
That’s a brief overview of Magic: The Gathering — as you can see, there are many different cards with many different abilities and ways to play them. That’s half the fun of playing Magic — you can build a deck that no one has built before and play it for fun.
Next time on Magic: The Gathering: What are the different colors about?