Friday, September 23, 2011


There are various formats for playing magic the gathering.
The ones that are used on official tournaments are divided in two categories: Constructed and Limited


In Constructed we have six different formats: Vintage, Legacy, Modern, Extended, Standard and Block Constructed.

All of this shares the four-of-a-kind rule (you can only have a maximum of four copies of the same card in one deck, except basic lands that you can any number of them) and the minimum of sixty cards per deck.

Vintage: Vintage is one of the eternal formats. In this format all legal expansion sets are permitted.
Vintage has a banned card list for cards that use ante, sub-games and manual dexterity. In vintage the cards that are too powerful aren't banned but instead restricted, any deck can only have one copy of a restricted card instead of four.

Legacy: Legacy is also a eternal format, and all expansions are permitted like in Vintage. The different between this two formats is that in Legacy cards are banned because their power instead of just restricted.

Modern: This is the newest format, created by Wizards of the Coast in the Spring of 2011. It allows cards from the 8th edition expansion core set and all sets printed afterwards. Like in Legacy cards are banned for power reasons on Modern.

Extended: This format consists of the last four years of block rotations and core sets. With each autumn set release, one year's worth of sets rotate out of the format. Any additional sets released between rotations are automatically added to this format's card pool. The current Extended rotation consists of the Scars of Mirrodin, Lorwyn-Shadowmoor, Shards of Alara, Zendikar, Magic 2010, Magic 2011 core sets.

Standard: This format is the most widely played in magic the gathering. It consists of the latest core set released and the two latest blocks. One exception for this is in the time between the release of the Magic core set on early summer and the rotation two core sets are permitted. "Rotation" occurs every fall when the first set of the new "Block" releases and becomes Standard Legal. For now (before the release of Innistrad) the Standard set includes Magic 2011 and Magic 2012 core sets and the Zendikar and Scars of Mirrodin blocks.

Block Constructed: In this format the only cards permitted are basic lands and the cards from the most recent block. The most recent block is the Scars of Mirrodin block and it includes the Scars of Mirrodin, Mirrodin Besieged and New Phyrexia expansion sets.


Sealed: In sealed each player receives a number of boosters (usually six), open them and create a deck with those cards and any number of basic lands. There are no limit to the number of copies of each card and the minimum number of cards in the deck are forty.

Booster Draft: In booster drafts several players (usually around eight) sits at a table and receives three booster packs each. Each of them opens the first of their boosters and chooses one card from it and then passes the fourteen remaining cards to the left. Them each player chooses another card from the fourteen that he receive from the player to their right and passes the remaining to their left. This continues until there are no cards remaining, them each player opens the second booster and does the same has the first with the difference that this time the players pass it to their rigth instead. The third booster is passed to their left.
Then each player creates a deck with the cards he drafted and any basic lands he wants.

This are the "official" formats of magic, there are much more ways of playing it that where invented by the players and can be even more fun.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Well once more we arrive to that time of the year in which a new set of magic the gathering is released.

Innistrad is the name of it and it's main theme is horror stories, so we are going to see many werewolfs, vampires, ghost, zombies, etc in this expansion.

Now let's get to the things that affect the game itself.

This mechanic already exists in magic the gathering and it's returning in the Innistrad set.
The experienced magic players already know what flashback means but I'm going to explain anyway.
Flashback is a mechanic that can only appears in instant or sorceries and basically the only thing it does is giving you the opportunity to cast that instant/sorcery from the graveyard, after that it is exiled so it's like you can cast the card two times (one from your hand and one from the graveyard).
Here is a example of a card with flashback. Has you can see the flashback cost (the cost to cast this card when it is in the graveyard) is two black mana and five colorless mana, if you have enough mana you can even cast it from your hand and then cast it again from the graveyard getting four 2/2 black zombies in the same turn.           


Now that we covered flashback let's talk about the new mechanics making their first appearance in magic.


What is an horror themed set without a matching mechanic. When a card has the morbid word on it it means that the effect after that word only can happen if some creature died this turn.
Here we see a simple morbid effect. When Hollowhenge Scavenger enters the battlefield and if a creature died in the turn it enters then you gain five life.


When a creature has some ability that makes it fight with another creature then each of the fighting creatures does damage equal to it's power to the other.
This is not combat so the creatures are not tapped and abilities like first strike, double strike have no effect. However abilities that rely on damage being dealt (deathtouch, lifelink, infect...) still work because the fight causes each creature to do damage to the other creature.

Here is a mean werewolf that you can put in a fight against an opponent creature if you pay one red mana and tap the Nightfall Predator.


This is not a mechanic but a new type of card. You remember what auras are right? You enchant a creature with them. Well curses are work exactly the same except that their target is a player and not a creature.

Has you can see this curses makes the opponent put the two top cards of is library in the graveyard at the beginning of their turn.

And now we finally arrive to the explosive new concept that Innistrad brings to the table

Double-faced Cards

Yes it's exactly what you are thinking, a card that in the back has another card.
Let's explain it. The double-faced cards have the front face (marked by a sun symbol) that is a normal card, has the mana cost to play, etc, etc. The back face (marked by a moon symbol) doesn't have the mana cost but has a dot in the name line that indicates the color of that card when its back is facing up.
A double-faced card that is anywhere except the battlefield is always counted has the front face up.
Every double-faced card has one or more effect that transforms it. When you transform such a card you simply turn it with the other face up and while it's in that position it functions like the face that it's down doesn't existed.

Here is an example so that you can understand it better.

When this card is facing up it's a human werewolf named Gatstaf Shepherd with 2/2. Then if no spells were cast in the last turn it transforms in a werewolf named Gatstaf Howler with 3/3 and intimidate. In a future turn if a player cast two or more spells it transforms back to the Gatstaf Shepherd.
Now some new rules to play with double-faced cards. If you play with opaque sleeves (a practice I strongly recommend because it protects your cards from getting dirty and wearing-off) then it's simple, you put the card with the front face showing and when it transforms you take it off the sleeve and turn it with the back face showing.

If for some reason you don't play with sleeves then you are oblige to use the checklist.

The checklist is a card with a regular magic back so when it is in your library or in your hand it functions like a normal card (meaning that you can see what card it's by the back face). To use the checklist you simply mark it in the circle next to the card that you want it to substitute and you put it in your deck has normal. When the card is in your library, your hand or exiled face down you use the checklist, when it's in the battlefield, the stack or exiled face up you use the double-faced card.

This is sort of a summary of the rules to the double-faced cards. If you want to have a insight of the official rules then here is the link to them

Innistrad is almost here. The pre-releases are on 24 and 25 September and the official release of this new set is on 30 September. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm back

My blog pause was big but now I'm back and I have many interesting things to talk about.

For instance, the new Magic the Gathering expansion (Innistrad) is going to released this month and it brings something new that was never seen before in magic.

Also I have bought a new deck, but it's not a "normal" deck, it's a Commander deck. I'm going to explain the difference in a future post.

In the next few posts I'm gonna talk about Commander and Innistrad.

Here is a spoiler of the new "thing" Innistrad brings to the table.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Well I'm going to take a forced break of my blog. Going to algarve on holidays and not sure if I gonna have the internet connection or the time to keep posting so see you all when I come back to Braga.

Stay well

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Basics Part 5

Magic the Gathering is turn-based game. You start your turn, when it ends the opponent's turn starts and so on.
In most card games the turn is simply composed of you playing a card. In magic the turn is a lot more complex.
In this post I gonna explain the different phases of a magic turn and what you must/can do in each of them.

There are 5 phases in a magic turn: Beginning phase, First Main phase, Combat phase, Second Main phase, End phase. 

Beginning Phase

The Beginning Phase has three steps.
The untap step: You untap all your tapped permanents (lands, creatures, etc).
The upkeep step: This step exist only for the cards that have "In the beginning of your upkeep ...." to take their effect.
The draw step: You draw a card from your deck. 

First Main Phase

There are two main phases, the first is before the combat phase and the second is after. What you can do is equal in both.
This is the phase where you play your cards. Creatures, lands, sorceries, artifacts can only be played in your main phase.
your opponent can only play instants because is not their main phase.
This is also the phase where you can play a land card, but only one per turn don't forget. 

Combat Phase

This phase has five steps.
The beginning of combat step: This is like the upkeep step, it only happens something if a card says it. It's also the last chance to do something (like playing a instant to destroy your opponents creature) before the attackers are declared.
The declare attackers step: The attacking player chooses which creatures are going to attack and what is the target of them (it can attack the player or a planeswalker that player controls for example). The player show their decision by tapping the attacking creatures and put them closer to the center of the table, this is mainly for the opponent see what creatures are attacking easily.
The declare blockers step: The defending player decides which of his creatures are going to block which of the attacking creatures. Every attacking creature that is not blocked will do their damage directly to the player (or planeswalker).
The damage step: In this phase every creature deals it's damage. Creatures that are dealt more damage than it's toughness go to the graveyard, and the life points of the players that takes damage are actualized. All damage occurs at the same time in this phase.
The end of combat step: Another step alike the upkeep step, nothing happens unless someone plays a instant or some card says that at the end of combat something happens. 

Second Main Phase

This is equal to the first main phase, except that you can only play a land in this phase if you haven't played one already in the first main phase. 

End Phase

This phase is divided in two steps.
The end step: This is another step like the upkeep step, only if a card says "In the end step..." something happens. It's also the last chance to either player play a instant.
The cleanup step: First thing in this step is to check if the active player (the player this turn belongs) has more than seven cards in hand. If that is true he must discard cards until he has only seven in hand.
After this all damage heals from creatures and all effects that last until the end of turn finish.

And after this it's the opponents turn and all phases start from beginning.

Most of the basics you need to know to play magic are covered now in the Basics series of posts. The following posts of this series will explain better some concepts that are important but more complicated.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Basics Part 4

Magic the Gathering is a card game, so let's talk about the cards.

There are seven main types of card. It's very important to know the differences between them because the type of card gives you many informations about that card.

The types are:

Sorcery: You can only cast sorceries in the main phase of your turn. You follow it's instructions and then it goes to the graveyard. A sorceries never gets to the battlefield, it has is effect and goes directly to the graveyard.


Instant: This are the only cards that can be played every time you want, even in the opponents turn. They can also be played in response to other cards (I gonna explain this better when I talk about the stack in another post). Besides this they act like the sorceries, you follow the instructions and then put the card in the graveyard.

Enchantment: An enchantment is a permanent, this means that when you play one of this you put it on the battlefield and it stays there until destroyed. You can only cast this when you could cast a sorcery.

There are a special type of enchantment called Aura. This is a enchantment that enters the battlefield attached to another permanent (most of the times a creature) and affects that permanent. When the permanent the aura is attached leaves the battlefield the aura is put on the graveyard.

Artifact: Artifacts are relics that come to the battlefield and stay there, so they are also permanents. Most artifacts are colorless so you can play them with mana of any color.


Then there are equipments. This are a special type of artifact that can be attached to another permanent. They enter the battlefield unattached and when the permanent they are attached dies they don't go to the graveyard like the auras, they simply stay in the battlefield unattached.


Creatures: Creatures are permanents but are the only ones that can attack and block. Each creature has power and toughness. Its power (the first number in the box on the lower right corner) is the damage that creature does to other creatures. The toughness (the second number in that box) is the damage you need to do, in a single turn, to kill that creature.
Creature are also the only cards that enter the battlefield with summoning sickness, this prevents the creature from attacking and tapping in the turn it enters the battlefield.
There are creatures that are also artifacts, this are artifact creatures and can be affected by anything that can affect creatures or artifacts.

Planeswalker: Some of you are thinking "You said that I was the planeswalker, how can I play planeswalkers??". This cards are like friends you call to help you in your fight. They enter the battlefield with a number of loyalty counters on them (the number on the lower right corner) and have abilities that can make then gain or lose counters. You can only use one ability of the same planeswalker per turn and only if they have enough counters (in case the ability removes some of them).
The planeswalker functions like a player in the way that your opponent can choose to attack it instead of you. When your planeswalker takes damage it looses that much loyalty counters, if the counters get to zero the planeswalker goes to the graveyard.
I gonna explain the planeswalker better in a future post.

Land: Lands are the only card that aren't played as spells. This means that when you play a land there is nothing your opponent can do in response to you playing the land. Also, you can only play one land per turn and only in the main phase of your turn.
I already mentioned in the post about mana that lands are used to produce mana. There are five basic lands that only produce mana from their color and do nothing more, but besides those there are lots of non-basic lands that can do other things while still producing mana.

This board resumes the proprieties of the various types of card.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Basics Part 3

You already know somethings about magic the gathering, in this post I gonna explain the zones of the game and also the parts of a magic card.

There are 6 main zones in a magic the gathering game, they are:

-> The Library: In the beginning of the game your deck becomes your library. It stays face down to the side of the battlefield. You can't look at the cards in your library or change their order.

-> The Hand: The hand is the place that you put the cards you draw, each player can only see their own hand. The cards in your hand are the ones you can play in that moment.

-> The Battlefield: This is the zone where the battle happens. Every permanent card goes to the battlefield when it's played and stays there until something makes it go away. You can arrange your cards in the battlefield every way you want but your opponent must be able to see them all and tell when they are tapped.

-> The Graveyard: This is your discard pile. Your instant and sorceries go here after they resolve. Also every card that his discarded, destroyed, sacrificed, countered, or put there by an effect goes to the graveyard. Your creatures go to the graveyard if they take more damage than what they can withstand in a turn. Your graveyard is always face-up and everyone can look at your graveyard at any time.

-> The Stack: This is where your spells and abilities go when you play them. They stay there until they resolve. I gonna explain the stack better in another post.

-> The Exile: This is the out-of-game zone. Every card that is exiled goes to the exile zone and stays there until the end of the game unless the effect that put it there can bring her back. When a card is exiled it functions like if it never was in the game.

This was a brief explication of the various zones of a magic game and their purpose.
Now I gonna show you a magic card and explain the parts of a card.

Remember that not every card has all of this parts. Power and Toughness is only for creature cards for example.

Next post will be about the card types and the differences between them.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Basics Part 2

In this post I going to explain to you how the mana works, to what is used for and why is so important in Magic the Gathering.

Mana is the energy that you use to cast spells, summon creatures and everything else you do in magic.
Because of this mana is the most important thing in this game, you can have very powerful creatures and spells but if you don't have sufficient mana to use them it doesn't help you in nothing.

There are five colors of mana in Magic the Gathering, they are white, blue, black, red and green. Each of them has a certain way of doing things.

White is the color of protection and order, it depends on armies of weaker creatures to get the job done.

Blue is the color of deception and illusion, blue uses the strengths of the enemy against them.

Black is the color of death, the goal is to win at all costs even if it means sacrificing your own creatures.

Red is the color of fury and chaos, just smash the opponent without thinking about how to do it.

Green is the color of nature and life, the bigger the creature the better.

You already know that mana is important and has five different colors but you also need to know how to get it. The most common way of getting mana is with land cards.
Lands are a type of card that creates mana when tapped (taping a card means turning it 90º). There are five basic lands one to each color of mana.

Island produces blue mana, Swamps produces black mana, Mountain produces red mana, Forest produces green mana and Plains produce white mana.
Besides the five basic lands there are lots of different lands that can do more things than just producing one mana.

The Basics Part 1

Before I get more into explaining magic the gathering I want to post some things that I miss when introduction the game.

I started by telling right away how the game started and how it work without first telling the "background". I think this was a mistake because the people that never even heard about mtg will be missing some things.

Because of this I decide to delete the previous post and start from the beginning.

Magic The Gathering is a trading card game. What does this means? It means that is a game played with cards that can be traded by the players.

In fact Magic the Gathering was the first modern trading card game, starting back in 1993.

In Magic the Gathering you duel other players using creatures, spells, weapons and many more that are represented by cards. All of this belongs to the Multiverse and you are a Planeswalker dueling others for supremacy.
The Multiverse is composed by various worlds called Planes, and a Planeswalker is a powerful being that can travel between those Planes.

Your power allows you to summon creatures from distant worlds, using powerful sorceries and weapons and many more to defeat your opponents.

There's no limits, you get to chose the cards you want to play the game the way you want.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why I like magic the gathering??

Probably many people that don't play mtg make that question in their heads. Why does he like that game??

I like Magic the Gathering for various reasons:

->It's a fun game to play;

->It's also very complex, with infinity possibilities, so there is always something new waiting to happen;

->It must be played with more than one player. I find this very important because one of the best parts of playing Magic the Gathering is the atmosphere of friendship that is created in every game;

->It never gets old and is in constant mutation because every few months a new expansion of cards is released;

I admit that my opinion is not the most impartial in this theme but I strongly recommend you to give it a try. You don't even have to start spending money on cards right away.

A very simple way to see how the game works is going to a Friday Night Magic, these are weekly events that exist in almost every part of the world and are (in most cases) very beginner friendly.
If you just want to see the game being played go to one of these (no need to take cards or anything like that) and see the other peoples playing it, talk to them and see you it's worth buying some cards to start playing.

Of course that if you have some friends that already play mtg and have cards it gets even easier, just ask them to let you try it some times and explain to you the basic rules. Then, if you like, starting saving some bucks and start your own collection of Magic cards.

If you have any questions feel free to ask here, I will try to answer the best I can to all of them.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Let's get started

In this blog the main them is Magic the Gathering.

My first contact with mtg was in 9º grade when some friends of my class introduce me to this great game. Back then I don't owned any cards so I always played with a borrowed deck.

I spent a lot of time without playing mtg until recently I decided to bought some cards. My first purchase was a Deck Builder's Toolkit, after that I bought a New Phyrexia Fat Pack.

I only play casually with my friends but we are thinking of starting to go to the Friday Night Magic in our city to meet more magic players and get into the community.

Now about the blog itself. I'm gonna try to update it with interesting things 2/3 times a week, depending on the free time I have so stay tuned.