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How Much to Get Started in MTG?

How Much to Get Started in MTG?

Introduction to Magic: The Gathering

Key Takeaways: How Much to Get Started in MTG

  • Pre-constructed decks are a cost-effective way to start playing MTG.
  • MTG Arena offers a digital, often cheaper, alternative to physical cards.
  • Budgeting is crucial for managing ongoing MTG expenses.
  • Trading and buying strategies can help expand your MTG collection affordably.
  • Competitive play in MTG doesn’t require a large financial investment.
  • Community resources and events are valuable for budget players.
  • Online platforms provide great resources for MTG beginners.
  • FAQs offer quick answers to common questions about starting MTG.

What is Magic: The Gathering?

What is Magic: The Gathering?

Get Started in Magic the Gathering – this phrase is more than just an invitation; it’s the start of an incredible journey into a world brimming with strategy, imagination, and community. Magic: The Gathering (MTG) is a collectible card game that has captivated players since the early 1990s. At its core, MTG is about strategy, as players use decks of cards to cast spells, summon creatures, and outwit their opponents.

The beauty of MTG lies in its depth and variety. With thousands of cards available, each game is unique, offering endless possibilities for creativity and challenge. Whether you’re a fan of detailed lore, complex strategy, or just enjoy collecting beautiful cards, MTG has something for everyone.

Brief History of MTG

The story of MTG began in 1993, created by mathematician and game designer Richard Garfield. It quickly gained popularity, evolving from a small project into a global phenomenon. Over the years, MTG has expanded with numerous expansions, introducing new cards, mechanics, and lore. Each set takes players to different worlds within the Magic universe, from the dragon-filled skies of Tarkir to the gothic horror of Innistrad.

MTG’s growth is not just in the physical cards. It has made a significant impact in the digital world with Magic: The Gathering Arena, bringing the game to an even broader audience. This digital platform has become a hub for players around the world, offering an accessible way to get started in Magic the Gathering.

Magic: The Gathering is not just a game; it’s a community. From local game stores hosting Friday Night Magic to international tournaments, MTG brings people together. It’s a game where friendships are formed, strategies are debated, and memorable stories are created.

As we explore the facets of MTG, remember that this journey is about more than just cards. It’s about the thrill of the game, the joy of collecting, and the community that makes MTG truly magical. Whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned player, there’s always something new to discover when you get started in Magic the Gathering.

Understanding the Basics of MTG

Understanding the Basics of MTG

The Rules of the Game

To get started in Magic the Gathering, it’s essential to grasp the basic rules. Each player begins with a life total of 20, and the goal is to reduce your opponent’s life to zero. Players use a deck, usually consisting of 60 cards, which can include a mix of creature, spell, and land cards.

The game proceeds in turns, each divided into several phases. Key phases include the Draw Phase (where you draw a card), Main Phase (where you play cards and activate abilities), Combat Phase (where creatures attack), and End Phase (where the turn concludes). Strategy in MTG revolves around the use of mana, generated by land cards, to cast spells and summon creatures.

Types of Cards and Decks

In MTG, cards are the heart of the game. There are several types:

  1. Creature Cards: Represent warriors and beasts you summon to attack your opponent or defend against their creatures.
  2. Spell Cards: Include instants and sorceries that create immediate effects, like dealing damage or drawing cards.
  3. Land Cards: Provide mana, the resource needed to play your other cards.

Decks in MTG are built around specific strategies or themes. Some common types include:

  • Aggro Decks: Focus on aggressive creatures to win quickly.
  • Control Decks: Use spells to disrupt the opponent and win in the long game.
  • Combo Decks: Rely on a combination of cards for a powerful effect, often winning the game outright.

Understanding these basics will greatly help as you get started in Magic the Gathering. Each card and deck type offers a unique way to play, providing a rich and varied experience for players of all levels.

Getting Started: The Financial Aspect

How Much to Get Started in MTG

Initial Costs: What You Need to Buy

When you decide to get started in Magic the Gathering, understanding the initial costs is crucial. The first step is acquiring a deck. You can choose from pre-constructed decks, which are ready to play and cost around $15 to $30. These decks are great for beginners as they provide a balanced playing experience.

In addition to a deck, you’ll need some basic accessories:

  • Card Sleeves: To protect your cards. A pack of sleeves can cost $5 to $10.
  • Playmat: Offers a clean playing surface, typically costing between $10 and $20.
  • Deck Box: Keeps your deck safe and organized, usually around $5 to $10.

The total initial cost for getting started can range from $35 to $70, depending on the quality and brand of accessories you choose.

Ongoing Expenses: Keeping Up with the Game

As you delve deeper into MTG, ongoing expenses become a part of the experience. Booster packs, which contain a random selection of cards, are a common purchase for many players. These packs cost around $4 each and are a fun way to expand your collection and discover new cards.

Another aspect to consider is the release of new sets. MTG releases several new sets each year, and keeping up with these can mean additional expenses. However, it’s not necessary to buy every new set; many players choose to purchase cards selectively based on their deck’s needs.

Participating in tournaments or events can also add to the cost. Entry fees vary, but local tournaments are usually around $5 to $15. These events are a great way to test your skills and meet other players.

Understanding these costs helps in planning your MTG journey. While it can be as expensive as you make it, there are ways to enjoy MTG without breaking the bank, which we’ll explore in later sections. Remember, the goal is to have fun and enjoy the game, whether you’re a casual player or aspiring to compete at higher levels.

Choosing Your First Deck

Choosing Your First Deck

Pre-constructed vs. Building Your Own

As you get started in Magic the Gathering, one of the first decisions you’ll face is choosing your deck. There are two primary routes: pre-constructed decks and building your own.

Pre-constructed decks are a great starting point for beginners. They’re designed to be balanced and give you a feel for different playstyles. These decks are ready to play out of the box and typically cost between $15 and $30.

Building your own deck, on the other hand, offers a more personalized experience. It allows you to tailor your deck to your preferred style of play. However, this option requires a deeper understanding of the game mechanics and can be more costly, as you’ll need to purchase individual cards or booster packs.

Recommendations for Beginners

If you’re new to MTG, starting with a pre-constructed deck is often the best choice. It lets you learn the game without the overwhelm of deck building. Here are a few recommended pre-constructed decks for beginners:

  • Mono Red Aggro: Fast-paced and straightforward, focusing on quickly dealing damage to your opponent.
  • Green Stompy: Centers around large creatures and straightforward combat tactics.
  • Blue Control: Focuses on countering your opponent’s moves and controlling the game’s pace.

Once you’re more comfortable with the game, experimenting with building your own deck can be a fun and rewarding next step. Websites like MTGGoldfish and Gatherer offer great resources for finding cards and understanding synergies.

Choosing the right deck is a significant step in your MTG journey. Whether you go for a pre-constructed deck or dive into building your own, the key is to find a style that resonates with you and enjoy the process of learning and playing.

Digital vs. Physical MTG

Digital vs. Physical MTG

Pros and Cons of Each Format

When you get started in Magic the Gathering, you’ll encounter two main formats: digital (Magic: The Gathering Arena) and physical. Each offers a unique experience with its own set of advantages and challenges.

Digital (MTG Arena):

  • Pros:
    • Accessibility: Play anytime, anywhere.
    • Cost: Generally cheaper to start, with free-to-play options.
    • Tutorials: Great for beginners to learn the game.
  • Cons:
    • Requires a stable internet connection.
    • Limited social interaction compared to in-person play.


  • Pros:
    • Tangible Collection: The joy of collecting physical cards.
    • Social Aspect: More direct interaction with other players.
    • Broader Variety: Access to all cards and formats, not just those available digitally.
  • Cons:
    • Cost: Generally more expensive to start and maintain.
    • Storage and Maintenance: Requires physical space and care for the cards.

Each format has its unique charm, and many players enjoy both for different reasons. Your choice may depend on factors like budget, social preferences, and your style of play.

Cost Comparison: MTG Arena vs. Physical Cards

The cost is a significant factor when deciding between digital and physical MTG. Here’s a basic comparison:

MTG Arena:

  • Initial Cost: Free to start with basic decks.
  • Ongoing Costs: Option to purchase digital packs or enter paid events, but many can play without spending money.

Physical Cards:

  • Initial Cost: Pre-constructed decks start around $15-$30. Building a deck from scratch can be more expensive.
  • Ongoing Costs: Booster packs, new sets, and accessories add to the cost over time.

While MTG Arena can be a more budget-friendly option, the physical game offers a different kind of value in the form of tangible cards and a more social experience. Ultimately, the choice between digital and physical MTG comes down to personal preference and what aspects of the game you value most.

Budget-Friendly Tips for New Players

How Much to Get Started in MTG

Finding Affordable Cards and Decks

When you get started in Magic the Gathering, managing your budget is key. Fortunately, there are many ways to enjoy MTG without spending a lot. Here are some tips for finding affordable cards and decks:

  1. Look for Budget Decks Online: Websites like MTGGoldfish often feature budget deck lists. These decks are competitively priced and a great starting point.
  2. Buy Singles Instead of Booster Packs: Purchasing individual cards you need is often more cost-effective than buying random booster packs.
  3. Trade with Other Players: Trading cards with fellow players can be a great way to get the cards you need without spending money.
  4. Attend Drafts and Sealed Events: These events provide a level playing field and allow you to build a collection while playing.

Managing Your MTG Budget

Staying within your budget while enjoying MTG is important. Here are some strategies to help manage your spending:

  • Set a Monthly Budget: Decide how much you want to spend on MTG each month and stick to it.
  • Prioritize Your Purchases: Focus on buying cards that are essential for your deck first.
  • Keep an Eye on Sales: Online retailers and local game stores often have sales, especially during holidays.

By following these tips, you can build a collection and enjoy playing MTG without overspending. Remember, the most important part of the game is having fun, regardless of how much you spend.

Expanding Your Collection

Expanding Your Collection

When to Invest in More Expensive Cards

As your journey in Magic the Gathering progresses, you might consider investing in more expensive cards. This decision should be guided by a few factors:

  • Your Level of Commitment: If you’re deeply involved in the game and participate in tournaments, investing in high-value cards can be beneficial.
  • The Deck You’re Building: Some decks require specific cards that might be pricier. Evaluate how essential these cards are for your deck’s strategy.
  • Market Trends: Keep an eye on the market. Sometimes, it’s wise to invest in a card before it becomes too expensive.

Remember, investing in expensive cards is not a necessity to enjoy MTG. It’s a choice that should align with your goals and budget in the game.

Trading and Buying Tips

Trading and buying are integral parts of expanding your MTG collection. Here are some tips to make the most out of these activities:

  • Research Card Values: Use resources like TCGPlayer to understand the current value of cards.
  • Find a Trusted Community: Engage in trading and buying within trusted communities, whether online or at your local game store.
  • Negotiate Fairly: When trading, aim for a fair exchange. Both parties should feel satisfied with the trade.
  • Be Cautious with Online Purchases: If buying cards online, use reputable websites and be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.

Expanding your collection is a rewarding aspect of Magic the Gathering. Whether you’re trading, buying, or investing in rare cards, these activities deepen your engagement with the game and the community around it.

Playing MTG on a Budget

Playing MTG on a Budget

Strategies for Competitive Play without Breaking the Bank

Competitive play in Magic the Gathering doesn’t require a fortune. With the right strategies, you can compete effectively on a budget:

  • Focus on a Single Deck: Rather than spreading your budget across multiple decks, focus on building and refining one competitive deck.
  • Choose an Efficient Deck Style: Some decks, like Mono-Red Aggro, can be competitive and less expensive to build.
  • Utilize Budget Replacements: Look for less expensive cards that can substitute for pricier options without significantly reducing your deck’s effectiveness.
  • Stay Informed: Keep up with the game’s meta to understand which budget decks are performing well.

These strategies emphasize skill and knowledge over financial investment, proving that strategic thinking and creativity are invaluable assets in MTG.

Community Resources and Events

Leveraging community resources is an excellent way for budget players to engage competitively in MTG:

  • Join Local Game Stores (LGS) Events: LGS often host events that are budget-friendly and a great way to test your skills.
  • Participate in Online Forums: Platforms like Reddit’s r/MagicTCG provide valuable insights and budget deck ideas from other players.
  • Watch Online Tutorials: Content creators on YouTube offer guidance on building competitive budget decks.
  • Use Online Tools for Deck Building: Tools like TappedOut help in constructing and testing decks without any cost.

Engaging with the MTG community can greatly enhance your competitive play experience, especially when playing on a budget. It’s a rich resource for learning, sharing, and improving your game.


As we wrap up this guide on how to get started in Magic the Gathering, it’s clear that the journey into the world of MTG is as exciting as it is diverse. From understanding the basics of the game to expanding your collection, each step offers a new adventure and learning experience.

Magic: The Gathering isn’t just about the cards you play; it’s about the strategies you devise, the friends you make, and the memories you create along the way. Whether you’re a casual player enjoying a game with friends or a competitive player aiming for victory in tournaments, MTG offers a unique experience for everyone.

As you continue your journey in MTG, remember to explore, learn, and most importantly, enjoy every moment of this fascinating game. The world of Magic awaits, full of mysteries to uncover and battles to be won. Happy gaming!

Related Reading and References

The world of Magic the Gathering is vast and rich with resources. For beginners looking to deepen their understanding and skills, there’s a plethora of information available. Here are some invaluable resources:

How much would it cost to get started with Magic: The Gathering?
Diving into the world of MTG doesn’t have to break the bank. For those new to the game, a reasonable initial investment ranges from $50 to $500. This investment will need to be updated every 1-2 years, especially for players interested in the Standard (Rotating) format. This guide provides a comprehensive breakdown of costs and strategies for budget-conscious beginners.

Best Budget-Friendly Decks for New MTG Players
For newcomers looking to enter the MTG arena without spending a fortune, starter decks are a great option. As of August 2018, the M19 set offers five different starter decks, each tailored to different play styles and strategies. This discussion explores the best budget-friendly decks under $125, perfect for those just getting their feet wet in MTG.

Beginner’s Guide to Starting Magic: The Gathering
Starting MTG can be as cost-effective as you make it. A great way to learn the game without a hefty initial investment is through MTG Arena. This platform allows new players to earn free cards and decks, providing a solid foundation for understanding the game’s mechanics and strategies before investing in physical cards.

MTG on a Budget: Affordable Ways to Play
Magic: The Gathering can be enjoyed even on a tight budget. This resource highlights various ways to play MTG affordably, including using MTGPrint for proxy cards. It’s a great way for players to test out different decks and cards without the need for a significant upfront investment.

Exploring Pauper: A Budget-Friendly MTG Format
Pauper is an MTG format that emphasizes gameplay over investment, where decks are built from common cards. This format is not only budget-friendly but also offers a diverse and competitive playing field. It’s an ideal choice for players who want to enjoy the game without the pressure of costly card acquisitions.

Additional Resources for Beginners

  • Official Magic: The Gathering Website: Wizards of the Coast offers comprehensive information about the game, including rules, card databases, and event information.
  • MTG Strategy Guides: Books like “Magic: The Gathering Strategy Guide for Beginners” provide a great foundation for understanding the game’s mechanics and strategies.
  • YouTube Channels: Channels like Tolarian Community College offer tutorials, deck reviews, and MTG news, ideal for both beginners and experienced players.

Suggested Blogs and Websites

  • Channel Fireball: A hub for strategy articles, deck guides, and MTG news.
  • MTGGoldfish: Offers deck lists, prices, and an extensive database of cards.
  • Reddit’s MagicTCG Community: Reddit’s r/magicTCG is a vibrant community where players share advice, experiences, and news about MTG.

These resources provide a great starting point for anyone looking to get started in Magic the Gathering. Whether you’re looking for detailed strategy guides, community advice, or the latest MTG news, these resources have you covered. They are invaluable tools on your journey into the world of Magic: The Gathering.


As a new player beginning your journey in Magic the Gathering, you might have several questions. Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers to help guide you:

What is the cheapest way to start playing MTG?

The most cost-effective way to start playing Magic: The Gathering is by purchasing a pre-constructed starter deck. These decks are competitively priced, usually between $15 and $30, and offer a balanced play experience for beginners. Additionally, Magic: The Gathering Arena, the digital version of the game, offers a free-to-play option, allowing you to start playing without any initial investment.

How often do I need to spend money on MTG?

The frequency of spending on MTG depends on how you choose to engage with the game. If you’re playing casually, you might not need to spend money often, perhaps only buying new decks or cards occasionally. For more competitive players, there might be more frequent purchases to keep up with the evolving game meta and new card sets. Setting a budget and sticking to it can help manage your spending.

Can I play competitively with a budget deck?

Yes, you can play competitively with a budget deck in Magic: The Gathering. Many players have found success in tournaments using budget decks. The key is to understand the game’s mechanics and strategies, and to build a deck that is efficient and well-suited to your style of play. Keeping up with game strategies and meta can also help you stay competitive, even with a budget deck.

These questions are just a starting point as you get started in Magic the Gathering. As you delve deeper into the game, you’ll discover more about its rich world and the endless strategies and possibilities it offers.

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