Introducing the Game to New Players

Discussion in 'General CPA Stuff' started by depolarization, Dec 6, 2005.

  1. depolarization Lover of Schmaltz!

    I have some friends that are just starting to get into the game.

    Though I would just like to have them buy a starter and shuffle-n-cut and then play their decks, I don't know if it's the best way.

    From my perspective, the game is quite complex now, especially when it comes to timing during the steps and the stack rules. Although outlined well in the starting rules, these rules are no longer printed in the core-set starter decks, which I find to be a real shame (but of course there is the internet .pdf which I guess I could print out).

    I've made some decks as well like a mono-black deck with creatures, drain life, terrors, hand destruction and the like. The other, I'll probably dismantle, being a R/W/G deck with watchwolf, skyknight legionaire, lightningbolt, giant growth, might of oaks and lots of mana acceleration like Sakura Tribe Elder (which will help introduce all sorts of timing rules and mana-resource allocation) into a dragon roost for fun and blazes to finish. I figured these decks will do nicely to explain the basics of magic before metagame ideas like control, tempo and card-advantage are even touched upon.

    The way I'm currently approaching the game with them that, is to sit back and coach their game with them. That is, I watch their game (hand including what's in their hand) against another person and let them ask questions...ocasionally reminding them of the phases and the steps and priority in a nice way and allowing them to make their own decisions, discoveries and mistakes. Basically easing them into the playgroup, which can get pretty crazy with fast turns and glossing over phases.

    I did a search of these forums and others and found very little on the way of fostering new players (some reference to an articel Istanbul did, but is now long lost). Any suggestions are appreciated.

    Here are the decklists to the best of my knowledge (minus some cards I'm forgetting, probably will edit later):

    Old school, Mono B (wish I had a nightmare)

    4 Hypnotic Spectres
    2 Hands of Cruelty
    2 Mausoleum Turnkeys
    2 Kuro Pitlord
    1 Ink-eyes, Servant of the Oni

    4 Dark Rituals
    4 Hymn to Tourach
    3 Drain Life
    3 Terror
    2 Disembowel
    2 Death Denied
    1 Empty the Catacombs

    22 Swamp

    G/W/R The Mexican Fiesta!

    4 Watchwolf
    4 Skyknight Legionaire
    4 Birds of Paradise
    4 Sakura Tribe Elders

    4 Lightning Bolts
    2 Blaze
    3 Giant Growth
    2 Might of Oaks

    1 Collective Unconcious
    1 Chord of Calling

    4 Fertile Ground
    1 Pollenbright Wings
    1 Dragon Roost

    1 Gaia's Cradle
    4 Plain
    5 Mountain
    10 Forests
    2 Boros Garrison
  2. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    I think you're doing fine. Letting them learn on their own is the best thing (with you near to answer questions).
  3. EricBess Active Member

    I might do a couple of things differently. Feel free to incorporate any of this or just ignore it ;)

    - Causing opponents to discard isn't a very satisfying game experience. For the play doing it, it's not clear how much of an advantage they have gained since they are unexperienced with the game. For the player on the receiving end, they feel they have been cheated of making choices. I think that the black on green/white/red is very good, but might go black/blue and just make it more about the creatures.

    - I wouldn't use cards that are banned in formats unless you really feel it adds to the flavor of what you are trying to accomplish.

    - Timing is trickier and more difficult to understand. I would start with decks that didn't contain instants and have a set of "advanced cards" that you can add in after they have played a few games. These would start to include Giant Growth, Lightning Bolt (or Shock), Terror, and Unsummon (or Boomerang), for example. A third level might include introducing Counterspells and other spells that are used more with multiple things on the stack.
  4. HOUTS New Member

    I'll throw my two cents in here.

    Unknown to most CPA trolls, err..I mean 'regulars', but I've helped run, if not run myself, several stores through my 13 years of MTG playing. I've helped out at least a hundred people start to learn the game.

    Magic takes minutes to learn but years to master. It's true. The basic outlining structure is quite simple: creatures do damage to each player, who has 20 life, while spells help defend/attack.

    I agree with Eric: simplify the cards you are using. I have a portal deck I start players with. Honestly guys, it's the best decks to start with. At least the old school ones I have. The creatures are the vanilla 2/2's with some creature removal for flavoring. Not much behind it all.
    As for learning phases, that is just learned through repetition. Sitting through one of their games to constantly remind them through the phases will help. They won't forget if you say it to them, "hey, draw phase...now main phase...ok now attack phase.."

    Give them both fast beat down creature decks. This will teach them card advantage. They'll quickly realize how fast the creature are put down and how eagerly they'll want to get to draw their next card to keep up with the game state.

    And, lastly, it's best if they watch other players. Going to a FNM won't hurt. Everyone has to start somewhere and this, I believe, is what FNM is for.
    You can always bring them to this site. God knows we have tons of nubs that will help them out.
    I'll always be happy to answer any questions if such arise.

    -HOUTS
  5. Nightstalkers Creature — Nightstalker

    How I introduce players is to build two weenie decks with the commons/uncommons I've got, throw in a couple foils and a rare or two, and then let them choose which deck to play. Then I show them how to play.

    I mainly have the decks full of vanilla creatures and other things, then I add in a couple cards with reminder text (like a card with haste or vigilance) and be very blunt with them: most of these have the reminder text on them so that you can play without having too much trouble.

    And basically keep the whole story of "Magic is a very simple game for people to play" and they'll get through it.


    It's only till afterwards you tell them that it's a moderately difficult game to comprehend... but hey... gotta lie to them a little bit to get them used to playing blue.
  6. orgg Administrator

    How I usually teach is more like a 'basics class.' I show them the basic lands, tell them the colors they produce, explain the mana cost system, and then tell them what 'tapping' is by showing them how to tap a land. Then I usually give little 'quizzes' by making them tap for a few basic things that they can pay for, and if I have the impression someone is taking to the game really well, an artifact and a double-color (and gold) card for them to 'play.'

    After that is down pat, I tell them about the twenty life points, and then about creatures starting with 'P/T,' going onto declairing attackers and declairing blockers (make sure they know a blocker doesn't tap), and resolving creature combat.

    Then the phases of the turn, and the seven card starting hand. Then play the game a few times with vanilla creatures. There's plenty of them out there. I'd recommend monochrome decks to start.

    After they have that, introduce Flying, First Strike, Landwalk, Instants and Sorceries, and artifact creatures. Then play a few games, this time using two color decks.

    Then Enchantments, Activated Abilities, 'Auras,' Equipment, and... well, let them look through some of your excess stuff. Try and teach them what they want to know.

    If you have two friends who want to go at it alone, look through my article archive on here-- there's an article that has a link to a 7th edition all-common walkthrough that might work in that situation. WARNING-- it assumes fairly intelligent people.
  7. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    On what grounds? :rolleyes:
  8. Notepad Seffy Sefro

    I think a mix of what orgg and Houts said--a type of tier learning system, would work best. Though, I haven't taught too many people to play, so I don't have the testing to back up the idea. But from what I've tried, starting with simple decks (ala Starter) and working toward more cool and speedy FNM-type decks works to teach not only a sample of things at a time, but get the player to learn each color and its varied abilities, so they can eventually pick which color/colors they'd like to play.
  9. Killer Joe Active Member

    Green is color to start any player because it's not complicated: Play a land, play a creature, swing!

    Red might be my second choice.

    I think if the person becomes interested enough they'll know what they'll like becuase it'll appeal to their personality, sorta.

    My daughter just likes black. She's attracted to the dangerous nature of it, she likes Nightstalker Art and she know knows she has a fighting chance against me when playing it :rolleyes:

    I started her off with green and she still likes it so I'm thinking about building her a black/green deck, we have yet to explore two-color decks.

    One thing for sure, she absolutely hates BLUE!!!

    *sniff* How could she, I'm her Father! And I LOVE Blue. :p
  10. Nightstalkers Creature — Nightstalker

    One more thing...

    Don't allow the new player (hereby known as "newb") to be playing around the higher end players who have a lot of other names for cards. "In response I'll play Mr. Fizzle Tips... Use Tim's ability... and now I'll set you on fire..."

    For those who don't know what just happened... The newb just got a spell countered by Counterspell, pinged by Prodigal Sorcerer, and Singed... Yeah, even I can't figure out why he calls it "setting it on fire."

    Oh, and if your newb thinks that your deck is better than theirs... switching decks and beating them with their deck is still a viable solution to that problem.
  11. orgg Administrator

    Oh, yes-- important!

    If you're playing with a new player... don't throw the game. Make them earn their victories, and the victory will be that much better to them.

    And if they say that the winning streak is because of 'your deck,' swap decks with them. Show them that their statement is wrong.
  12. Ferret CPA Founder, Slacker

    I thought that Red/Green was a good combo to start. It shows how to use two colours at once while working with the two colours that need the least brain matter to use: Quick Creatures for damage and spells for burn.

    After a few games of that introduce a little White for damage prevention, then Black for discard/removal, and finally Blue for finesse (not necesarily in the same deck, though) :)

    Artifacts and special lands could be splashed in as time goes by.

    I agree with HOUTS on using the most basic of cards for the introduction. Portal (first edition is best) would be a good way to go. Not too much to overwhelm the prospective players...

    After a while you could bust out your big shoe box of dirt commons/uncommons and tell them to take whatever they want and throw in about twenty of each lands so they can build a few decks of their own. They take one deck and you take the other and have at it. When you're finished you can show them ways to make the decks a little more potent and show them some of your tricks (but, whatever you do, don't prevent them from coming up with their own ideas!)

    -Ferret

    "Just my $0.02"

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