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By: spg, spg
Oct 22 2009 11:03am
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Explorations #46 - How to Get Your Girlfriend to Play Magic

Hey everybody, and welcome to an unconventional week of Explorations! I spent all of last week at an AI conference in San Francisco, and didn't really have any time to write. I did throw together 90% of an article on the plane home, but that's one for a future week. While trying to figure out what I was going to run today, Kathryn totally bailed me out and came out of nowhere with a writeup on how Magic players can get their girlfriends to play Magic!

In my article A Walk in the Woods, lots of people mentioned in the comments how lucky I am to have a girlfriend who likes to play Magic. I agree completely - it's awesome!  Hopefully this article will help a few other players live the dream.  This one is going to focus on some stuff that's particular to paper Magic, since that's how we play together, but just about all of it can be retrofitted to Magic Online.

Next week I'll be back with a casual deckbuilding article using some new Zendikar cards, but until then... take it away Kathryn!

Making Magic Fun for a Reluctant/Unskilled Player

I’m never going to be a stellar Magic player or win any tournaments. I doubt I could even build a deck worth entering into one! I just like the cards, the game is intellectually challenging, and I have fun playing… but not always. Like when I have a bunch of cards that seem really great, but I have no idea how to think about using them to win. Or when I do have a plan and it’s destroyed in two seconds by a card I didn’t even know existed. I swear I sometimes feel like I’m a bad person for letting my favorite wolf/elf/fairy/unicorn get slaughtered. Why couldn’t I keep the poor guy alive?

Wolf Pack Farhaven Elf Faerie Squadron Capashen Unicorn
Won't someone please think of the wolves, elves, faeries, and unicorns???

What follows are some tips from my experience playing with Steve. Compared to my level of experience, Steve may as well be Jon Finkel. It’s basically completely impossible for me to beat him unless I get extremely lucky and he gets extremely unlucky. But we can still enjoy the game together, and I hope these tips help you get your reluctant girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/roommate/friend into the game!

Note: these tips assume your girlfriend has a basic working knowledge of the rules, but is somewhere on a scale of hopeless to fumbling when it comes to strategy.  If you're interested in a way to teach her the rules, then there are a bunch of resources available for this.  You could start out with the video series linked here, for example.

1. Match Your Decks

Start with decks - for both of you - that are balanced against each other and have only a few “tricks.” In other words, stay away from blue and black. Green, white, and red decks that win via straightforward attacking and blocking are simpler and less frustrating for a beginner. Preconstructed decks and “duel decks” are a good place to start. Steve and I have a whole closet full of these decks, and we often grab two decks out of there from two different blocks and play them against each other. Time Spiral vs Kamigawa is a lot of fun!  Mirrodin also has some cool preconstructed decks.

2. Know Your Decks

Careful Study

Make sure she reads every single card in BOTH decks - hers and yours - before you start playing. This will save you some reading time during the game, and it will also make her less likely to be completely thrown for a loop by some new rule or ability. Use the same decks for as many games in a row as you can stand without getting bored.

It’s always tempting for me to grab a new deck each game because I love discovering new cards and cool new abilities, but the reality is I have no idea how to use these brand new cards effectively. It's a lot harder for me to learn strategy if I keep forgetting what my own cards can do. When I play again and again with the same cards, I actually start to figure out how my deck works and to use it in a more effective way. Learning this type of strategy is fun, and makes me want to play more.

3. Infinite 7-card Mulligans

Serum Powder

Think of this as a golfing handicap if you want. Or refer back to Steve’s article where he pointed out that a set of cards on his side of the board are just not as good as the exact same set of cards on a Pro-Tour player’s board.  This may sound weird, but it's reality.

Even if I draw new hands twelve times until I have the ULTIMATE starting hand for my deck, I’m still not going to get much utility out of the cards because I’m not a very good player. So I’m not really starting with a “better” hand then you – I’m starting with one that will actually give me a tiny bit of a chance. And I need that chance to enjoy the game! Chances are you'll enjoy the game more also, you may actually have to work a bit for your win!

4. The Perfect Opening Hand

Jester's Mask

If you could have any 7 cards from your deck in your opening hand, what would they be? This is probably a good exercise for players at all levels. I remember the first time Steve asked me to do this, I had no idea where to even start. When I finally came up with something, I realized for the first time ever playing Magic that I actually had a plan for how my first few turns of the game would go. “Ohhh… I need a one-drop, two-drop, and a three-drop. Marvel of marvels!"

Have your GF play at least one game with the deck before figuring out her ultimate opening hand. Then, once she picks out those seven cards, let her play you with them. She just might even win the game! This is also a great way for her to develop the first concepts of a "plan", which is her first real step into a larger world of strategic thinking.

5. Um, Can I Undo That?


If she makes a really dumb mistake and realizes it, let her take it back without complaint. But don’t offer advice unless she asks for it or seems completely frustrated. Magic is an extremely complex game, and when I play my brain often feels like it’s completely overstuffed.

I tend to play like the person across from me has a deck of 60 lands, and will never do anything to mess up my plans. It’s just too hard for me a lot of the time to try to imagine how my opponent’s cards (even if I only consider the ones I see on the table) will interact with my strategy/plan - if I even have one!

I don’t see everything that will happen because of a particular play. I see maybe one or two things, and I know that there are all these other invisible dominoes that will fall, but it just takes too much brain power (and memory) to figure out what they all are, so I tend to react rather than plan ahead. Compared to an expert player, I'm fumbling around and making a LOT of guesses and plenty of mistakes. If I actually recognize a mistake and want to take it back, that’s a good thing. It means I’m learning.

6. The Strategy and Rules Guru

Strategic Planning

If she asks for help making a decision, help. It's more important for her to learn the right plays in these instances than it is for her to keep her hand and strategy a secret.  A lot of times, I just need to remind myself of the rules. Like, I can’t use the tap ability on a creature with summoning sickness, but I can use the mana ability. These things aren’t always intuitive!

7. Let Her Gloat… but Make Her Earn it

Shared Triumph

Okay, so maybe she only won because you let her make her own opening hand, or because you got stuck on one land for five turns, but she still won the game. She needs that feeling of success to stay interested and invested in getting better.

On the other hand, don’t ever dumb down your own playing! First of all, it’s offensive. I may not be a great Magic player, but I’m not stupid, and I want to know how to play the real game, not a watered-down version.

My tips above may seem like watering-down, but they really just allow the beginning player to get the most utility out of cards she may have no idea how to use. These changes don’t alter the actual game play at all; don’t let your GF’s protests: “no-no-no please DON’T kill my elf!” stop you from playing the game like it’s supposed to be played. Even if she cries.*

* In the case of tears, it may be wise to stop playing for a while, or you may never get to play Magic with her again! **

** Yes, I have cried in Magic games.  Usually when I was extremely frustrated because I thought I was finally “getting it” and making good decisions, but then everything backfired because I didn’t take a certain rule into consideration or Steve had a card that I didn’t even know existed that destroyed all hope of success...

8.  Never Concede

Fight to the Death

Even if you know you're going to lose, she probably has no idea. For all she knows, you have some ethereal, never-before-seen card in your deck that will ruin her obviously superior position. When I first started playing, I was constantly surprised by cards and effects that I had no idea existed, and usually wrecked whatever plan I had. This concept of there being these perfect, super-powerful cards out there that do the exact thing I don't want done at any given point in a game is probably a curse of every beginner who doesn't know all the mechanics in the game.

In addition to this, I often spend my time focused on some completely irrelevant cards in play, spending my time deciding what to do with them instead of spending my time just winning the game.  We've ended lots of games where Steve has said afterwards, "If you had done X, Y, then Z you could have just won."  I still miss ways to win a lot, but at least the ways I'm missing are getting a lot more subtle and complicated as time goes on!

There are two reasons you shouldn't concede. First of all, she needs that experience of pounding you into the dust for the gloating reason described above, but secondly, she has to have that experience of following through until you're down to zero life simply to know how it's done. If you concede and she doesn't play the game through to the end, she may miss some important strategic point or never really understand how to get into a winning position and stay there.

On the other hand, if she wants to concede and you know there's no way she can win, you should let her. Don't let this be an excuse to stop playing whenever things get tricky, though!

9. Praise Good Plays

Reward the Faithful

Your girlfriend needs to know that she’s getting better. It’s not fun to know you’re bad at something unless you feel like you’re improving.

When we were playing the other night, I had a card that let me change the color of one of my opponent’s lands until the end of the turn (Tideshaper Mystic). Steve was playing blue and black. (Remember tip #1? I need to follow my own advice!) Anyway, he had one untapped Swamp and one untapped Island. I had a creature to cast (Avian Changeling) and it occurred to me that blue has a lot of counterspells, so Steve might have one in his hand. I could use the mana ability to change the only Island he had left into something safer and try to protect my spell!

Tideshaper Mystic Swamp Island

Well, it didn’t work. I turned his Island into a Forest and happily cast out my creature, which Steve promptly killed with a black removal spell instead of countering with a blue counterspell.  Instead of letting this get me down, I explained my reasoning for the play. “Wasn’t that good? Didn’t I do a good job anticipating what you might have?"

Steve was very supportive and proud of my fairly obvious bit of insight. It didn’t matter to me that I basically got stomped into the mud that game. I had actually thought up and carried out a strategy that went beyond: “Casting this might help. Let’s try it.” And that was enough for me to enjoy the game!

10. Help! My girlfriend won’t give Magic a chance.

Angel of Despair

Okay, if getting her to actually sit down and try out a game is the problem, you’ve got a little bit more work to do. There are several reasons I can imagine that would scare a girl away from Magic completely. The most obvious being that Magic tends to be lumped (often undeservedly) with other “uncool” fantasy-geek obsessions like World of Warcraft. What follows are a list of complaints and possible solutions.

“Magic is so geeky. Keep it away!”

Give her the book “Jonny Magic and the Card Shark Kids” to read. Watching Jon Finkel morph from a fat, bullied kid to a svelt, ultra-rich dude who can take on Vegas should be enough to elevate the game to unimagined levels of cool. For a more immediate example, turn on the World Poker Tour and point out any Magic players in the room. Casually mention that they’re there competing with the likes of Daniel Negraneau because of what they learned playing Magic.

“The rules are too complicated. Can’t we just play Scrabble?”

Have her try out the Xbox Magic game 'Duels of the Planeswalkers' (Steve wrote a complete review here). Not only are many of the rules are acted out for you, but you don’t have to worry about deck building very much.

Also, there’s a huge bonus: you guys can play on the same team!  (Literally on the same team: there’s a two-headed giant mode).  Instead of trying to explain why your vampire with deathtouch just took out her angel, you can help her vampire wreak havoc on the hapless computer player.  Just be careful not to take too much control, or she’ll sneak away and you’ll be stuck playing by yourself.

XBox Magic also helps address points 1 and 2 in the first section.  The decks will be evenly matched, and she’ll get to know her cards really well since they never change very much.  Playing Xbox Magic is how I learned that (Wurm’s Tooth) is not the ultimate strategy to help win any game.  Chances are that on turn six, Craw Wurm is a more powerful play.

“Leave me alone. I’m watching Lord of the Rings.”

If your girl is even remotely into fantasy of any kind, leave cards around in places where she can’t help but find them. Or pick out some cards with awesome art (who cares what they do) and give them to her as a special surprise. The interesting names and beauty of the card art is something that keeps Magic interesting for me, and I’m sure it could work to woo other girls, too.

Benevolent Unicorn Revered Unicorn Ronom Unicorn

I admit that I have a little collection of unicorn cards, and every bookmark I’ve used since Steve and I moved in together has been a Magic card. It’s fun to try to relate the card to the content of the book. Reading the latest Stephen King novel? Childhood Horror or Hidden Horror will do nicely.

“All you EVER do is play that game. No way am I supporting your addiction!”

If Magic Online is actually taking up more of your life than work, food, sleep, exercise, or actual face time with friends, family, and your girlfriend… then that’s something you’ll have to work out on your own.  But if you think your girlfriend is unfairly exaggerating your favorite pastime, you’ll have to prove it to her by showing that you can stop playing (even in the middle of a tournament!) for a good enough reason.  Like heading out for an impromptu hike on a nice day... or eating a meal she just cooked for you.  Your girlfriend just needs to know that she is more important to you than Magic.  Once you’ve taken that step, you might try suggesting that if she learns to play the game, you’ll pay extra attention to her and she’ll get bonus time with you that she might not get otherwise.  However, be careful with this suggestion as it may do more harm than good in some situations!

Good Luck!

Okay, that’s all I can think of for tips right now. Good luck converting your girlfriends/wives/significant others, and let me know how it goes!

Back to Steve...  So that wraps it up for this week's Explorations.  Hopefully you guys enjoyed it, I certainly did.  I love reading articles that are a bit different from the typical Magic content, and I think Kathryn did an awesome job with this one.  Make sure to leave comments if anyone actually manages to convert their better half!

I'll be back next week for a Johnny deck based in the world of Zendikar.

Thanks for reading!

Steve Gargolinski
article archive
th1ckasabr1ck on MTGO


wow, much better than steve's by ShardFenix at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 11:16
ShardFenix's picture

wow, much better than steve's normal articles...lol j/k. Great article though future Mrs. Gargolinski. Lots of great tips though i may have to make have to go as far as promising horrible things like shopping or chick flicks to get mine to play.

Thanks! by KathrynH at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 15:02
KathrynH's picture

Haha... I'll have to write another one some time!

I should have put a bartering section in the last part... one hour of shopping trip = one magic game. I guess I didn't think of it because I'm not really into shopping or chick flicks...

Great article! I was lucky by Romann (not verified) at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 11:31
Romann's picture

Great article!

I was lucky enough to have a girlfriend who didn't have a problem with me playing magic and even learned to play it herself.

awesome by speks at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 11:49
speks's picture

Thanks for the tips! I will definitely be trying it out with my girlfriend.

I got 5 beginner decks (one of each color) that I made from only portal cards. I think portal cards have vibrant art and simple mechanics. I was able to get her to play about 2 and half games before she got bored.
Another time I brought over couple of the Here I Rule halfsie promo decks over for her to try out, she would tease me about them but wouldn't actually sit down to play a game.

Another idea... by KathrynH at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 15:11
KathrynH's picture

Hmmm... if she's getting bored, maybe you should try using some booster packs (Steve and I made up about a hundred one weekend from old boxes of cards). We'd shuffle 3 of each land into a pack without looking at any of the cards, and then just play blind. The games were a little silly, but certainly not boring! It was fun to have no idea what card I'd draw, and usually it was one I'd never seen before.

Nice read and as a player who by bingobongo at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 12:02
bingobongo's picture

Nice read and as a player who has a wife that plays also I have to agree that the best ways are the base set and set decks, in my early days of playing we played a lot of magic together well she was my first opponent apart from the microposse game which both myself and brother loved.

She did pick up the game well and got to the point of making her own decks which she would spend all day planning and would surprise me when we got to play our next sessions.
Now she works awkward shifts so we haven't played in a while, but you have given me the idea again to pick a couple of zen decks and give her a game.

Both my sons have also picked up the game with both having MTGO accounts and both have tried Shards Tribal Madness

The precon decks are a great way to get people into magic and I always found it a shame other CCG's never followed MTG's idea and fill out a whole deck that worked together not just half of it and throw in some random cards you couldn't even play.

Once again nice read, hope your next article tells us about your first deck build would be interested to see what you made.

hmmm, thats interesting bingo by ShardFenix at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 12:21
ShardFenix's picture

hmmm, thats interesting bingo I did not know any of my players were related. Hopefully all three of you come to play this weekend.

I think the 2 of will be by bingobongo at Fri, 10/23/2009 - 02:36
bingobongo's picture

I think the 2 of us will be there, but don't worry neither of us would let the other win, it a fight to the death so to speak besides if they win i never hear about anything else for months!!!

My next article? by KathrynH at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 15:11
KathrynH's picture

I guess I'll have to write again...

I have to admit, I've never really made my own deck, unless you count constructing one from a booster draft.

Maybe I'll have to try making one now! I can start with my unicorn collection (haha)

Unicorns might be a good by bingobongo at Fri, 10/23/2009 - 02:51
bingobongo's picture

Unicorns might be a good start but as you already know faeries are a top deck then maybe that should be where you begin your building career.

My fiance is moving in with by Jett (not verified) at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 12:10
Jett's picture

My fiance is moving in with me in the next few weeks, and she's new to the magic scene.. Her fantastic phonecall timing usually means she interrupts 4 out of every 5 games.. I tell her that I'd love her to play, but I fear the only way to get her to play is with a Faerie deck lol..

Ah well, all I can do is try, shes very understanding..

Faeries by KathrynH at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 15:12
KathrynH's picture

Hey, faeries was one of the top decks for a while, right?

Sounds like you'll definitely win her over. Good luck!

Steve, Your lady is right on by Paul Leicht at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 12:32
Paul Leicht's picture

Steve, Your lady is right on the money. Most of those points helped my long term (21 year+) become interested in the game and while she is not a great player (I don't own physical cards anymore so we don't play anymore) she understands the rudiments of the game and we had quite a lot of fun in the diners late at night playing Magic and drinking Coffee (no more coffee for me though.)

When the game came out I was having no success getting her to play in the weekly D&D game I had going in my tiny studio apartment. She just liked listening but didn't want to get involved with "I draw my sword and wait for the orcs to charge." Which I totally understood. When I started getting into magic though she loved the art and was as exciting to see new cards for that as I was to see them for the abilities. We both loved the art of the Dark even if the set was a bit of a downer after legends and antiquities and arabian nights. As I started playing tourneys she became my sparring partner and I had to go through some of those steps above to make the playing field a little more even. A friend of mine said my casual decks were almost perfectly balanced against each because of the time I spent tuning them for our games.

I lost interest in paper magic for reasons that had nothing to do with my gf and I, and while she wondered why we stopped playing it didn't really bother her. It was really for her just a way to spend time with me doing something fun. So we do other things instead. But I agree 100% with the points here in.

this was the cutest article by rainin6 at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 12:37
rainin6's picture

this was the cutest article ever. my girlfriend doesn't know how to play but i told her to read this and though she didn't get the specifics of it, she totally agreed with your tone and tips. =) kudos.

Awww... by KathrynH at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 15:14
KathrynH's picture

Thanks! Glad some girlfriends are reading this.

OMG!! by moeru-tora@hotmail.com (not verified) at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 13:47
moeru-tora@hotmail.com's picture

That was a brilliant article. Congrats. When I went to see what was on the homepage and wishing for Godots article to be there I saw this and it made me crack up. I Like It!

Thank you! I've been lurking by KathrynH at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 18:58
KathrynH's picture

Thank you! I've been lurking on this site for a while, mostly reading Steve's articles... it's fun to "come out" and write my own.

Absolutely fantastic article by dangerlinto at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 14:00
dangerlinto's picture

I've given up wholly on getting my wife to try the game out, but mostly that's because she simply isn't to strategy games of any kind.

However, I know other people who've tried (some who've failed) and I think your pointers are on the ball.

My own additions to that list by Lord Erman at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 14:56
Lord Erman's picture

My own additions to that list would be:

1- Never ever play frustrating cards. No Blue has been mentioned in the article but also no Wrath of God, no Stone Rain etc... Basically no unfair things.

2- Never play too complicated cards. This isn't because she's a she, but because she's a beginner. Warp World may not help you get her into the game whereas explaining the word Forestwalk on Heartwood Treefolk is a lot easier.

3- Rules are ment to be broken. Don't insist that after mulligan she should start with 6 cards. An example: When my wife was my girlfriend and we were playing Magic, she used to play Dark Ritual as a land. I mean, she was always playing it as if the card was a land and every turn she was tapping it and getting 3 black mana. Her reasoning was very simple: The card says "Mana Source" (5th Ed. version) and she was using it as a mana source! Let her do that. It doesn't matter if she crushes you with a turn 3 Delraich.

4- Balanced decks are mentioned in the article and this is really very important.

5- Art matters! And especially for girls. Try to give her cards that she would like. Stay away from cards with brutal art. Unicorns are mentioned in the article but faeries or angels or even elves would also do.

6- Go step by step. Start with creature decks (with lovely art) without or very few game texts on them and then raise the level of complexity in time.

7- Try to play in large groups instead of one on one games for a while. She should see that you are not the only one! This one especially worked very well for me I must add.

These are a few points I can think of now.

Great article by the way.


Good points by KathrynH at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 15:18
KathrynH's picture

Yep, art totally matters! I like the groups idea, too. I've never played in a group, but I used to hang out and watch these guys in my dorm play magic in college (they never got up the nerve to ask me to join in... too bad!)

I wouldn't say you should NEVER play frustrating or complicated cards... but definitely avoid them until she's comfortable. (ie, not going to cry). If I'd never seen tricky cards, and got super comfortable playing with easy ones, I think it would be hard for me to "unlearn" my assumptions about the game in order to work in totally new mechanics. Although I guess this depends on how far your girlfriend is planning to get with magic. If she's never going to play anyone but you, maybe it doesn't matter.

Met my hubby gaming by Mrs. Beard (not verified) at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 17:15
Mrs. Beard's picture

I met my husband while learning to play UFS, another CCG. We were even on teams together in tournaments. We learned playing MAGIC together a few months ago when Planeswalkers came out on the 360. I built my own green deck and he has made wonderful changes to it and we use each other as playtesters for our decks. It is a great way to spend more time with each other and hey, I usually win against him! But that's because we built an awesome green deck together... I admit, I am one of the rare gamer chicks, totally ready to learn a new game or challenge my hubby. I totally recommend any girls out there to at least give this game a chance! You could have a great time with you guy and maybe even bond a little. (Also, it's fun to be the only chick in the tournament at the game shop!)

Good article with good by Godot at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 17:24
Godot's picture

Good article with good advice. I've used many of these techniques while teaching my kids to play and enjoy Magic, so most of this advice applies for any new player who isn't squarely in the target demographic to begin with. ("You're a 22-year old male strategy gamer with disposable income who likes the fantasy genre? Wow, this is going to be a tough sell...")

Definitely! These tips are by KathrynH at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 17:41
KathrynH's picture

Definitely! These tips are meant help any advanced player teach/play with a less skilled person who may not be totally into the game yet. I actually taught my little brother to play when he was about 14, and now of course he's way better than me. Oh well!

I've gotten my girlfriend to by Sean (not verified) at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 17:58
Sean's picture

I've gotten my girlfriend to start playing (with my cards... she isn't quite to the point of buying here own yet). I told her about this article and her response was "And don't forget to include holograms". Sigh.

i know ive been teaching at by ShardFenix at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 19:26
ShardFenix's picture

i know ive been teaching at friend at college to play and can see i may have misstepped a few by starting him off with tricky strategies instead of the more basic approach. I may make him a normal monocolored deck so he can get a better grasp of mechanics before i continue delving into startegy and timing.

Great Article. I'll have to by Rerepete at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 20:03
Rerepete's picture

Great Article. I'll have to keep this in mind if my GF shows evem an inklimg of interest in the game.

I Wish by Katastrophe at Thu, 10/22/2009 - 23:22
Katastrophe's picture

This article is so good, it makes me wish I had someone to teach. The advice is great, especially 2, 4, and "art matters". Even though I can't use your advice I'll give this article 6/5 red fireballs because it was at least that entertaining. I'll definitely link people to this any chance I get.

Thanks so much! I hope you by KathrynH at Sat, 10/24/2009 - 09:50
KathrynH's picture

Thanks so much! I hope you find someone to teach. :)

My only other add would be by bingobongo at Fri, 10/23/2009 - 02:45
bingobongo's picture

My only other add would be for the more techincal minded and try pick up a copy of the old microposse game(it will be downloadable now)
it was and still is a great way to get into MTG, only problem now is getting it to run at a sensible speed.

Also there was a set out called Portal a few years ago not sure if any remain but that was a great intro to the game, but u could easily remake the decks.

My girlfriend has been by StealthBadger at Fri, 10/23/2009 - 07:23
StealthBadger's picture

My girlfriend has been getting into magic a bit recently. One tip I'd recommend when trying to get anyone to play is that new players tend to get very attached to certain cards that they've beaten you around the head with! I put a couple of the foil 9th ed. serra angels in my girlfriend's first deck, and sharply took an airborne beating, while having my ground offensive blunted. She rarely builds a deck (alright, she's more into tweaking my decks than building her own) without serra angel now.

I highly recommend making sure her deck has a few blatently obvious massive bombs in it (preferably foil, to make it even more "this is going to win you the game" looking). That foil Rampaging Baloths you picked up at the prerelease is perfect for this, especially if you've got a couple of the proper tokens (as it is massive, and will just win the game on it's own). It's kind of like in the crappy yugioh cartoon where all of the characters have their "signature card". New players tend to get attached to certain cards, and like feeling like their favourite card is going to turn up and get the job done.

(Hell, my foil Rhox from the 7th edition starter game still makes the cut in lots of my decks!)

Interesting point! by KathrynH at Sat, 10/24/2009 - 09:54
KathrynH's picture

I have to admit, I've never really gotten attached to a certain card. Probably because my favorite part of the game is discovering new cards, so I constantly try out new preconstructed decks. Although there was this time I won with a Skyreach Manta that I cast with all five colors. I'd love to do that again!

Giraffe's picture

I got my wife (< pictured) to play a couple times with some Mirrodin precons a few years ago. The experience wasn't great - the cards were a little too complex and the decks were not the most fun.

Lately I've been playing both paper & online a lot and have been trying to get her to share interest. It's tough! She's a gamer (loves console games, and we were both fairly addicted to WoW together - she even likes intricate board games ala Agricola) and thinks she knows the ins and outs of MTG from our previous experience. But she fully clasifies the game as way too nerdy (to her MTG = D&D = no way) and says she doesn't like the high level strategy aspect (add this to the not so fun first experience we had and I'm basically at a roadblock again.)

Anyhow, I eventually managed to convince her to give it another shot. This time I picked us each up 6 M10 boosters fully hoping she'd rip a Baneslayer Angel and have the experience of pulling a $$ chase rare that's also fun to play with. She opened one of course and though reluctant to play she definitely had a synical smile when beating me down with the angel (I gave her a couple turns before showing her what spot removal was, to which she promptly said "No... It doesn't do that!" - guess I should've waited for a couple games!) Besides the BSA she opened a Serra Angel and Lightbringer Paladin, so her White/Black deck is nutty and perfect for a beginner facing the lackluster WG I put together.

I've taught several coworkers to play over lunch using the Zen format. I've found that as long as someone is interested you can give them the game overview and throw them right into playing with all of the advanced cards explaining as you go. For someone that's marginally interested, ie just playing for your benefit, it's best to stick with a core set and basic strategies. It's much better to have a bunch of vanilla creatures with only a couple abilities mixed in rather than special abilities on every card, as is nearly the case in Zendikar.

Thanks for sharing this, Kathryn!

Yeah, spot removal sure sucks by KathrynH at Sat, 10/24/2009 - 09:58
KathrynH's picture

Yeah, spot removal sure sucks when you're a beginner and you feel like you have the game won. It just doesn't make sense that this one stupid card can take down your awesome creature, and there's nothing you can do! One of my big breakthroughs in the game was realizing that it's okay to let my creatures die sometimes. I have 59 other cards in the deck, after all!

Good point about the contrast between someone who actually really wants to learn to play and someone who's reluctant.

Great article! Hope to see by The D.K. at Fri, 10/23/2009 - 23:17
The D.K.'s picture

Great article! Hope to see more out of you!

My wife got into the game a few years back. She was a little reluctant then, but when I gave her my old Elf deck (Onslaught-era), she really fell in love with it. The art on the cards was a nice draw and tribal Elves is fun and powerful.

Ironically enough though, my wife is now currently maining Red/Black. The bloodier the picture, the better. Pretty art may have been the initial draw-in, but she's cut a complete 180. XD I let her have a go at making her own Standard deck a few months back with my M10/ALA/CON/ARB collection, and sure enough, she pumped out a nice, speedy R/B aggro deck that runs toe-to-toe with my Esper deck.

Missed opportunity by Wizard not of the coast (not verified) at Sat, 10/24/2009 - 12:45
Wizard not of the coast's picture

tut tut, serious missed opportunity missing out the bartering section. my bf got me into the game, but i wouldnt play til he'd got me numerous pairs of shoes lol

insert card pic of Ill Gotten Gains here

Really? by The wife of a player (not verified) at Mon, 12/07/2009 - 15:16
The wife of a player's picture

Hello. I read the article and I found some tips that could be useful BUT it didn't sound quite convincing as a whole :) My husband gave me the link, so I decided to say my opinion about it.

1. Yes, we have plenty of cards at home, cards are everywhere and in front of my eyes all the time. Yes, I like how some of them look like even though I have no idea how "strong" or useful they are, but it doesn't make me want to actually play the game. I just note "Oh, this is a beautiful card" and that's it. So the idea of "put some cute cards laying around so she can see them" can have the opposite effect:

- she will complain it is messy, there is no need to have cards laying around everywhere and at the end it might actually annoy her

2. I strongly recommend - DO NOT use the last advice about the "if she learns to play the game, you’ll pay extra attention to her and she’ll get bonus time with you that she might not get otherwise". Seriously, do not use this unless you have a very good answer to: "How about you stop playing this game so that you get bonus time with me?"

3. No, I am not interested in learning how to play the game, I am fine with him playing, chatting with others about it, reading articles, watching videos and so on as long as it doesn't take too much of his time and it does not affect the other (I dare to say more important) things in his life. I like RPG games and I have never been interested in cards games.

4. Actually I am quite smart and I can easily notice all kind of attempts and tricks to make me interested in the game. So those will not work with me and he knows it. If I am interested in something, I am and that's it. If I am not, then I am not and that's it. This is his game, he plays it, it is his time with his friends and I prefer to let things stay this way.

5. Do respect your partner's wishes and preferences and do not force them to do things they don't want to, do not ignore them for a game (no game is more important than your relationship with a living person you hav feelings for).

Have fun and good luck all of you :)

dangerlinto's picture

I think that is the key right there. The article is geared toward helping along someone who *is* interested - not in tricking someone who isn't.

If my wife ever said "you know I'd like to give that a try" I'd be following these tips. Instead I end up following yours :)

Lastly, just because you believe that playing magic together isn't quality time spent between significant others doesn't mean it can't be.

It is not quality time when by The wife of a player (not verified) at Mon, 12/07/2009 - 16:05
The wife of a player's picture

It is not quality time when the whole idea is to involve the significant other so that he/she stops complaining that we spend too much time playing a game. If the partner really wants to learn how to play and play together with his/her loved one and has the initiative, then it might be good. But not if the player just wants to reduce the number of fights he/she has with the partner over the game. In cases where we have a fanatic player who spends too much time with the game, involving the partner is not helping for solving the problem. Good balance between games and all other activities is very important. And ofc people are different, some might embrace the idea, but I believe most will not.

Quality time by dangerlinto at Mon, 12/07/2009 - 16:14
dangerlinto's picture

I don't think the article makes any attempt to try to solve "quality time" issues between couples - merely instruct how to carry someone's more casual and lighter interest into the game for mutual enjoyment.

It sounds to me like you have a personal issue with the way you were introduced to this article - like it was a magic spell (no pun intended) that could make someone like Magic. Sorry if that's the case.

Lol, no :) I just got the by The wife of a player (not verified) at Mon, 12/07/2009 - 16:40
The wife of a player's picture

Lol, no :) I just got the link from my husband to read and I read it. It was interesting for me to see what advices the author would give and I posted my opinion about what I read (being in the target group) :) I focused on some of the aspects of the article, not all :) And ofc people are free to disagree with me :) Just for the record I am a psychologist :)

Cute article! magical love-fuz for all! by Lonesome Hobo (not verified) at Sun, 01/31/2010 - 16:07
Lonesome Hobo's picture

geez wife ov a player, lighten up or u might find your husband playing alot more card games.
a good, oldfasioned labotomy might stop him trying to trick and manipulate u into playing.
aye, a heartwarming, adorable article. cant wait to meet a nice girl, take her home,
and finaly destroy her with the endless wurm!h.