Originally Posted by *BaseClogger*
I bought a bunch of these cards when I was younger but I never learned how to play the game. A friend and I were going through my card collection, and he recognized them. Turned out, he also had some from his earlier days. Anyways, after learning how to play I have realized this is a really fun game, but I am just at the cusp of understanding it. Is there anybody else who has played Magic? What would you suggest to better understand the game? If it helps, I'm 17 and I think I got these cards when I was about 11, so they are from around... 2001?
I hold two Magic the Gathering State Championships and multiple top 8 and top 4 finishes. I've played in a ton of Pro Tour qualifiers and have played against pro players in Minneapolis during the last Grand Prix held there. I'll also be competing in MTG Regionals again later this spring. That tourney allows for Nationals slots for the top players so I'll be playtesting hard with my team over the next couple of months. I've spent thousands of dollars on this game, but I've won thousands of dollars as well by playing it. Just depends on how serious you are about winning.
So I'm your huckleberry.
Here's the best Magic the Gathering website out there:
Here's another website where you can download a program called Apprentice and add every MTG virtual card ever created (it's free) for online play against real live opponents:
Johnny is giving you good feedback, except that a tourney-legal deck is a minumum of 60 cards. His four of any one card maximum is in effect for current standard play. He's right in that you want enough low-cost cards that you can play something on every turn, but the power of each card comes into play as well.
Just because a card costs less mana than another, that doesn't mean it's a better option for your deck. If you want a fast and consistent deck you want is a collection of 60 cards that can inflict maxim damage within the first five turns of the game. If you're looking for a deck that denies resources (cards, creatures, etc.) then you'll need cheap early-turn kill and/or counter spells followed by medium-to-large creatures your opponent can't easily remove.
In short, you need to figure our your plan, find the best cards for their mana cost, and then commit to a strategy that maximizes deck efficiency. And considering that you'll be shuffling, you'll also want to keep only the good starting hands that fit your strategy and throw the rest back to a mulligan. Each mulligan you take means you draw one less card. The major issue I see with mulligans is too few land. If you're playing a 60-card deck and have a ton of low-mana spells, you should be playing at least 23 land. If your mana curve is a bit higher or if you really want a chance at casting spells that are five mana or higher, you need 24 or even 25 land. That's easy to do considering the amount of potentially dangerous land (stuff that can turn into creatures) in this cycle.
The best advice I can give you at this point is to find your play style. There are the following card colors:
White (small creatures, some creature control, enchantment kill, and some lifegain)
Blue (counterspells, bounce, card drawing, playing things on your opponent's turn)
Black (opponent discard, life loss for effect, creature control)
Red (direct damage, fast small creatures, some artifact kill, more direct damage)
Green (big creatures for good costs, mana development, some lifegain, enchantment and artifact kill)
Multi-color (some fatties and under-costed stuff but for different and sometimes off-color mana)
Artifacts (generally crap except for Pithing Needle and Loxodon Warhammer)
Land (Basics that you'll need to cast stuff, and some lands you can turn into creatures in every color)
Right now the standard format is up in the air. There are a lot of viable competitive decks. Go to the second link I gave you and click on "Decks" on the left. Right now, Blue/White, Green/White/Black, and mono-Red seem to be the decks to beat given the right cards, but that can change on a moment's notice given the environment.
If you just want to play for fun, then remember- 60 cards, maximum two colors, and make sure you have at least 23 land. And don't get all giddy about huge creatures because they always cost more.
Good luck and have fun!