Find out the different ways one can enjoy Magic on the cheap, and you could be competitive too.

IT’S true. Being dedicated to something can bring you fantastic returns. Apart from a deeper sense of satisfaction, you could also make loads of money.

But I’m sure many of you knew that anyway. I’m not here to talk about how you can make money out of playing trading card games (TCG) such as Magic: The Gathering professionally – instead, let’s explore some fun options for the casual player.

Raise the banner

Playing TCG casually brings its own unique rewards – you explore a diverse range of formats, and the deckbuilding experience goes into different directions.

Yeah, it often challenges you to build decks so differently that often, you’re playing a brand new game.

My own casual Magic: The Gathering playgroup for instance has a mix of styles and house rules. For instance, anything from the Kamigawa block is allowed, which does open things up a fair bit.

Still, some of us will play block-specific decks (that is, Scars only, or Zendikar only, and so forth), while the rest will play tribal decks. Tribal is simple – just choose a creature type, and stick to that.

Tribal is most fun – can you guess what is the most popular? Well, I’ve seen Elves (kind of an obvious one), Knights, Goblins (another popular choice), Soldiers, Merfolk, Beasts, Vampires, Zombies (a personal favourite of mine) and Samurai.

Taking things tribal is probably enough to last us a lifetime, considering how some of them have an endless number of options.

Take Goblins for instance: the Lorwyn block gave us Red, Green, and/or Black goblins, with each having its own plethora of options. There’s Blue and Black Merfolk there as well. Then don’t forget the Treefolk!

If you fancy playing the good guys, Soldiers, Knights and Samurai are probably your thing, as they’re well-stocked there in the White department. But wait, there are also Black and Red Knights, and Black, Red and Green (can you guess who) Samurai to complicate things if you’re feeling a little less goody two shoes!

The creature archetypes go on and on in Magic, thereby making Tribal a hugely rich experience. Anyone up to break a Warrior deck?

“Going tribal is one of the oldest and most exciting ways of experiencing Magic. Top tournament decks to even the most casual and fun decks, incorporate a tribal flavour, and it won’t be going away anytime soon,” said Michael Toh, a Klang Valley tournament organiser and long-time Magic fan.

Going pre-packaged

Quite a number of the pre-sorted and ready-to-play products are solid buys for the casual Magic crowd.

First up, get Duel Decks if you want to play with a friend, and have access to a wide variety of synergistic cards. Each Duel Decks series comes with two 60-card decks that are perfectly antagonistic towards one another.

And yes, they each include a range of commons, uncommon and even rare cards. Every single one of them is good, by the way.

You can also opt to customise them a bit to your own liking, but the decks are usually well-balanced, and subbing out cards should be minimised, in order for them to hold their unique identities.

Wizards has introduced alternate methods of play, as they produce more special 60-card decks under the Planechase and Archenemy special sets.

I’m fond of the Archenemy decks as they make Magic so much more grand and nail-biting. The “Schemes” really stand out in making sure that the decks played against the Archenemy are in tip-top condition. Yes, no Bird deck please, but no need to have a go at it using a lethal and efficient Legacy format tournament deck.

In order to make sure your deck survives the Schemes, ensure that the usual good deckbuilding practices apply. Pack plenty of removal, put in decent creatures, and hope you don’t land short of manna! Plus, just like the Planechase decks, Archenemy reprints plenty of the old stuff that’s no longer tournament-legal for Standard. Hey, I’m just glad they made a Zombie one!

“These are all great entry-level products that entice new players.

Plus, they save everyone time as the decks are all finely-balanced and a lot of fun!” Toh comments.

EDH60 is no lubricant

Any Magic player worth his salt would have heard of Elder Dragon Highlander, or more popularly by its short form, EDH. In EDH, you design 99-card decks, of which you use only a single copy for all non-basic land cards.

There is a 100th card, a Legendary creature, which is the deck’s “General.” The additional deckbuilding restriction is that all your deck’s cards colors must follow the General’s colours.

If 100 cards is a tad much, why not try 60 cards? EDH60 is a slimmed down variant of EDH, and plays well for one on one duels. Twenty odd lands means you only need 30 plus single cards that fit the General’s colors – easily enough for even those with smaller card pools.

What’s your flavour?

So what do you like to play most, in casual Magic? Got a cool decklist or two to share? How about some budget versions – yes, extra props for lists without four Siege-Gang Commanders and four Goblin Lackeys.

Write away at the blog, and feel free to contribute and spill the secrets on your favourite casual decks!

Tell us what you think!

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