Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Magic Primer: Anatomy Of the Board and Anatomy of a Turn

So most of the point of this blog is to talk about any damn thing that's on my head. And since I got back into Magic a lot of my brain space is being devoted to that. I have some interesting ideas on stuff to write but I also know that a lot of people who read this don't play and are going to think I'm nuts so I'm reviving my dead Magic Primers.

There is a lot of fun stuff to talk about, color, card types, deck archetypes, combat, the stack  but all of that depends on knowing the kind of boring stuff about turn structure so let's talk about that and while I'm at it the board.

That said until I get to that fun stuff I am mostly paraphrasing from

a.) The Rule Book
b.) This Article

Also before I get started let me describe the first rule of magic, there are no rules. Or rather all rules have exceptions. Why? Because if the text on a card contradicts the rules, and a lot of them do, the card wins. I could go through every exception but that would drive me nuts so yeah there is always a card somewhere that would alter the game in a way where things don't work as expected. Point is the word generally should be running though your mind at all times.

Also let's talk about cards for a sec before I go into nomenclature. For the most part (it gets complicated and I don't have time to explain the difference between permanents, lands, and spells right now) cards are referred to as spells when you play them you cast them.

Board Structure 
So technically the board in magic is divided into zones. Nobody refers to stuff that way but whatevz. There all just places where cards go.

The Library/Your Deck
In terms of flavor your deck represents your mind or at least long term memory, containing every spell you could cast in the game. The game starts with each player having a deck with a minimum of 60 cards with no more of four of the same card except lands (card type and mana laterz).

Because the probability of drawing any specific card goes down the more cards you have in your deck most players stick with that minimum.  Though I've been known to rock 1400 cards decks on occasion.

Also the rules state if you must draw a card but can't because there are no cards in your library you lose. Using this as a strategy is called milling and no not right now.

Your Hand
When the game starts players draw seven cards and draw an additional one at the beginning of each of their turns. The cards represent stuff you can do. Your options. In terms of the game's flavor, your short term memory and the stuff in your head you have immediate access to.

The Stack
The stack is going to get it's own post, but it's basically a system regarding what happens when more than one thing is going on at around the same time. Oh screw it. When you play a spell or ability (not now) it goes on the stack. Each opponent gets an opportunity to respond to it unless you declare you retain your priority (will be explained later) in order to do something else, in which case then each player gets an opportunity to respond to it. Effects on the stack then resolve one at a time starting with the most recent.

Okay in English. Every time you do something the game gives everybody else the chance to do something before your something happens and explaining this coherently is going to take another post, moving on.

The Battlefield 
I will explain it more when I get to card types. A good number of spells go to the graveyard (just wait two seconds) after they resolve from the stack. Some stuff doesn't. Instead they go to the battlefield where they stick around until... stuff happens. These cards are called permanents for this reason. The battlefield is what we think of when we say "the board". It's the place where stuff happens.

The Graveyard
When a spell resolves, a permanent dies or is destroyed it goes to the graveyard.
Because of this the graveyard is a record of the game.

Anyway, the graveyard in terms of flavor is kind like well a graveyard. The place stuff goes after it's dead.

That is how the game normally works, but it is "generally" way easier to get stuff from the graveyard to the battlefield than your library to your hand to the battlefield. You will go up against a reanimation deck eventually. Dredge is the bane of everyone's existence. One turn K.O. How the hell is that right.

Explain it later Miles.

Exile Zone
So permanents are powerful and so since the beginning the game had stuff that could put them from the battlefield to the graveyard.  But the game also had plenty of ways to bring them back. So eventually cards starting having "remove x from game" to permanently kill stuff.  And then Wizards started playing with that idea. So now dead ain't dead.  Anyway exile is basically just a place to set aside cards almost like a second graveyard except they only go there when a spell or ability says they do.

First Turn Stuff
The first turn is weird so let me explain stuff that happens in it.

Who's on first?
So the first thing is figuring out who goes first. Players flip a coin or roll a dice and the person who wins that gets the option to go first. It's there choice. If they do go first they don't draw a card at the beginning of their first turn.

Pistols at Dawn
After that each player draws seven cards from the top of their deck.

Uh can I get a do over?
Each player then gets the opportunity to mulligan. That is shuffle thier hand back in to thier deck and then draw one less card. You can do this as many times as you want, but after a while getting smaller and smaller hands diminishes the advantage of getting that perfect hand.  After each mulligan the other players also get an opportunity to do so.

Beginning Phase
And after that we get to the game proper.  The beginning step serves largely as housekeeping to within reason reset stuff. Starting with untapping.

To talk about why untapping is important and what tapping is I would need to talk about combat and mana, And I don't want to right now, but yeah, the first thing is untap any tapped permanents you control.

Most of the time nothing will happen during the up keep, but if a card needs something to happen at the beginning of a turn it will normally say, "at the beginning of your upkeep" Also its the first time your opponents can do something after you've untapped your cards.  Trickity trick trick.

The player whose turn it is gets to draw one card at the beginning to their turn.

Main Phase I
I swear I will talk more about the main phase when I talk about cards types but your main phase is so dubbed because it is the point in the game where you have the most options, being able to play all seven different card types, planeswalkers, lands, creatures, enchantments, sorceries, instants, and artifacts.Though you can only play one land per turn. (Laterz)

Too complicated getting it's own post. Long story short creatures fight.

Main Phase II
Same deal as Mainphase I

Ending Phase

End Step
It's like upkeep except for the end of your turn

Clean Up
The maximum hand size in the game is seven cards, this is enforced by having players who end thier turn with more than seven cards in thier hand discard cards until they have seven remaining.

Joy those were the boring bits so now I am free to talk about the more interesting stuff.

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