Where to Start

So you just loaded this great new game called Magic: The Gathering® Online onto your computer. You connected to the Internet, launched the program, watched it download a bunch of stuff, and then saw a log on screen.

Now what?

Let’s talk about your first experience with Magic® Online. Maybe you’re new to the Magic game; maybe you’re an old hand but new to the world of multiplayer online games. Either way, you probably need a little guidance at the outset. This article will walk you through getting an account, trying out the game, and talk just a bit about buying some cards.

Getting an Account

Magic Online StoreThe first thing you need to do is get a Magic Online account. At the Magic OnlineLog On screen, click New Account. This will launch your Internet browser of choice (assuming you haven’t already started it) and take you to the Magic: The Gathering Online Store (magiconlinestore.wizards.com if you want to type it in the hard way).

When you get there, click where it says “click here” under Creating a New Account? From there, the site will walk you through the steps of getting your own Magic Online account.

Before you do, you should know some things about having a Magic Online account:

  • You have to be at least 18 years old. Sorry kids, but you’ll have to get a parent’s permission to play. Mostly because...
  • You have to have a credit or debit card. There are a lot of official-type reasons for this, but since you can’t buy online cards without one it kind of covers it all.
  • You need to read the License Agreement and Code of Conduct. Frankly, we all want a friendly place to play and you can get bounced from Magic Online (among other things) if you don’t play nice.
  • You need to pick a user name.

That last one is important. The name you enter here is what you’ll be known as on Magic Online. Everyone will see it–opponents, friends, arch-nemesis…everyone. If you don’t want to be known as “Hamster” for your entire Magic Online existence, then don’t choose that name.

If you don’t understand something about the account creation process, there’s online help to answer your questions (click Help, imagine that). If you don’t find what you need, there’s also a list of contact information so you can get help from a real live person.

You don’t have to buy any cards immediately and, in fact, I don’t recommend it unless you’re already pretty good at playing the Magic game. And even if you know your way around a draft table, you might want to get a taste before you plunk down your hard-earned dollars.

So, once your account is set up, go back to the Log On screen and, well, log on. Type in the user name and password you chose and click Log On (we like to keep things obvious). Now it’s time for some fun!

Trying Out the Game

Magic Online StoreThe first thing you’ll see is the Main Room. There is a bunch of buttons that lead to other areas of the game. For now, we’re going to take a look at the Training Room. Click the button in the upper-left corner to enter the room.

Inside are three more buttons leading to other rooms. I highly recommend taking at least a quick look at Introduction to Help. When you click on it, the Getting Help file will open in your Internet browser (okay, so it’s not really a room). It tells you about where to find help in Magic Online and who you can contact if you’re having problems. Some handy things to know, really.

After you take a good look at that, click Tutorials. Inside the room you’ll find walkthroughs of different aspects of the game. If you’ve never played Magic before, the tutorials will help you understand how the game itself is played. If you have, but this is your first time in Magic Online, they’ll teach you a lot about how the interface works.

Here’s a special note for folks who haven’t played since before the MagicSixth Edition rules were published. There were a lot of changes to the Magic rules when the Classic (Sixth Edition) basic set came out. You’re going to have a bit of a learning curve, but I promise the game is a lot simpler than it used to be. If nothing else, you want to learn about the stack. Fortunately, if you click Expert Mechanics Tutorials, there’s a tutorial dedicated to teaching about exactly that. Take a look before you go wandering elsewhere.

After you’ve run through some of the tutorials (or skipped them entirely, as I know some of you have), you should go to the Practice Games room to try your hand against some live opponents. If you’re still in the Tutorials room, click the Back button on the left side of your screen. Then click Practice Games.

The Practice Games room is special. In it, you can only play with Seventh Edition theme decks. A theme deck is built by Wizards of the Coast from cards from certain sets. They’re put together so they work well and you can concentrate on learning the Magic game and not on building a deck (which we cover elsewhere on this site).

Here’s the kicker: you don’t have to own the cards to play the decks in the Practice Games room. For folks who played the free trial before getting an account, this is going to be familiar.

In the room, you’ll see a bunch of tables with characters sitting around them. Tables with an avatar on each side are where games are already in progress. A table with one avatar and an empty chair is where a player waiting for an opponent. You’ll also see tables with one avatar and no empty chair, which is where someone is playing a solitaire game.

Usually you can watch games in progress. Click a table with avatars and no empty chairs and a Duel screen will open, showing the game as it’s played. You can even chat with folks as they play, but please respect their wishes for “quiet” if they’re trying to concentrate on the game. To close the Duel screen, right click the area where cards are shown on the table (not on a card, somewhere on the background) and choose Stop Watching.

If you want to play against someone who is waiting for an opponent, click an empty chair across from an avatar. When you do, you’ll get a window that will ask what deck you want to use. There are five different Seventh Edition theme decks–one for each color (white, blue, black, red, and green). Click the drop down arrow to see a list of decks, including what color each is. Then click a deck you want to play. If you’re not sure, you can see information about each deck here (link to deck lists/information).

To start a game, click New Game. Clicking on this table will open up the New Game Options window, were you choose...well...the options for the game. What else?

Seriously though, the choices you have are fairly limited in the Practice Games room, so it’s not too difficult. The only ones you need to worry about are Play structure, Match structure, and Deck.

Play structure is where you choose whether you want to play a game by yourself or against another opponent. Why play against yourself? Well, some folks test decks this way just to see how often they draw a certain card or whether they have enough land in their deck. For new players, it’s a good way to just get used to the Duel screen.

Match structure lets you choose to play either a single game or a full match (best two-out-of-three games). Do you want to play at least two games against the same player with the same deck? Or would you rather play one game and then move on? The choice is completely up to you.

Deck is a list of Seventh Edition theme decks you can choose to play. Unlike other rooms, when you start a game in the PracticeGames room there’s a dropdown list of decks to choose from. (In a regular Constructed event, you’d choose a deck you’ve built and stored on your own PC.) Each choice has the name of the deck, plus a brief description. Pick one with the color you like and click OK (the green checkmark).

The Waiting for Players window appears with your avatar sitting at the table. If you’re playing a solitaire game, you click OK and go to the Duel screen. If you’re waiting for someone to take up the challenge, you sit tight until another avatar appears at your table. Then click OK to begin.

Once the Duel screen opens, it’s time to see what you learned in those tutorials. You did go check out the Tutorials room first, right?

Buying Some Cards

After you feel comfortable playing Magic Online, it’s time to start building that collection! But what do you want to get? Here are some thoughts on the matter.

Theme Decks

If you’re completely new to the Magic game, you might want to start with some theme decks. Since they’re built for you by Wizards’ R&D group, you know that they’re solid and you might learn something about building a deck by playing them.

Tournament Packs

Tournament packs are 70-card boxes for each of the big expert-level expansions (the Invasion and Odyssey sets, that is). Other than for playing in Sealed-Deck events, you’ll probably want to buy some of these eventually, as they’re the best way to get basic lands.

Booster Packs

Booster packs contain 15 cards from a specific set. In Magic Online, that means sets from the Invasion expert-level expansion forward, plus the Seventh Edition basic set. Most players buy these for playing in Draft-Format events. However, since each contains at least one rare card and several uncommons, you’ll want some to start building up your collection.

If you’re new to Magic Online, check this article for some information on getting the most bang for your buck when buying cards.

That should be enough to get you off to a running start in Magic Online. Remember (since I just know you’re going to read the Introduction to Help, right?), there are help buttons on every screen. If you get stuck on something, click it to open a page related to what you’re looking at. Also, if you’re really lost, look for a player with an eyeball or wizard’s cap icon. These are the Adepts and Experts, who’ll be more than happy to assist.

Good luck, and good games.

back to the Academy

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