How to Play Magic The Gathering TCG: A Beginners Guide - Gathering Games

How to Play Magic The Gathering TCG: A Beginners Guide

Magic: The Gathering is a complex and strategic collectible card game with a wide range of rules and gameplay mechanics. Established in 1993, Magic: The Gathering, or MTG, has become the world's most popular trading card game. Spanning an insane amount of sets since its release, utilising some of the world's most recognisable properties, such as Lord of The Rings, Dr Who, Warhammer 40K and Dungeons & Dragons it has captured the hearts of tens of millions around the globe. 

As it has such an incredibly rich history & backstory many new card gamers looking for something new in the TCG world may be a little overwhelmed by the card play, which is why we at Gathering Games have put together a quick ‘intro’, if you will, into the basic mechanics of setting you on your way to becoming a Magic: The Gathering conqueror. 

Follow the below steps & information to set you on your MTG way:

Deck Construction

  • Each player needs a deck of around 40-100 cards to play, depending on the format. A deck can contain any number of basic land or spell cards. Spell cards can include creature & non-creature variants, with the latter consisting of enchantments, artefacts, instants and sorceries.
  • You can build a deck using cards from different sets and expansions, but certain formats may have specific deck-building restrictions.

Game Setup

  • Each player starts with 20 life points, or 40 in multiplayer games, ideally splitting up the life points.
  • Shuffle your deck and draw seven cards as your starting hand. If you don't like your hand, you can take a mulligan and draw a new hand with one fewer card. In a mulligan you still draw 7 cards, but return a card from your hand to the bottom of the deck, every time a mulligan is taken. Repeat this process until you are satisfied or until you have no cards left and must keep a zero-card hand.

Turn Structure

  • The game is played in turns, with each turn consisting of several phases: un-tap, up-keep, draw, main phase 1, combat phase, main phase 2, and end step.
  • During each phase, players can take specific actions and play cards.

Card Types

  • Lands: Provide mana, which is required to cast other spells.
  • Creatures: Represent creatures that can attack your opponent or defend you from attacks, these are also part of the Spell cards.
  • Spells: Include instants (can be played at any time), sorceries (played during your main phase), and enchantments (provide ongoing effects), creature & non-creature.
  • Artefacts: Non-creature permanents with various effects.

Casting Spells

  • Each card has a mana cost. To cast a spell, you need to pay its mana cost by tapping lands for mana.
  • Different cards require different types and amounts of mana to be cast.
  • Creatures are typically summoned onto the battlefield, while spells and artefacts often have immediate effects.


  • During your combat phase, you can choose to attack with your creatures. Declare which creatures are attacking and which player or planeswalker they are attacking.
  • The defending player can choose to block your attacking creatures with their creatures.
  • Combat damage is dealt simultaneously, and creatures may have additional abilities or effects during combat.

Winning the Game

  • Reduce your opponent's life total to 0 to win the game.
  • Some cards have alternate win conditions or other ways to achieve victory.

Again, this is just a basic overview of the game. Magic: The Gathering has a vast number of cards, complex interactions, and rule intricacies. You can always refer to the official rulebook or explore various online resources and tutorials to delve deeper into the game and its strategies. Practice, experimentation, and playing with others will help you improve your skills and understanding of the game.

Start your MTG card collection today here at Gathering Games, with our vast offering of Standard Set Boosters, Master Set Boosters, Commander Decks & Challenger Decks.