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scyphrre
05-31-2013, 01:58 PM
For starters, I found this glossary at http://mtg.wikia.com/wiki/Slang which has helped me greatly in making sense of things when I hear people talk about the game. For example the terms "mill", "chump", "curve" were all foreign to me until I read that glossary.

I'm fairly new to the TCG genre, but not to strategy games in general, hence my attraction to Hex. I'd like to get some tips from all you veterans out there about anything you think would be useful for a beginner TCG player. There are a lot "beginners guides" out there, but they all seem to be focused on a specific game. I'm sure each has it's quirks, but I'm more interested in learning about what makes the foundation of a good TCG player, the things that are applicable to any TCG.

For instance:

What are some common pitfalls beginners make? Not enough/too many resources is the one I hear about the most, but what else?
What are the skills I would need to get good at to be a good player?
Do people normally focus on a specific deck style or many different types of decks?
I assume people test out strategies by playing against friends with different decks - is there any consensus to how many games it takes to conclude if a certain deck is viable or not?


Stuff like that ;) ... drop da knowledge!

Lazybum
05-31-2013, 02:00 PM
really people can tell you what to do and what not to do and in the end it may not help, most of us who have been playing tcgs for years and years all sucked in the begining and just takes some time to see what you are doing wrong

would suggest sticking to one color when you first start and then branching to multi colored decks

scyphrre
05-31-2013, 02:08 PM
would suggest sticking to one color when you first start and then branching to multi colored decks

Thanks, that helps.

wallofomens
05-31-2013, 02:09 PM
youtube.com/redichaos (https://www.youtube.com/user/redichaos)!

All the tips you could possibly ever need!

But no, seriously, this is my channel and is more or less focused on helping newer players understand TCGs better. You should check it out. :)

EDIT: But to answer some of your questions:

It really depends on what you find fun in TCGs - do you like creating your own decks and testing them out? Or do you like taking a well established deck and doing some competitive play? Or do you like playing tons of drafts/sealed events? It all depends on what you like to do.

One thing that you need to learn is how to value cards, not only as seperate cards but as parts of a deck or a combo. And you need to learn how to value them for different formats - for example a card can be extremely good in draft, but absolutely useless in constructed.

There isn't really an established number of games when it comes to deck testing. You can't ever possibly win 100% of the time, but you do find out a lot of different things by play testing and adjust your deck accordingly.

Of course there is a lot more stuff, but I'll literally be here all day if I had to explain it all. You will gradually learn by playing.

Talreth
05-31-2013, 02:11 PM
Big numbers on a card don't always mean it's good. Likewise, small numbers don't always mean it's bad.

Moondancer
05-31-2013, 02:13 PM
One of the biggest pitfalls i have seen new players is Fatties(Big creatures with a high cost) they tend to value these way to high its an 8/8 with trample and all these awesome things, but the drawback is he costs 10 so baring acceleration(being able to generate more then one resource a turn) he is stuck in your hand for the whole game and if you finally do get him out he doesn't make a difference.

juzamjedi
05-31-2013, 02:18 PM
My advice is find a local hobby shop and ask someone to teach you Magic the Gathering. There are a good number of similarities between the games and a live person will be able to answer your questions better than a 2000 word essay from us forum posters. If you don't know where to find a hobby shop you can use this link: http://locator.wizards.com/

A common mistake for beginners is building a deck without a plan and/or having a plan that usually loses to a certain strategy. For a clear example: if you are an aggressive deck that needs to kill quickly then you don't want to play slow expensive creatures. Another example: your opponent is playing a combo deck, but your creature deck isn't fast enough to defeat him before he can combo.

Skills: level 0 is learning card interactions and knowing what your own cards do. Next is learning matchups between specific deck archetypes. Another skill is predicting your opponent's cards based on his play, and another skill is possibly influencing the opponent to make mistakes by bluffing you have something in your hand.

Personally I love building many decks. However, for efficiency / win rate most people focus on learning a specific deck style.

Yes! Playtesting to beat the expected metagame is very important. If most people are playing deck X and your playtesting shows that matchup to be unfavorable then you will likely do poorly in the tournament. In balanced metagames you can't beat everything, but you need to be sure you can beat the 1-2 top decks. I think it usually only takes a couple of tries to see if a deck has any shot, but many more tries to decide if you stick with it.

Erebus
05-31-2013, 02:21 PM
Avoid God Draw decks.

That is your awesome 3 turn win if you get the exact right hand. You should be dealing in reality. Every deck has a god draw hand, your deck should be able to win without it.

Also Speed kills.

Aggro decks set the pace for most constructed competitive play. Find the top aggro deck and figure out how fast it kills on average (once again don't assume God draws). Any deck you build that isn't aggro itself needs to go off faster then their kill condition or have a way to counter them. If the fastest aggro deck kills on turn 4, then your extinction can't be the only answer.

BKCshah
05-31-2013, 02:23 PM
Managing your resources. Life, removal, etc need to be valued correctly. There are times when killing a small creature is so worth it to push through damage,but other times when the removal should be saved.

Another skill is getting used to attacking. New players tend to be too passive.

Talreth
05-31-2013, 02:24 PM
Avoid God Draw decks.

That is your awesome 3 turn win if you get the exact right hand. You should be dealing in reality. Every deck has a god draw hand, your deck should be able to win without it.

Also Speed kills.

Aggro decks set the pace for most constructed competitive play. Find the top aggro deck and figure out how fast it kills on average (once again don't assume God draws). Any deck you build that isn't aggro itself needs to go off faster then their kill condition or have a way to counter them. If the fastest aggro deck kills on turn 4, then your extinction can't be the only answer.

This is true but you also have to take your meta into account. You have to make sure that your deck will have sufficient answers for the kinds of things you expect to be playing against, and the sideboard for things you might play against or your deck handles moderately well. Although idk if this is a tip for a beginner.

katkillad
05-31-2013, 02:33 PM
My suggestion would be to start with the starter decks before trying to make your own. Play with them enough to get to a point where you are familiar with the cards. Soon you will get to a point where you'll think "Oh i really like that" and "wow this card isn't so great". From that point when you see other new cards or open a few packs then you'll start to get the idea of what is really useful and cards you might want to swap out that you didn't like in your starter deck with better cards you discovered.

At that point you are probably officially sucked in and after enough matches deck ideas will probably be racing through your head. Time to start constructing your own decks and testing them out!

Fireblast
05-31-2013, 02:42 PM
What is important to understanding a TCG is not the colour, number of resources you play etc...

It's to understand the concepts
- Card Advantage (control)
- Tempo Advantage (aggro)
- Clock & Race (all things equal : I kill my opponent/die in X turns OR he'll kill me 1st/I'll die first)

Then your actions have to follow your game plan and give you an edge about those concepts (you choose how to balance them :p), sometimes it means making the play that gives you the best odds for winning.
Example : You're both low HP : What are your outs to kill him next turn VS what are your outs of surviving past next turn, you have to "gamble" on either Blasting his champion or his troop.

Last tip, if you're dead if he has/draws said card, assume he's not and make the best play considering that assumption.

~

Mr.Funsocks
05-31-2013, 02:53 PM
The only beginner tips you need:

1) Start with simple 1-color, creature based decks that have nothing particularly fancy.

2) Play around with deck building and design, and read every new card you see.

That covers the first few months. Everything else is an advanced tip, things like resource curves, denial/meta, combos, etc. etc. etc. Really, the only way to learn is to play.

Fireblast
05-31-2013, 02:56 PM
This is true but you also have to take your meta into account. You have to make sure that your deck will have sufficient answers for the kinds of things you expect to be playing against, and the sideboard for things you might play against or your deck handles moderately well. Although idk if this is a tip for a beginner.

I kinda disagree, a major flaw is to want your deck to be able to beat everything, accept the fact that you'll auto-lose versus some Tier2 deck and just pray you'll not be matched up against it.
Most Pro Players in tournaments do either 13-2 or 0-3 drop for a reason.

~

Apparition
05-31-2013, 03:01 PM
1. Don't go for the super expensive cards when you have not played a deck before. Try to play a deck with some cheaper alternatives, then if you like it, go for the expensive cards and add them in. There's nothing more frustrating than getting a bunch of cards together only to find out you hate playing the deck, or it isn't as good as you expected. Not always possible because often combo cards are the rarer ones, but it's worth trying. Tied in with this, the most expensive and rare cards are not always the best ones.

2. Build a deck with a purpose in mind. Generally what makes a deck good is the purpose and goal/synergy. If you want a control deck, then it doesn't make much sense putting in a bunch of aggro creatures, etc. Better to be great at one thing than okay or bad at two or three. Find cards that work well together.

Shivdaddy
05-31-2013, 03:03 PM
1. Play a bunch of games with a starter deck

2. Once you got that starter deck down cold, start substituting the "weak" cards out with other cards you own that are superior

3. Once you have that down cold and are bored of it make a new deck and dont include to many complex cards. IE combo decks where you need to really understand "the stack"

4. Always keep your deck the minimum 60 cards or whatever the minimum is for this game.

5. Always try to think a couple turns ahead, but dont lock the idea in your head where you dont want to change it if circumstances change.

6. Have fun, wins and losses dont matter when your not playing in turnaments which is most of the time.

nicosharp
05-31-2013, 03:03 PM
The biggest tip I can share for digital TCG's is:
Don't spend your money buying packs directly from CZE unless you want a shot at a Primal Pack.
Buy the currency, and then buy packs on the Auction House for much cheaper.

sukebe
05-31-2013, 03:13 PM
I have taught a lot of new players how to play Magic: The Gathering and this game is very similar to it. There are 2 main things that I have seen new players struggle with.

First, when working on a new deck playtesting is incredibly important. Play a lot of games against a lot of different deck types. If you deck doesn't do well, don't just give up on it. Figure out why it didn't do well and then try find a way you can stop that from happening. Once you make changes to the deck, begin your playtesting again. Keep doing this until you are satisfied with how it is working. Too often I see new players build a new deck, play a couple games (often against the same deck) and decide it isn't any good and take it apart. Not all deck ideas will work, but you will never know how good a deck can be if you give up on it too soon.

Second, remember that your life/hit points only matter if it is your last one. In other words, it doesn't matter if you win the game with 1 life left or 20. Many cards will cost health to play or use, that doesn't make them automatically bad. It is also important to know that it is ok to not block creatures and simply take a hit to your health. This is a difficult thing to learn, and it will take time to get it right.

Fireblast
05-31-2013, 03:24 PM
You have 3 resources :
- Cards
- Life Points
- Resources

Their "balance" values depend on your deck and your opponent's as well as the ongoing situation.

~

Chance
05-31-2013, 03:34 PM
Everything on a card has value it is your job to discern what that value is and how it fits in your deck. Start with easy cards that have very apparent value I.E
a card that costs 1 mana and has 2 attack / 1 defense is decent because the value of the stats are higher then what you paid for it. It becomes difficult with abilities but over time you'll be able to assign variable value to those as well.

I.E Card is 3 Mana has 2atk/1def First strike, this isn't a BAD card because it beats out other creatures with anything equal or lower then 2 def but is it really worth 3 mana? Depending on the set I would say no you can find more value for a 3 mana card.

The more you play and experience the better you'll be able to discern and create decks that are cost efficient.

BenRGamer
05-31-2013, 03:49 PM
You know, I haven't played any particular card game in years, but the strategy that typically helped me out the most (at least, when I was playing in High School) was to pretty much go for efficiency.

That is, no frills, no special effects, just the creatures that gave me the most bang for the buck, the most powerful ones for the lowest cost, and cheap things that helped me make them better.

funktion
05-31-2013, 06:11 PM
I haven't gone through the existing 3 pages (sorry guys). I probably will later tonight though. But in response to the original post:
a) Be as familiar as you can with the client before you start playing events with entry fees... It sucks to lose a game because you pressed the wrong button or attacked with a creature that you planned on blocking with the next turn.

b) Don't rush yourself. But also actively work on speeding up your play as much as possible, you'll end up making a few mistakes here and there, but over time if you're trying to speed up and trying to learn you'll improve subconciously much faster.

c) GO BACK AND WATCH REPLAYS OF YOURSELF (both playing and during draft picks). You might say "Oh I know what I did, I don't need to watch it over again." But trust me, you will be absolutely amazed at what you see when you look back with a fresh set of eyes. Be honest with yourself. There's a HUGE difference in saying you want to be better, and actually becoming better. You have to acknowledge when you could have made a better play or a better pick in a draft.

d) Don't be afraid to buy the optimal cards for the deck you want to play if you're planning on playing constructed PVP. Sure you can get a slightly worse version for a few bucks cheaper... DON'T unless you plan on buying the card next week when it's cheaper or something. You're cheating yourself and to some extent implementing confirmation bias. Buy the card that's meant to be in the deck, and then after playing the deck 20 times or so, if you feel like the "worse" card is actually better, then stick it in.

e) READ c & d again! Really. These two things are huge if you don't want to waste your time, and want to be able to enjoy the game and be proud of yourself while playing competitively. Don't cheat yourself.

edit:
f) This is for a little further down the road, but something to keep in mind as you're starting. Learn when to mulligan. Some hands are going to lose against some decks no matter what. Once you learn to "play to your outs" you'll start figuring out when your more likely to win by throwing away your 5 card mulligan and force yourself to start with a 4 card hand.

funktion
05-31-2013, 06:14 PM
This is true but you also have to take your meta into account. You have to make sure that your deck will have sufficient answers for the kinds of things you expect to be playing against, and the sideboard for things you might play against or your deck handles moderately well. Although idk if this is a tip for a beginner.

NEW players, and I mean really new, shouldn't be concerned about the meta or things like that. They should be concerned first and foremost with improving their technical play and nothing else. The could have the best meta deck in the world, but if they are too afraid to ever mull they're never gonna win. Improving on your technical play is probably 70-95% of whats gonna improve your odds of winning, even more so for brand spanking new players.

edit: double post sorry.

Rathal
05-31-2013, 08:12 PM
- What are some common pitfalls beginners make? Not enough/too many resources is the one I hear about the most, but what else?

Playing enough resources, as you mentioned. Focusing on what your deck wants to do - e.g. if you're trying to make a fast Shin'are deck that makes a bunch of small creatures and increases their power, adding in a really cool Wild dragon that costs 6 or 7 is going against your game plan. Forgetting about abilities on cards, or not understanding them correctly. Basic mistakes like not attacking when the opponent is open and has nothing to attack you back with.

- What are the skills I would need to get good at to be a good player?

Start with the very basics - understanding all the card abilities, when you can play them, how combat works, etc. (this is trickier than it sounds). Once you're comfortable with that, learn about the different deck types and how they intend to win, both their Plan A, and their Plan B against other types of decks. For example, a "midrange" deck generally wants to survive the early game and start playing large, efficient troops. If they're playing against a "combo" deck that doesn't do much until it gets a few specific cards out, then quickly wins, they may need to play more aggressively than normal or have some way to interfere with the opponent's plans. After you have all THAT down (and that will take some experience), you can start worrying more about specific, commonly played decks.

Do people normally focus on a specific deck style or many different types of decks?

This will depend a lot on your time investment, level of interest, and availability of cards. Some people like to make one deck and play it for a long time, so they become very, very good at making the right plays no matter who they're facing. Other people try to best one of the known, well performing decks, or something that will have an advantage against those, but will switch decks to something that looks better as news spreads and new strategies develop. If you don't want to spend a lot of money, finding a solid deck type and sticking to it can be helpful.

I assume people test out strategies by playing against friends with different decks - is there any consensus to how many games it takes to conclude if a certain deck is viable or not?

A lot of that depends what you're playing against. If you're talking casual play, you can generally take most deck ideas, play them until you see what cards work well and what don't, and slowly swap things in and out. If you're talking tournaments, you will want to play against more than a small group of friends to really get an idea of how a deck works overall. Maybe you have a deck that works really well against your friends, but they haven't figured out how to play well against it yet, or maybe there' s avery good deck type that works in general, but their decks have a lot of answers for.

Hope some of this helps.

jaxsonbateman
05-31-2013, 10:06 PM
I'll add (or possibly resay, I only skimmed the current posts) some of my own input.

1. Mana curve is very important for a deck. Someone mentioned tempo before, and this more or less falls under that heading. Mana curve refers to the 'curve' the costs of your cards make when put on a bar graph. So for example, if we take 24 cards - 4 at 1 mana, 8 at 2 mana, 8 at 3 mana and 4 at 4 mana, this will show a very solid curve that starts out with a few cheap plays, giving you a chance to play something on turn 1, a very good chance at playing cards on turn 2 and 3, and a decent chance at playing something nice on turn 4. A typical 'midrange' or 'control' deck will usually have around 24-28 cards in the 1-4 range, and then up to 8 cards above that, which will usually be win conditions. A cheaper aggressive deck might have all its non-resource cards in the 1-4 range, so that it can play lots of threats and play them fast.


2. To increase the competitiveness of your deck, a creature should either be 'on curve', or 'utility'. An 'on curve' creature is one that has a high enough power level to match the usual good creatures at that mana cost. It's tough to dictate what on curve will be in Hex given that we don't have all the card info yet, but if it's anything like Magic, the rule of thumb is power = cost to be on curve. A creature with a strong ability, particularly evasion (like flying or "can only be blocked by blood or artifact creatures") is still very much playable if it gives up a point of power for the evasion. For example, that 2 mana 1/1 bird with rage is just insane, as it bashes for 2 the first time it attacks, and then just keeps growing. Actually, on that note, take rage into account when considering if a creature is on curve or not.

A utility creature is one that doesn't necessarily, and probably won't have higher power or toughness, but has an ability or effect that is very desirable and useful. An example would be that 4 mana 1/1 wild bunny that generates you mana = to the number of Shin'hare you have each turn. Terrible for attacking and defending, but decent for ramping up into expensive cards. It's definitely playable, but not because it's an efficient beater; because it's a utility creature.


3. REMOVAL IS YOUR FRIEND. I really should have made this point first, but I guess I'm so used to the idea that I didn't even think about it until point 3. One big mistake a lot of newer players make is to not include adequate amounts of removal in their deck. Removal is cards and effects that can shut down an opposing creature. Examples are cards that outright destroy or void that creature (Murder), cards that can deal damage to creatures (Burn), or cards that can stop a creature attacking or blocking (Inner Conflict). These cards are very important to have some of in your deck, as if your opponent plays a creature that simply must be dealt with, you want to be able to deal with it. And if you can't, you could easily lose. An example might be an opponent with a Pack Raptor deck. If they get their mini-combo going off, they'll be throwing so many Raptor copies into their deck that they'll be drawing one each turn. If you can't deal with the Raptor early, they're going to be able to more easily get that combo off, and you'll be dealing with some gigantic swiftstriking dinosaurs in no time. Essentially, removal is very important and can very much be the deciding factor in games.

On that note, Extinction (and Judgement, and General's Tent) is quite significant as it makes you question creature-heavy strategies, and you have to determine if they're solid enough to survive a board wipe.


4. Understand that even the strongest decks in the format will not beat every deck. The thing about competitive TCGs is that, at the top level of competition, even the best decks tend to only win against about 60-65% of the field. Any more, and the deck is probably too good and a card might need to be banned. This isn't because the deck has been built badly; it's because each deck has strengths and weaknesses. Those strengths bring it up to the ~60% win threshold, but those weaknesses mean that other top decks that just happen to exploit them will usually win that matchup.

As a competitive player myself, I'd love to be piloting a deck with something like a 90% win rate against the field. Alas, you have to come to grips with the idea that it's not going to happen.


5. If you plan on drafting, practice often. Drafting may seem a lot like "luck = win" - and I won't lie; sometimes a player will just open such a powerful rare that they'll crush. However, there's a reason why top players consistently win drafts. There's a lot of skill involved in card selection and deck building. As with gaining proficiency in anything though, part of developing that skill is practicing a lot. I'm sure once the cards are released someone will release a draft simulator so you can practice your card picking skills; practice a lot, then practice some more. :-)


I'm sure there are plenty more tips, but these are the ones that have popped into my head while I do my daily GW2 stuffs. :-P Good luck, have fun, and see you in Entrath!

Verdant
06-01-2013, 12:31 AM
Know the cards. Know yourself.

Clear vision of what do you need from deck helps immensely. Choose something that works for you. Do you want to shoot first and ask questions later or stampede an opponent with a swarm of little bunnies? Heavy hitters or life leeching? Make enemy discard his hand and his deck into graveyard? Take a proper look at your cards. Are any of them calling out to you? Choose a simple strategy and build around it until you are comfortable enough to go further and try something different. Try feeling how the deck flows, what it plays on 3rd turn, how it goes an 10th, how long do you need to survive to make everything happen etc.

And don't ever be afraid of losing games as it is part of the fun. In TCG by losing you learn more than you do by winning. If you are able to learn at all, of course :-)

scyphrre
06-01-2013, 09:49 PM
Thanks for all the great responses - this is really really helpful.

Rapkannibale
06-01-2013, 11:40 PM
Most of the pitfalls I fell in when I started playing Magic are covered here although I do think many of the tips like things related to meta game and the different deck archetypes are more advanced tips not for beginners. It it's good to be aware that there are such concepts but if you try it learn everything at once you will most likely get frustrated and quit.

As people have mentioned before I would start with playing with the starter decks to get a good feel for the core game mechanics.

Also take advantage of our awesome AI deck building helper that we are getting. If it is all that is promised it should be an invaluable tool for beginners when they first start building their own decks.

Also drafting requires a somewhat different skill set than constructed, but drafting is great if you want to improve your knowledge of the cards in a set or block and your deck building skills.

Hollywood
06-02-2013, 12:28 AM
http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtgcom/daily/mr11b

http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/fundamentals/23775-Eight-Core-Principles-Of-Whos-The-Beatdown.html

http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~kel/MTG/

http://www.gatheringmagic.com/advantage-theory-basic-principles/

And pretty much anything else written be Mike Flores.