Well, the holiday season is approaching. For new players, it’s the perfect time to cajole, encourage, and coerce people into funding your favorite addiction. And for those with friends just getting into Magic, rest assured because at least they won’t have the money for drugs now.

10. Magic Online ($10)

It’s the virtual MTG platform that people really love to hate. MOGO definitely not for everyone. New players might be turned off by the game’s monolithic UI or sparse graphics. But since the beginning I’ve been a Limited fiend, and Magic Online is really, really good at introducing players to the basics of Draft and Sealed. The $10 buy-in nabs you a small pool of cards and, most importantly, 5 event tickets and 20 new player points. That’s enough for 5 New Player Phantom events, and gives you the opportunity to play 15 more times for a dollar each. It’s an excellent primer for competitive Limited and means to practice cheaply before hitting the tables at local FNMs. And that itself is worth the number 10 spot on this list.

9. Fat Pack ($30-60, various retailers)


I’m a sucker for cool deck boxes. The boosters are pretty nice, too.

Some people like booster packs and want a jump start on their pro MTG career. This is for those people. Within the big box is 9 boosters, card boxes, a guide, life counters, deck boxes, and a fistful of land cards. More than enough to keep your aspiring Spike happy, at least until the next standard rotation.

8. Duel decks ($18+, various retailers)

These are two prebuilt, usually flavorful decks meant for casual play. They aren’t as competitive as event decks and don’t give you the flexibility that a fat pack or holiday box provides. But they’re an excellent way to introduce a new friend into paper Magic. Games are incredibly balanced and flavorful. Its a lot more fun to lose to an evenly powered deck than trying to play your Advocate of the Beast deck against Esper Control. When I first played Phyrexia vs. the Coalition a couple years ago, the deck’s fun value helped me forget that I was basically getting crushed for hours straight while learning the game.

7. Custom Playmat ($25+, inkedplaymats.com)

To new players, a nice playmat is a fantastic confidence boost and looks really, really cool. I’m eying a mat with [Briarpack Alpha]’s card art. Hey, I might still be losing games because I don’t understand how basic combat mechanics work, but at least I’ll look spiffy doing so.

6. Tokens/die/life counters ($4+, various retailers)


I’ll play goat tribal so I have an excuse to use this.

It won’t make you a better player, but a cohesive set of die or actual art tokens add a lot to the experience. When I started MTG, I used whatever I found in my pocket as tokens and counters. Sometimes it made deciding attacks kind of difficult. Are you willing to send your two bottlecap-paper clip-gum wrapper buffed Phalanx Leader in against the enemy Nessian Asp?

5. Card Sleeves ($8+, various retailers)

Every MTG player will appreciate a nice set of sleeves. It’s like getting a gift card—hey, probably not the most unique idea, but nobody’s going to complain. I’m a sucker for white Ultra-Pro brand sleeves for my main decks. A couple packs of penny sleeves might be worth it also for aspiring Limited spikes who can’t shuffle unsleeved cards without spilling half of them on the floor.

4. Theros Event Deck ($18, Amazon)

Breaking into Standard is a difficult transition. Attempting to assemble 75 piecewise cards from a bunch of retailers is frustrating and time consuming. I ordered cards a month ago and they’re still trickling through the mail system. And a lot of times, new players don’t really know where to start. When I was hunting around for a deck to build, the hefty price tag on format-staple cards (I’m looking at you, Mutavault) was discouraging. The event deck is the perfect buy for scrubs looking to get into FNM and Standard. These decks are consistently well built, and this product features a fun variation on UW Heroic. They might be a few cards shy of being moderately competitive, but you have a place to start. Hey, you might get your face smashed in by UW or whatever won the last Pro Tour, but you’ll have a ton of fun doing so.

3. Magic 2014 — Duels of the Planeswalkers ($10, Steam)

For a lot of people, myself included, this was the gateway drug. For absolute beginners or those less interested in Limited, Magic 2014 is one of the best places to start. The graphics are colorful and fun. The UI is clean and intuitive. Playing this game helped me visualize concepts like the stack and double strike. The main “campaign” involves a sealed deck that you eventually augment with boosters. The game runs dry eventually, but by then you’ll have the prowess and interest to transition to paper Magic or MOGO. And Magic 2014 does a good job of that too: I remember redeeming a code for a Scavenging Ooze at my LGS, and that was really cool.

2. Theros Holiday Box ($24, Amazon)


This is how you gain a friend’s unwavering love.

This is one of the best deals out there for scrubs and MTG vets alike. You get a bit less cards compared to a Fat Pack. But what you do receive is four Theros boosters, some lands, plastic dividers (and sticker sheets!), and really nice storage box that my cats will probably end up appropriating anyways. I find this price point to be a really nice balance of affordability and content. My college budget will probably be stretched on a few of these for friends.

1. Games (your time, possibly sanity)

A lot of scrubs are like confused puppies. All we really want is a patient person to play with us and teach us what we did wrong. And at the risk of sounding hopelessly sentimental, there really isn’t a better substitute for spending time with someone doing something you both enjoy, especially during the holiday season. So get out there and let your friend ram his brand new Bogbrew Witch control deck into your $300 Mono-B for a bit.

But, hey, I totally understand if you’re too busy to play. A playset of Sphinx’s Revelation would be pretty cool too.


The Hipsters’ resident scrub, Tony enjoys making bad plays and writing about them. He studies at the University of Pennsylvania and calls Philadelphia home. Find him at @holophr.





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