By Ashlee Rubinstein

Editor’s Note: Meet Ashlee Rubinstein, our second contributor to the new, rotating Scrub Report! Ashlee’s articles will appear over the next four Fridays, as she details the highs and lows of being new to MTG. If you’d like to write for The Scrub Report, send an email to [email protected]

I started playing Magic: The Gathering a year ago.  My new friends at my new job got me into it.  I had played the Pokemon trading card game as a kid, and was completely enveloped in it, so of course, I feared for the worst.  My introduction to the game turned into an all-night gaming-fest: I was instantly hooked.

I was initially hesitant about playing because of the financial strain I knew it would cause.  My friends’ solution was that I could use their decks.  They had been playing for years and had lots of great decks to choose from, so I figured that I was safe for the moment.  I did well using their decks, but felt like I didn’t deserve the wins I was getting.  I felt that in order to be a real MTG card player I needed to build my own decks.

Lucky for me, Theros had just come out.  Appealing to my love of Greek mythology, I bought my first Fat Pack.  If I wasn’t hooked before then, opening those packs did it: I pulled an Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, Xenagos, the Reveler and Heliod, God of the Sun, amongst some other great cards.  It was a done deal.


“At this point in my Magic career, I was still having a hard time understanding how Planeswalkers worked.”


I did what I assume any new MTG player would do.  I built decks around my rare cards.  I started with Ashiok and Xenagos.  I immediately threw together a black/blue deck and a red/green deck.  Of course, I couldn’t just slowly wade into the waters of deck building with a monocolor deck.  No, no, no.  I just had to build two color ones.

At this point in my Magic career, I was still having a hard time understanding how Planeswalkers worked.  I was convinced that I needed to use these cards because I had them.  I did not fully understand how Ashiok worked, but I knew that I liked using my friend’s black/blue mill deck, so I tried to combine some cards I had to put one together.  It was part mill, part blue control, part black control, and completely all over the place.  I also threw in some cards that at the time I thought were good.  They weren’t.

I did the same thing with Xenagos.  This time, I tried to combine my deck with one of the pre-constructed Intro Packs to try and make a stronger deck.  I made the same mistakes.  I added cards I thought were good, which weren’t, and I had too many things going on in the deck.  I wanted to have everything, and I wanted to have it all in one deck. No matter what I did to change the deck, to augment it, it just didn’t work for me.  My friends would play it and like it, but I just couldn’t stand playing it.


“I added cards I thought were good, which weren’t…”


What disasters!  I was trying to recreate the decks I had used before with cards that I had but didn’t understand how to use.  I learned my first important deck building lesson: Don’t build decks around cards just because you have them!   The second thing I learned was that I hated playing red/green.

Theros Intro

“The second thing I learned was that I hated playing red/green.”


Although my first two attempts at deck building didn’t go so well, I learned a lot.  It has not stopped me from trying.  I’m the kind of person who learns more from their failures than from their successes.  There have been several decks since then, and each has produced new difficulties and challenges, a lot of failures, but a few successes that keep me hanging on.  But those are stories for another time.

*Feature image by Flickr user Eric Hamiter

Of former Pokemon glory, Ashlee never thought she’d succumb to the temptations of another trading card game, especially not Magic: The Gathering. Then she met the Theros block, and it was love at first Fat Pack.

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