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The Buffalo Gamers Society! Message Board Casual Game Night › Rules for Magic The Gathering

Rules for Magic The Gathering

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Wesley D. Y.
user 6127759
Buffalo, NY
Post #: 1,056
Note: Changes to the rules since the last revision are bolded in red.

This lengthy write-up is divided into the following sections:
First post:
- Notes for newbies to the game
- How much it will cost to play - and why it costs to play
- Basic "tournament" game structure
- Expectations of players
- Basic summary of deck construction
- Basic summary of structured gameplay

Second post:
- Explanation of the Modern Proxy format
- Rules to be used during play
- Understanding and using Proxies

Third post:
- Details on other formats that we will play (Interest permitting)
- List of legal Core and Expansion sets
- List of banned cards
- List of restricted cards

- The official site for Magic is at:­
- The quickest, easiest, and best way to learn the game is to purchase an Intro Pack (best to purchase from a hobby store, for the best price, but you can also purchase from Target, Walmart, Amazon, etc.) An Intro Pack comes with a complete ready-to-play deck, a sheet of quick & easy rules, and a booster pack. Other ways to get introduced to the game include watching the videos that they have on the main website, or just by watching a game in progress. Note that the Intro Decks are intentionally created to be weaker decks (They are just to get you started), but if you play your Intro Deck against another Intro Deck, the competition is leveled. So if you purchase two of them, they work quite well against each other.
- If you like the game, and want to get an instant collection of cards, the #1 best way is the Deck Builder's Toolkit. which comes with 285 EXCELLENT cards for building a large variety of decks (It contains a large supply of mana, several boosters, and pre-selected cards, plus the storage box and an excellent fold-out insert on deck building). I actually found my copy for $20 at a local Target, which is the same price as on
- And finally: Buy your cards from a local gaming shop whenever you can. Places like Target price the booster packs at $4, whereas a specialty shop can go as low as $2!

It will cost a single dollar to play, and that money is used by myself to buy the prizes for the night's winner (Booster packs). This is an exceptional deal - if you go to another location to play Friday Night Magic, it will cost at least $5, and you'll probably not get a prize. I'll give a prize to everybody who plays. Prizes will generally go like this: Grand prize is a sealed booster; Second, third, and fourth (and beyond) places will each get one or two cards from a single booster. Second place will get the Rare from the booster, third will get the uncommons, and the remaining players will get commons. This means that, potentially, I can give out 16 different prizes from just 2 booster packs. I really believe that this is a fair, economical, and fun way to distribute prizes.

Typical play will be round-robin, best 2 out of 3, with the winner being the one with the most wins. In cases where only 2-3 players show-up for the game, it will be extended to best 3 of 5 games. Ties are broken based on previous games winning/losing percentage (until such a percentage is established, a random tie break will be done). I will keep the list of winning percentages. After the structured play is over, and prizes have been awarded, feel free to play the game any which way you want. =)

- You must maintain a clear game organization. You must have some method of showing your current life total (a d20, pad of paper, etc.), and all tapped cards must be clearly tapped. If your opponent cannot look over at your cards and instantly ascertain key basic information, please correct your style of play. If you need tokens in your deck, please provide them, have a clear way of showing what tokens are what, and which ones are tapped, etc.
- Good sportsmanship is actually rule #1.
- You must clearly communicate to your opponent when your turn is over. Do not assume, and do not neglect this step. This is the single-most common way that a rules infraction occurs. During actual Pro Tour play, whenever a player "casts" a card, he must actually wait for his opponent to say "okay" before he can consider it to be resolved, because some opponents take several seconds to consider counterplaying the "casting" of said card with an instant. While we need not be so strict, just be aware of it.
- In the case of a rules question, we will endeavor to stick with tournament-level rules.
- At the game start your deck must be thoroughly shuffled, and your opponent has the right to shuffle it further, and to cut your deck (Just for consistent politeness, always offer your deck to your opponent and ask if she would like to cut)
- You must use the same deck throughout all of the games.
- Irregularities, such as accidentally revealing your hand, are mostly up to you and your opponent to resolve. If you feel that it would possibly cost you the game, you are allowed - if you both agree - to declare the game void, and play again (no changes to the deck are allowed if this happens.)

Constructed decks must contain a minimum of sixty cards. There is no maximum deck size; however, you must be able to shuffle your deck with no assistance. If a player wishes to use a sideboard, it must contain exactly fifteen cards. With the exception of basic land cards, a player’s combined deck and sideboard may not contain more than four of any individual card, counted by its English card title equivalent. All cards named Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest are basic. (The five Ice Age block now-covered lands -- Snow-Covered Plains, Snow-Covered Island, Snow-Covered Swamp, Snow-Covered Mountain, and Snow-Covered Forest -- are also basic lands, but are NOT legal for play. Snow-covered lands re permitted only in formats that allow expansions from the Ice Age block to be used.)
Wesley D. Y.
user 6127759
Buffalo, NY
Post #: 1,057
I've received a steady stream of requests that we hold gaming sessions focused on Magic: The Gathering for several years now. The tricky thing was determining how we would play the game within our group since we would not be officially licensed/rated by the DCI. Some may wonder why this is an actual issue, but you must remember that Magic is NOT designed to be played with just every card designed thrown into the mix - serious game flaws become evident.

So, I've carefully put-together a new format, just for our group, based on the new Modern format, and have named it Modern Proxy (Please note that this means that this format is exclusive to our group, and is NOT the exact same as the DCI-Sanctioned Modern format; This includes the Banned List. What's banned on the Pro Tour Modern format will not neccesarily be banned in our group.) The base Modern format is awesome because it does allow for the majority of cards in your collection to be played - assuming you've kept buying cards over the last several years, and don't own just Vintage cards (like say, from Ice Age or something...).

Modern format means that pretty much ANY card (except those on the banned list) can be played in your deck, so long as the card has either the new card framing on it that was introduced back in 8th edition, or the card itself has been re-printed in 8th edition and beyond. This means that pretty much any card is valid for play from 8th edition and forward.

Clarification 1: A FEW cards, mostly released with special edition sets, have older Vintage cards updated with the new card framing. These cards are NOT legal for play. Always check with the Gatherer database to make sure your cards are legal!

Clarification 2: The Duel Decks entitled "Dragons and Knights" are a good example in regards to this rule. The cards all fit within the Modern classification - as they are all with the new card framing - but there are a couple of cards in the Dragon deck that are actually on the banned list, etc. You can play with this deck if you make substitutions for the banned cards. It should be noted that all the Duel Decks series were designed to be played against just the decks that they came boxed with. If you play them this way, with zero modifications, usually people do not have a problem. =)

If you are uncertain if a specific card is legal for play, go to the online database (­) and make sure that the card ORIGINALLY appeared in one of the sets listed below.

If you don't understand what is meant by "new card framing" then take a look at these two cards:
This is a Modern card with the new framing:­

This is a Vintage card that is not legal for play:­

You can easily see the new card framing on the first card given. It's easier to read, etc.

The most current rules for Magic will be used. This means that if you don't know what a Planeswalker is, what The Stack is, or why an opponent can tap a card for use when it's not his turn, you need to read the rulebook from cover to cover. It's located here:­

Another good sign that you need to re-read the rules is if you do "Mana Burn" during play. That rule was discarded back in the 10th edition.

Modern Proxy is so-named because I wanted a highly-flexible format that allowed for anybody, no matter your budget, to be able to construct a competitive deck, and enjoy/explore all that the game has to offer. This is where the "Proxy" part comes into play. A Proxy is basically a card that has a photocopy of another card pasted onto it, so as to make the card look exactly like another that you don't own. Why would you do such a thing, you ask? And isn't such a thing cheating? No, and here's why: Unless you trade, buy a lot of boosters, and have disposable income to purchase Rares and Mythic Rares, it is VERY difficult to acquire MANY cards that Magic has to offer.

A good example of this is a deck I recently constructed for a friend of mine. I wanted to have four Royal Assassins in the deck, but I only own one. Being a rare card, I seriously doubted that I would be able to acquire three more copies of the card without expending a lot of money - and I don't know of anybody to trade cards with. So I just made photocopies of the card, cut the paper, and glued the copies onto some trash common cards that I had laying around. These Proxies look just like the real card, shuffle like them, etc. And it is not cheating, because in ALL respects it plays and looks like the real card. The ONLY difference is in acquisition cost.

Proxies are for people who love to play the game, just for the fun of it. Forget about how much a card is worth to some trader, or that a card is worth more because it has a black border. It allows a player to explore the game to its fullest, and without restriction.

So, we will be allowing the use of Proxies in a deck, but please keep this in mind: Proxies are ONLY to be used to fill-out a deck, and to help you play with Rares that you cannot otherwise obtain on your limited budget. Do NOT construct a full 60-card deck from Proxies, and do NOT fill your deck up with Mythic Rares and tons of other Rares just because you can do so.

A good rule-of-thumb for using Proxies is this: Take a look at the cards you own, and figure out what kind of deck you want to construct. Do you need to have a couple of extra cards to really make the deck work? Okay, then make just the Proxies that you need to help you construct the deck.

(Please note that Proxies are ONLY for non-sanctioned play. Do NOT attempt to trade or sell Proxies.)

Wesley D. Y.
user 6127759
Buffalo, NY
Post #: 1,058
On occasion, interest permitting, we can play other formats. The most popular are:
- Sealed Deck. This involves everybody bringing 5 sealed booster packs. When the game starts, everybody opens their packs and constructs a 40-card deck (you use your own mana to fill-out the deck). Play then goes round-robin as normal. This is a great way to expand your card collection and play a fun game at the same time. I think we'll mostly do this when a new expansion is released.
- Booster Draft. Everybody brings 3 sealed boosters. The first of the 3 are opened, you get to pick one card from it, and then everybody hands the remaining cards to their right. Everybody picks another single card, and the cycle continues, until you can construct a 40-card deck. You will gain the full 45 new cards to your collection, just not the specific cards that were in the boosters you owned. =)
- Planechase. Multiplayer format using a special Planechase deck of large cards. 2-4 players play Magic has normal, but hop-around the various planes of the multiverse (which have good and bad effects). Very fun and chaotic.
- Archenemy. Multiplayer format, but everybody gangs-up on a single player who has access to a special deck of large cards that allow him to do really evil things. Makes killing that one player very hard, and very fun.
- Commander. The latest multiplayer format, and in stores now! You must construct a 100 card deck, and no two cards can be alike (excluding lands. This is called a Singleton deck). You have a special larger card that represents the Commander of the army you fight with during play.
- Vanguard. Vintage format variation. Special large cards modify your hand size, give you a special power, and even modify your starting life total.
- Tribal. Vintage format variation. Your deck must be constructed around one specific type of creature, such as Goblins or Elves. Those are the ONLY types of creatures allowed in the deck (instants and such do not count).

As of June 4th 2012, the following Core sets and expansions will be legal for play:
•Eighth Edition
•Fifth Dawn
•Champions of Kamigawa
•Betrayers of Kamigawa
•Saviors of Kamigawa
•Ninth Edition
•Ravnica: City of Guilds
•Time Spiral
•Planar Chaos
•Future Sight
•Tenth Edition
•Shards of Alara
•Alara Reborn
•Magic 2010
•Rise of the Eldrazi
•Magic 2011
•Scars of Mirrodin
•Mirrodin Besieged
•New Phyrexia
•Magic 2012
•Dark Ascension
•Avacyn Restored

Due to the nature of the group of players that we have for this event, at the moment, we actually did away with the banned list quite some time ago, and instead replaced it with a more lengthy restricted list. This means that, yes, you can play a single Chrome Mox in your deck, and even a few cards from the Unhinged set are allowed - just be fair about all of it. =)

Cards become banned because they are seriously broken, not just because somebody doesn't like that particular card, and not just because they have appeared on the official DCI banned list. That list is compiled from events done on the Pro Tour - and we are not Pro Tour players. Another reason for banning a card would be that the card is just so utterly good/efficient at what it does that everybody starts including it in their deck (The old Vintage card Dark Ritual is a good example: There was zero reason to not include 4 copies of it in every black deck).

The following cards are considered restricted. This means that only one can be included in any deck.
•All Planeswalkers (Planeswalkers actually have a special restriction: You can place an additional one into your sideboard, but only one can be in your main deck at a time. This allows you to swap one Planeswalker for another in cases where you need to adapt to your opponent.)
•Ancestral Vision
•Ancient Den
•Blazing Shoal
•Chrome Mox
•Dark Depths
•Dread Return
•Glimpse of Nature
•Golgari Grave-Troll
•Great Furnace
•Green Sun's Zenith
•Mental Misstep
•Punishing Fire
•Rite of Flame
•Seat of the Synod
•Sensei's Divining Top
•Stoneforge Mystic
•Sword of the Meek
•Tree of Tales
•Umezawa's Jitte
•Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
•Vault of Whispers
•Wild Nacatl

(Note: I took Ponder and Preordain off the list because in our group its just unnecessary. They are banned in Modern merely to increase the diversity of decks - something we don't have an issue with.)
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