Delving headfirst into Magic: The Gathering can be a daunting task, and the the physical card game is limited by the lack of any true single player option. That lack of a practice mode is precisely why the Magic iPad and XBox Live Arcade games have been so poplar: they are simply one of the best ways for new players to get their feet underneath them, establishing the confidence to challenge their more experienced peers.
Of course that’s not to say that they’re useless for more experienced players. I for one enjoy these apps immensely because they introduce cards and playing styles that I’m unfamiliar with and the difficulty can be ramped up to the point where the slightest miscalculation can mean the sudden conclusion of a match that just moments before had been under my total control.
Because of the frustration and complexity of these battles, we here at 148Apps decided to create a fairly thorough walkthrough of not simply basic Magic strategy, but how it specifically applies to the single player campaign in Magic 2015.
Assuming you’ve completed the tutorial, the first world you come across is Innistrad: the dark and seedy plane in which this journey begins. I played with a red and white mixed deck, which is one of the default configurations from the end of the tutorial, because it’s one of the more solid and flexible configurations as it doesn’t necessarily depend on specific combinations or a large amount of luck to win a match. Unless you’re really knowledgeable about Magic I’d highly recommend choosing one of the pre-built decks.
The first battle is against a black zombie deck that starts fairly slow but does become quite large late-game, and by “large” I am referring to the power of the creatures. The general rule for large, slow decks is to deal as much damage as early as you can – because if they can get their most powerful creatures out the game can be over in a matter of a few turns.
This Living Death deck contains little to no spells and just one flying creature, which means that if you can get a creature with flying on the field they basically become unblockable and can deal consistent damage each turn. A good tactic, if you can manage it, is to get a flying creature out early and try and add to its attack while using ground forces as sacrificial walls. The Living Death deck can get out of hand very quickly thanks to it’s enormous amount of lands, ability to resurrect defeated zombies, and Maalfeld Twins creature, which brings in two 2/2 zombie tokens upon death.
Nevertheless, you should be able to fairly easily navigate through this with a good start, and this is mostly predicated on the starting hand. The biggest tip for choosing a good starting hand is to pay attention to which player is starting off. If you’re the first to play you can get by with having 4 lands in your hand, because you get the first play and do not get a draw initially. Whoever plays second gets to draw a card first, and because of this it is common for these players to choose a starting hand with 3 or even 2 lands. Be careful of being too picky, however, as you only get one mulligan before your hand size decreases by one card on each consecutive re-draw.
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