I've had the idea to put together a few decks with the concept that I can pull them off the shelf just like a would any board game to play a quick game with friends that might not be familiar with Magic.
I'd want decks that are quick to teach with, have a good amount of interaction, would work well if all used in a multi-player game, can give a competitive two player game no matter which combination of decks I'm using, and have a lot of replay ability.
Has anybody else put together a 'board game' of decks for magic?
What cards would you consider staples for this kind of setup?
I would actually make 5 Tiny Leader decks. All monocolored and would probably pick the popular tribes out of each color and center the decks around that.
I think this would be interesting for both people familiar with the game and ones that weren't. You get your Commander that represents your tribe so it gives people a character to play. I would tailor all the decks to interact with creature types and use cards that play on the enemy color theme. So things like Pyroblast that have a copy in the enemy color (Hydroblast).
I think this would make things more boardgame like.
I've a set of five monocolor decks - mostly singleton - set aside for the Star format, complete with the proper token cards. They aren't necessarily for people new to the game, though, as tutors are found in 4/5 of the decks.
Still, the variance reminds of EDH and the smaller deck size allows all five (sleeved with tokens) to fit in one of the Deckbuilder Toolkit boxes.
You could also look at the Battle Box/Danger Room variant as a separate, complete game.
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Start with 5 monocolored 60 card decks built with a few ideas in mind:
- Simple but not too simple: You want these to be new player friendly, but not so vanilla that they are just boring. Who cares if a game is easy if it isn't also fun? To me this means including a few vanilla creatures/spells (i.e. Trained Armodon, Volcanic Hammer, etc...), a majority of creatures/spells that are french vanilla meaning that they basically have one ability (Stormfront Pegasus, Shock, I count Shock because it is an instant), and a few more exotic cards that do something more interesting and the player might need help understanding. Use your complexity wisely, don't include a card that is crazy complex but not particularly interesting/exciting. Instead give them something like Genesis Wave or Vengevine or Rampaging Baloths where they will get a major reward for working through the complexity. A sample breakdown of a deck with these things in mind:
20 french vanilla
- Use 1-ofs and 2-ofs - While variety is nice, so is familiarity for a new player, so I prefer to include some 2-ofs to reduce their workload. I'd shoot for about 10 2-ofs and 16 1-ofs (36 total alongside 24 lands)
- Include instants - If you were teaching children I might stick to sorcery speed only, but for teens/adults I wouldn't. Being able to interact at instant speed is just too big a part of Magic game play to leave out if you don't have to. But...keep in mind that instants are fundamentally more complex so treat them as such when deck building.
- Make all of the decks "mid-range". By that I mean don't make the white and red decks aggro, the green deck ramp, and the blue and black decks controlling. Instead just make them all well-rounded with a good mix of early/mid/late stuff. This will help to make sure that they have competitive games against all of the other decks and will prevent the more controlling decks from having a big leg up in multiplayer settings.
- If you expect a lot of multiplayer play then be sure to give them the tools necessary for interesting late games. Give every deck a few ways to draw/recoup cards late, even if those ways are expensive. Give every deck some finishers, be they creatures or spells (i.e. Overruns in green). Give every deck removal, even green. Make sure you include some board wipes or mass bounce effects. All of this stuff is important for keeping long multiplayer games from being a drag.
- Recall that simple =/= weak. The newest of players can cast an Ancestral Recall, a Lightning Bolt, a Day of Judgement, etc...nothing wrong with giving players strong cards so long as the cards/decks are well balanced against one another (although I wouldn't recommend giving them Ancestral ;).
I would build those, play with them, then if things are going well and you are getting repeat players I would consider building 10 2-color decks, one for each pair. In those I would up the complexity (but not the power!) a bit and probably make them more strongly themed (i.e. aggro, control, artifacts-matter, mill, tokens, etc...) so that players can get better sense of the range of play patterns available.
Thank you for all of this great advice, everyone!
There is a lot of diversity here to choose from.
The Battle Box concept jumps out at me the most as my group of friends are familiar with dominion and ascension, so a shared pool of cards might be more familiar.
I hadn't considered no instants, and while that makes sense to teach new players, I think my group is clever enough to pick up the game quickly even with instants thrown in.
Tiny EDH and customizing a small CUBE are both fantastic ideas. I'll have to think about those more.
I think the building balanced mid range decks in different colors would also lend to fantastic games. I'll have to consider this further as well.
At this point, I think Battle Box might be the winner. The additional rules are more of replacement rules, and I can just pull out a stack of cards instead of having people worry about which deck to choose when they have no idea yet about the implications.
Thank you all very much for your thoughts, and I'd still love to hear anybody else's opinions on this.
I don't recommend Cube/drafting with new players. It is absolutely my favorite way to play personally, but I've seen new players overwhelmed by it time and again. It is just too much at once, between learning the game, learning the cards, and learning how to build a deck.
OTOH I agree that the Battle Box seems like an elegant solution.
The five 7th Edition theme decks sound like exactly what you're looking for. I learned to play with just Armada and Decay... for a while I didn't even know colors other than white and black existed, and those decks as a stand alone game provided hours and hours of fun.
I did precisely this in order to teach friends and family how to play Magic.
I recommend making them into a distinct theme so that players can get a feel for the setting and storyline, hopefully creating something akin to a role-playing or storytelling experience. It's also good for them to see the "cycles" between the various decks (such as Dimir Guildgate, Rakdos Guildgate, etc.).
I made five decks, one for each Shard in Shards of Alara. All were designed and playtested to be balanced against each other. I made them into 45-card singleton decks so that players wouldn't see the same card twice in one game. The theme is that the maelstrom is causing the shards to bleed over into each other, causing warfare between the shards as each fights to preserve its integrity from the others.
I also created a super-secret sixth deck, the Maelstrom deck, for use when six people are playing. The idea is that the creatures in this deck actually welcome the conflux and are trying to eliminate all resistance to it. Several five-color cards are herein.
Anyway, in my opinion you're best served by either doing what I did or by following one of these other themes:
A Khans of Tarkir theme, with one deck for each Khan-Clan (Abzan, Jeskai, Sultai, Mardu, and Temur)
A Dragons of Tarkir theme, with one deck for each Dragon-Clan (Dromoka, Ojutai, Silumgar, Kholagan, and Atarka)
An Innistrad theme, with one deck for each race (Human, Spirit, Zombie, Vampire, and Werewolf)
A Lorwyn theme, with one deck for each tribe (Kithkin, Faerie, Merfolk, Giant, Boggart, Elf, Treefolk, and Flame-kin)
A Shadowmoor theme, with one deck for each tribe (same as above)
A Ravnica and/or Return to Ravnica theme, with one deck for each guild (Azorius, Boros, Dimir, Golgari, Gruul, Izzet, Orzhov, Rakdos, Selesnya, and Simic)