Considering that I’m a new player and have only taught one other person how to play Magic, I was a little apprehensive when inviting my friend and her two daughters over to play with me and my husband for our first meeting. My friend hasn’t played Magic in several years, but she was definitely looking forward to playing a game with them that didn’t involve a touch screen.
I woke up early, double-checked that the apartment was neat, and made a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Right around noon, my friend and her kids arrived, and I gave a quick explanation of how to play the game, using my husband as my opponent and two of the starter demo decks. We played with our hands face-up so that everyone could see what was going on, as well as explaining all the different phases to a turn, and why we could play some cards some times and not during other times.
After, I let the girls choose a color of deck and since there were five of us at the table, I sat out and helped with card rulings wherever I could as well as giving little reminders to untap cards. After those games finished, I let the girls choose other demo decks so that they could get a feeling for how different cards worked, and this time my husband sat out while I played.
Now, we could have kept playing demo decks against one another in different combinations for one more round, but I could see that one of the players was becoming frustrated with the game and losing interest. I then scrapped my plans to introduce them to drafting or building decks by having each child pick a color and pair up with an adult playing a different color deck to play a variant on Two-Headed Giant. The rules for the format (with our house rules in italics) go like this:
- Each team of two players has a shared life total, which starts at 30 life.
- Each player on a team will shuffle and present his or her own deck separately. Each deck will consist of at least 30 cards.
- The first mulligan results in a full hand of seven cards (or however many cards constitute a “full hand” if other rules/cards modify the opening hand size). Each mulligan afterward results in one fewer card every time.
- The team who plays first skips the draw step of their first turn.
- Each team takes turns rather than each player. This means that players draw as a team, attack as a team, block as a team, and go through the various phases of the turn as a team.
- A team’s resource (cards in hand, mana, and so on) are shared. Teammates are encouraged to review each other’s hands and discuss strategies at all times. Once a decision is made, the player who is holding the cards or spells to be cast makes the play for the entire team, drawing from whichever library they’ve decided will be drawn, tapping the mana, and so on throughout the team’s turn.
Using this variant, we were able to show the girls how two colors of cards can work together to be a good deck. Unfortunately, the player who was losing interest was also on the losing team; however, everyone who came got the standard parting gift of two packs of M14 boosters, a Basic Rulebook, and a turn order reminder card. I also let the family take home one of each of the colors of demo decks so that they could get more of a feel for how all the different types of cards worked.
Here’s hoping the next meeting turns out just as well.