Glimpse the Unthinkable

Tag: Lands

The Basics

by on May.27, 2010, under MTG Basics

My friend that helped me set up this site asked me if I could show her how MTG is played. I would have referred her to the rulebook from the official site, but I thought maybe I can show her the basics myself and teach her a thing or two.

So… where to begin? To say that Magic: the Gathering is complicated is an understatement. It has more rules than… I don’t know… a city has ordinances. Let’s break down the game into four sections: the cards, the board, the phases and the game dynamics. The cards and the board are easy enough to discuss and I should be able to cover them within two posts. I will have to ask for some help in discussing the phases as this is what makes Magic complicated.


There are 5 colors of Mana in MTG, namely White, Green, Red, Black and Blue, each driven by different values. Click here for more details on the colors.  Mana is the magical energy that powers spells. Mana comes from the land. Correspondingly, there are five basic land types, each producing a different color of Mana.

  • White — Plains
  • Blue — Islands
  • Black — Swamps
  • Red — Mountains
  • Green — Forests

I will discuss the values driving each color in the game dynamics section. For now, let’s just leave it at that and move on to the card types.

There are 7 basic card types in MTG. These are: Artifacts, Creatures, Lands, Enchantments, Sorceries, Instants and Planeswalkers. Everything else are variations of these basics. I’ve already started discussing about lands, so let’s begin with it.

Lands can be broken down into two different types, basic and non-basic. Basic lands are exactly that: basic. They have no other purpose than to provide colored mana to cast spells. Think of them as power sources.

White mana is produced by Plains.


Blue mana is produced by Islands.


Black mana comes from Swamps.


Red mana is from the mountain.


And finally, Green mana comes from forest.


Now, you know what lands are and have an idea what mana is. This is the perfect time to jump to discussing the other card types. Let’s now deal with creatures, and what better example for a creature than… GRIZZLY BEARS!

Above is an example of a creature card. Note the following features:

Card Name – This is the name of the card. Well, duh!

Card Type – This shows what type, among the 7 basic card types , it is. In this case, this is a creature and it’s creature type is a “Bear”. Why is the term “Bear” important? It’s because certain spells affect only certain creature types.

Casting Cost – Ah, yes! As you can see here, it shows a numerical 1 and an icon that looks like a tree. If you would see the Forest card above, it shows the exact same symbol. It means that to play or put this creature from your hand to the board, it requires one green mana (symbolized by the tree) and one generic mana (meaning any color will do).

Power and Toughness – The numerator indicates the points of damage that it can deal to an opposing creature or player, while the denominator indicates the points of damage it can take before dying.

I think this post has gone quite long enough. I’ll continue discussing the other types on my next post.

By the way, as a disclaimer, all card images seen here are properties of the Wizards of the Coast. I express no rights or ownership over their intellectual properties, though I wish I worked for them. haha!

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