MTG Commander/Elder Dragon Highlander

Teaching New Players
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Author:  Segrus [ 2019-Feb-16 1:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Teaching New Players

I wasn't sure whether to put this is Game Reports or here, since it was a game...but it's more about having fun teaching some people how to play Magic for the first time through Commander. It went pretty well, all considering they didn't really know anything about Magic beforehand. In particular, they are a couple we hang out with every so often to play board games, watch movies, eat, and just hang out. I'd mentioned a few times to them that we play Magic and they seemed interested. So in preparation, I built a mono-colored deck for each color that would be simple to pilot--primarily using aggro strategies. Here's the five I built:

Balan On You - mono-White, equipment-based Voltron using Balan, Wandering Knight - played by friend 'D'

Elf Tribal - Ezuri, Renegade Leader - played by friend 'B'

Dragon Tribal - Lathliss, Dragon Queen - played by Gurgi

Head of the Snake - Zombie tribal with Sidisi, Undead Vizier - the deck I played

Many Hands - mono-Blue focused on Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive's ability - unused this game

We started out with a lot of the basic of playing--the make-up of cards or how to interpret them, card types, permanent versus non-permanent, turn structure, very basics of combat, how to win the game, and a brief explanation of each of the decks. They took to it just about well as most people do starting out--they didn't really grasp very much, but they started picking it up pretty quickly.

The game itself was actually pretty cool, with each deck working out pretty well. Dragon tribal took time building up, playing Ruby Medallion and Crucible of Fire early on, but not much else. 'D', with the Balan deck, sat back and waited to play anything heavy with my recommendation. 'B' shot ahead early with Wirewood Symbiote and Elvish Archdruid setting up for explosive plays. I should probably mention at this point we all played with hands face-up. At each step Gurgi and I explained our plays, and then helped 'D' and 'B' understand all of their options each turn (even to our detriment).

'D' decided they had enough of 'B' and their elves, as well as how quickly I'd taken command of the board through Heartless Summoning powering out Grave Titan. So Day of Judgment put an end to that, and a timely Fade into Antiquity on Heartless Summoning silenced me further.

This is when the dragons hit, and hard. Lathliss made her debut, and without another well-aimed removal destroying Crucible of Fire we'd have all been down for the count. From there, Balan finally came around to start hitting for 12 commander damage, unblockable. That didn't matter so much, there was a much bigger threat: Voice of the Woods and Quest for Renewal. Gurgi narrowly saved the day with Scourge of Valkas and Utvara Hellkite delivering death from above. Those two dragons took out both 'B' and 'D'. From there, I played a Deadly Tempest I'd gotten through Sidisi and held onto for the right moment.

There was honestly a lot of back and forth, with everybody getting a chance to threaten the board at different points. I'm hoping each game between these decks turns out this way.

Have any of you taught people Magic through Commander? Do any of you have decks specifically built for teaching? I'm thinking I'll have a few more of these in time, since some of the other people we hang out have wanted to try out Magic, and 'D' and 'B' both wanted to play again in the future.

Author:  Treamayne [ 2019-Feb-18 2:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Teaching New Players

Segrus wrote:
Have any of you taught people Magic through Commander? Do any of you have decks specifically built for teaching?

I've taught a number of people to play Magic. I tried doing it through commander once. I found that a 4 or 5 player commander game just had too much going on to adequately teach while also keeping the game interesting and preventing drag.

I found very quickly that it helps to crawl-walk-run. If possible, I prefer to demo a 60-card game with the new player(s) watching, so I can explain the basics what is happening (turn order, spell casting and resolution, the stack, etc.). With or without the demo, I usually play the first game (also 60 card) with both hands revealed, talking about my choices and why I am making them; but only offering advice and guidance, if asked. After that, I let the new player decide their comfort level and either do a 60-card multiplayer game (to go over the basics of games with 3+ players, threat analysis, turn order and how that affects the stack, etc.) or go straight to a commander game.

That said, I always keep at least 2 teaching decks of both 60-card and commander (though not mono-color commanders, I prefer two color commanders for teaching so I can go over color distribution, balance and deck design with the same decks).

Of course, this doesn't apply to MTGO, where teaching opportunities are more of an as-needed and/or when-requested basis. Also, on MTGO it's more about the interface, shortcut keys and game decisions than the raw mechanics of phases, steps, etc.

Author:  Segrus [ 2019-Feb-19 5:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Teaching New Players

I think it helps that this couple is used to learning more complicated board games, and understand that there's likely to be silence or drag during the process of learning. Since it was at my home, we could turn on a little music and such to make that easier.

There certainly a lot of complicated topics I don't intend to broach at the beginning level, and deck building would be one of those. Doing it this way does tend to restrict their freedom on what they can play, but once they got comfortable understanding some of the most basic rules I could hand them any number of different color combinations and strategies to try out.

Author:  Treamayne [ 2019-Feb-19 10:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Teaching New Players

Very true. Also, two players teaching two new players is a different dynamic than 1 new player among 3+ experienced players.

I also wait for deck building until they are comfortable with the game and start their own collection. But, I also prefer "double duty" so decks that are easy to grok, assist learning and still work well when I want to start teaching mana curve and color balance, card choice, etc.

For teaching to turned the Kalemne pre-con into giant-tribal and Kaseto into snake tribal.

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