Magic: The Gathering Online FAQs
For play on PC
Written by Michael Maillaro AKA Blackmore
Version: 1.0
Last Updated: 9/17/2002

Contact me:
The best way to contact me is to e-mail me at
Send me all comments, questions, corrections, or strategies, and I will
make sure to credit you.

This FAQ is going to be a work in progress, and as I pick up on new
information, it will be frequently updated.

9/9/02 Version 0.1 - The start of my first GameFAQ.  Only some basic
information here.

9/10/02 Version 0.1a - Expanded first draft, added some information
about chat commands and chat symbols.  Cleaned up the format.  Still
working towards getting a completed first draft.  Added some general
emperor deck info, but it will be a few more days until I can start
putting more specifics up there (busy week at work).

9/11/02 Version 0.1b - Added some general information about Magic The
Gathering and the difference between the different colors of cards.
Every section at this point has some information, and I will continue
to expand it as the week passes.  Fixed the year in the copyright

9/14/02 Version 0.9 - Finally on the brink of the complete first draft!
Added section on spell types, and began adding a copy of my current
Emperor deck.   Added two questions about how much M:TGO costs.  This
might take a bit longer than I planned, but I should have it all up in
a few days.  Also worked on the format some, as some things seemed to
be screwed up on me when I started viewing it on my new laptop (paid
for through work).

So far, I have worked mostly on the non-Emperor information, but that
will change over the next few days.

9/19/02 Version 1.0 - This was my biggest update since day 1, and I
have decided to call this the first draft.    There will still be
changes and additions (a lot of both), but this is definitely the gist
of this guide.

Ended up splitting my FAQ into two separate FAQs, one for Emperor's
Game and one for M:TGO.

I added some stuff to each section, so it would take way too long to
explain it all the changes.

Table Of Contents

Section 1: Introduction
Section 2: FAQ
         2.1: What is M:TG?
         2.2: What is a Trading Card Game?
         2.3: What is Magic Online?
         2.4: How much does it cost to play M:TGO?
         2.5: Is it worth it?
         2.6: How can I win every time?
         2.7: Game rules or what the card says?
Section 3: General Information about M:TG and M:TGO
         3.1: What's With all the Colors?
          3.1.1: Black
          3.1.2: Blue
          3.1.3: Green
          3.1.4: Red
          3.1.5: White
          3.1.6: Colorless
          3.1.7: Gold (Multi-color)
         3.2: Spell Types
         3.3: Zones Of Play
Section 4: Chat And Etiquette
        4.1: Typing Chat Symbols
        4.2: Chat Commands
        4.3: Ejecting A Player
Section 5: Miscellaneous
Section 6: Law Of The Land
Section 7: Closing Statements And Special Thanks

Welcome to my first FAQ.  I've been using this site for two years, so I
figured it was about time I started contributing.  I noticed there are
no FAQs for Magic: The Gathering Online, so I decided to construct one
focusing on my favorite version of play: the Emperor's game.

While this FAQ will provide some general information about Magic: The
Gathering (from here on it, M:TG) and Magic:The Gathering Online
(M:TGO), this guide focuses primarily on the multi-player mode called
Emperor.  This guide assumes you know the basics of playing M:TGO and
have already read the instruction booklets that come with the game (or
used the game's terrific Help feature).

Before I start, I guess I should add one thing: I am in no means an
expert Magic player.  I have loved the game for a long time in card
form, and over the last few months online.  I win most of my games, but
not all of them.  To this day, I rely heavily on creatures and always
get pummeled by anti-creature decks.

I am also in no means an expert at Emperor games, but I do have a good
idea of what works well from experience and watching others plays.  So
why am I doing this FAQ?

Two reasons:

1: There was a need for it.  There were almost no reviews for M:TGO, so
I wrote one.  And for such a complex game as Magic, there were no FAQs.
So here is mine, and I hope new players find it useful and old players
help me expand it.

2: I have always wanted to write one of these!  And since I have a ton
of experience with M:TG and M:TGO, this just felt right.

So without further adieu, I give you:

Mike Maillaro's First Game FAQ!


2.1: What is M:TG?

(From M:TGO): Magic: The Gathering was the world's first trading card
game.  Invented by mathematician and award-winning game designer Dr.
Richard Garfield, Magic debuted at the GenCon gaming convention in 1993
to instant success and has been growing and evolving ever since. Like
other TCGs, you build a Magic deck from either cards you own
(Constructed format) or cards you get at the beginning of an event
(Limited format) and try to defeat other players. Your deck might
contain cards carefully chosen to fit your play style, while your
opponent's deck could be completely different than yours.

Winning usually means reducing your opponent's score (life total) from
20 to 0. Attacking with creatures or damaging your opponent with spells
is the best way to achieve this goal. Imagine doing battle with fire-
breathing dragons, noble angels, powerful and mysterious djinns, and
cunning elves - they're all part of the Magic: The Gathering game.

Cards are the resources at your disposal. Some represent plots of land
that you draw mana from, while others depict fantastic creatures,
powerful spells, or arcane items. Each different card has unique
statistics and abilities, which can interact in complex and surprising
ways with other cards.  Sets of cards come in two flavors: basic sets
and expert-level expansions. A new basic set appears about every two
years, while one large and two smaller expert-level expansions come out
each year. With over 1,500 cards currently available in Magic Online,
and lots more to come, the combinations are limited only by your

2.2: What is a Trading Card Game?

(From M:TGO) The main difference between a trading card game (TCG) like
Magic: The Gathering and a regular card game is that each player uses
his or her own deck of cards when playing instead of having a common
deck from which all players draw. These decks can be customized using
any cards a player owns.

Another difference between a TCG and other games is that you trade
cards with other players (much like sports cards). Some cards are
considered more rare and valuable, and therefore more collectible, than
others. You can tell how rare a Magic card is by the color of the
expansion symbol. Common cards have a black expansion symbol, uncommon
are silver, and rare are gold. Some players might try to complete a
collection, trading Magic cards until they own every one in a set.
Others might be on a constant lookout for just the right card for their
latest deck.

2.3: What is Magic Online?

Magic Online is a complete version of the original Magic game in an
electronic format. Whether you're a newbie, a casual player, or a
serious player, now you can play Magic against people all over the
world without ever leaving the comfort of your home.

You buy Magic Online cards, collect them, play with them, and trade
them with other players. The game keeps track of the cards you own, the
decks you build, and the victories you rack up.  You can play with
cards found in any expansion from the Invasion set forward. As new
Magic sets are released, they'll also become available in Magic Online.
You can also take a look at older Magic cards and keep track of the
ones you own.

2.4: How much does it cost to play M:TGO?

As opposed to most online games, there is no monthly fee to play M:TGO.
You can download the software for free, and pay a one-time fee of 10
dollars to register (which I believe you get back as in-game money, I
am not sure as I bought the store version).  This takes a long time,
even with a cable modem.

The store version is 15 bucks, which you get back 10 dollars of as in-
game money, which you can use to buy you a starter deck.
This will be enough to get you started, and through trading you can
build up a nice collection of cards.  But, very quickly, I wanted to
try as many cards as I could, so I started buying cards at the in-game

Theme Decks are 10 bucks (though you can get smaller 40 color decks for
8 bucks), same for Tournament Packs (some of each basic land type, then
randomly packed cards).  You can also get booster packs for 3-4 dollars
each, for the various expansions available in the game.  Also, tickets
for the various tournaments are available for sale at a dollar a ticket
(tournaments run between 2-5 tickets each, but you win booster packs
for coming in first or second).

2.5: Sounds like this could end up costing a lot.  Is it worth it?

Obviously I think so, or I wouldn't have bothered writing this guide ;)
But, I'd say yes.  You really can get started with a minimal
investment, and you don't have to buy new cards to have a great time
playing.  I have always liked playing M:TG, and now I can always find
someone to play right online.  There are all different types of games
and opponents, so you won't get bored easily.  And the online card sets
are expanding like the real cards, so it ensures the game will always
have some next twists to it.

2.6: What color/card/combination will guarantee me a win every time?

To be honest, there is none.  Every game is different (even if you use
the same deck every single game).  You could have the best cards and
the best strategies and get a terribly unlucky draw.  I've seen it
happen many times.

Plus, not everyone plays the same way.  I used to prefer a red/black
deck which would deal a lot of direct damage and kill opponent's
creatures, but over time, I started enjoying the more subtle spells
(such as counters, creature boosters, things of that nature).  You'll
develop your own preferences and strategies over time and with some
practice.  This guide is to provide you with ideas, not hard fast

2.7: Which takes precedent: game rules or what the cards tell me to do?

One of the coolest (and most frustrating, if it happens to you) things
about Magic is the cards can change the rules of the games.  There are
cards that can let you win by just having over 200 cards in your
library (Battle of Wits) and card which can give you extra turns or
combat phases (Relentless Assault).  Whenever a card contradicts a game
rule, the card gets precedent.



You may have noticed Magic: The Gathering cards come in several
different colors.  Each color in Magic represents a type of magic
(black magic, life magic, mental magic, etc.) and usually each has
specialized spells (example: most counter spells are Blue), but this is
not a hard as fast rule.

Which color is the best?  It really depends on your style of play and
what type of game you are playing.  My normal deck (which is also my
flanker deck) is a black, red deck, while my emperor deck is green,
blue, and white.

Here's a quick breakdown of what each color means, where it gets its
power from, and the strengths of each:

3.1.1: BLACK:
Mana Source: Swamps
Symbol: Black skull

Black spells are primarily used for damage, negative creature boosting
(-1/-1, etc.) and destroying creatures.  Black spells tend to be the
nastiest of the game and usually have high casting costs, which makes
it the slowest of the five colors.  Great against decks with lots of

3.1.2: BLUE:
Mana Source: Islands
Symbol:  Blue Waterdrop

Blue specializes in spells "for the mind".  In the game, your mind is
represented by your library (your draw deck) and the cards in your
hand.  Blue cards will let you warp your opponent's mind (forced
discards, counter spells) and improve your own (drawing cards).  Many
of the useful blue spells have low casting costs, which makes it vital
for a fast casting deck.

3.1.3: GREEN
Mana Source: Forests
Symbol: Green Tree

Green is nature spells.  Lots of creature enhancers, as well as low
cast creature spells.  Green is also home to several prevent combat
damage spells, which is vital if you are playing a deck with smaller
creatures.  Green is probably the fastest of the colors.

3.1.4: RED
Mana Source: Mountains
Symbol: Red Fireball

Red is full of direct damage spells.  If you want to sit back and pelt
your opponent or their creatures with fireballs, red is the color for
you.  Red is probably the most satisfying color to play, because you
will always get immediate results with direct damage spells, while some
of the other colors take a bit longer to develop.

3.1.5: WHITE
Mana Source: Plains
Symbol: White Starburst

White is all about preventing damage and healing your creatures and
yourself (or your teammates as the case may be).  But that doesn't mean
white is weak or passive.  Some of the strongest creatures (and
creature enhancers) in the game are white spells.

Two classes of cards in Magic have no color.  These are lands and
artifacts (which also includes artifact creatures).


Lands are required to cast your other spells, but have no color of
their own.  There are basic lands, and also all types of non-basic
lands, which can give you multiple colored mana, turn into creatures,
or a variety of other effects.

You are allowed to play one land per turn, and will almost always be
the first card you cast (there are some artifacts with no casting cost,
but this is a rarity).  You can play a land only on your turn, before
or after combat.

BTW, you will note that most of the time, the card will have the text
box that is the same color as the color of mana the land produces
(split lands will have more than one color).  This does not matter,
land is still considered a colorless card.  For example: a spell that
destroys all Black permanents would not effect Swamps.

Artifacts aren't used very heavily by most Magic players anymore, but
they are still very useful.  Artifacts can really change the game play,
and the best part is you can cast them with mana of any color.
Artifacts can do anything, from dealing damage, to providing mana, to
allowing you to draw extra cards, among many other effects.  There is
literally no limit to what artifacts can do.  They are also pretty hard
to come by.
Artifacts can be played on your turn, before or after combat.

There are also several cards in the game, which require more than one
time of mana to be useful.  I've actually seen a card that requires all
five types of mana to cast, in fact.  Like artifacts, Gold cards have a
variety of effects, which usually combine two or more classes of magic.
The biggest disadvantage with Gold cards is you need more than one type
of mana on hand to cast them, and you are limited to using Gold Cards
which match the color of your deck, but they can still be pretty

All the cards except land are considered spells.  Even creature cards
are Summon spells until they are cast and on the table.  On each card,
the type of spell being cast can be seen right under the picture on the
left hand side of the card.

Artifacts/Artifact creatures: See Section 3.1.6

Creatures: Creatures can only be cast on your turn, before or after
combat.  Creature spells will say "Creature-<TYPE>" under the picture.
The types of creatures vary: giants, goblins, birds, etc.  There are
several spells that only effect creatures of certain types, so make
sure you know the types of creatures you are using.

Creature cards can be identified by the numbers on the bottom right of
the card.  The numbers will be in the format A/B, with A being the
creatures power (how much damage it can deal), and B being its
toughness (how much damage it can take).

Interesting side note: Creatures used to be listed as "Summon <TYPE>",
but it was changed a few sets ago.

Sorcery: Very powerful spells that can only be cast on your turn,
before or after combat.  Sorceries tend to have high casting costs and
their effects last only until the end of the turn.

Instants: The most versatile type of spell, as it can be cast at any
time, including during your opponent's turn.  Instants can even be cast
while an opponent is casting another spell (this is why all counter
spells are instants).

Instants used to be divided into Instants and Interrupts, but since
they had almost exactly the same function, they were all changed to

Enchantments:  Permanent spells that can only be cast on your turn,
before or after combat.  Enchantments stay in the game until they are
destroyed, which means their effects are long lasting.

Enchant Creature/Land/Artifact/Enchantment
These are special Enchantments that attach themselves to another
permanent in play.  If the permanent is destroyed, the enchantment is
destroyed as well.


There are six separate zones of play in Magic, and there are spells
that and different rules which effect each zone.

Library: Your draw pile.  No one can look at the cards in your library,
including yourself, but M:TGO will show you how many cards are in each
player's library. This is important to know, as a player loses if they
must draw a card from the library and they have no cards to draw from.

Hand: This is where cards go after you draw them from the library.
Only you can look at the cards in your hand, and in most cases, this is
from where you will cast all your spells.  During the end of your turn,
if you have more than seven cards, you must discard down to 7.

In Play: This is the area in front of all players where all the
permanents go.  Creatures, lands, artifacts, and enchantments remain in
play until they are destroyed in some way.

Graveyard: This is where dead cards go.  This includes destroyed
permanents, discarded cards, and instants and sorceries after they are
resolved.  Cards in graveyards are always face up and anyone can look
at them at any time.

Stack: This is the active spell part of the field.  When a spell is
cast, they hang out here until they are resolved (either do their
effect or are countered).  Spells in the stack always resolve LIFO
(last in, first out, the most recent cast spell is resolved first).

Removed From Game: Area off to the side where cards go when a spell or
ability removes them from play.  This isn't the same as your graveyard
because spells can pull cards out of your graveyard.  Removed From Game
cards usually cannot be effected or recovered in any way.

3.4: TURNS

Each turn consists of 5 phases.  At the end of each phase, you take 1
damage of mana burn for each mana point left unused.  Unless indicated,
you can cast instants and abilities at any step of any phase.

Phase 1 - Beginning Phase:
         A: Untap step: All your taped cards are untapped, no one can
play spells or abilities during this step.
         B: Upkeep step: Abilities that trigger at the beginning of
your upkeep go on the stack.
         C: Draw step: Draw a card.  This step is skipped for the first
player to go in the first turn.

Phase 2 - Main Phase (pre combat):
         You can play any type of spell or ability on this phase, but
your opponent can only play abilities and instants.  You can chose to
play a land during this phase, but remember you can play only one land
a turn.



You can include certain symbols in your chat messages by using special
key combinations. Symbols may be used in any chat message you send.
All symbols are done by pressing CTRL and Q at the same time, followed
by a trigger letter or number.

Key Combination                       Description
CTRL+Q, W                             While Mana Symbol
CTRL+Q, U                             Blue Mana Symbol
CTRL+Q, B                             Black Mana Symbol
CTRL+Q, R                             Red Mana Symbol
CTRL+Q, G                             Green Mana Symbol
CTRL+Q, T                             Tap Symbol
CTRL+Q, number or X                   Colorless Mana Symbol
CRTL+Q, A                             Ten Colorless Mana
CTRL+Q, C                             Twelve Colorless Mana
CTRL+Q, L                             Sixteen Colorless Mana
CTRL+Q, S                             Smiling Face
CTRL+Q, F                             Frowning Face
CTRL+Q, Y                             Sick Face
CTRL+Q, E                             Trophy
CTRL+Q, I                             Wizards Of The Coast Logo
CTRL+Q, Z                             Snoring
CTRL+Q, V                             Arrow


You can type these in any chat window:

You can start or join a group chat by typing "/join room name" in any
chat area. For example, if Bob typed "/join Bob" then a private message
window with the name "Bob" would appear on Bob's screen. Other players
could join that chat by typing "/join Bob".

This is an important command as it will allow you to create a team
channel so you can communicate privately with your teammates during an
Emperor game, allowing you to talk strategies and prevent wasting

You can mark yourself as being away from your computer by typing "/away
message" in any chat window, where the message is what you want to tell
other users. Your status and message will be displayed in the chat area
of the room you're in. Any players who try to send you private messages
will get an automatic reply telling them that you're away, but you'll
still receive their messages. When you return to your computer, just
type "/away" to show that you're back.

For example, if a player with the user name Bob types "/away using the
bathroom", the message "Bob is away - using the bathroom" appears in
the room the player is in. When the player returns and types "/away",
the message "Bob is back" is sent to that room.

You can send a chat message that starts with your user name by typing
"/me message" in a chat window.  This will make your message appear in

For example, if a player with the user name Bob types "/me shakes head
with frustration" in any chat area, the message "Bob shakes head with
frustration" appears in the window.

You can also add a player to your buddy list at any time by typing
/addbuddy name.  If the player's name has a space in it, put quotation
marks around it, /addbuddy "player name".

You can go to the room that a player is in by typing "/goto name."  If
the player's name has a space in it, put quotation marks around it,
"/goto "player name"."  This is useful when you go to the multiplayer
room, as you will often see people calling "Emp game looking for 1 emp,
2 Flankers".  This will allow you to quickly find and join an Emperor

In a multiplayer game, players can opt to eject another player from the
game by typing /eject name.  See next section for more information

If someone is being disruptive or is taking too long between turns,
players can vote to eject any other player from an Emperor Game by
typing "/eject name" in the game's chat area.

If all the other players type "/eject player" the person will be
removed from the game.  This is a very extreme way of dealing with
problems (especially since it will leave a team one player short).  And
if a team ejects their emperor, they will lose the game.

This section is for anything else that comes to mind.  Right now, I
have nothing here and no real plans for this section, but we'll see
what happens as time passes.

This FAQ is copyright 2002 to Mike Maillaro, AKA Blackmore.
Any use of this FAQ for commercial purposes in any way, shape, or form
without the consent of the author is strictly prohibited.  This can be
used for personal use and freely distributed, as long as there is no
profit being made off the FAQ without my approval.

If you see this FAQ on any site other than Game FAQ, let me know, as it
is being used without my permission!

Any failure to comply with said premises can result in legal actions.


Well that just about wraps up my first FAQ.  As I said earlier, send
all your questions, comments, etc. to

And if you see me on the GameFAQ boards (Blackmore), just drop me a
line.  I usually hang around Super Mario Sunshine, Super Smash Bros,
Melee, Eternal Darkness, and Animal Crossing, though I am all around.
Blackmore is also my name in M:TGO!  I'm always up for a game!

This guide would never have gotten done without:

My parents: For supporting my video game habits for all those years
before I got a real job, and for always at least pretending to have an
interest in my games.

My sister: For always being there, and for being the first person I
played M:TG with.  My god, did you kick my ass...

Gina Altbuch: For the seven most wonderful years in my life.  I love
you, Imzadi, and can't wait to get our kids addicted to video game and

Jeff "CJayC" Veasey: For GameFAQs!  My favorite video game site on the

Wizards of the Coast: For M:TG and M:TGO!  I have enjoyed Magic for a
long time, and they keep making this game better and better!

The dozens of people I've played M:TGO with over the last few weeks to
helping me prep this guide.

Tommatt, thanks for your thoughts on creatures for an Emperor deck!

Those who asked me questions on the GameFAQ board:
Oxus the Smoove

This just about wraps up my first Game FAQ.  I will be expanding this
FAQ and continue writing reviews for Game FAQs.  Who knows, maybe I'll
find time to start another FAQ.

(c) Mike Maillaro 2002