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    FAQ by blackmore

    Version: 1.0 | Updated: 09/17/02 | Printable Version | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    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 blackmoreinc@yahoo.com.
    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
    3.2: SPELL TYPES
    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.
    3.3: ZONES OF PLAY
    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.
    In other words, STOP TRYING TO STEAL MY STUFF!
    Well that just about wraps up my first FAQ.  As I said earlier, send
    all your questions, comments, etc. to Blackmoreinc@yahoo.com.
    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