Using Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planewalkers to Build Your Deck
Let me just say that no, I haven't been playing Magic for forever and a day. I actually just started a few weeks ago. As such, I've been spending a lot of my time (and surprisingly, my money) on cards and boosters. I've got my first deck built--a green/black creature deck that is proving to be very interesting to play.
I'm still learning, however. So, what would I tell those who are looking to get into a game which has a steep learning curve for some, especially those who've never really played a card game like MTG?
Play the Steam version.
I'm not even joking. The PC version, Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers, taught me more than both of my roommates combined (it helps that I'm a visual learner).
You duel bots in order to unlock cards and get achievements, but in general, the PC version taught me the mechanics of the game in a way that I could understand.
Not only does this game walk you through the general 'how the hell do I play this game' phase, it basically holds your hand through each phase.
The downsides? The game gives you a pre-made deck to play with, and unless you've unlocked a fair amount of cards, you're stuck with that deck--the only option you really have to customize at the beginning is to remove cards, which isn't a great idea given that you start with less than 60 cards. Once your deck has 60 cards, it won't let you remove any that would make your deck less than 60 cards.
You can buy the full decks, though I wouldn't recommend it.
This game actually makes a fairly decent deck building tool--create your real deck in the game and play the campaign with it to see how far you can get with it and how well it does against different play styles.
As soon as I unlock the rest of my deck, that's what I'll be doing.
Plus, the Steam version offers promo-codes that you can redeem for real booster packs at participating stores. The packs vary, but this week I'm getting a promo 6-card booster and 'alternate art Serra Avatar' promo card.
I love free stuff, so. The game is only $9.99 on Steam and is well worth it for anyone who wants to learn how to play, or even play online. I personally like playing the campaign because I like getting a feel for the game on my own and then applying what I've learned to surprise-murder my roommates.