Beginner’s Guide to Magic The Gathering Tournament Etiquette

Tournament Magic is an excellent way to improve your skills as a Magic player. You’ll have a chance to play against some of the more challenging decks in the field, which will give you many opportunities to pinpoint your deck’s strengths and weaknesses. If you’re going to be participating in a Magic: The Gathering tournament for the first time, here are a few basic pointers for maintaining good gaming etiquette.

Be Friendly and Courteous

This should go without saying, but being friendly and welcoming can make your tournament experience a more positive one. Even though Magic tournaments are meant for competitive play, that doesn’t mean you need to be rude to your opponent! Be courteous, and the favor will often be returned. Show good sportsmanship, even if you are beaten, and it will go a long way to make a good impression.

General Game Procedures

At the beginning of a match, you will use a random method (die roll, coin flip, etc) to determine who picks who goes first. Whoever wins the roll will choose to either play first and skip their first draw, or play second and not have to skip their first draw. Shuffle your deck, allow your opponent to cut your deck, and cut their deck. Magic tournament rules also permit shuffling your opponent’s deck, and vice versa, if you desire.

After choosing who plays first, and shuffling & cutting decks, both players will draw seven cards. The player who is going first will choose whether to keep their hand, or take a new hand with one less card. After that player has decided to keep his hand, the other player will do the same. At the end of your first game, the person who lost will choose whether to play or draw, and the second game will begin. The first person to win two games wins the match, and reports the match to the tournament organizer.

Magic Tournament Do’s and Don’ts

Do shuffle your Magic deck thoroughly between games, and take your time to carefully consider every play. Don’t intentionally take an excessive amount of time to stall the game. Don’t play out of turn. Do make sure your opponent is done before you untap and draw a card. If you draw a card out of turn, you may be given a warning and/or a game loss. Do ask a judge if you aren’t sure about a particular card ruling, or have any general Magic rules questions. If there is a problem during the game, don’t wait until later to resolve it as it will further complicate the situation!