How To Use Card Advantage to Win at Magic The Gathering

Winning at Magic: The Gathering is often a battle of out-resourcing your opponent. Your goal is to present more threats to your opponent than his deck can deal with before his life total becomes zero (or any other win condition is met.) When building and playing a Magic deck, here’s how you can use the concept of card advantage to help turn the tide in your favor during your next duel!

What Is Card Advantage?

In Magic, both players start with seven cards. Each player only has access to one new card each turn (unless you play a card that says otherwise.) Similarly to chess, advantage is gained when you seize the opportunity to take out multiple cards of your opponent’s with only one card of yours. By using one card to destroy several, you gain card advantage.

Which Cards Give Card Advantage

Removal Spells: Mass creature removal spells like Day of Judgment can help you gain card advantage, as long you aren’t blowing up your own creatures! Direct damage cards like Pyroclasm that can affect multiple targets work great too. Use Creeping Corrosion to gain card advantage blowing up artifacts in the same way.

Comes Into Play Effects: Creatures that have come into play abilities can be awesome for gaining card advantage. When you play Viridian Corrupter you can blow up an artifact, and have a 2/2 creature on the board that your opponent must deal with. If he expends a Lightning Bolt to destroy it, you’ve taken out two of your opponent’s resources with one of yours.

Cards That Let You Draw: If you can draw more cards than your opponent, this also will help you gain card advantage (assuming those cards are useful!) Cards that let you Scry (like Preordain) that don’t increase the number of cards in your hand can still help by improving your overall hand quality. A useful spell is better than a dead card in your hand.

When Card Advantage Matters Most

If you’ve ever been in a game that was at a standoff – both players with no cards in hand and only land on the board – you’ve probably seen the power of card advantage at play. In this situation it is common to be trading card for card as you hope to gain board advantage and win. If you can take out two cards for the price of one in this situation, you will gain a tremendous advantage and probably win the game.

When Card Advantage Won’t Help You

If there aren’t any cards in your deck that can save you, having more cards than your opponent won’t really matter much. If you run out of cards and lose because you can’t draw, that won’t help either. Card advantage alone won’t win you games, but when combined with an effective deck it will help improve your odds for victory.