What to do as new player?


New member
I started playing MtG back when The Dark had been out for a bit and I've come and gone multiple times over the years. I played some MTGO back when it first came out and later on played a good deal of Arena before I decided I hated the design of that version of MtG so very much. I can't really play paper so I've thought about getting back into MTGO and created a new account and honestly feel quite lost. I don't know how to operate the UI, but I can't even get that far because other than the "newcomer" cards I have no deck and no idea what the points I was granted are even for. The onboarding experience for MTGO just really leaves new players utterly adrift.

So, what should I be doing to get into games? Preferably with not spending money just yet, I want to see if I can feel ok with the UI before I invest. Are there any new player guides that show how to put together a workable deck with just the new player collection?

Thanks in advance for any answers!
This tutorial from MTGGoldfish is good:

Cardhoarder has a guide that is a little dated, but does explain some important basics like how the economy works, how to trade with bots, and some of the different formats available.

If you're just getting started, I would open a free loan account through cardhoarder or manatraders (link to Cardhoarder below):

This will allow you to rent a few tickets worth of cards for free.
You can use the loan account to play Penny Dreadful, which is a player-created budget format which only allows cards that are worth a penny or two. Decks in penny dreadful usually cost less than 5 tickets so you will be able to build the vast majority of decks just with the free loan account and start playing real games of Magic.

Join their discord / subreddit to learn more:

If you want to go past Penny Dreadful, I just want to warn you that MTGO does require real money to play. The next cheapest format would probably be Pauper where decks are more like 30-120tix. There's also budget decks in standard and other formats that you can build for cheap if you look around. Good luck.


New member
Hi Spaceboy,

I'm new myself and would definitely try out rental programs. I haven't tried out Cardhoarder so can't give any thoughts on that but I bought the Premium subscription for Manatraders which is about 400 tix for around £35. You can try out so many decks without breaking the bank!


New member
I am similar feeling adrift. Already I have discovered CardHoarder, bought 100 cards I wanted, figured out to pay $5.00 to unlock the full MTGO client.

The client has NO TUTORIAL? No starter deck?

Nothing? This has to be embarassing. MTGO has a what 25 year head start on Arena, and it's done NOTHING during that time?

The MTGGoldfish tutorial is an HOUR to explain how to get in and play a game. In one hour of watching that video, I could get into Arena and play 20 games.

Here are the things I've figured out so far to help the next weary traveller:

* MTGO was designed by computer nerds. Watch that MTGGoldfish video and learn to press OK until something else happens. The keyboard key 1 is used instead of having to mouse over to the OK button in the row of space shuttle like controls in the play-the-game UI, which was designed by people without any knack for user interface design.

* Play a few ONE PLAYER games as stupid as that sounds, until you get the hang of moving through the stupid phase locked system that they've implemented. Arena's "let's get moving model" lets you hit the CTRL key to pause when you want to interrupt and lets you just play. They really need something like that here. I just dragged a creature, can you just let me drag a creature.

If someone at this company wants MTGO to still be online in two years they should start working on making this place less hostile to new users.


Well-known member
* MTGO was designed by computer nerds. Not Joystick Junkies. There are a plethora of configurable In-Duel Settings and Key Bindings that allow you to Stop where you want, and "get moving" when you want (such as No Possible Play: Yield All).

* Play a few ONE PLAYER games as stupid as that sounds, until you get the hang of moving through the real-world emulating phase system.
And double-clicking a creature card in your hand is infinitely faster than trying to "drag a creature" from a fanned out handful of cards, if you're smart enough to disable the time-wasting Animations.

* And don't be afraid to open a Chat Room and ask for pointers if you're stuck or confused by something.