Magic: The Gathering (MTG) and Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) are two cornerstones of geekdom. The former is the original trading card game (TCG) that defined the entire genre, while the latter is the granddaddy of all tabletop role-playing games (TTRPG). Both games still enjoy immense popularity, having stood the test of time with their decades of history.
However, the long history also makes both games daunting for new players to dive into, as there is a deluge of information about the games just a Google search away, and it can be difficult to know where to start.
But fret not, we have compiled a list of beginner-friendly starting points that smoothens the difficulty curve for the newcomers and can serve as great ways for veteran players to bring new players to the games.
When it comes to TCGs in general, the sheer amount of cards out there, and the variety of formats make it tough to even start playing the game. MTG’s Commander Decks address this issue well by providing players with ready-to-play decks that ease them into the game mechanics without having to worry about the process of deckbuilding.
Through the gameplay, players will also develop the desire to tweak and improve the decks in various ways as they become cognisant of their weaknesses. Commander Decks are the perfect entry point to MTG because they allow players to dive right into the thick of things while also honing their deckbuilding senses in a subtle yet effective manner.
You can get the Commanders Decks on Shopee.
It is right there in the name. The Starter Set is meant to get new players started by providing almost everything they need to get a campaign started – basic rules of the game, five premade character sheets, and a prewritten starter adventure. It is designed for both new players and dungeon masters (DM) alike to be the first step in their love affair with the classic TTRPG franchise.
While the Starter Set comes with a dice set, there’s also no harm getting another dice set that will best fit your preferred personal style! Protip: Don’t get the metal ones unless you love seeing your table get scratched up.
You can also get the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set on Shopee.
While the tactile nature of holding and shuffling cards, along with the socialising aspect of MTG are irreplaceable, there is a much more convenient way to get a taste of what the game itself is like.
First released in 2018, MTG Arena is the free-to-play digital collectible card game version of cardboard MTG. The sheer ease of being able to just download the game, fire it up, and give the game a go makes it a great way to introduce someone to the game. After all, having to meet up with someone, buy cards, and then find a space to play is a lot of effort, especially when one is unsure of whether the game will be good or not. MTG Arena solves this problem by making it simple to try out the game. It’s so simple that there’s pretty much no excuse for any gamer who wants to dip their toes into the genre.
The Starter Set is the first step into the world of D&D, and the Essential Kit is the second. The Starter Set is, by design, limited in options so players can get to the fun of playing almost immediately. With the Essential Kit, more options are made available, introducing various mechanics in a piecemeal manner for players and DMs alike to partake in.
Included in the Essential Kit are six blank character sheets, so players can truly become invested in a character that they build from the ground up, most likely in a ‘session zero’ where the characters come into being and players get to know each other’s characters better while setting expectations regarding the tone of the campaign. It also comes with an adventure so the newly drafted characters can start building their adventuring chops. There are also some paper cut-out miniatures and paper maps to act as visual aids during gameplay.
You can also get the Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Kit on Shopee.
While the Commander Decks familiarise players with the gameplay part of MTG, the Draft format is a good way to introduce them to the deckbuilding aspect of it.
In the Draft format, a group of players will each open up a booster pack, pick one card from the pack, and then pass the remainder to the next person, who will then pick a card from the remaining cards, and the process repeats until all the cards are drafted. Following that, each player will build a deck using the cards they drafted. They can add as many basic lands as they like, but each deck must have at least 40 cards.
Draft booster boxes are a great way to get a game of Draft started. This prevents new players from having to go up against optimised meta decks that cost over a thousand dollars and completely levels the playing field. It is also an evergreen format that is affordable while also expanding the players’ card collection. For a new player, this format will steer them towards thinking like a deckbuilder, and trying to identify the types of cards needed in a good deck.
You can also get Magic: The Gathering draft boosters on Shopee.
When it comes to TTRPGs, especially for newcomers, the idea of role-playing itself can be difficult to fully grasp. After all, the role-playing aspect has more to do with acting and improv than playing games. As such, one good way to get started is to watch other people play.
There is no better place to start than Critical Role, where professional voice actors band together and have a good time playing D&D. It illustrates how good sessions can play out, and the level of freedom and absurdity D&D as a system can afford.
Critical Role is the prime example of how playing D&D is an act of collaborative storytelling rather than a game about reaching the win condition at all cost. The sometimes sitcom-esque nature of the show also emphasises the highly social aspect of the game, and for those curious about what the game is like, this is a convenient, non-committal way to start.
For both games, the amount of products and information out there are overwhelming. MTG has new sets all the time with so many play formats that it’s dizzying, and D&D has so many thick books to read with more getting published all the time. Sometimes, MTG and D&D are even mixed together.
Hopefully, this list helps narrow down the options for newcomers and introduce them to the rich world of these games in a gentle manner. For those who prefer live events and the bustle of face-to-face interactions, there’s also the option of visiting a brick-and-mortar MTG store and joining the D&D Adventurers League for organised play.