Cardsmith Blog

CCC: Paying it Forward

Today you stand a great wizard, a powerful Planeswalker. You have in your collection spells and creatures with power beyond reckoning. But how did you get there? No matter your strength or achievements we all started the same. As blind babies casting Brainstorm during our first main phase. We only grew because we had teachers, people to show us and guide us on our journey through the multiverse. During this time of quarantine, when so many of us are stuck inside with family, I’d like to share with you all how to teach someone to play Magic. This is by no means a definitive guide, but this is what I have done in the past to teach both my sister and friends how to play this game.

Step 1: Preparing 

First things first, make sure they want to learn in the first place. If you force this onto someone they won’t like it. Once you’ve made sure of that, the fun part begins. Prepare five starter decks, each one should be mono-colored and focus on the strengths of the five colors. One by one, I’ll walk you through the decklists I used and the methodology behind them (Of course these are just suggestions, build with what you have!)

The White Deck

The White deck should be low to the ground with a kind of weenie/tokens strategy. Add in some cards that tap your opponent's things and sprinkle with life gain to get a comprehensive and basic White strategy. I chose to add in a small Soldier theme to also show that creature types can matter. Crusade also helps show the communal nature of White on the color wheel.

The Blue Deck

The Blue deck should be a sort of light tempo/control deck. You want to show off how blue disrupts and reacts, make sure that the deck is creature light so your students realize that blue may not be the best option for that. The goal of the deck should be to stay alive using bounce spells and counters before sticking a massive threat for the win. I’ve found that most new players steer away from the Blue deck but see it as annoying to play against, the list above was the best I could do to make it fun to play and fair to play against.

The Black Deck

The Black deck is a very simple Aristocrats deck that is meant to introduce the ideas of sacrifice to the player. It’s very common for new players to protect their life total and creatures without actually thinking about it. This deck shows them the benefits of exchanging resources as well as the concept that winning at 1 life is the same as winning at 20.

The Red Deck

The Red deck is a pretty traditional RDW/Burn deck meant to teach players how to decide where damage goes. A massive misstep I know I made at the beginning was always shoving burn spells at the opponent and ignoring creatures. This deck should show when that is advantageous and when it’s better to remove a threat. Also, Wizard’s lightning is included to again show how creature types matter with Skyship Stalker included helping them grasp activated abilities.

The Green Deck

The Green deck is a simple ramp deck. It includes a playset of both Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic to show players what a functional reprint is. This deck also includes a lot of single copies of massive creatures, this is done mostly for variety. I would recommend including some uncounterable threats because otherwise, this deck tends to just outright lose to the Blue deck. 

Step 2: Teaching

So once your decks are squared away, how do you start teaching the game? First I would recommend explaining the concept of the game in almost a mythic way. “You play as a powerful wizard, wielding magic so great that it allows you to walk the dimensions themselves!” is usually how I introduce it.

Next, take one of each basic land type and lay them out in front of the players. Explain a bit about each color and what it does that the others can’t. Now take from the decks a card of each type (Instant, sorcery, enchantment, and creature.) Start by explaining how lands work and proceed to casting costs, how a (W) mana symbol can only be paid with a plains but a (C) can be any color. From here explain the other permanents first. Start with creatures and proceed to enchantments. Then explain instants and sorceries. I’ve found describing them as “One-time effects” helps a lot.

Once this is all done and the players understand at least a little, start a game with them. These games should be basic, 7 card hands and 20 life: Kitchen table magic. If you have at least two people learning, have them play against each other while you assist. If you are only teaching one person then do an open hand match and assist them. It’s important to not help them unless they ask; you don’t want to end up playing for them.

Have each person play with whatever deck speaks to them and urge them to try all five decks, the goal is for them to eventually pick one that they like playing the most. At this point you’ve done it, they know the basics. Now all that’s left is to just keep playing and ease them into the more complicated things. This should happen naturally through gameplay.  

Step 3: What Comes Next

After a while, your players will become bored with the same five decks. What I recommend here is introducing Commander, especially if you’re teaching family members or people you’ll see often. Specifically, you have to be okay parting with some of your collections for this next bit. What I did for my friends was I showed them a list of commanders I owned and was willing to part with, then I went home and made each of them a deck featuring that commander and using no cards over $1. For those of you wanting more details: The decks made were Torgaar, Siona, and Grumgully. I then gifted these decks to the players. What this does is it gives them not only a deck of their very own but a framework to improve on. If they go to the game store, they don’t have to buy a box of cards just to have something to play with, they can just sit down and play. Plus if they end up opening a pack they might open something cool for the deck that is now theirs. It’s just a great way to get some investment going as well as generate continuing interest in the game for that player.

If you have any questions on how to teach Magic to people let me know, I’ve been doing it for years and I’m happy to answer any inquiries. If you have any stories about teaching the game or being taught let me know in the comments below. You can find me on twitter @East2Westmtg or email me at As always this has been East2west with CCC, I'll see you guys on the battlefield.
Apr 16, 2020 by East2West

The Fools of April Abound!

April Fools!

Art by clowncircusbufon @DeviantArt

Fool Me Once...

We've had some amazing Aprils on MTG Cardsmith, from being attacked by Pears, to being taken over by FOEGOD and everything in-between! Let's face it, April is all about the tomfoolery around here and we'd like to turn that into a celebration! This month our Featured Cards will be all about the Harbinger of Merriment, so show us your best Jester and Fool cards for an opportunity to get a Featured Card this month!

Fool You Once...

You didn't think that was it did you? We think a celebration deserves more than just a few featured cards, that's why we're going to give out an amazing Earnable Avatar for everyone who submits a card to our Theme of the Month thread in the forums! It's just that easy!

Featured Cardsmiths

This month we picked two more incredible Cardsmiths to feature... strongbelieves & ArchieTaylor!

One of our long-time contributors, strongbelieves has always offered up valuable card making advice and useful criticism, as well as sharing with us some amazing card creations. We hope you'll take some time to peruse not just the five cards we've offered up below, but also spend some time checking out more of SB's creations!

ArchieTaylor, on the other hand, is a relatively new Cardsmith and one of the things we like about him is that he has a strong ability to make common and uncommon cards, which is not too common here on MTG Cardsmith! With over 600 cards to his name already, we think you'll enjoy looking at his cards as much as we do!

Each month we're excited to highlight a few Cardsmiths that have helped make MTGCardsmith the best interactive online Card Creator. We hope you'll take some time to check out their creations!

Apr 01, 2020 by Corwinnn, & Tomigon

Hello, MTG Cardsmith Community!

Hello MTG Cardsmith community!

Our apologies for the delay in our announcement. I’m sure what’s going on globally with the coronavirus affected most, if not all, of our users in one way or another. We send our warmest intentions to the health of you, your families and friends. We hope continues to be a way for you to enjoy this pastime, which can be a respite, mentally and physically, from the uncertainty of these current times.
And, now, back to our announcement: 
We are excited to become the new owners of what is a stellar group of Magic enthusiasts.
We first would like to thank Grant for all of his time and effort in developing and growing this site and its members through the years. I’m sure many of you will agree with what a great job he has done to add a dimension to those who enjoy playing Magic and all that entails. We also would like to thank members Corwinnn and Tomigon, who have helped immensely during the transition and we hope to continue their work to help us grow the site and its community.
First, I’d like to let you know who we are. We are The Media Shop, a company founded by a group of friends that has its hands involved in the most engaging web destinations and small companies that are pillars in their communities. With a number of gamers on our staff and an extremely talented creative team (, we see MTG Cardsmith as a place where our passions collide.
We officially switched over to our version of the site on Friday the 6th and are eliminating the last remaining bugs. If you see anything that isn’t working properly do not hesitate to reach out to us and we will be active in helping squash any remaining problems. Going forward we’re going to be implementing a number of enhancements and new features to the site, some of which will be based around what you want as a community. So let’s jump right into our initial ideas and questions:


We’ll start you off with the only thing you won’t like. We are going to be deploying a small number of ads on the site. We know, we know, everyone hates ads, but they will help give us more resources to grow the community. Premium members/subscribers will not see any ads and we will not be making any changes to premium pricing.


We've upgraded a host of the legacy software behind the site and put it on much more powerful hosting.  There's still a long way to go but we'll be continuously making upgrades to the site to improve performance and give you a better experience when creating, sharing and talking about your cards

Editors and Options

The current card and token editors have taken the community this far, but we think it’s time to put some love into this area. We have some new frame and icon options we’ll be adding over the coming weeks and months. We’ll also be redesigning the editors to be more user-friendly and provide some completely new functionality. This is an area we’d love to get your feedback on as we begin development. What are the things you would like to see most out of the editors? What new options and features would you like? Do you want GIF and video support?

The Store

We think there’s a lot of room for improvement in the store. We love what Grant did offering custom merchandise and we’re going to expand that but we’re also looking at offering some products made by other great companies. What would you like to see added to the store most?

Card Printing

No, we can’t let you print out copies of your cards… but we can let you print your cards on other items. We’re taking a deep look at allowing you to print your card designs onto T-shirts, pillows and posters. We’d love to get your feedback on this idea. What other products would you like to print on?

Tournament/Calendar list

We love how many contests the community participates in, official and non-official. We are thinking of introducing a calendar of official events into the main navigation menu to keep users apprised. We are hoping to hear input on this idea and what else we can place into it.

Your Ideas

We are always ready to hear input from the community that makes this site so special and we encourage you to give us your feedback so we can put it to good use.  We’ve created a feedback form you can fill out to answer some of our questions and give us your thoughts. We’ll leave it open for 30 days and randomly select an account to get 30 days of free premium!
Our Content Guy, Ian Powers (Ian_The_Guru) joined the community last month and is getting acclimated to all facets of it. Please continue to be patient with him and our staff as we grow into your established community. 
So enjoy the community, continue making cards and sharing them with the world!
Thanks again,
The new MTG Cardsmith team

Mar 20, 2020 by MTG Cardsmith

Magic In These Strange Times

With all the concern and action involved around COVID-19, we wanted to make sure your MTG addiction isn't neglected during these trying times. A lot of FNM and game store events have been cancelled and that leaves players with few options to get their Magic fix.

We here at MTGCardsmith want to you to stay safe in the uncertainty of today's reality. Follow all appropriate medical advice and self quarantine when necessary. Public gatherings in a lot of places have been banned or relegated to groupings of less than 10. If you do go out, protect yourself and keep your card collection safe by wearing gloves and sleeving all your cards. If you choose to stay home we've put together some options and ideas for you!

MTG Arena

Wizards of the Coast has added a lot of fun things to Arena, but the one thing they have added since beta testing is the ability to invite friends to play. This is a great way to play MTG with your friends and fellow cardsmiths without leaving the comfort of your own home!


These guys made a fantastic site where you can play any version of Magic with any Magic cards that you might want to play. Want to play Commander? Want to play with the Power Nine? Want to play Weatherlight or Lorwyn? is the place for you. But the cherry on top of the sundae is that you can upload your own Custom Made cards from MTG Cardsmith and play with them! 

How to Upload Custom Cards to

First, go to and create a log in. Most people use their Cardsmith name, but that's not a requirement. Once you've logged in you can begin.

1. Click [Decks]
2. Click [Create Deck]
3. Type in a deck name.
4. Select Custom CCG
5. Click [Create Deck]

6. Click "Add Missing Card"
7. Type in the card's name, paste the image Url, give more information that help us find the card.

8. Type in the card name in the search box
9. Find the card from the result
10. Drag it to your deck.

A couple of tips before loading your Custom Cards.

1. Make sure your card is how you want it to be. We can't just delete cards with mistakes, so if you load 5 different versions of a card, everyone will have to try to sort through and find the correct version.
2. Make sure you put your cards in the Custom CCG category
3. Spelling is important. If you misspell the card name, you might not find it again and if you post the name for others to use, they might not find it at all.

MTG Cardsmith Is Here To Enjoy

We're here and available for you to enjoy and create in this time of stress and anxiety. When you find yourself bored and looking for something to do, we'll be here for you. You can find social interactions in the forums and on the member fueled Disqus card comments. We'll stay open 24 hours a day, no matter where you are in the world, so you can create all the Magic you need!

Brought to you by Corwinnn, Tomigon & Ian_The_Guru!!

Mar 18, 2020 by Corwinnn, & Tomigon

CCC: Super Standard

Okay so normally when I make an article about a new format (Reliquary, Baroque, etc) I’m being completely serious in my endorsement. I try to introduce formats that I can see people going to a Magicfest and sitting down to play. Today however, that’s only sort of true. Today I have for your enjoyment a format created by accident that I think will be incredible fun. It’s called Super Standard and honestly, I’m really excited to play a few matches.

So first off, let me tell you how this format was accidentally invented. At my college a couple friends decided to let me teach them how to play Magic. It’s been great, they’ve gotten into it, we’ve done some Theros sealed. The point, though, is that one of them asked me about Standard and I explained it as “Using the most recent sets.” What came back to me was that they thought I met all recent sets. This meant that they thought that, alongside Eldraine, Commander 2019 was legal in Standard. Thus a new format was born.

You may now be asking, “Well okay but what sets would be legal right now?” A valid question so let’s get into that. Super Standard is a format that allows all recent sets -- defined as all products released in physical form during any standard season. So current legality would be the following: Theros Beyond Death, Magic Game Night 2019, Throne of Eldraine, Commander 2019, Core Set 2020, Modern Horizons, War of the Spark, Ravnica Allegiance, Ultimate Masters, Magic Game Night, and Guilds of Ravnica. The full list of available cards can be found here.

Super Standard is also a rotating format with what I’ve decided to call a Sandwich Rotation. So let’s look at these sets chronologically to explain what that is. Next time Standard is going to rotate is with the release of Zendikar Rising, this means that everything released before War of the Spark will rotate out of Standard, the same is true for Super Standard. For something to be legal in Super Standard there must be a Standard Legal set released before it, once that set rotates out of Super Standard, so does that set. Make sense? Cool, let’s get to the fun bits.

First, a Ban List must, of course, be made. Since there is little to no data on this format that was created last week, the ban list is going to start pretty small. All cards currently banned in Standard are also considered to be banned in Super Standard. The only current additions I’m adding are Sol Ring. Otherwise go nuts. This banned list will be expanded upon if people actually end up playing this format and things start to get broken and abused. If you see something that’s obviously a problem let me know in the comments below.

To round out this article, I’ll share with you guys two brews for the format to get your gears turning.

Mardu Calamity

Esper Control

I’m not really going to explain either deck here since I think the strategies of both are fairly clear. Overall, I think Super Standard is something kind of fun that you and a friend could throw together. I even encourage you guys to proxy these decks since some of the cards can be pretty expensive.

Anyway, that's all for this month, let me know if you have any sweet brews in the comments below. You can find me on twitter @East2Westmtg or email me at As always this has been East2west with CCC, I'll see you guys on the battlefield.

Mar 15, 2020 by East2West
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