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Learn to play Magic

Become a planeswalker pro with these tips for learning to play Magic: The Gathering together.

You will need

  • Device with access to the internet
  • Magic: The Gathering Welcome Deck

Before you begin

  • The MTG Arena app is reccommended for ages 13+ so make sure you're running this activity with older Scouts, or a group of Explorers. 
  • You’ll need devices with access to the internet for this activity so you can play though the online tutorial. If you don’t have enough for everyone to use, you could set up a screen and projector and work through the game together.
  • Order a Welcome Deck or two before the session. When people have got the hang of the game, they can try playing together with a complete deck.
  • This activity work best after you’ve introduced some of the basic concepts in the game. Why not play Mana time or Planeswalker post first?


How to play Magic: The Gathering

  1. The person leading the activity should use some of the information above about Magic: The Gathering to introduce the game.
  2. Everyone should visit, download and install MTG Arena and play through the tutorial. They should play through or restart the tutorial as many times as they’d like.
  1. Once everyone’s had a go at the online tutorial, it’s time to play!
  2. To start a tabletop game of Magic:
  • Shuffle the deck.
  • Use a random way to choose which player will go – you could flip a coin or roll a dice.
  • Make sure each player has a way to track their life total; each player starts at 20 life.
  • Look at the opening hand. If you have fewer than two or more than five lands, or you won’t be able to cast any creatures on the first couple of turns, you can swap your hand for a new one. This is called taking a ‘mulligan’.
  • Once both players have decided to keep their hands, the game begins! The player who goes first should skip their first draw step. Check out the information below about what to do on your turn for some more details.
  • To cast a spell, you need to pay the mana cost (shown in the upper right corner of the card) by tapping lands to make the amount of mana you need.
  • If it’s an instant, you follow the instructions on the card then add it to your graveyard. If it’s a creature, enchantment, or artifact, you put it on the table in front of you.
  1. You could set up bases in your meeting space with the crafts from Magic: The Crafting and add a table or two where small groups can play a game of Magic with the welcome deck.
  2. This is a great game to take along to your next camp, or play in free time!

Get crafty

Learn all about the colours of Magic and create your own card in this crafty introduction to Magic: The Gathering.

Run the activity

Order a welcome deck

Head over to Scout Store and order your Magic: The Gathering Welcoem Deck so you’re ready to play!

Get active

Choose a tribe and work together to capture the other teams’ bases in this active, big group game.

Play the game


Magic players craft their own decks, choosing cards that suit their playing styles and strategies. When people build a deck, they often focus on taking advantage of the different powers in each of Magic’s five mana colours. All of the different colours have strengths and weaknesses, and no play style is better than the others – it’s all about personal preference.

This activity was all about trying something new and learning something that might have been totally new to some people. Don’t forget that everyone learns things in different ways. Ask the group if they found it easier watching the videos, playing the online tutorial, talking together or just getting stuck in and playing the game to learn the basics. See if anyone wants to share their ideas with the group. Like the different colours of mana in the game, we all work differently and approach things in different ways, but no way is better than the others.


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Online safety

Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe.

For more support around online safety or bullying, check out the NSPCC website. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command.

As always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare (including their online experiences), follow the Yellow Card reporting processes.