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A beginner’s guide to Magic: The Gathering with In Hearts Wake

While many of us vaguely understand the concept of Magic: The Gathering, it’s almost impossible to know where to start without the advice of an existing player.

The collectible and digital collectible card game boasts millions of players, with a new set announced just last week by publishers Wizards of the Coast. The Kaldheim set is the most metal collection from Magic to date, oriented on its brutal Viking and Norse-inspired world and teased in parts by Sabaton, Amon Amarth, Rhapsody of Fire and In Hearts Wake. We grilled In Hearts Wake bassist Kyle Erich, beloved by BLUNT and alt enthusiasts nationwide, to get the skinny on getting involved in the longstanding phenomenon.

How did you get started playing Magic: The Gathering?

It’s always been on my radar through friends and family and seeing bands playing it from time to time on tour. Then 2020 happened and I thought there really is no better time to start playing than now. I’m still pretty new to the game having only started about halfway through last year. 

Is the world of Magic: The Gathering as complicated as it seems?

Honestly yes and no. You can learn the basics of the game in a day, by this I mean all the phases of your turn from upkeep to end phase and what you can and can’t play during your opponent’s turn. Then you get into all the nuances with the cards. Magic has been around for decades now and there are thousands of cards all with their own abilities, strengths and weaknesses. For me, this is the daunting part but it’s also what makes it really fun and interesting to play. 

Can you describe Magic: The Gathering for someone who has never heard of it?

It’s kind of like if chess was a card game but you choose what pieces you want to play and there is a heavy fantasy element to the artwork and theme of the game. 

How important is it to keep up with the latest sets/cards?

It depends on what you want to get out of it and what format you play in. Commander is a pretty popular format to play in now and the newer cards they are releasing seem a little more geared for those types of decks. I’ve always loved when games I play have big patches and expansions and honestly getting new sets/cards is not much different. Adding new strategies and things to learn makes it exciting and interesting.

How would you describe the community of Magic: The Gathering?

I’m still new and haven’t been to any events yet but I can say that whenever I post anything about Magic I get a lot of messages from people giving advice and wanting to play next time we are back on tour. There are way more Magic players out there than you would think and it’s really all about getting together with friends and having a good time. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to play, but doesn’t know where to start?

Magic Arena is a good place to start. It’s free to download and play and it has a really good tutorial. I found it really helped me figure out how to play my turn properly through all the phases. 

When I first tried Magic out last year I didn’t really have anyone to ask, so I bought a few preconstructed decks and had my wife play with me. Building your own deck is fun but I would recommend just grabbing a preconstructed one and testing the waters first. 

Who would you recommend Magic: The Gathering to? 

Anyone who loves RPG games like The Elder Scrolls/Final Fantasy series will vibe the artwork and themes throughout the whole game. Also people who love to collect and open packs, chasing that feeling when you find a mythic rare card inside. 

What’s the relationship between metal and Magic: The Gathering?

The artwork of the cards definitely gives me metal vibes, the first deck I played with had a card in it called “Garruk, Savage Herald”. If that’s not metal I don’t know what is. Right now Wizards of the Coast are rolling out their new set Kaldheim which is 100% metal inspired with Viking themes throughout, so if you’re a fan of metal there is no better time to get into Magic. I’ve got a few things pre-ordered and I’m pretty keen to get stuck into it come February.

The newest Magic: The Gathering set, Kaldheim, is out now.