Ever had someone say to you “I’d have bought you something from Magic: The Gathering but I had no idea where to start.”. My hope is that with this article, you can send it to someone who has said this to you before and hopefully they can surprise you at Christmas or your next birthday.
Hello non-magic player, the world of Magic related products is vast and confusing. I hope I can be your guide in this confusing world and hope to find you the right gift for your giftee.
Let’s start with the basics, in my experience most people who look for themselves tend to buy a starter/intro/structure deck for their giftee. These usually come with a 60 card tournament legal deck and 2 booster packs and retail around £12. This is fine as a starting point for a new player and very little else. The 60 card deck is very weak, they have to keep them bad for magic tournaments or they would sell out, as the cards inside would be worth more than the price of the product. This happened when I started playing, one deck had a card in it worth more than the product and it was sold out everywhere. The best thing about these are they come with boosters and everyone likes boosters. For the same price you could get 3 or 4 booster packs and I honestly would prefer that. While there is potential for you to open cards you don’t need, there is a simple joy in opening a booster pack. If the rare card in the pack isn’t a card they want,they will add it to their trades and hopefully trade it for a card they will use.
OK, so I have sold you on booster packs but now the question is, which booster packs? Normally I would advise the most recent set, Ixalan. Now I love Ixalan but I wouldn’t advise it here, you are better off picking from Kaladesh/Aether Revolt/Amonkhet or Hour of devastation. The reason is that they have special super rare cards that are very good cards and very bling. If someone opened one of those it would make their day, I guarantee it. Ixalan does not and it also has fairly weak cards on the whole. While you can’t go wrong with boosters, Ixalan won’t give you the best bang for your buck. There is a new set coming out this Friday called Unstable, unless you have heard your giftee talk about it, don’t get them those boosters. It’s a joke set, not tournament legal and a lot of the community don’t care for them. If you want a more up market booster pack choice, don’t worry Wizards have you covered, iconic masters is a recently released set and booster packs retail upwards of £8 each. The cards in the packs are on average worth more but only a small amount are worth the same as the super special cards in the aforementioned sets. Personally I feel the best part about boosters is cracking the booster, so I would recommend getting as much as possible over the expensive set.
Now the question becomes, how many boosters do I buy for the giftee? Honestly it depends on how much you are willing to spend, 3 or 4 boosters make a nice small present. You could buy a booster box, they retail for 85 pounds and up, they contain 36 boosters, unless you want a box of the masters set, in which case it’s 24 booster for 175 pounds and up. Magic is an expensive hobby but what you put into it tends to have a decent return. If you are looking for just a nice, stocking filler esque sized gift I would recommend a few booster packs.
If you are in the market for something more than £10 worth of boosters but don’t want to go as high as £85, then I don’t blame you, it’s quite a gap. Here I’m going to split the decision making process into three: you could ask the giftee’s Magic playing friends what they think the giftee would like; You could keep it a secret from them and ask no one; Or you can ask the giftee themself.
Option 1 is frankly ideal, Magic players play 1000’s of games a year in their local community. The friends they have there will know that player’s collection inside and out and know what they are after. They will know if that player is the kind of player who likes foils, in which case you could ask which foil would they like? They will know if they have a commander they could have altered (this is paying for an artist to alter a card for you, it is possibly the most personal thing I will suggest and also expensive lol). They will know if there are any accessories that player is partial too, for example I only use Dragon Shield sleeves with KMC perfect fit inner sleeves. Players often have access to the decklists of their friends as well, so seeing if they are missing a key card or seeing what cards they could have in foil. If the friend you are asking is like the majority of the players I know, they will source whatever you are after for you so you don’t have to face the hassle of finding it yourself, I know I would. I’ve helped in this before, going so far as to have a gift card in another friends deck, which they used while playing against the giftee.
If you don’t know the friends of the player and want to keep it a secret from them, I recommend nice accessories. If they don’t have a playmat, start there, just google search mtg playmat and pick one out you think they would like. Do they have a playmat, good, do they have a playmat tube/box? A tube is about £6 but if you know they have a playmat that means alot to them, a Ultimate Guard Flip’n’Tray Mat Case is in the £30 range and is of the highest quality, I have two myself. If that doesn’t fit, try a nice deck box. Ultra Pro do a nice line of leather ones for around £13, I have a Pikachu one that I use for my standard deck. I also use Dragon Shield deck boxes as they fit a double sleeved 100 card deck in them. Don’t go for the £3 plastic ones, the art rubs off of them quickly and they are just of low quality. Ultimate Guard had a line of premium deck boxes that also had dice trays but I believe the new ones are smaller and are in fact to small, so avoid those for now. Next I would try a life counter, price varies but have a look around. I wouldn’t recommend buying them sleeves, while a nice set of sleeves is great they are a little bit boring and seen by some as a necessity to play.
The last option may seem like defeat but it does guarantee they get what they would like. My brother did this with me and I suggested a card that not only I like but I knew he would like to get me. This card will be the centrepiece of a deck and it’s a very powerful dragon and my brother likes dragons, so it was a win win. I sourced the card and he paid me for it. If you do go down this route you could ask if there was anything in this article they would like as a gift and you can discuss the options with them.
There are other sealed product options, such as Explorers Of Ixalan/Planechase Anthology/Commander Anthology/The MTG board game. Unfortunately I can’t really comment on weather these are good gifts as I’ve not really wanted them myself and some of them are very pricey. If you can, discuss with the giftee’s friends or even local store owner if they are a regular.
Alrighty then I think that about wraps things up from me, we’ve barely scratched the surface of the available mtg gifts but I think this is a great place to start. I hope I have given you a few ideas and if I did help anyone who is not verse in the ways of mtg please let me know, I’d love to hear it :).
– Adam Clark