Beginner Planeswalker Guide: Multiplayer Battles

Beginner Planeswalker Guide: Multiplayer Battles

October 18, 2018 Off By Tifa

This is an ongoing series of Magic articles aimed at welcoming people into Magic: The Gathering!

So far, I have only covered how to play Magic one on one. But there are many formats that can be played with multiple people. In fact, you can play with multiple people anytime you want to. Before jumping into a four, five, or ten player game (you can play with any number of friends) there are some important rules differences to know about.

In general, Magic has all the same rules that the game does in a 1 on 1 battle, but I will explain some of the main differences below.

  • Free-for-All: This is when all players are playing against each other. Important rules for this format:
    • Generally, you can attack whoever you want in this format.
    • The first player is decided randomly and turns get passed in clockwise order (to the left).
    • The first player DOES draw a card on their first turn.
    • Players can attack multiple players with different creatures during the same attack step. Blocking is decided in clockwise order and all damage happens at the same time.
    • All players can target all other players and all permanents on the battlefield.

  • Two-Headed Giant: This is the most common format for 2v2 (two players versus two players) and is played often during prerelease events in stores.
    • The team has a shared life total of 30, instead of 20.
    • Usually, games are played best of one, instead of best of three games.
    • Each player can use one free mulligan if they want to, meaning that they can reshuffle and re-draw seven cards before mulliganing down to fewer cards.
    • Just like in a regular game, the team that goes first does not draw on their first turn.
    • As a team, you represent a two-headed giant, so you have two decks but take your turn as one. This means you draw, untap, and go through phases at the same time.
    • You attack as a team and can use your combined creatures to attack.
    • Any creatures on the defending side can block, regardless of who controls the creature.
    • You do not share mana or cards, and you cannot move creatures from one teammate to another.
    • All players can target all other players and all permanents on the battlefield.
      • Target opponent/player does only affect one opponent, so you still have to select one valid target for spells or abilities that say “target opponent” or “player”
      • If a spell says all opponents, such as “all opponents lose 2 life”, then both players would lose 2 life, meaning 4 total from the shared life total
    • You can show each other what you have in hand and discuss decisions, but you cannot touch your teammate’s cards they have in hand.

If playing multiplayer games is interesting to you, you will likely want to try out a very popular format called Commander. Players play decks of 100 cards, including 1 Commander card that they always have access to cast. Commander is also a singleton format, meaning that every card (besides basic land) must be unique. Commander has a lot of interesting and complex rules, but games are generally very casual and fun.

Next week, I’ll dive deeper into the rules for building a Commander deck and discuss how to play this beloved format.