Magic: The Gathering is one of the world's most popular card games and often goes by MTG for short. It allows players to build their own custom deck out of the thousands of cards released since its inception. The reason people flock towards MTG is largely due to its community as well as the ability to build and play decks of differing play styles and win conditions.
With any popular game or competition MTG, unfortunately, features many ways for players to cheat and take advantage of a situation. It's time to look at 10 strategies cheaters use in Magic: The Gathering.
10 Drawing Extra Cards
A lot of the cheats related to MTG have to do with poor observation skills and/or a lack of understanding. Cheaters are advantageous and opportunistic in the world of MTG. So many players are versed and pay close attention during a match, so when the opportunity arises cheaters will most definitely take the chance to draw extra cards when/if their opponent isn't looking or paying attention.
Astute players will often ask for hand checks in regards to the number of cards in hand. Keeping track of this will often deter anyone from even attempting to draw extra cards.
Stalling is a tactic often used by players who are simply trying to game the system of the local tournament for prizes and placement. If your opponent is taking extra long turns despite not playing a control or heavy strategy deck then you're likely dealing with a stall.
Another tell is if they ask for the same information over and over in a given turn. Be careful to not confuse a new players anxiety or confusion for that of someone looking to stall out a game. As you become experienced in tournament play, this type of manipulation will become very apparent.
8 Playing Extra Lands
Like drawing extra cards, playing more than one land in a turn is another advantageous cheat that relies heavily on aloofness or a lack of focus on the opponents part. Most of MTG is gathering information and figuring out how to take advantage of it. An opponents land total, and whether or not they played a land on a given turn are both pieces of information you should keep track of.
People who ask "Did I play a land this turn?" are either obviously trying to play coy, or are so obviously new players that you know they simply don't understand the game fully. You'll spot the difference.
7 Adding Cards To Limited
When players walk into their first limited MTG event they're excited at the prospect of everyone entering into a level playing field. It isn't based on who can afford the best deck in Standard, or who's invested the most into their modern deck.
Everyone is on equal footing and are simply trying to build the best deck they can with the cards provided. Unfortunately, cheaters will come along with their own stash of cards and add them to their limited deck in hopes of giving them a strong edge. A high number of rares or mythic in their deck is a dead giveaway of this cheating strategy.
Now, it's hard to categorize this as a cheat considering you can't control how other people perceive you, but it does become manipulative if a person uses their appearance, size, tone, etc to intimidate their opponent purposefully.
When you're sitting down at a local comic shop, or Friday Night Magic spot you should make the environment welcoming and open to new players. Far too often there will be a group of FNM mainstays that will try and control the environment and use their perceived experience and skill to intimidate new players in hopes of making their own winnings that much more likely.
5 Triggered Abilities
This falls into the strategy of taking advantage of new players, and will only ever be used if an experience MTG player is in dire need.
There's a rule in MTG that requires an opponent to remind a player of their triggered abilities if they're beneficial to said player. Not doing so is hard to prove but comes from a place where players are expected to create a place of positive encouragement and learning. Wizards of the Coast wants everyone to play nice and be good to one another, despite the world of competition showcasing otherwise.
4 Manipulating Life Totals
Information is key in the world of MTG. Just like drawing extra cards or playing extra lands, it's up to you to keep track of life totals and how much damage was done on each turn. Never let another player's lack of preparation or information tracking deter you from the truth.
Cheaters will often use people's kindness and belief in the best of people to manipulate them into a more advantageous position. They'll often ask what life totals you have, and given the situation will argue for 1 or 2 life points in their favor and say you tracked damage incorrectly.
3 Casting Spells They Can't Cast
This often won't be too much of an issue at local game stores during Friday Night Magic seeing as most players here won't use more than two colors in their deck. However, it's still smart to understand which types of mana your opponent has available to them at any given point so you know what they can and can't cast.
Trustworthy players will often make a point to clarify which mana they're specifically using, whereas cheaters will often keep their land disorganized in hopes of causing confusion and using mana they don't have available.
2 Taking Advantage Of New Players
One of the most common forms of "cheating" in MTG is taking advantage of new players and their lack of understanding. You could arguably make a case that the other 9 strategies in this list fall under this at some point or another considering many of them are rules and/or information based.
We live in a world where people often see and hope for the best in people, and often overlook the fact that terrible people will take advantage of their surroundings and use it to their advantage. In the world of MTG new players are the lifeblood of cheaters looking to snag another FNM win.
1 Marking Sleeves
Arguably the sneakiest and most nefarious of cheats when it comes to MTG is when someone marks the card sleeves of specific cards. At first glance, it may not seem that bad considering both players have access to visual information regarding each other's decks during play.
Also, what good does it do the cheater if he doesn't have a lot of control over his deck you might ask? Well, knowing exactly what card you'll be drawing next gives you a distinct advantage because you're strategizing with illegal information that you cast zero spells and spent zero mana for.