How to Play Magic the Gathering Online for Free
By Seth Amery
Updated September 22, 2017
Magic: the Gathering cards can seem expensive when you're just starting out, but there is a way to try out the game for free. Developed by Wizards of the Coast, "Magic Online" lets players duel others using digital cards over the Internet. Although a subscription is required to access most content, players can try a couple of hands for free.
Starting a Free Trial
From the "Magic Online" website, download and install the game to your computer. When it's done, it automatically launches and asks you to either log in, create an account or check out the free trial. Click "Play Free Trial" rather than make an account; you will need to pay upfront if you make the account first. As part of the free trial, you will only have access to the Play Lobby and the Help Menu.
As part of the free trial, you can only play with one of five preassembled standard-length decks. Despite their icon appearance, these aren't monocolored decks; all of them utilize two elements for an optimal experience. To begin, select a deck: Dragon's Hoard (red/blue), Hit the Ground Running (green/blue), Infernal Intervention (black/red), Price of Glory (black/white) or Will of the Masses (white/green). Red cards are good for damage whereas blue is good for controlling the battlefield and stopping opponents from deploying creatures. Green and white are both useful in gaining back life
Starting Your Free Match
As a trial member, you don't get the chance to customize your name; you'll just be "Guest" with a series of numbers following the title. When you pick your deck, you'll get matched with another guest who is also set to "Just Starting Out" mode. This means you don't need to worry about failing a short match because you were matched against a competitive person familiar with the interface. Your free match can last up to 25 minutes, and you'll have to subscribe when you complete it.
Subscribing to Magic Online
On the "Magic Online" website, clicking "Create an Account" will get you started with the process. After entering your birth date, you'll be asked whether you've played the game or any of its other counterparts -- that is, "Magic 2015" or the physical card game. From there, you'll need to provide your email and select a username and password before submitting payment information. Your card will be charged every month until you cancel the "Magic Online" subscription.
Seth Amery is a long-time writer whose specialties extend to all areas of video games, having written thousands of tutorials, fully-featured strategy guides and reviews across all platforms. His experience also includes one-on-one relationships with major gaming publishers to write previews on upcoming games, establish interviews with game designers and hold early game giveaways.