How to Go from MTG Arena to Paper Magic

The game that I love is called Magic: the Gathering, and if you’re a new player that discovered the game around 2019/2020, there are good chances you started with Magic Arena and aren’t versed in “the Gathering” part.

Today, I’ll try to guide you through the steps on “How to go from MTG Arena to Paper Magic”.

Find the closest LGS to you

A person playing cards
LGS Outpost, Belgium

The first step is very important: Find the closest Local Game Store (LGS) to you.

The town I live in, Senigallia, never had a store. When I was a child, I had to take an hour-long bus ride to play the weekly Saturday event at the LGS. It’s there that I found some friends to practice with and share my interests.

Some people will be luckier than others in living in cities with a LGS. This can definitely play a big role in your decision to move from MTGArena to paper Magic, but trust me, it’s worth it.

The local game store owner will guide you through their events and you’ll choose what to focus on.

If you’ve played MTGArena, chances are that you know what “Booster Draft” is, and that’s a format that you can start from without owning any cards prior.

You only need card sleeves and a deck box, and if you’re on this website, you know what to get!

Try familiarize with people and players - Magic communities tend to be very inclusive

Magic is of course about “the Gathering,” as I mentioned earlier. The Magic communities at your LGS tend to be very inclusive, so don’t be afraid to tell the local game store owner that it’s your first time at the event - he might direct you to some other players that like you that are just starting their journey in this wonderful game that you can play and share your interests with.

Based on the people you know or you meet there, you might decide what format you’re interested in.

Draft will certainly be available weekly, but what about Constructed? Paper Magic has a variety of different Constructed formats.

If you’re an Arena player, chances are you know everything about Standard. Try to ask to your LGS owner if they ever hold Standard events.

At my LGS, for example, there’s not much interest in Standard. You have Pauper, Modern, Legacy and Commander. Commander is probably the best place to start, since it’s a very friendly format and you can play anything you like. The climate is very chill and you’ll for sure feel welcome.

Group of people playing cards
Paprykarz Open, Poland

How to Hold and Play with Real Cards

While this might sound like a joke, playing Magic actually requires you to be precise, and the more disorganized you are with your battlefield, the less you’ll understand about it. And unfortunately, you don't get the benefit of having MTGA or a tracker doing all the work for you.

Lands in the back, creatures in front, cards held up over the table. Tap your permanents cleanly at 90° angle.

Announce your phases too - this might sound pedantic, but really, it helps you at the beginning, especially so you don’t miss anything.


I know, you probably know this already, but let me repeat this.


This might sound like I’m just being pedantic again, but it’s a thing that new players always do, and if you’ve played Magic Arena, you know the order. It’s just that drawing is such an exciting thing, probably the most exciting thing of your turn, and you’ll just untap your permanents after, right? No! Untap your permanents before drawing. Announcing phases cleanly helps with that too.

“Take backs” are allowed if you’re playing for fun, but if you’re joining an event you paid for, don’t expect your opponent to let you take back your mistake. It’s fine to ask, but you have to remember that everyone might react differently and you don’t have to assume everyone will let you take back your mistake. You certainly learn from them, and losing doesn’t mean “not improving.”

Have Fun

You’re going to the Local Game Store to have fun - don’t play Magic with winning being the only goal.

There are several reasons for a defeat. Getting unlucky is definitely one of them, but try not to focus on the games that went wrong and look at the big picture.

Be nice to your opponents, even in the moment of defeat, and if you’re in the mood, you can definitely politely ask them how they would’ve played your game to help you improve. This is a nice way to both learn as well as get to know some community members better.

Then it’s up to you. If you felt welcome and had a good time, I hope you’ll go back to your Local Game Store and begin the journey with Magic: the Gathering.

Autor: Andrea Mengucci

Magic: The Gathering, Member of Team CFBUltimateGuard

Andrea first learned Magic as a kid back in 2004 at probably one of the most peculiar places to find Magic: the beach. In his expansive Magic career, Andrea’s proudest moment in Magic was winning the 2015 Magic World Cup, representing his beloved homeland of Italy and marks, in his words, his first big achievement in Magic. Learn more about Andrea.