Magic 101 – Learn to play Magic the Gathering


Introducing Magic 101!

We get asked all of the time if we every teach people how to play Magic, and we have been working on it a solution for a long time.  Magic the Gathering is one of the most popular tabletop games every, and is a very fun game, but with 23 years of history, it can be overwhelming for new players to join in and get up to speed.

Never fear -we found the solution!  Red Raccoon Games has teamed up with Pete Brabant to help us out.  Pete is a grad student and teaching assistant and ISU, a Magic judge for the store, and one of the most respected players in the Bloomington-Normal area.  Pete has been helping and teaching new players for years, and now we’re going to turn what Pete knows into a semi-formal series of Magic 101 classes.

These classes are designed to take a player that has never touched the game before and teach them everything from basic rules of the game up to how to play in some of our local favorite versions of the game, and what some of the trickier rules bits mean.  If you are a brand-new player it is suggested that you start at the beginning and attend as many of the classes as you can.  If you have a basic understanding of the game, you might decide to pick and choose some of the our Magic 101 classes in areas where you feel you need more help.

On average, the classes will cost $5.00 each week.  This is because we are planning on sending you home with cards to play and practice with each time you come down to the shop!

Here is a basic out line of what we are currently expecting to happen each week.  (Please note that Pete reserves the right to adjust this outline depending on the needs of the people in the classes.)

Week 1 – March 15 – The Basics

  • Colors of Magic – explain the differences between each color of Magic.
  • Types of Cards – explain the differences between lands, instants, sorcery, enchantments, and creatures.
  • Phases – explain the turn phase essentials.
  • Practice!

Week 2 – March 22 – The Basics Revisited!

  • Week 2 will essentially be a repeat of Week 1 Basics, but with some rules clarifications for different situations, and a lot more practice!

Week 3 – March 15th – Building Your Own Deck in a Sealed Pool

  • Students will learn techniques for building a deck from a sealed pool, just in time for Red Raccoon Games’ Shadows Over Innastrad pre-release events!
  • Review of the colors of Magic, and how they affect your deck building.
  • Using these color preferences, students will pick a Magic Starter Deck to use as the base of their pool, and we’ll mix it up with some Repacks!
  • Practice!

Week 4 – March 29 – Two-player vs Multiplayer Magic

  • This week we are going to be discussing some of the various multiplayer versions of Magic the Gathering.
  • Two-Headed Giant
  • EDH / Commander
  • Practice!

Week 5 – April 5 – Building Your Own Deck (Casual)

  • Students should bring some of their own cards, or grab some repacks.
  • Colors of magic – once again the colors will be explained, now more focused on the type of decks you want to build
  • Discuss archetypes – what is the difference between agro and control?
  • Discuss the basics of construction of a deck
    • show how the curve affects your land count
    • how many spells should you have vs. land?
    • how many instants and sorceries should you have vs. creatures?
  • Play with your new decks!
    • Play will take place in 4 player pods to help with the flow of a typical casual game
    • Explain how casual can have any number of players in the game, and how Magic the Gathering is open ended in that respect


Future classes details will be posted as we get closer!


Magic: Oath of the Gatewatch Ironman Challenge

As all of our Magic the Gathering players know, the next set, Oath of the Gatewatch, is just around the corner.  Pre-release events for the set will be held on January 16th & 17th, and we have a something fun dreamed up just for our players!

Introducing the Red Raccoon Games Ironman Challenge!

For $100, players will be registered for 5 of the 6 Oath of the Gatewatch pre-release events!

The player with the highest number of match wins across those 5 events will win a full box of Oath of the Gatewatch when it comes out on January 22nd, and 2nd place will win a Fat Pack from the set!


  • Pre-registration must be completed no later than January 9th.
  • It must be 1 player that plays in all the events.
  • Players must play at least 1 match in each event to qualify.

Only 16 spots available.  Register now at


Stocking Stuffers for Christmas!

Not only is this the time of year for big holiday game purchases, like Star Wars Armada from Fantasy Flight Games, Castles of Mad King Ludwig from Bezier Games (our favorite game for most of 2015!) or Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Calith from Games Workshop, any of which will set you back $40 – $100 or more, but the season also calls for smaller presents as well, for stocking stuffers, secret Santas or gift exchange.  For these, you want a game that provides a lot of fun without melting down your pocketbook. Here are some suggestions:

1.  Love Letter from AEG.  This is our favorite stocking stuffer of the year for several reasons.  First, Love Letter is a lot of fun, plays quickly and offers quite a bit of replay value, especially with the number of variants that AEG has released.  In addition, it boasts a great price point at $10.00 for the basic game and only $11.00 for the Batman, Hobbit and Adventure Time variants.  There’s even a Letters to Santa version if you want to get really thematic.  Add in that the game is attractively packaged in both boxed and clamshell versions and you have a great stocking stuffer.

2.  Timeline from Asmodee.  Timeline comes packaged in an attractive tin that fits neatly into a stocking, has an equally attractive $15.00 price point and offers plenty of replayability.  Add in the fact that it actually teaches a bit of history and you have an all-around great choice.


3.  Fluxx from Looney Labs.  At $16 to $20, Fluxx is a bit more expensive than the first two options but still comparatively cheap and comes in a wide variety of variations.  You can buy Star Fluxx, Monty Python & the Holy Grail Fluxx, Cthulhu Fluxx, Pirate Fluxx, Batman Fluxx or even, should your tastes run that way, just plain Fluxx.  The number of Fluxx games make it relatively easy to find a version that would appeal to anyone on your Secret Santa or gift exchange list.  In addition, since the rules change with every game, or even with every hand, Fluxx, whatever version you buy, offers immense replayability.


4.  Tenzi by Carma Games is one of the fastest and most frentic games we carry at Red Raccoon Games.  This super simple game is easy for people of all ages to learn, and is a game that younger children especially like to play (the age range is 6 and up and the game can handle up to 4 players, making it good for family get-togethers).  Each pack comes with 40 dice, and the basic play is that each player takes 10 dice of the same color.  Someone yells go, and everyone starts rolling their dice as fast as possible.  Players are looking to get combinations of numbers agreed upon before the start, and the first one to accomplish this goal wins!  Super simple, super fun, and you have one more great stocking stuffer.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Have you ever wanted to build your own castle?

Rhetorical question, right? What red-blooded American kid hasn’t grown up wishing we had castles dotting the landscape? How can we pretend there’s a Hogwart’s in the continental 48 when we don’t have all those turrets and battlements lining the horizon?

This game gives you a chance to build your own dream castle. And, just as importantly, prevent your friends from building theirs! The game is simple to learn, but has plenty of strategy to keep you coming back for more. And more.

There’s plenty of different ways to maximize your points along the way, but this is one of those games that also has a big surprise ending, so don’t be surprised if you’re winning… only to find out you’re not.

It’s a delightful mix of fun and frustration as you madly scramble to get the pieces you want and need while preventing your friends from doing the same. Since everyone can see what you’re doing (to some extent), there’s also a bit of subterfuge and adopting an “I didn’t care about that piece anyway (you big jerk)” attitude will definitely help your cause.

International Tabletop Day is April 11th

International TableTop Day was founded three years ago as a way for the world to celebrate tabletop gaming together. Every spring, fans host thousands of events all over the world and every year, the event grows. TableTop Day 2014 was celebrated in 80 countries, over all 7 continents, and had over 3,000 events in total. 2015 is going to be even bigger!


This year at Gryfalia’s we are going to be running game demos from 10am – 10pm – official schedule to be released in the next couple of days! Or if you don’t want to play a scheduled game, then bring your own, or choose one from our enormous demo games rack!

We also have a ton of raffle prizes that we’re going to be giving away throughout the day, and newly added, we are going to have some bigger prizes that you can bid on silent auction style, with all proceeds to benefit Wishbone Canine Rescue!

International Tabletop Day is a great day to meet new friends and play new games. Parking is free downtown on Saturdays, and if the street is full, both parking garages are free all day Saturday also!

Schedule (more stuff might get added)

Start TimeJamieAaronTimTyneMikePathfinder SocietyDuaneDwight
10amDominionMunchkin PanicMunchkin
11amDominionMunchkin PanicMunchkinPathfinder
12pmSplendorPathfinderStar Trek
1pmSplendorStar RealmsSteve Jackson Dice GamesHeroclixPathfinderStar Trek
2pmGeek OutStar RealmsSteve Jackson Dice GamesHeroclixGPT TorontoPathfinderStar Trek
3pmEscapeSheriff of NottinghamStudent BodiesHeroclixGPT TorontoPathfinderCamel Up
4pmSheriff of NottinghamStudent BodiesHeroclixGPT Toronto7 Wonders
5pmDominionSheriff of NottinghamStudent BodiesGPT TorontoPathfinder7 Wonders
6pmDominionGPT TorontoPathfinder
7pmGeek Out:  Pop CultureDead of WinterMice & MysticsPathfinderUltimate Werewolf
8pmCarcassonneDead of WinterMice & MysticsPathfinderUltimate Werewolf
9pmCarcassonneDead of WinterMice & Mystics

Plus we’ll have Fluxx and Batman: Love Letter out all day, and our demo rack will be for open play all day!