The holidays are upon us. Whether you dread the eventual shopping and crowds or can’t wait to rip off the wrapping paper, this means it’s gift-giving season. It’s a process that’s always hard on your wallet and made all the more complicated these days by the sheer number of options and outlets in existence.
And if you happen to be trying to find the right thing for a Magic: The Gathering player, you could find yourself completely in the dark when it comes to choosing a direction. Well, wander the Blind Eternities no more - I’m here to show you how to put a smile on your favorite planeswalker’s face.
I’ll be going through both a less expensive and more expensive option for three different types of players here, and I hope you’ll at least be able to glean some insight from these recommendations when it comes to deciding what your loved one might like best. Before I dive into it, though, I do want to mention three things to keep in mind.
First, sealed products - namely, booster packs and boxes - can make for good gifts, especially if your recipient has expressed a desire for them. However, you should keep in mind that outside of selecting the set, both you and the opener have little control over what’s inside. In very simplified terms, each pack is a little lottery ticket - it could have just what they wanted, or it could be a fistful of cards that won’t ever be played with. Unless, of course, your friend or family member will be keeping them to use for Limited play - in which case, they likely asked for sealed product for that particular reason, and I like their style!
Second, gift cards to any of the major online card retailers (or, better yet, your local game store) are always safe bets. They allow the recipient to carefully choose what they want, possibly combine the credit with some of their own to make a larger purchase, or even shop at a later time when they’re more sure of what they need. Of course, some folks find gift cards impersonal or boring, but I would never pass that kind of judgment; count me as a major fan.
And finally, I want to point to a major resource when it comes to determining the quality of Magic products and supplies, that being Tolarian Community College. The Professor (aka The Prof, aka Brian) is considered the authority in terms of what options are best in terms of the many items Magic players might need, and his channel is packed with in-depth reviews that I heartily recommend. So, if you have a question about something I mentioned below, or want to compare one of these suggestions to another similar product, be sure to navigate over to his channel and search up the appropriate review video. It will be there - he truly never misses a new launch - and it will leave you informed (and likely giggling, to boot).
Anyway, with no further ado, the list.
For the Up-and-Comer
Ultimate Guard Digital Life Pad, 5-Inch - $15
Some folks keep life totals on 20-sided dice (specifically the “spindown” dice that Wizards produces and includes), and others have fancy life counters with dials or apps on their phones, but there is only one method of tracking accepted for tournaments, and that’s recording by hand. Of course, that means having a pen and paper (which becomes paper waste), and that’s where a digital life pad comes in.
This particular model, similar to the Boogie Boards of the world, has a smaller screen but the same watch battery power, single-button functionality and attached stylus. There’s also a 9-inch version that would be better for Commander players (who are tracking higher life totals for several players and more changes to them), but the convenience of a pocket-sized tablet is great for one-on-one play.
Ultimate Guard Flip’n’Tray Xenoskin Mat Case - $30-$40
Ultimate Guard is known for the incredible quality of their products - including felt interiors and tough exteriors - and despite an awkward name, the Flip’n’Tray is no exception. This will conveniently hold and protect one (or two) playmats as well as a handful of dice.
Admittedly, a playmat holder does not sound like a particularly exciting gift. This still belongs here for the aforementioned exceptional build because it stands above the other options for playmat storage. I won’t look askance at the simple plastic tube carriers of the world, but this is several notches above, and the magnetic closure makes getting your playmat in and out super-easy.
For the Collector
KMC Perfect Fit Sleeves - $5 (per pack of 100)
Inner sleeves are, again, not a terribly exciting gift, but for someone who cares about protecting the foils and more expensive cards in their collection, double-sleeving is important. KMC Perfect Fits are the best on the market, and while they’re designed to work perfectly with KMC Hyper Mattes as the outer sleeves, they have the benefit of also comfortably fitting into many other brands and varieties of outer sleeves.
Keep in mind the various deck sizes when determining how many packs your recipient might need - if they have multiple foiled-out Commander decks in need of double-sleeving, you can pick up additional packs and the outer sleeves to go along with them if you’d like to make your gift a larger one.
Dex Protection 12-Pocket Portfolio - $30-$40 (strap), $50-$60 (zipper)
Portfolios are the method of choice for displaying and storing one’s most valuable and treasured cards, and this particular one spares no expense. It’s of course of the 12-pocket variety - key for displaying playsets - but also has the luxurious feel that comes with the Dex Protection brand.
On the strap versus zipper matter, the zipper is pretty clearly preferred, but the price difference there is notable. There’s 480 openings in either version, so they’re still holding the same number of cards. It would come down to just how much you want to spend as the gift-giver and just how expensive the cards being stored are.
For the New Player
Chessex 16mm d6 Dice Block - $8.50
Conveniently sized and priced as a stocking stuffer, a block of Chessex six-sided dice are a great smaller gift for a new player, as they’re soon to find themselves in need of numerical markers in many game instances. From +1/+1 counters to stand-ins for unavailable tokens, d6 always find their way into games of Magic, and Chessex are as gorgeous to look at as they are useful.
These larger six-siders have some weight and won’t roll around if the table moves a little. The smaller 12mm option is also good - you’ll get more dice in the same-sized block - but a player rarely finds themselves in situations that require 30-some markers. Still, to each their own. Just get an idea of a color that your recipient would like and snag them something they’ll use game-in and game-out.
Deckbuilder’s Toolkit, Core Set 2020 - $20
This will be the only appearance of sealed product on my list (see my above comments in the intro), but I do think the Deckbuilder’s Toolkit is worthy of inclusion and certainly the best for someone who wants to begin to explore the, well, deck building experience that Magic offers. What’s inside is partially random, but the recipient is guaranteed a mix of Standard cards from various sets, including some duplicates to allow for more streamlined and gameplan-specific decks.
A side benefit is the box it comes in - I personally find the size and side-opening flap to be great for toting around my draft supplies (including basic lands, sleeves and dice), and there are also some (somewhat) helpful inserts with rules information. All in all, a pretty good price point for a sizeable pool of playables ripe for exploration.
Best Wishes for the Season
I’d like to close by saying that I hope this has helped you in getting the perfect gift for the Magic player in your life - or at least pointed you down a path to finding what’s just right. If you’re ready to shop, consider using my affiliate link for TCG Player - they offer all of these products at competitive prices, and that link lets them know I sent you!
Finally, I wish you all a safe and happy holidays - may you eat, drink, be merry, enjoy time with friends and family...and perhaps beat them in a match with your brand-new Magic products and supplies at your side.
Written by John McCurdy