Tolarian Tutor: Card Advantage – Improve Your Magic: The Gathering Gameplay

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Card Advantage. It’s a term that we hear thrown around in games of Magic, particularly during coverage at Pro Tours or other competitive level tournaments. Most of us have a general idea of what Card Advantage means, but it’s not always clear what the specifics are or when it’s appropriate to use the term. So instead we nod and smile and hope no one catches us out.

Today, we’ll be putting an end to those moments of doubt by covering the major aspects of Card Advantage. We’ll be going over what Card Advantage means, what it isn’t, and when to use it. We’ll also be covering Card Advantage versus Board Advantage, and take a look at what slices of the color pie yield the most Card Advantage.

We’re not n00bs anymore, but we’re not yet at the Pro Tour yet! This is for people who already play at Friday Night Magic but want to imrpove and get better. This is for intermediates, and this is Tolarian Tutor!
Defining Card Advantage

So what is Card Advantage? The best way we can define Card Advantage is:

A game action that either generates more quantifiable benefits or resources to you than it costs, OR
A game action that takes away more quantifiable resources from your opponents than it costs.

Game actions in Magic are usually playing cards, which are your main resource in the game. Remember, Card Advantage is Resource Advantage in Magic, so when we evaluate cards to see if they can give you Card Advantage, you’ll need to ask yourself three questions:

How many cards did this cost you?
How many cards did this make your opponent lose?
How many cards did this gain you?


Let’s take a look at Divination. Divination is a sorcery that costs 2 and a Blue, and says: “Draw Two Cards”. So for the cost of one card – casting Divination – you gain two cards. This is what many players call a “Two For One”. You’ve basically come ahead by one card, which gives you more resources – therefore, more Card Advantage.


You can also gain Card Advantage without having to draw cards. For example, say your opponent has a Sanguine Glorifier with the enchantment aura Mark of the Vampire attached to it. You’re able to kill it using an Impale, getting rid of two of their cards using a single card. Again, this is a “Two For One” situation, but instead of coming ahead by a card, you’ve pushed your opponent back and deprived them of two resources.


Discard effects, like Mind Rot, also gain you Card Advantage by depriving your opponent of resources. For 2 and a Black, you force your opponent to discard two cards from their hand – cards that they could have used to establish board presence or hurt your resources. Again, this is a “Two for One”, and you’ve pulled ahead.

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17 thoughts on “Tolarian Tutor: Card Advantage – Improve Your Magic: The Gathering Gameplay

  • by Exmer 54

    Hey professor I was wondering if you could make a updated version of the mono black tribal vampires you did almost 3 years ago Becouse you know there was a lot of new cards over almost 3 years and I am not sure what should I change in the deck love your videos keep them up thanks

  • by Kr4th

    0:24 when the shot is cropped in such a way that it makes you feel the need to scroll up because it looks like the top of the video is cut off.

  • by Martin Snyder

    I've been hearing stuff about ..Blinged out Slivers..Why to bling the pretty things and not show them? Does it hide the precious? Are you not the proud Papa? Show us your Slivers? bait bait goad goad………. Like this to his attention……

  • by PenThoPlayer

    The best kind of card advantage I've had recently was Thought Scouring an opponent right after they used a Mirage-block tutor (AKA Instant speed tutor to top of deck.) They spent a card to have a perfect draw that didn't happen, and I came out card neutral, so it was +1 on me.

  • by SmugLookingBarrel

    The best example of card advantage versus tempo advantage I can think of are spells that return a creature to its owner's hand, like Unsummon. (commonly referred to as bounce) You've spend one card to take zero cards away from your opponent, since they still have the card you targeted, it's just back in their hand. What you are gaining is tempo and mana advantage. Unsummon only costs one mana, and can return any creature, no matter how large, to its owner's hand. Your opponent has effectively lost the mana they spent to cast that spell.

  • by awluenxsch

    Hey everyone! got a question. I know i'm behind in the game (no pun intended) but i'm just starting to play and I already have constructed a Red/Black burn deck made from scratch. but i'm looking for stronger cards to add to my deck. Whether it be me going out to get singles or buying boosters what should i be looking out for? (My friend plays with a$$hole elves so something to take him out quick and painful) plus a friend who has a blue/black zombie/artifact deck

  • by Иван Багин

    Wait. Does bitter oredal give you card advantage?It messes with the opponent's deck and dicards the best cards, worsening their draws.
    Also, mill can give you virtual card advantage if your opponent used scry and left on top

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