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Magic: The Gathering can be played on many levels.
Winning at Magic is about making decisions to maximize your chances of removing your opponent's option to continue to play the game.
There are three basic types of resources in Magic. They have no inherent value beyond your ability to leverage them to give you more or better options or deny your opponent the same. When one player wins, it does not matter how few resources they had or how many resources their opponent had. These resources are delineated by how you acquire them.
1. Life (often described by something called "The Philosophy of Fire")
2. Tempo (rarely spoken about in polite company, but important to understand)
3. Card Economy (also commonly referred to as card advantage)
You begin the game with twenty life. The first nineteen have no intrinsic value, which is to say, they do not inherently give you options. The last one gives you the option to continue to play the game. Removing your opponent's last point of life makes them lose.
While the most commonly relevant resource of this type is life, it also includes any other resource you begin the game with and do not accrue more of naturally. For instance, you begin the game ten poison counters away from losing. Like life, only the last one (the tenth poison counter) has inherent value.
You begin the game with 60 cards in your deck, and trying to draw a card with none remaining makes you lose the game. You may put more than 60 in your deck; however, this is generally inadvisable because the marginal utility of being one card harder to deck is worth less than the decrease in probability of drawing your 60 best cards that comes with each card added above 60. Some formats use smaller decks (like 40 in Draft), others larger (like 100 in Commander), but the principles remain the same.
While most resources of this variety keep you from losing, there are a few niche cases involving resources that also fall under this umbrella. For instance, everyone begins with access to a fifteen-card sideboard. If you have cards that require more cards in your sideboard to use (such as Wishes), you may have less of this finite resource to work with, and over the course of the game, it may decline further.
Tempo resources are ones you do not begin with but naturally acquire over time (typically per turn). These include the untap step, the land drop, and the attack step, among others. These resources are only temporary, and if they are not used, they evaporate.
The most commonly discussed tempo resource is mana. You begin the game with no mana, but you acquire it from tapping lands. You also begin with no lands; however, you can play one a turn. If you don't use your land drop for the turn, you don't get anything. The opportunity just goes away. Still, this doesn't mean you should always utilize this option. Cards on the battlefield are face up nearly all the time and known to both players. Cards in your hand are known only to you, which is an advantage.
Once you play a land, you can tap it for mana each turn. If you don't use the mana, you lose it. It is like you spent it anyway; you just don't have anything to show for it. As a result, playing a mix of cards that increases your probability of spending all of your mana every turn is generally advantageous.
Likewise, creatures can attack every turn, so not attacking with a creature sacrifices tempo. However, in exchange, you gain the option to potentially block with the creature. Opportunity cost is at the heart of Magic strategy. When you are choosing between options, it's important to consider what you're giving up, including the other options you could have taken.
"Cards" are resources you begin the game with and accrue more of naturally over time. In the most basic form, these are the seven cards you begin the game with, as well as the card you draw each turn.
Since cards are "options," it is generally better to have more cards than your opponent. This is said to be card advantage. The quality of options matters, too. The best card in your deck is worth more than a random card from your deck. High-casting-cost cards generally do not give you options before you can cast them; however, once you can, they generally afford you more powerful options than cheaper cards.
The 60 cards in your starting deck are not the only source of card economy. Some cards create tokens. While a card that generates multiple tokens doesn't draw any cards, it is said to generate virtual card advantage, since casting Dragon Fodder is largely the same as casting two Mons's Goblin Raiders. Again, quality of options matters.
Some cards work from zones besides the battlefield. These cards either function like spells that can be used once (with mechanics such as flashback, embalm, eternalize, unearth, scavenge, evoke, haunt, rebound, cycling, and reinforce) or permanents that can be used repeatedly (with mechanics such as forecast, cipher, madness, buyback, recover, retrace, or unique abilities such as that on Firemane Angel). They are all just options, and whether to consider them "cards" or not is a function of how relevant their options are.
A Firemane Angel in your graveyard is like a difficult-to-remove permanent that gains you 1 life per turn. A Champion of Wits in your graveyard is like a 4UU spell that casts a 4/4 that draws four cards and then discards two when it enters the battlefield.
Over the course of the game, you are confronted by options to trade resources for other resources. If your Elvish Mystic taps for mana, you gain some tempo; however, you may be sacrificing a point of damage from not attacking.