Since you're new to Magic the Gathering, you may find it difficult to understand the concept behind using Mana to cast spells and summon creatures. After all, every card is different with specialty abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
Look at your Magic card.
Located on the top of the card, on the right-hand corner, you will find the a MTG casting cost. The summoning cost is made up of symbols that represent their corresponding magic and may also contain gray-circled numbers. So how do you decide the casting cost of each card?
How to Determine Casting Costs
Determining casting costs can be easy, once you are familiar with the 5 Magic colors and their symbols. There are many cards that require only 1 of the five basic land types to cast. However, there are many more cards that require a combination of a required basic land and any type of land that will meet the requirements of the gray-circled number. Furthermore, there are even multi-colored cards that require a combination of 2 or more required basic lands types to cast.
1 Mana Cost (1 Required): To summon Savannah Lions, you will need to tap (or use) 1 Plain card. You may not use a swamp, island, forest, or mountain to summon Savannah Lions. 1 White Mana Symbol equals 1 plain and therefore, you must have a plain to summon your Lions.
2 Mana Cost (2 Required): To summon the White Knight, you will need to tap 2 Plains. You must have 2 plains, otherwise you will not be able to summon the White Knight. Any other combination of Mana will not meet this need.
2 Mana Cost (1 Land/1 Required): To cast Balance, you will need to tap 1 Plain and 1 Additional Land of any color. The extra land can be any land type and is designated with a small number symbol. Therefore, to cast Balance you can use the required plain and 1 mountain, or a plain and 1 island, or even 2 plains. Any combination of lands will work, as long as the required plain is used.
1 Mana Cost (1 Land): There are many cards that do not need any specific land type. These are usually artifact cards. For example, the Black Vice is an artifact that is not associated with a plain, swamp, island, forest, or mountain. However, 1 land of any type can be used to cast Black Vice.
5 Mana Cost (3 Land/2 Required): A Serra Angel is an example of a magic card with a larger, diverse casting cost. To successfully summon the Serra Angel, you must tap 2 Plains and 3 Additional Lands of any type for a total of 5 Mana.
How to Determine Mana Costs for Creature and Enchantment Abilities
Much like summoning and spell casting, creature and enchantment abilities also must have the proper amount of Mana to be activated. For example, Aladdin's ability allows you to take control of a target artifact. However, to do so, you must pay 2 Mountains and 1 Additional Land of any type to meet the ability requirements.
Now that you can fully understand a creature or spell casting cost, you can easily build a deck that does not have any Mana snags or loose ends. Make sure your deck has the proper Mana to meet your required land needs. Also, make sure you have enough Mana to support your casting costs. Larger creatures will need lots of Mana so being able to statistically draw enough Mana is key to summoning them. Once you fully understand the MTG casting cost, you can easily strategize and win games!