Trading card games are big if you didn’t already know. Aside from the fact that some of the cards can be worth thousands of dollars, their player bases have been exploding, leading to some great competitive communities. Magic: The Gathering has always been one of the most popular games, but it has also been historically really expensive to get fully invested in. So, how do you get to play if you’re not willing to start setting aside a big portion of your household budget for it?

Look for good deals

At this point, there is a pretty huge Magic The Gathering aftermarket where you can buy not just the cards that you want, but you can buy entire pre-made decks, as well. These pre-made decks often offer some of the most cost-effective ways to be able to start with a competitive deck that you can take into play. There are card-price tracking sites, as well, so if you’re looking to build a particular kind of deck, or even looking to play with a certain card, then it’s not too difficult to see how much it might cost you. Just be warned that if you start tracking down bargains, then that collecting bug can bite you and the costs can start adding up quickly, even for cheaper cards, if you’re not careful.

Use proxies

Perhaps you don’t just want to stick to the cheap and cheerful. Perhaps you want to explore the whole range of strategies and decks that the game has to offer. If you’re not willing to pay the exorbitant prices that can come with it, then your best bet is to play with proxies, instead. Proxies aren’t real cards, you print MTG cards based on the originals and play with them as if they were the real thing. You want high-quality proxies using the right kind of card material to make them playable. They might not be usable at official MTG events, but most gaming shops and magic groups will accept them just fine.

Get online with it

Perhaps you don’t have any groups near you that are playing Magic The Gathering, or you would much rather be hanging out at home to play it, instead. Magic The Gathering Arena is the latest online version of the MTG card game. It’s free to play, and you can collect cards without having to spend money, but the cards that you can collect are limited. Otherwise, you might have to trade for them or pay for the premium content. It’s not exactly a free way to get into the game and it can end up costing a lot if you don’t track your spending well, but it has a low barrier for entry to see if you enjoy playing, at the very least.

Magic The Gathering might still be pricey under the right circumstances, but there has never been a time when it’s also easier and more affordable to dive in if you go about it the right way, as the examples above show.