Well, let's jump in.
Cards have between 4 and 5 important zones.
The first is the top of the card, where the card's name and mana cost are displayed.
The second is the artwork - this is how cards are most often recognized when playing with them, even people across language barriers. When it comes to a competitive format where people are usually playing the same cards all over the place, artwork is where the gap is bridged.
Third is the type box. This includes all supertypes and card types the card has. This is also where the set symbol is on the majority of cards.
Fourth is the text box of the card - abilities and flavor text are here.
Fifth, which is not on every card, is a box in the lower right hand corner that either has a pair of numbers, or a single number. I'll get to those in a second.
His first box reads Meloku the Clouded Mirror, and says 4U - making him a 5 drop, but we don't know what kind of card this is yet.
The artwork implies a creature - with a little bit of knowledge, we can deduce that he belongs to the race of the Moonfolk, from Kamigawa.
The type line gives us his type: Legendary Creature - Moonfolk Wizard.
Now, the type line is broken up into two sections - the card types, and then the race/class types.
The card types are what cards are, and what card types they associate with.
The farthest right of that bar is the set symbol - indicating the rarity of the card and printing set of the card.
Tarmogoyf, for example, is a Mythic Rare from Modern Masters.
Below the type box is the text box - which contains all of the information of the card. Let's take a look at Meloku again.
Flying is just one of the keyworded abilities of the game. These are generally triggered or static abilities that affect gameplay. These abilities will always be in the text box, and is generally at the top of the text box.
The second section is activated/static abilities. In the case of Meloku, we have an Activated ability.
1, Return a land you control to it's owner's hand: Put a 1/1 blue Illusion creature token with flying onto the battlefield.
Activated abilities are formatted as above; Cost: Effect. This particular ability has two costs - 1 colorless mana, and returning a land you control to its owner's hand. Then, after paying that cost, you get the effect - which makes a 1/1 blue Illusion creature token with flying.
The last section is flavor text.
He loved his cities in the clouds. When he traveled to the lands below, he brought many reminders of his home.
While this has no effect on what the card does, it adds flavor to the card, and makes it feel more at home in what it's supposed to be.
Next is the Power and Toughness box, which is just that - the power is listed first, and then the toughness. In the case of Tarmogoyf, there are */*+1 in his case. The * in the power/toughness is predefined in the text box of the card by another static effect.
The only other thing to talk about is the border of the card. The color indicates the color of the card, while the bottom of the card also has the Artist name, trade mark information, and set number.
Until next time.
-SolemnParty (David Rowell)