Magic, the Gathering: An Overview

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Since the introduction of the Limited Edition Alpha and Beta cards in the 1990’s, Magic, the Gathering has achieved a mass following of over 12 million people all around the world, even at Woodgrove. To people who are unfamiliar with the game, it seems complex, difficult, and nerdy. So what exactly is Magic, the Gathering?

As defined by Wizards of The Coast (the creators of Magic, the Gathering), “Magic is a tradable card game (TCG) where you build your collection of cards by trading with your friends, assembling decks of cards, and battling against an opponent and their deck. You cast powerful spells and summon monstrous creatures aiming to knock your opponent down from 20 life to zero.”

This is a very simple overview of what the objective of Magic is, when in reality there are many different game modes and hundreds of rules. The game was first synthesized by Richard Garfield in 1991 and achieved a patent in 1997 for “a novel method of game play and game components that in one embodiment are in the form of trading cards.”

The game was an instant hit amongst Dungeons and Dragons players because of its similarities and reduced game play times. Wizards of the Coast continued to print new sets of cards, or ‘expansions’, up to four a year. Each expansion delivers new characters, creatures, and places that exist in the Magic multi-verse.

Magic can be played between any amount of opponents and the ultimate objective in standard game play is to drain each opponent’s life from 20 down to 0; this can be done many ways. Each player as a deck consisting of over 60 cards, and at the beginning of a turn you draw 1 card in addition to the 7 they start with. Each player can play spells by paying for them with mana: a type of colored card that corresponds with the color of the card you are playing. Players can cast creature spells, which can attack players and defend you from attacks, instant spells, which can be played at any time and have a variety of effects, sorcery spells, which can only be played during your turn and often serve the same purpose as an instant spell, and enchantment or artifact cards, which often give all your creature a certain bonus. In essence, each player casts creature cards and instant or sorcery cards to make that creature more powerful in hopes to best their opponent’s creatures, but in more complex game play that is almost never the case. More difficult players will create card combinations to drain an opponent’s life in one turn or make their opponent unable to attack. These more complicated card combinations require extensive knowledge of the rules of Magic and are favored by more advanced players.

With Magic being as popular as it is, it’s not surprising to find that there are many players at Woodgrove. The players typically join together in the library before school, which gives them ample time to play and trade. Some of the participants have been playing for a long time, while others are new to the game.

Sophomore Peter Bruton has been playing since freshman year and said, “I got into it because a bunch of my friends were playing it. I played on and off for about a month before totally immersing myself in it. Since then I’ve spent a good amount of money on it and really enjoy playing it.”

Many other players at Woodgrove have gone through Peter’s situation as well. Once you start playing, Magic becomes a part of your life you will never forget because of its ability to bring people together and create long lasting memories.