5 Reasons Why You Should Play ‘Magic The Gathering’

Magic The Gathering

When you walk past a video game shop or a table top gaming shop, there is an undeniable stereotype about its customers that comes to mind. The image of spotty, doughy teenage faces spending their Saturday job wages on overpriced paints and deluxe edition discs are a scene often humoured, but they also deter a lot of customers from certain games, for fear of being perceived as one of those basement living hermits who confuses the real world with a pixelated fantasy alternative.

However, many of these games are highly enjoyable, with the fantasy aspect providing great levels of both fun and escapism. With it’s World Championship held in Amsterdam still fresh in the minds of its fans, a great example of this is the trading card game Magic The Gathering. Created way back in 1993, it was the first trading card game, and now has over 12 million players worldwide. If you are not one of those players but have always wondered about the possible enjoyment in Magic The Gathering and similar games, here’s 5 reasons to go and get yourself a pack of cards and a 20-sided dice and start playing.

5. It’s social

Contrary to belief, games such as Magic The Gathering are a great way to have fun with your friends, and even make new friends. Magic has an organised tournament system with professional players, and for the less fanatical some game and comic book shops host their own tournaments for anyone to play. There are even open tournaments which give you a selection of cards to make a deck with, and at the end you get to keep them.

One of the increasingly rare factors about Magic The Gathering is that you have to actually be sat with another person to play with them. Many games today are focused on being able to connect with players on the other side of the world via the internet, and often the genuine socialising factor is forgotten. Whilst there have been online versions of the game, the most popular form of Magic The Gathering is the face-to-face competition. The open format of the game also gives little restrictions on the number of players in a single game, so no matter how many friends you encourage to play with you they will never be left out.

4. It’ll make you smarter

All aspects of Magic The Gathering involve a high level of strategy, from the way you build your card deck before playing, to how you use cards together in gameplay. Whilst the aesthetics and motifs of Magic stem from fantasy role-playing games, it boasts a far wider selection of cards, and a more complex set of rules and combinations of cards than most trading card games.

Despite this, Magic The Gathering is surprisingly easy to learn. For the more casual player only the basic rules of gameplay are needed, and it is only if you plan to enter competitions that you should probably read the rather long rulebook. The complexity of Magic is easily one of its strengths, as you come to appreciate the depth of the game, and begin to understand that with the new styles of card being released frequently the game is ever-changing and ever-adapting to the wider social aspects around it. A great example of this is the removal of demonic and occultist themes in the early stages of Magic The Gathering’s genesis, as the creators believed that the issue was too controversial at the time. Later on, in 2002, this policy was revoked, as the depiction of demons was less frowned upon by society.

Magic also makes you smarter personality-wise. Whilst games can be very drawn out and seem to take a lot of mental investment, it teaches you to be gracious in defeat as, after all, it is just a game. On the winning team you also gain a great sense of achievement, and many come to take pride in creating a deck themselves that works against anyone they play.

3. It’s cheaper than many videos games with a similar level of complexity

Unlike many video and online games, Magic The Gathering works on a physical basis, with no hidden costs. Once you have bought a card it is yours for as long as you want, with no season passes or restrictions on playing. To make multiple decks with great synergy and a great chance of winning against any competitor could cost more than your average board game or basic video game, but you’ll be free from bunny-hoppers and griefers, and similar to other table-top games there is almost endless variety in the games you will play. Going further than the game itself, each card colour in Magic The Gathering has its own storyline, making it much more interesting than the average “you’re in the army now shoot everyone” games.

Whilst Magic The Gathering saves you money, it could also be making you money. Some rare cards, such as the seemingly overestimated Black Lotus card has been known to sell online for around $1000, making the purchase of a pack a small price to pay. Another way to reduce the blow to your bank account is to purchase the cards from online wholesalers, where the cost of 1000 cards can be reduced from £266 (if bought entirely from 15-card booster packs) to around £30.

2. The artwork makes it worth the money

Each Magic The Gathering card boasts artwork from a number of talented artists. Hundreds of artists have contributed since the games’ genesis, with only two card designs from the original set still being used in prints today. Every card colour has a different style of artwork and the artists take this into account, with most of the designs focussing on religious, war or spell-casting themes.

AngelA great example of this (despite all of the cards being at a similar high standard) is Baneslayer Angel, which expertly contrasts the brightness of armour and the angel character with the intense darkness of the night sky.

Since Magic The Gathering was created, there have been re-prints of old cards to meet demand, with some being given a redesign to better fit the cards’ name or characteristics, as well as the foil versions of cards adding to the variation and value.

1. It has a great on-line community

With active forums on almost all major social networking sites, the on-line community for Magic The Gathering is immense, and its crown jewel is the official MTG website. It boasts details of the game, news on recent released cards as well as the daily newsletter which has articles from a host of MTG columnists.

The players themselves are always helpful to newcomers, and due to its wide audience there are many on-line tutorials for building your deck and learning the rules, as well as helpful articles explaining all the specific terms used in gameplay. The websites also provide information on upcoming events and has a list of official event venues, all with a weekly Magic The Gathering night which is open to all levels of player.

Magic The Gathering is not only a fun, surprisingly social and challenging game, but it is one that gives back to you, with free cards for going to events, and a range of prizes for competing in tournaments. Despite the reservations held by non-players about its ‘coolness’, the community will welcome you heartily and before long you will have wondered how you could have spent your time before, and how you could have existed without the great friends you make. It could be argued that it makes a dent in your pocket and student loan, but when compared to the amount you could spend on gaming consoles, the video games themselves and the endless accessories for them, it is a worthwhile investment. Getting started is much easier than you think, and now that your qualms have been pacified there’s nothing left to do but start playing!

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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20 Comments

  1. ponsler
    0

    What can be said? It’s the ultimate Collectable Card Game available, and it’s versatility is amazing!

    Great article.

    • Louise Egan

      It is such a great game, I’m impatiently waiting to get the Theros expansion so I can start going to the gaming nights myself 🙂

  2. I’ve played literally thousands of games of Magic and am always impressed with the new mechanics the game keeps coming out with to keep the game alive. I love sealed boosters the best.

    • Louise Egan

      The newer cards are getting better and better, with a much higher synergy and clearer abilities. Hah the amount of times I’ve sat on the way to work opening booster deck is crazy. I really like the sealed games on the computer game too.

  3. Mazzariello
    0

    D&D and this have given me the most fun down the years, Magic:The Gathering is hobby in itself. Like you say, the online community is very engaging.

    • Louise Egan

      I have tried D&D and do enjoy it, although I confess it does take a bit more time to understand it and get into it. Magic is more like an obsession now, I’m trying to beat my friends to sorting out my decks with the new core and expansions now!

  4. Stewart Peirce
    0

    I have played this countless times in the past, but I have not played for a few years due to a lack of opponents. Finding players with the time and passion to study a card library is not easy. I’ll play this game at any opportunity. That day probably won’t come soon, unless I can get one of my kids interested enough to devote their energy to learning the art of deck building.

    • Louise Egan

      It can be an issue finding people to play with, I have just been fortunate to find people at University, which holds the majority age group of Magic players. The MTG website has a list of official playing venues so there will always be people there to battle if you go along. I’m just worried about my naivety when I start going to the weekly game nights, as I have no idea how other people play past my friendship group, and if what I think is a good deck is actually poor compared to others.

  5. Austin Bender

    I’ve never actually played Magic, but my brother and a great deal of my friends have. I think there is an incorrect belief that people who play are anti-social, but I like how you pointed out that it’s actually the opposite. Great article.

    • Louise Egan

      Thanks so much! The pre-conceptions people have about games like Magic and their players has always bothered me, as I have often found that the people who play are really nice and interesting, and are often more sociable that a lot of people you meet. You should play, I’m sure your brother could lend you some cards 🙂

  6. Well I fell back into Magic, even after I said I wouldn’t. That’s because, even with the amount of terrible cards compared to some other CCG’s, the theme is still the best one ever created. The shear amount of options makes the game incredible. I hate the way that land is done, but I live with it.

  7. Amy Wood

    I have never even thought about trying this type of gaming before, your article has made me want to give it a try though! Good read 🙂

  8. Jemarc Axinto

    I’ve recently gotten into MTG and I gotta say I’m worried about my wallet. I keep building decks and saying “this is the last…” and then building another one soon after! It’s a bit silly but I must say that it’s a delightful new hobby to have for the moment.

  9. For those of you who enjoy Magic: The Gathering or other Collectible Card Game, you should consider looking at self-contained deck building games. These are strategy games that use some of the same mechanics of building and playing a deck in MTG but over the course of just one game which means you won’t spend money on constantly buying new packs.
    Examples:
    Dominion is a phenomenal game during which both players have access to the same cards and during the game, they use their deck to buy cards to add to their deck with the goal of creating a more efficient deck and buying the most victory points by the end.
    Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game is exactly what it’s title says, a deck building game in which players recruit hero cards to their deck and use these to defeat villains. It is a semi-collaborative game that requires players to work together with the goal of ultimately defeating a mastermind villain, but should they do this, a victor is determined by points scored.

  10. Phoenix Feather

    Personally I love Magic: The Gathering. I also think it is a strategic game that requires careful thought and decision making, and some of the artwork is out of this world.

    That being said, I believe some of your points could be refined or expanded. For instance, Magic isn’t all that cheap if you decide to play competitively. Many of the top tier tournament decks are anywhere from $800 to $2500. It is also true that you can sell and trade your cards, but Black Lotus is a bad example. Black Lotus was only available in the very early sets Alpha, Beta, and Unlimited, so it’s highly unlikely anyone will get their hands on one of those booster packs, let alone pluck a Black Lotus from it. You can easily buy booster packs from new sets and make up the cost in just one $3 – $15 card though.

    The online community is great and often supportive, but it caters to the competitive player far more than the casual player. There are a disproportionate number of articles concerning the formats Legacy, Modern, and Standard more than anything else. Nevertheless, it is still a good game to try, whether you’re enchanted with it or you decide it’s not really for you.

  11. Maysam Al-Ani

    I absolutely love this game. It is so well constructed and thus can never bore me. My collection seems to be always growing.
    I have not been playing recently, due to schoolwork, hopefully I will be back into it though!
    Thanks for this article and praising the game!

  12. Blake Owen
    0

    I started to play this game Recently and have found barely anyone to play it. I have 3 friends including a teacher who play it but aside from that when I try to get my friends won’t get into it or won’t try it. It’s sad. People need to understand that this game can be a stress Reducer

  13. dragonpoppaninja
    0

    Yeah I got out of magic for awhile also. I had taught my kids to play but they would get bored or not like that they didn’t win every time. But i’m back playing again after showing one of my kids friend how to play. My Father in law had taught me how to play years ago and now I’m glad all those decks I had put together isn’t going to waste. I glad to start putting new decks together.

  14. Adam Field
    0

    Love this article! I used this as a source in a paper I was writing for my English class on how games have positive effects on cognition, social skills, and therapy. I do play the game myself and absolutely love the new stuff that has come out recently! FNM is and always will be my thing!

  15. Monty
    0

    This article is awful. #1 and #5 are practically the same thing. #2 isn’t even a real reason. It’s as if it’s but there in case someone decided to complain about #3 being a complete lie. #4 can be said about a LOT of games, ranging from tabletop roleplaying, to videogames, to board game, to even poker.

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