Research Paper Magic: The Gathering “You can always get the lands untapped, so just let them accumulate counters until you know you need them, then use the Druid to untap them. You can also use the Druid to keep counters from accumulating on your opponent’s storage lands. . .” (Wylie 47). The confusing series of exchanges above are from a simple strategy-combination of a card game. This card game, though only a little more than two years old, is not only taking our nation by storm, but also all over the world.
The card game is Magic: The Gathering. Magic, a collectible card game manufactured by Wizards of the Coast, is a fun and challenging game that involves two or more players (depicted as planes walker-wizards) dueling each other out with many different types of these such cards (which represent the many colorful magical spells). Magic: The Gathering is truly the first of its kind, and its success has everyone, even the designer, greatly surprised. Magic: The Gathering was developed by a mathematician named Richard Garfield. Garfield was always fascinated by games in general, and in the stages of developing Magic, he derived Magic from many other games. Since this collectible- card game genre was the first of its kind, Wizards of the Coast and Garfield had to take lots of risks designing it.
After months of designing and play-testing the game, Wizards of the Coast finally created the Alpha version of Magic, and released it to the public in 1993. When it was first released, however, it didn’t get quite the reputation it deserved. Unfavorable opinions ranged from, “Big Deal. I didn’t know how to display them [display boxes of Magic cards] in the store. So I threw them on the back shelf” (Binder 44), to “They were begging people to take their stuff [Magic cards] during conventions” (Kardon 34).
However, after a few months, Magic card sales started to skyrocket. Thus, Wizards of the Coast had to make more and more revised editions of different sets of Magic cards to satisfy the demand for these cards. Crazed Magic consumers often might have paid as much as $200 for a Black Lotus card (argued as the best card for Magic), and also other single cards, topping off around $100! People started to say “Do I [get] gas or do I get Magic Cards?” (Binder 44). With all the popularity Magic had obtained, Wizards of the Coast decided to name their world of Magic–Dominia, and it has expanded at an incredible rate ever since. A game of Magic places two (or more) players against each other.
Each of the players starts out with 20 life points. The main objective of this game is to be the first person to reduce his opponent’s life points to zero or less, thus “killing” him. There are a number of ways to accomplish this. One can summon creatures to help the players do battle against each other, cast other damaging spells to destroy the creatures or one’s opponent, or cast other spells that can help the caster in the outcome of the battle. Although the basic rules sounded simple enough, the strategies of how to defeat one’s opponent are almost impossible to master. Since there are many pools of cards available, “to beat your opponent with your carefully constructed cards,” (Baxter 7) becomes a quest for every Magic player.
With its infinite possibilities in each duel, “Magic continues to grow and is quickly becoming recognized as one of the most elaborate strategy games in history” (Baxter 5). There are five colors in Magic from which to choose in order to build one’s playing deck. They are as follows: Black, White, Green, Red, and Blue. Each of these colors have their own unique advantages and disadvantages in their usage. These colors are the backbone of every Magic playing deck.
Let’s start with black. Black is mainly centered on evil necromancy magicks and dealings with the evil and the demonic. Black cards are also closely tied in with the undead, such as skeletons zombies, ghouls, and vampires. Magic players often depict black spells as: “. .
. The nights in Dominia are full of power, as shadows and black magic traverse their way across the fetid swampsand bogs” (Baxter 30). Black’s primary enemy, white, represents the holy side in the world of Dominia. White harnesses powers of healing and holy creatures such as Angels, Paladins, and noble soldiers and knights. The spells and creatures of white tends to “[Preserve] life and work their magic to heal and protect the weak and the helpless” (Baxter 31). White’s ally is the color green. Green, in Magic, is the color of life and nature.
Green includes many mythical woodland creatures, such as the fairies, elves, and sprites, as well as other creatures of the woods, including bears, walking trees, and sometimes powerful dragons. White’s other enemy and the ally of black is the color red. The essence of red is chaos, fire, and total war. Red spells contain huge fireball blasts and flashes of lightning bolts to incinerate their opponents. Red also controls the elements of fire and earth.
In Magic, “Red is a color of obvious and immediate power and its use is perhaps the easiest to master” (Baxter 35). The final color in Magic is the color blue. Ally to black and white and enemy of green and red, blue magic is the magic of deceit, illusion, trickery, and deception. Blue also controls elements of air and water. Sample blue spells include creatures such as Illusionary Forces and air and water elementals.
Together, these five colors combine the essence of Magic: The Gathering, and its world, Dominia. Magic: The Gathering already has reached worldwide recognition. Its popularity has not only reached the four corners of the United States, but also countries such as France, Spain, England, Belgium, and most other European countries. Places all over the country often run Magic tournaments to test each player’s skills at deck construction, deck tuning, and deck play. And once a year, there is a big World Tournament where the best Magic players represent their country in duels to see who is the best Magic wizard in the world for the year.
Not only are these Magic cards playable, they are also very much tradeable and collectable. Since every Magic player values each and every Magic card differently, trading is an important aspect in Magic. So, much like baseball, basketball, football, and hocky cards, Magic players can often be seen not only dueling, but also bartering for cards. Conversations such as “I’ll trade you a Cyclopean Tomb for a Timetwister” seems to coincide with comments about sport cards such as “I’ll trade you a Michael Jorden rookie card for a whole set of . .
.” Garfield once said that, “. . . Magic turned out to be one of the best economic simulations I had ever seen. .
. which really surprised me. . .” (Garfield 14). Magic has also affected its players in their everyday lives.
It is a great stress- reliever, a great game to play during lunch break, and it enables people to interact with each other easier, thereby forming many friendships. Magic also somehow narrows the generation gap, as kids who play Magic often play along with their parents or grandparents. Also, with its amazing sales records, its sales help saved many hobby stores that were in jeopardy of going out of business. All in all, “. . .
the game has brought vastly more good than bad. . .” (Baxter 2). Magic: The Gathering is truly the first phenomenon if its kind. Its own unique playability has already caused millions of Magic players all over the world to praise its existence (including me).
With its multi-verse, Dominia, expanding each and everyday as it acquires more and more planes walkers, the power of Magic seems to reach the unlimited. To satisfy these power-hungry planes walkers, Wizards of the Coast also created expansion sets ( more variety of different types of cards) to continue to evolve Dominia. To sum it up, I recommend the reader to travel into the expanding world of Dominia as soon as possible.