It’s Friday night and you’re sitting across the table from a dude, looking them directly in the eyes and you shuffle your cards one more time for good luck. You place your prized deck on the table and slide it carefully over to the dude who cuts the deck and hands it back. The first few cards of your sixty-card deck are drawn and you fiddle with your twenty-sided die till you are staring at the biggest number on it. You are playing Magic: The Gathering.
When writing, random knowledge that I have gathered over the years has a way of popping up. I find that it has a way of making my stories more realistic when I can put in information that I know, but may not be common knowledge. So we’re continuing a series here on OKPotato where we will talk about random references that you might learn something new from and be inspired to write into your stories. (Please let us know if any of these random references make it to your stories in the comments below!) See the previous installment on Hypothermia here.
Created by Richard Garfield and first published by Wizards of the Coast in 1993, Magic: The Gathering was the first trading card game to be produced. Many have spawned in it’s wake, but as the original and one of the best known, it continues to thrive to this day.
The game play is a battle between players called “planeswalkers” who cast spells using mana to win. There are three ways to win: To reduce your opponent’s life from 20 to zero or lower, to “mill” or cause opposing players to draw or dispose of all the cards in their deck, or for all opponents to forfeit the game.
There are four main phases during the game play: the upkeep, main phase one, battle, and main phase two. Certain spells can be cast at certain times. For example creature spells and sorcery spells can only be played during one of the two main phases while instant spells can be cast at any time. The learning curve is a bit steep in the beginning, but what helps me out is that the cards tell you exactly what they do on them.
Five main colors represent the different mana. Red for mountains, white for plains, black for swamp, green for forests, and blue for islands. Each of the different colors have different characteristics and cards that typically lend themselves to certain tactics.
Cards come in packs with a black border and the symbol of the game on one side, typically, and then have a piece of art depicting the card as well as text and information about the card on the other side.
Tournaments are held regularly around the world. Anyone can qualify for a tournament by playing in a PTQ, Pro Tour Qualifier, in their area. Some of the different formats that are played are Standard, which is the few most recent sets that are considered legal in the standard format, Modern, which is a few more sets than what is considered legal, Double Headed Dragon, which is a team of two playing another team of two, and Pauper, which is only common cards can be used to make a deck.
Regional card shops often host FNM which stands for Friday Night Magics where they may hold tournaments or free play in one of the styles of play. They also do more open styles of play such as Sealed Drafting, which, like sports, you open a pack of cards then choose the one you want the most, then pass the rest along until you have enough to make a deck.
Recently there has been an empases on the lore that has been present since the beginning. With each expansion of cards that comes out, the lore expands and builds upon the previous. For example, the upcoming set, release date Oct. 2, Battle for Zandikar, the lore is that there has been an ancient battle between allies and the Eldrazi which are colorless evil creatures, in the past and while they had been stopped on Zandikar previously, something has happened so they’re loose again and the plainswalkers and allies must come and stop them on Zandikar or else they will go to all the different planes and destroy them. The lore has spawned several series of books which is mirrored by the cards in each set.
As you can see, I, Chebk, am quite into Magic. My personal journey started in the beginning when I was five or so years old and my older brother and oldest cousin started with playing back when it was still new. As such, it holds nostalgia for me and for many others who keep coming back to the game even after leaving it for many years.
The cards have been translated into many different languages and is growing in popularity around the world.
If any of you are into Magic: The Gathering or would like to see something random featured on this blog, please let me know in the comments below! Magic!