Recently I was re-introduced to a great game called Magic the Gathering.
Magic the Gathering (or MTG for short) is a collectible card game in which you assemble a deck of cards and battle against an opponent and his deck. Each card represents a magical spell or a creature which you cast to knock your opponent from 20 life to zero.
I dabbled with Magic when I was younger, but very few of my friends played the game, and since it required buying rather expensive cards on a regular basis I ditched it and focused on the pen and paper Dungeons and Dragons instead.
I recently learned that several co-workers were into the game, and so we dusted off our old decks and started playing on a semi-regular basis.
So what makes Magic such a fun game to play?
- First and foremost, it's heavily fantasy-flavored. Vampires, wizards, dragons, goblins and other 'D&D-like' creatures and spells are all over the place (and the art on some of these cards is simply stunning)
- It's a war-game with simple rules, but some of the cards can break the rules in certain ways, allowing for a wide variety of tactics and strategies to be employed. In a sense it's like playing Chess. The basic rules are simple, but winning the game requires more than just moving the pieces according to the rules...
- Deck building is a big part of the game. Each player needs to construct a 60-card deck, but there are virtually thousands of cards out there, and new cards are released throughout the year (every year since 1993!). There is no 'best deck', as each deck has ups and downs, and the luck of the draw still plays a part in deciding a game.
So how is the game played? Well, simply put (and omitting a lot for the sake of simplicity), you got two types of cards in your deck. Lands, and Spells.
Lands come in colors: Black, White, Red, Green and Blue. Here is an example of a Blue Land card:
Spells also come in colors. Here is a red spell card for example:
In a nutshell, players 'cast spells' (play spell cards) by using 'mana' (land cards), with the goal of reducing the opponent from 20 life to 0 and win the game.
Here is an example of a Magic game 'battlefield' layout in the midst of a game.
I won't go into the details of the rules any further - I urge you to browse the official 'how to' section at Wizards site if you want to get the hang of the game, and if you want to enjoy my future posts about Magic the Gathering!
While I still plan to write D&D related posts (got an interesting retrospect on 4th edition coming up), I will also delve into MTG gameplay every once in a while. Nothing to worry about - D&D is still in my heart, but if I want a fantasy-flavoured casual play to fill up half an hour - MTG is definitely the way to go!
Here's a (rather nerdy) introduction to MTG (by Wizards of the Coast).