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Magic: The Gathering

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Magic: The Gathering


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A collectible card game introduced in 1993 that can be played by two or more persons each using a deck of printed cards.

It was designed by a professor of Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington; Richard Garfield, when the CEO of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. games company told Garfield that he was looking for a portable game that could be played in the downtime that frequently occurs at gaming conventions. So Garfield returned and presented the idea of a Trading Card Game. Adkison immediately agreed to produce it and after two years of development it was released on 5 August 1993.

Magic was a card game steeped in the mythology of the imaginary world Dominia, thanks to the artwork and information on each card. The rules were simple: each player was a Plainswalker, a sort of wizard working for control of one magical plane of existence. Each began with twenty-five points and worked to drive his opponent down to zero, effectively expelling him from Dominia.

The Plainswalker’s first goal was to assemble a deck of at least forty cards, which acted as his spell book. After each player’s deck was shuffled, his opponent cut it, and the top cards from both decks were flipped over. These flipped cards served as the game’s ante, and the winner of the game, if the players weren’t just playing for fun, got to keep them both.

The most common cards featured the five types of different colored lands; swamp, islands, forest, mountains and plains. For every turn, each land provided one point of its color “mana,” the energy needed to cast a spell. Each color also shared a common theme—white cards for healing and protection; red cards for combat; blue for water/air magic, and for counteractions to opponents’ spells. The magic spells themselves included everything from summonings and sorceries to instants, interrupts and enchantments.

Usually, new players purchased one of the 60-card Starter Games, which eventually gave them a hankering for more and more cards. The more varied the deck of someone was, the more powerful his/her game potential, which made building one’s deck just as important as actually playing the game.

After the Starter Games, each with a random assortment of cards, players could move on to additional Starter Games or Booster Packs. Once the game caught on, and it did so very quickly, players clamored for the latest Boosters, and traded amongst themselves to fine tune their decks. With over a thousand cards out there, theories abounded over what the most effective deck should contain. After all that card purchasing, a player’s deck could become hefty, but not so portable anymore and harder to arrive at the colors someone wanted while playing. One option was to “cull” the deck, eliminating entire colors to help cast spells more quickly.

Some players preferred their decks packed with small creatures, and some fancy direct-damage spells. Others stacked their decks according to themes (flying creatures galore, or all green, all the time). Some liked to concentrate on one spell color, while others preferred the opposite option. Since the artwork on the cards came from top fantasy and sci-fi artists, some based their decks on their favorite illustrations.

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