Magic: The Gathering

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Magic: The Gathering, also Magic or MTG, is a strategy card game created by Richard Garfield in 1993, and published by Wizards of the Coast. [1] [2] Magic holds the title of "Most Played Trading Card Game." [3]

The game is currently being printed in the following languages: English, French, Italian, Chinese Simplified, Portuguese, German, Spanish, Russian, Korean and Japanese. It is available for sale in the Asian, European and North America countries.


[edit] General

Garfield introduced three ideas that made the game very succesful: the concept of the trading card game, the color wheel, and the mana system. [4] [5] [6]

Magic is commonly played with 2 players, but can be played with more. Each player uses their own deck, which is constructed from cards they own. Players start the game with 20 life. There are several ways of winning the game, the most common being reducing your opponent to 0 life.

There are currently roughly 12,000 unique Magic cards. The cards are sold in booster packs, preconstructed theme decks and several other packages. Because Magic keeps adding new cards, it keeps shifting what matters. The discovery process that takes days or weeks or months at another game takes an eternity in Magic. You never truly figure the game out because it keeps changing. The modular nature of trading card games means that each player has a nearly infinite number of options. It allows each player to design what kind of game experience he or she is going to have. The metagame is a major component of what makes Magic the game it is, there is are an organized play system, online resources, a library of material, and numerous communities.

The players base is mostly male, but women are catching up. [7]

[edit] History

The first magic core set called Alpha was created by Dr. Richard Garfield and bought by Wizards of the Coast and released in 1993. Three core sets (Beta, Unlimited, and Revised) were released shortly after the Alpha release in order to satisfy the growing demand for the card game. The first expansion set, Arabian Nights, was released December 1993. It was based off of the Arabic compilation of Stories One Thousand and One Nights, and offered quotes from various stories in the compilation. The set offered famous cards such as Library of Alexandria and Juzam Djinn. [8] At one point in time, it was discussed that each expansion should have their name printed on the backs of the cards along with "Magic: The Gathering;" however, this idea quickly fell by the wayside in order to provide card uniformity. [9] Shortly afterward, the second expansion set, Antiquities, was released in the spring of 1994. The set was based heavily around artifacts and powerful cards such as Strip Mine and Mishra's Workshop were released in this set. Ice Age was the first large expansion, starting the typical block (originally called cycle) of one large expansion and two smaller expansions. In 2008, Wizards made a big push towards acquisition. [10] A sixty-fourth expansion, Journey into Nyx, is scheduled to be released in May, 2014.

Throught the years Magic has gone through several rules changes. With each change, there was always the worry that this new thing was going to be the thing that finally killed the game. [11] [12]

[edit] The Colors of Magic

Main article: Color Pie

Most Magic cards are one or more of five colors: White, Blue, Black, Red, and Green. Each color has its own philosophy and strategy.

Multicolored (or gold) cards require more than one color to cast. Multicolored cards show the strengths among the colors of the card.

Hybrid cards have a split mana cost and can be cast using either of the two types of mana in the split symbol.

The majority of Artifacts don't require any specific color to cast and as such are colorless. The Dissension expansion introduced the concept of colored artifacts with Transguild Courier, which does not required colored mana to cast. The Future Sight expansion's Sarcomite Myr was the first and only artifact card at the time of Future Sight's release to require colored mana for its casting cost. The Shadowmoor expansion's Reaper King was the first artifact card with a hybrid mana cost that contained colored mana symbols, but which enabled players to not have to pay any colored mana to cast the card due to the specifics of the card's hybrid mana cost. The use of colored artifacts as a game concept was taken even further in Shards of Alara, which was the first expansion to contain many artifacts that require specific colors of mana to cast, and the entire Alara block prominently features colored artifacts that require colored mana to cast.

[edit] Decks and Tournaments

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Tournament decks in general must have at least 60 cards. A deck may have no more than 4 copies of an individual card, besides basic lands which it may have any number. If a sideboard is used, it must contain no more than 15 cards.

[edit] Constructed

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In constructed, both players involved in the game play a deck of at least 60 cards, of which no cards except basic lands are present in more than four copies. A general convention is to play 20-25 lands, and 35-40 spells, but there is wide variance in this aspect. Most games of Magic, especially casual ones, are played with constructed decks. There are multiple formats that are often played with constructed decks, of which the four listed below are used in DCI-sanctioned tournaments. As well, many variants such as pauper and highlander are popular among casual players.

In order to have the deck play consistently, many constructed decks, or at least most of those used in tournaments, run four copies (known as a playset) of each card important to the deck, and run a maximum of sixty cards. This causes the important cards to be drawn on a more regular basis, and helps the deck to be more reliable.

With the advent of the internet, the sharing of decklists (known as netdecking) has become more and more prevalent, reducing some of the creativity and thought players have to put into the construction of their decks. Originally, Wizards of the Coast opposed this trend, but has embraced it in recent years, even running a daily deck feature on the game's website.

The presence of netdecking often causes a number of powerful deck archetypes to emerge. Through netdecking, many similar or identical decks following certain popular strategies will often be present at a tournament. Because of this, the metagame of a constructed format is much more important than the metagame of a limited format. This leads to decks sometimes being built simply because they will be good against popular decks; for example, if both kithkin and faeries are popular decks in standard, a player may be more inclined to run a giant deck with multiple copies of Thundercloud Shaman. Decks that are not very popular or common in the metagame are called rogue decks.

Constucted deck types are organized from smallest to largest cardpool (number of available cards):

[edit] Block

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In block constructed, players may play any unbanned cards from a single block.[13] Sanctioned block constructed tournaments must currently use cards from the Return to Ravnica block. After the release of Born of the Gods and Journey into Nyx sanctioned tournaments will use the Theros block cardpool.

[edit] Standard

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In the Standard format, players play with a deck of at least 60 cards from the most recent core set, the most recent fully released block, and the block that is currently being released. The sets currently playable in Standard are Magic 2014, Return to Ravnica Block (Return to Ravnica, Gatecrash and Dragon's Maze), and Theros block (currently only Theros).[14]

As of October 1st, 2013, there are no cards banned in Standard tournaments.[15]

[edit] Extended

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In the extended format, players may play with cards released within the last 4 years, as opposed to the 2 years of cards available in standard. This generally makes vintage games faster and decks more powerful, and with so many more cards allowed to interact in the format, combo decks are more prevalent. Currently, cards from Magic 2012, Magic 2011, Magic 2010, Innistrad, Scars of Mirrodin, Mirrodin Besieged, New Phyrexia, Zendikar, Worldwake, Rise of the Eldrazi, Shards of Alara, Conflux, and Alara Reborn are playable.

The following cards are currently banned in Extended tournaments: Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Mental Misstep, Ponder, Preordain, and Stoneforge Mystic. [16]

[edit] Eternal Formats

Sets never rotate out: all cards printed in legal sets are playable unless on a banned or restricted list.

[edit] Modern

Modern is currently the newest eternal format in the game and bridges the gap between standard and legacy. The cardpool in this format is much smaller compared to either legacy, or vintage. The cardpool in this format encompasses Eighth Edition, Mirrodin, Darksteel, Fifth Dawn, Champions of Kamigawa, Betrayers of Kamigawa, Saviors of Kamigawa, Ninth Edition, Ravnica: City of Guilds, Guildpact, Dissension, Coldsnap, Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, Future Sight, Tenth Edition, Lorwyn, Morningtide, Shadowmoor, Eventide, Shards of Alara, Conflux, Alara Reborn, Magic 2010, Zendikar, Worldwake, Rise of the Eldrazi, Magic 2011, Scars of Mirrodin, Mirrodin Besieged, New Phyrexia, Magic 2012, Innistrad, Dark Ascension, Avacyn Restored, Magic 2013, Return to Ravnica, Gatecrash, Dragon's Maze, Magic 2014, Theros, Born of the Gods (Effective February 7, 2014), and Journey into Nyx (Effective May, 2014). On June 22nd, 2013, Wizards of the Coast decided to retires the extended format, because of the growing popularity of the modern format. In hopes of further popularizing the format Wizard's released Modern Masters. This was a limited edition set, which rereleased many modern cards that can be considered staples of the format. The following cards are currently banned in Modern: Ancestral Vision, Ancient Den, Bitterblossom, Blazing Shoal, Bloodbraid Elf, Chrome Mox, Cloudpost, Dark Depths, Dread Return, Glimpse of Nature, Golgari Grave-Troll, Great Furnace, Green Sun's Zenith, Hypergenesis, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Mental Misstep, Ponder, Prordain, Punishing Fire, Rite of Flame, Seat of the Synod, Second Sunrise, Seething Song, Sensei's Divining Top, Stoneforge Mystic, Skullclamp, Sword of the Meek, Tree of Tales, Umezawa's Jitte, Vault of Whispers, and Wild Nacatl.

[edit] Legacy
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In the legacy format, cards from all sets are playable, though many of the cards which are restricted in vintage are banned in legacy. This makes legacy decks slightly less powerful than vintage decks, but the format is still incredibly fast, and legacy-legal decks are much more powerful than either standard or extended decks. Legacy has had somewhat of a resurgence in the late 2000s, as evidenced by the higher value of "dual lands" for deckbuilding.

[edit] Vintage

Vintage or Type One format is the oldest format in the game, simply because it allows players the ability to use almost any card from any black or white bordered set. Cards that require ante or cards that require the use of manual dexterity are banned in tournament play while cards with ultra-high power levels are restricted to one copy of that card per deck. The fabled power nine are associated with this format. They are known to be both the most powerful and most expensive cards in the game. A common misconception about vintage by players who are not familiar with the format is that first turn wins are commonplace; even with the vast cardpool associated with Vintage, combo decks still require a demanding amount of precision in order to create a first turn victory. Vintage is still a fast paced and very disruptive format and rounds often require the full time limit.

[edit] Limited

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In the limited format, players do not play with decks they built ahead of time, but play with decks of cards from sealed booster packs, which are built at the beginning of a limited tournament before play begins. In limited formats, the minimum deck size is 40 cards.Generally, 17-19 lands and 21-23 spells are played, but there is some variance in this aspect. This format is favored by some, as it allows all players, no matter the size of their collection, to have an equal chance at doing well in a tournament.

[edit] Draft

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In the draft format, each participating player is seated around a table, usually of 8 players, and is given 3 sealed booster packs. Each player opens the first of their packs, chooses a card from it, and places the chosen card face-down on the table in front of them. The remaining cards in the pack are passed to the left, and players repeat this process with the pack just passed to them, until all the cards are chosen. The same is done with the second pack, this time passing to the right, and with the third pack, passing left again. Each player then builds a deck using the 45 cards they chose from the booster packs. Sanctioned drafts can be run with any number of boosters from any set, as long as each drafter receives the same product. The most common drafts are from the most recent block, currently 3 boosters of [Innistrad]

[edit] Sealed

Main article: Limited (format)

Before the release of Conflux, players would open a tournament pack and three sealed booster packs in order to play in a sealed tournament. They built decks using the cards they opened. With the release of Conflux, however, tournament packs were discontinued. Depending on which sets have been released, decks are either built from 6 booster packs of the first set in the block, or with 3 boosters each of the first and second sets in the block, or with 2 boosters each of all three sets.

The sealed format increases the role of chance in how good a deck turns out. There is a lot of strategy used while drafting, while the contents of your deck in a sealed tournament are dependent entirely on what you open in your six booster packs. Because of this, the sealed format is used almost exclusively at prereleases and launch parties, while drafts are done at Friday Night Magic and major tournaments.

[edit] Awards

Magic is listed on the Games Magazine Hall of Fame.

[edit] References

  1. Richard Garfield. (March 12, 2013.) "The Creation of Magic: The Gathering", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Michael G. Ryan. (June 01, 2009.) "A Magic History of Time", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Monty Ashley. (September 14, 2011.) "World Records", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Mark Rosewater. (June 05, 2006.) "As Good As It Gets", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Mark Rosewater. (March 02, 2009.) "Magic Design Seminar: Looking Within", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Mark Rosewater. ( May 23, 2011.) "Mana Action", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Jennifer Robles. (December 11, 2012.) "The LPS and Creating Play Groups", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Richard Garfield. (August 17, 2009.) "The Expanding Worlds of Magic", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Mark Rosewater. (February 16, 2009.) "25 Random Things About Magic", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Mark Rosewater. (March 03, 2008.) "Assume the Acquisition", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Dan Gray. (June 01, 2009.) "Simple Rules are the Holy Grail of Magic", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Mark Rosewater. (August 05, 2013.) "Twenty Things That Were Going To Kill Magic", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.

[edit] External links