Guide to Magic for the Less Magically Inclined
Magic: the Gathering isn’t for everyone. There I said it. I know, it’s crazy that I would say such a thing. While I may feel that Magic is the greatest game ever created, I must admit that it is a niche hobby. While, for many years Wizards of the Coast, the makers of Magic, embraced this idea of catering to a narrow demographic, recently Mark Rosewater, Head Designer of R&D for Wizards of the Coast, announced the new design philosophy that he is referring to as New World Order. In short, New World Order is being implemented in order to broaden the spectrum of people that would be attracted to Magic. Which means that you, the non-Magic player, are now Wizards of the Coast’s primary marketing target. So, I am here to prepare you for when you inevitably try Magic, or return to it.
What exactly is Magic?
To put it simply, Magic is a TCG, Tradable Card Game. Unlike traditional card games, a TCG has hundreds, or thousands, of cards that you get to chose from to build a deck of a certain number of cards (traditionally 60 with Magic). While Magic is a TCG, you cannot refer to Magic as “just a TCG” in the same way that you cannot say that Dungeons and Dragon’s is “just a RPG.” Each card in Magic represents a creature, spell or land that you can control and cast. See, in Magic you are a Planeswalker, a powerful Mage who can travel between worlds. Just as in D&D you can imagine your characters battling the evil Lich that your DM has set for you to find, in Magic you can imagine you are battling your opponent with the creatures you summon, and the spells you cast. If you decide to try Magic, I recommend role-playing your games until you get the rules down, because this will decrease your frustration with the complexity of the game.
What does Magic have to offer that other games don’t?
Magic is a very flexible game. While I might tell you that building the best deck to take to a competitive event is what Magic has to offer, another player might tell you that collecting entire sets is what the game is about. There are many layers to enjoying Magic, through playing, trading or collecting. Some people love playing at competitive FNM’s, while others would prefer to play at the kitchen table at home. Some people spend most of their time trading cards to make money by playing the market, while others are trading to find that last card from the Dark Ascension set. There are so many facets to the game, that almost anyone can find something in it that they enjoy.
Isn’t Magic Expensive?
This depends on what you want out of the game. For someone like me that plays Magic competitively, the answer is yes. But, I know many people that spend less then $100 on the game a year, and enjoy it just as much as I. It used to be that no matter whether you were casual or competitive, Magic was expensive, and Wizards has had a hard time shaking that stigma since they have fixed the issue. If you have never tried Magic, you don’t have to go out and spend a large amount of money on cards anymore. You can get on Steam, X-box or your i-Pad and buy Duels of the Planeswalker 2013. It’s simple, and it’s cheap. Plenty of people play and love DOTP 2013, and that is the only form of Magic they play. If after a while, DOTP 2013 feels too restrictive for you, then you can always try Cockatrice, a third party program that allows you play Magic with every card printed for free. Magic, while expensive for the most hardcore, doesn’t have to be for new or casual players.
Mark Rosewater has stated many times that the two largest barriers to entry with Magic is expense and complexity. If either one of these things have kept you from ever trying Magic, I recommend that you reconsider, because Wizards is working to lower both. Magic may not be for you, but you won’t know until you try.