Magic: The Gathering (colloquially "Magic" or "MTG") is a collectible card game created by mathematics professor Richard Garfield and introduced in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast. Magic is the first example of the modern collectible card game genre and still thrives today, with an estimated six million players in over seventy countries. Magic can be played by two or more players each using a deck of printed cards or a deck of virtual cards through the Internet-based Magic: The Gathering Online or third-party programs.
Each game represents a battle between powerful wizards, known as "planeswalkers", who use the magical spells, items, and fantastic creatures depicted on individual Magic cards to defeat their opponents. Although the original concept of the game drew heavily from the motifs of traditional fantasy role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, the gameplay of Magic bears little resemblance to pencil-and-paper adventure games, while having substantially more cards and more complex rules than many other card games.
An organized tournament system and a community of professional Magic players has developed, as has a secondary market for Magic cards. Magic cards can be valuable due to their scarcity and utility in game play.
Much like Dungeons & Dragons is considered the "face" and most well-known Role-playing Game in the world, Magic is the same for collectible card games. Both industry leaders are owned by Wizards of the Coast.
n a game of Magic, two or more players are engaged in a battle as powerful wizards called "planeswalkers". A player starts the game with twenty "life points" and loses when he or she is reduced to zero or less. Players lose life when they are dealt "damage" by being attacked with summoned creatures or when spells or other cards cause them to lose life directly. Although reducing an opponent to zero life is the most common way of ending a game, a player also loses if he or she must draw from an empty deck (called the "library" during the game). In addition, some cards specify other ways to win or lose the game.
Players begin the game with seven cards in hand. The two basic card types in Magic are "spells" and "lands". Lands provide "mana", or magical energy, which is used as magical fuel when the player attempts to cast spells. Players may only play one land per turn. More powerful spells generally cost more mana, so as the game progresses and more mana becomes available, the quantity and relative power of the spells played tends to increase. Some spells also require the payment of additional resources, such as cards in play or life points. Spells come in several varieties: "sorceries" and "instants" have a single, one-time effect before they go to the "graveyard" (discard pile); "enchantments" and "artifacts" are "permanents" that remain in play after being cast to provide a lasting magical effect; creature spells summon monsters that can attack and damage an opponent. The set Lorwyn introduced the new "planeswalker" card type, which represent powerful allies who fight with their own magic abilities depending on their loyalty to the player who summoned them. Spells can be of more than one type. For example, an "artifact creature" has all the benefits and drawbacks of being both an artifact and a creature.
Some spells have effects that override normal game rules. The "Golden Rules of Magic" state that "Whenever a card's text directly contradicts the rules, the card takes precedence." This allows Wizards of the Coast great flexibility in creating cards, but can cause problems when attempting to reconcile a card with the rules (or two cards with each other). The Comprehensive Rules, a detailed rulebook, exists to clarify these conflicts.
Each player needs a deck to play a game of Magic. Beginners often start with an initial "Intro Pack", which can then be modified using cards from "booster packs". In most tournament formats, decks are required to be a minimum of sixty cards, with no upper limit. Players may use no more than four copies of any named card, with the exception of "basic lands", which act as a standard resource in Magic. Both these rules are loosened in "limited" tournament formats, where a small number of cards are opened for play from booster packs or tournament packs, with a minimum deck size of forty cards and no "four of" rule. Depending on the type of play, some cards have been "restricted" (the card is limited to a single copy per deck) or "banned" (the card is no longer legal for tournament play). These limitations are usually for power reasons, but have been occasionally made because of gameplay mechanics.
Deck building requires much strategy as players must choose among thousands of cards which they want to play. This requires players to evaluate the power of their cards, as well as the possible synergies between them, and their possible interactions with the cards they expect to play against. The choice of cards is usually narrowed by the player deciding which colors they want to include in the deck. This decision is a key part of creating a deck. In general, reducing the number of colors used increases the statistical likelihood of drawing the lands needed to cast one's spells while a player utilizing more colors has access to a greater arsenal of cards.
Colors of MagicEdit
Most spells come in one of five colors. The colors can be seen on the back of the cards, in a pentagonal design, called the "Color Wheel". Clockwise from the top, they are: white, blue, black, red, and green (respectively abbreviated W, U, B, R, and G). To play a spell of a given color, at least one mana of that color is required. This mana is normally generated by a basic land: plains for white, island for blue, swamp for black, mountain for red, and forest for green. The balances and distinctions among the five colors form one of the defining aspects of the game. Each color has strengths and weaknesses based on the "style" of magic it represents.
- White is the color of order, equality, righteousness, healing, law, community, peace, absolutism/totalitarianism, and light, although not necessarily "good". White's strengths are a roster of small creatures that are strong if used together in groups; protecting those creatures with enchantments; gaining life; preventing damage to creatures or players; imposing restrictions on players; destroying artifacts and enchantments; and the ability to "equalize" the playing field. White creatures are known for their "Protection" from various other colors or even types of card, rendering them nearly impervious to harm from those colors or cards. Numerous white creatures also have "First Strike," "Lifelink," and "Vigilance". White's weaknesses include a focus on creatures and the fact that many of its most powerful spells affect all players equally.
- Blue is the color of intellect, reason, illusion, logic, knowledge, manipulation, and trickery, as well as the classical elements of air and water. Blue's cards are best at letting a player draw additional cards; permanently taking control of an opponent's cards; returning cards to their owner's hands; and countering spells. Blue's creatures tend to be weaker than creatures of other colors, but commonly have abilities and traits which make them difficult to damage or block, particularly "Flying" and to a lesser extent "Shroud". Blue's weaknesses include having trouble permanently dealing with spells that have already been played, the reactive nature of most of its spells, and the fact that its creatures tend to be comparatively inefficient.
- Black is the color of power, ambition, greed, death, corruption, and amorality, although not necessarily "evil". Black cards are best at destroying creatures, forcing players to discard cards from their hand, making players lose life, and returning creatures from the dead. Furthermore, because Black seeks to win at all costs, it has limited access to many abilities or effects that are normally available only to one of the other colors; but these abilities are disproportionately expensive, often requiring the sacrifice of life, creatures, or other resources. Black is known for having creatures with the ability "Fear", making them difficult to block. Lesser black abilities include "Deathtouch" and "Regeneration". Black's main weaknesses are an almost complete inability to deal with enchantments and artifacts, its tendency to hurt itself almost as badly as it hurts the opponent, and difficulties in removing other Black creatures.
- Red is the color of freedom, chaos, passion, creativity, impulse, fury, warfare, lightning, the classical element of fire, and the non-living geological aspects of the classical element earth. Red's strengths include destroying opposing lands and artifacts, sacrificing permanent resources for temporary but great power, and playing spells that deal damage to creatures or players. Red has a wide array of creatures, but with the exception of the extremely powerful dragons, most of them are fast and weak, or unbalanced with strong power and weak toughness, rendering them more easily destroyed. Some of Red's cards can turn against or hurt their owner in return for being more powerful for their cost. Red also shares the trickery theme with Blue and can temporarily steal opponents' creatures or divert spells, although generally not permanently. Many of Red's most famous creatures have the "Haste" trait, which lets them attack and use many abilities earlier. The ability to raise a creature's power temporarily is also common among Red's creatures. Red's weaknesses include its inability to destroy enchantments, the self-destructive nature of many of its spells, and the way in which it trades early-game speed at the cost of late-game staying power. Red also has the vast majority of cards that involve random chance.
- Green is the color of life, instinct, nature, reality, evolution, ecology and interdependence. Green has a large number of creatures, which tend to be the largest in the game for their cost. Many of its spells make them stronger temporarily. It can also destroy artifacts and enchantments, increase a player's life total, get extra mana sources into play, and produce the other four colors of mana. Green creatures often have "Trample," an ability which lets them deal attack damage to an opponent if blocked by a weaker creature. Green's weaknesses include its difficulty destroying creatures directly; a distinct shortage of flying creatures (though some of its creatures have "Reach", making them able to block flying creatures), and having few strategic options besides ovewhelming the opponent with large and numerous creatures.
The colors adjacent to each other on the pentagon are "allied" and often have similar, complementary abilities. For example, Blue has a relatively large number of flying creatures, which it shares with White and Black, which are next to it. The two non-adjacent colors to a particular color are "enemy" colors, and are thematically opposed. For instance, Red tends to be very aggressive, while White and Blue are often more defensive in nature. The Research and Development (R&D) team at Wizards of the Coast seeks to balance power and abilities among the five colors by using the "Color Pie" to define the colors' differences. This guideline lays out the capabilities, themes, and mechanics of each color and allows for every color to have its own distinct attributes and gameplay. The Color Pie is used to ensure new cards are thematically in the correct color and do not infringe on the territory of other colors.
- Multi-color cards were introduced in the Legends set and typically use a gold frame to distinguish them from mono-color cards. These cards require mana from two or more different colors to be played and count as each of the colors used to play them. Multi-color cards tend to combine the philosophy and mechanics of all the colors used in the spell's cost. More recently, two-color "hybrid" cards that can be paid with either of the card's colors (as opposed to requiring both) were introduced in the Ravnica set, and appeared extensively throughout the Shadowmoor and Eventide sets. Hybrid cards are distinguished by a gradient frame with those two colors. Multi-color cards tend to be proportionally more powerful compared to single-color or hybrid cards, as requiring multiple colors of mana makes them harder to cast.
- Cards which are not one of the five colors are colorless, and most often appear in the form of Lands and Artifacts. Unlike the five colors, Colorless cards do not have a specific personality or style of play. Sometimes, colorless cards will imitate the mechanics of a particular color, though in a less-efficient manner than a similar colored card. Often colorless cards are linked to one or more colors via their abilities, through story references, or through flavor text on the cards themselves.
Chapters that PlayEdit
Custom O.G.R.E. CardsEdit
- MagicTheGathering.com Official site for Magic: The Gathering
- Magic Academy, a strategy archive for beginners and intermediate players
- Gatherer Official Magic: The Gathering card database
- The DCI.com Official site for Wizards of the Coast organized play
- Official site for Magic Online