Research Paper

Magic: The Gathering

"You can always get the lands untapped, so just let them accumulate counters

until you know you need them, then use the Druid to untap them. You can also use the

Druid to keep counters from accumulating on your opponent's storage lands. . ."

(Wylie 47).

The confusing series of exchanges above are from a simple strategy-combination

of a card game. This card game, though only a little more than two years old, is not

only taking our nation by storm, but also all over the world. The card game is Magic:

The Gathering. Magic, a collectible card game manufactured by Wizards of the Coast,

is a fun and challenging game that involves two or more players (depicted as planes

walker-wizards) dueling each other out with many different types of these such cards

(which represent the many colorful magical spells). Magic: The Gathering is truly

the first of its kind, and its success has everyone, even the designer, greatly surprised.

Magic: The Gathering was developed by a mathematician named Richard

Garfield. Garfield was always fascinated by games in general, and in the stages of

developing Magic, he derived Magic from many other games. Since this collectible-

card game genre was the first of its kind, Wizards of the Coast and Garfield had to take

lots of risks designing it. After months of designing and play-testing the game,

Wizards of the Coast finally created the Alpha version of Magic, and released it to the

public in 1993. When it was first released, however, it didn't get quite the reputation it

deserved. Unfavorable opinions ranged from, "Big Deal. I didn't know how to display

them [display boxes of Magic cards] in the store. So I threw them on the back shelf"

(Binder 44), to "They were begging people to take their stuff [Magic cards] during

conventions" (Kardon 34). However, after a few months, Magic card sales started to

skyrocket. Thus, Wizards of the Coast had to make more and more revised editions of

different sets of Magic cards to satisfy the demand for these cards. Crazed Magic

consumers often might have paid as much as $200 for a Black Lotus card (argued

as the best card for Magic), and also other single cards, topping off around $100!

People started to say "Do I [get] gas or do I get Magic Cards?" (Binder 44). With all

the popularity Magic had obtained, Wizards of the Coast decided to name their world

of Magic--Dominia, and it has expanded at an incredible rate ever since.

A game of Magic places two (or more) players against each other. Each of the

players starts out with 20 life points. The main objective of this game is to be the first

person to reduce his opponent's life points to zero or less, thus "killing" him. There are

a number of ways to accomplish this. One can summon creatures to help the players

do battle against each other, cast other damaging spells to destroy the creatures or one's

opponent, or cast other spells that can help the caster in the outcome of the battle.

Although the basic rules sounded simple enough, the strategies of how to defeat one's

opponent are almost impossible to master. Since there are many pools of cards

available, "to beat your opponent with your carefully constructed cards," (Baxter 7)

becomes a quest for every Magic player. With its infinite possibilities in each duel,

"Magic continues to grow and is quickly becoming recognized as one of the most

elaborate strategy games in history" (Baxter 5).

There are five colors in Magic from which to choose in order to build one's

playing deck. They are as follows: Black, White, Green, Red, and Blue. Each of

these colors have their own unique advantages and disadvantages in their usage. These

colors are the backbone of every Magic playing deck. Let's start with black. Black is

mainly centered on evil necromancy magicks and dealings with the evil and the

demonic. Black cards are also closely tied in with the undead, such as skeletons

zombies, ghouls, and vampires. Magic players often depict black spells as: ". . . The

nights in Dominia are full of power, as shadows and black magic traverse their way

across the fetid swampsand bogs" (Baxter 30). Black's primary enemy, white,

represents the holy side in the world of Dominia. White harnesses powers of healing

and holy creatures such