Guide To Magic The Gathering Game

Magic The Gathering is a collectible card game that has players around the world enthralled by this unique game.

One of the most popular collectible card games of all time, Magic: The Gathering has been around for ten years and has gathered players from around the world. But what exactly is this card game and why has it proved so addictive?

M:TG (Magic: The Gathering) was originally created by Dr. Richard Garfield in 1991. While working at the University of Pennsylvania he produced a card game that immediately captured the world's attention, singlehandedly creating the concept of the collectible card game.

M:TG places you, the player, in the role of a wizard able to cast spells and defend yourself against attack from other wizards by summoning creatures and casting spells even as you seek to destroy the other player/wizard. You have thirty lifepoints and if you go to zero or below, you lose the game. Obviously, if you take your opponent's lifepoints to zero or below you win the game!

To summon these creatures or to cast spells you need to "tap" the natural mana of the land under you. But different creatures require different mana from different lands, so the game grows more complex. There are five types of land, or mana, that you can tap for power to cast your spells. Mountains, Islands, Plains, Forest and Swamp which are represented by a red fireball, a blue teardrop, a white sun symbol, a green tree and a black skull.

Each type of mana dictates what sort of creatures or spells can be cast. Zombies and vampires, for example, require black mana to be summoned due to the undead and dark nature of the magic. Elves and fairies reside usually in the forest and are tied to green mana, while ogres and goblins dwell in the mountains and thrive on red mana. Brilliant angels and flying creatures live on the plains (white mana) and aquatic spells and creatures need islands to produce the blue mana they need to survive.

Each player has a deck of cards that they have built themselves, personalizing it to their individual gameplay. Inside each deck are a variety of creature cards, enchantments and spells, and mana cards. It takes a bit of time to achieve a balance between the three types of cards to create a good sequence for a player to use effectively.



Both players shuffle their decks and draw the top seven cards into their hand, keeping them hidden from each other. One player will then put down a mana card of any color on the table, keeping it pointed at the opposing player.

At this point the player needs to look at his/her cards and see if he/she has any creatures or spells that require only one mana to cast. Expensive creatures cost a lot of mana while weaker ones will often cost only one, making the game rather complex as you weigh the problems of waiting too long to summon a powerful fighter. If the player has a card that only needs one mana of that particular color to summon, he/she can turn the mana card sideways ("tapping" it) for the single mana and place the creature card on the tabletop. The creature can't attack right away due to "summoning sickness", so there's nothing that can be done right now offensively. Once the player has run out of mana his/her turn ends, and now gameplay reverts to the opponent.

Let's move ahead a little and imagine that the opponent hasn't enough mana to summon any creature and now it's the first player's turn again. He/she has one creature already on the board that has recovered from being "summoned". The player can now play another single mana card and then summon another creature or play a spell to either enhance the monster already on the table or to invoke some other effect on the board. And then the player can move the creature up into the center of the playing area, attacking the other wizard's lifepoints!

The opponent has a variety of options at this point. If he/she has no creatures on the board, he/she may be unable to block the enemy from coming through and attacking the lifepoints. It's possible that there may be a spell in his/her hand that may be playable and turn back the creature, but he/she can't play it until the actual attack is announced. Or if there is a creature already on the board he/she can "block" with the monster and hope it survives the attack.

This brings us to the numbers printed on the actual card itself. In the upper right edge of each card is the cost of casting the spell in mana, represented by either a number or a series of symbols showing what types of mana and how many are needed to cast the spell. At the bottom, however, you will see two numbers such as 1/1 or 2/4 or 4/3. These represent Power and Toughness - power being the amount of points of damage that the creature can deliver to an opponent and toughness indicating how many points of damage the creature can take before dying.

So in our previous scenario, if the creature attacking has a statistic of 1/1 the opponent will take one point of damage if he/she cannot block. However, if blocked with a creature that has a power/toughness rating of 1/1 both creatures will die, excepting special circumstances. If this creature had a rating of 2/4 it would live, taking only one point of damage while having three points left of life. As you can see, there's a lot of strategy that goes on in a M:TG game.

Spells and enchantments take the game to an even higher level. If our original player places a Giant Growth spell on our 1/1 creature, he suddenly grows to a 4/4 monster, since this single green mana spell boosts the statistics by +3/+3! A wise player would wait until their opponent announces that the small 1/1 creature is being let through and then boosts the monster's power at the last minute, inflicting major damage on the wizard!

Obviously the game has thousands of permutations and with new expansions being released every few months there are strategies and variations that are too numerous to mention here. But even a new player can get up to speed and start enjoying this mindtwisting game with only a few minutes of tutorage, either online or through enclosed instructions that come with every starter card deck.

With thousands of players enjoying this game around the world, it's no surprise that Magic is acclaimed as the most famous CCG in existence. Pro Tours allow expert players to earn money while displaying their skills while young players learn basic math skills and increase their creativity as they explore the magical worlds that these cards invoke. Indeed, with the game now lasting over a decade there are actually second-generation players appearing at conventions and competitions, making the game a family tradition that seems to be in no fear of dying out.

Magic: The Gathering has become a popular game through a mixture of strategy, tactics and imagination. Millions of cards have been produced and sold over the years, with some moving into the highly collectible stage and now only available through auction houses. But this game is easily accessible to anyone who wants to learn, with eager fans and addicts waiting to help you into this world. Why not step on over to one of those tables and see what the appeal is all about?

© High Speed Ventures 2011