Magic: The Gathering is the world’s most popular trading card game. Created by Richard Garfield and published by Wizards of the Coast, it is estimated to be played my more than 20 million people worldwide. Traditionally, Magic: The Gathering (or MTG or just “Magic” for short) is played with physical, cardboard cards. Each player constructs a deck of cards to play against their opponent(s). A match of magic represents a duel between two wizards known as “planeswalkers” and each card represents a spell that the player can cast or a resource that can be used to cast spells. There are several conditions available to win a game of Magic, but the most common is to bring your opponent’s life total from 20 down to 0 by attacking them with creatures and directly damaging them with spells.
Magic is released periodicially in sets that add several hundred hundred cards to the pool of cards available to players. The most popular format of play for Magic is Standard. In the Standard format only the most recently released sets are allowed to be used. Once sets have been released for a certain amount of time, they “rotate” out of the standard format which requires players to continue to purchase the newest cards to continue to play decks legal in this format.
Cards are printed in different rarities. Common rarity cards, as the name implies, are printed the most and generally are the least powerfal cards. Uncommon rarity cards begin to increase in power level and are rarer than Common cards, but are generally still easy to obtain. The most powerfull and most saught after cards are printed at the Rare and Mythic Rare rarities. Players can add new cards to their collection by either purchasing sealed booster packs or buying the specific cards they need on the secondary market. Booster packs contain 15 random cards. 11 Commons, 3 Uncommons and 1 Rare or Mythic Rare card.
The best MTG players enter tournaments to test their skills and luck against other planeswalkers to compete for glory and money. While luck does play a small role in the outcome of matches, skilled players are able to consistently reach the finals of large tournaments thanks to their consistency and months of testing and preperation that goes into tournament deck building. Top prizes for tournament wins reach up to $100,000 providing enough support for multiple players to make a full time career as professional Magic: The Gathering players.
The Digital Frontier
There have been several digital iterations of Magic: The Gathering. The most popular of these is Magic: The Gathering Online. Magic: The Gathering Online attempts to recreate all of the cards, formats, rules and interactions of the physical card game with mixed results. Numerous bugs have been reported of bugs that range from annoying to totally game breaking. Each time a bug is fixed, new ones appear.
Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers is another digital version of the game offered by Wizards of the Coast. “Duels” as it is referred to in short offers a pared down version of the game that reduces much of the complexity that can come with the full ruleset of the game.
Dawn of a New Age
Gaming culture has evolved since Magic was introduced in 1993. Steaming gaming platforms like Twitch have exploded in popularity and games that do not provide an entertaining experience for stream watchers have quickly lost favor in the gaming community.
Magic: The Gathering Arena is the latest attempt to bring Magic: The Gathering into the digital space. Arena is Wizards of the Coast’s response to Blizzard Entertainment’s wildly successful Hearthstone collectible card game. Arena is attempting to combine both the full ruleset of magic present in Magic: The Gathering Online, with a streamlined user interface more similar to Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers. It is directly targeted to gamers who find the quick gameplay and entertaining spectacle of Hearthstone appealing.
There are still a lot of unknowns that surround Magic: The Gathering Arena because it is still in the early Alpha stage. We will update this page as more information becomes available.