Card game provides players with magical fun


Natascha Mercadante, Pitchfork

Two Magic players face off in a battle of creatures, lands and pocket-sized rounded rectangles.

It feels good to have a giant, multi-headed death monster in one’s pocket. It feels bad when one can’t use it to annihilate his enemies because he don’t have enough trees.

In the very fun and not-that-nerdy trading card game “Magic: The Gathering,” players can often find themselves in such scenarios. Magic is played by using land (also known as mana) cards, such as forests, to summon creatures and various other types of cards onto the playing area, or battlefield, and then using those assembled creatures and other spells to fight and defeat your opponent(s) and his or her arsenal of cards.

Although many may simply dismiss Magic as a nerd game that’s too complicated and involved to be enjoyable, it’s actually quite fun once one puts aside his/her desire to cater to the intolerance and misconceptions of the normal, non-awesome society. In Magic, players can assemble an army to wreck their opponents, just like in popular games such as “Clash of Clans” which, in all honesty, gets boring once you’ve played it for a few months; Magic is better. Players can give their opponents hope for victory before destroying that hope with one powerful card. Sometimes, Magic enthusiasts can even do crazy stuff like turning their opponents’ creatures into pigs or literally taking control of their opponent.

With Magic, people also don’t have to deal with the negative side effects that a lot of other popular pastimes have. There’s no lag (the bane of PC gamers), the people one plays against generally aren’t 12-year-olds bragging about sexual encounters with other players’ moms (looking straight at you, “Call of Duty”), and if one has a Magic deck, he/she can battle someone else with a deck any time, any place players don’t have to be at home with their XBox (or PlayStation, or Atari).

Magic cards are divided into five different colors: Blue, Black, Red, White and my personal favorite, Green. Each color group has different strategies and uses. Blue cards are generally based around countering what your opponents are doing, while Black cards are all about killing their creatures, bringing yours back from the grave and leeching (making your enemy weaker and you stronger). Red cards are simply about damage and destruction. White cards are based around getting a lot of weaker creatures on the battlefield to beat the opponent through coordination and strategy, and White also has a lot of healing and protection from your opponent’s damages. Green is all about growth and power basically, it takes the damage and ferocity of Red, makes it better, adds the healing and large numbers of creatures from White, and then throws in a bit of the leeching and killing of the Black group and makes sure that you’ll always have more than enough mana (aka land) to use all of it. Yeah, it’s as overpowered as it sounds.

There is, however, one drawback to Magic: the root of all trading card evil, Mana Problems. These occur when a player either doesn’t have enough land cards to play game-winning death monsters or what have you, or when the player has too much mana and almost nothing else to play. Many a time, I have been stuck wishing I could play out a towering creature that would make any sensical humanoid tremble in mortal terror (or just forfeit the game, whichever’s easier), but instead, my hand ended up looking like Tokyo too many people (or hydras, angels, demons, spirits, soldiers, etc.) and not enough land to support them.

Whatever color one prefers, whether the player’s having a good game or he/she’s experiencing what it’s like being an old rich bachelor with an estate (not enough friends/creatures and way too much land), Magic is a very fun game that not only offers engaging matches with friends but also opportunities to trade, buy and collect cards to make one’s arsenal of pocket-sized annihilation even stronger. Whether a person is a self-proclaimed nerd (like the well-known rapper 3CHAINZ) or a more “respectable” member of “normal society” (read: boring person), Magic: The Gathering opens up many fun opportunities for anyone who plays it.