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Subject: Magic has improved markedly, a beginner's return and misjudging the game rss

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Hi, I have noticed topics started by new players to the game. So I thought I would relate my experience as a new player. I recently started playing Magic after briefly playing the game in the mid 90's, but never got into deck building or buying many cards at that time, and was a novice and very casual player. To be honest the only reason I played back then was my good friend was really into the game and I decided to try it out. After a brief time playing the game I decided it wasn't for me.

My friend however, has kept playing from that time and I always would tell him he was wasting his time and money and that I thought Magic sucked. But on a lark after seeing the cool new cards in the Magic 2011 core set that my friend showed me, I played a couple games and was immediately impressed. The artwork on these cards is fantastic and the cards are really creative and interesting. This was totally surprising to me, and as I browsed some of the previous sets I was more and more intrigued and impressed.

I then started playing using my friends cards some more, and I have to admit the game has improved dramatically from when I played it years ago. The designers have a gift for making cards in the colors match the general theme and flavor of the color, and the artwork also very closely matches the cards theme too. And the creativity of the names of the cards, and the ideas and concepts behind them, is really something. I noticed a lot of influences on many cards, from HP Lovecraft to traditional fantasy and all the way to futuristic sci-fi. The cards have gotten remarkably sophisticated in their design, concepts, and artwork which is very compelling.

The game was so fascinating and fun to play I decided to build a deck of my own, based on my favorite color in the game (blue).

I know of the pitfalls of the game, and am choosing to be careful in buying cards that are not silly expensive. To my surprise many of the cards I liked are very cheap, and only a few cards were spendy that I was interested in. I did find a few cards that I thought were very cool and they were more expensive, but not prohibitive (like we are talking a dollar or two for one card, the max I saw for a card I was interested in was three dollars). Its true I did see a few prices higher than that on a tiny minority of cards, and I just shook my head, I would never pay prices that high, no matter what the card did.

I couldn't resist buying a handful of "rares" (but none at prices that I thought were outrageous and stupid), but the vast majority of the cards I bought were extremely cheap. For the price of a couple of good Euro games (around $80), I now have a complete blue deck of tons of variety and am looking forward to making very many different decks built on rich themes that I find interesting.

Now does this mean I don't have an eye on other cards? Am I in danger of falling into the trap of spending way too much money on the game and feeling foolish about it afterwards? No, I don't think so. I have my next cards I want already bookmarked and the grand total of that batch will be around 10 bucks. After that, when the new sets come out, I will be very selective and only the most interesting and creative cards will intrigue me, and only if they are not ridiculous in price, but instead are reasonable or cheap. That is the criteria for the cards I will buy. Maybe I will only want a couple cards from the new expansions, or perhaps I won't be interested in any of them. Indeed, if I never bought any more cards I think I would have tons of fun with all the different cards I bought already.

So I have to say I misjudged this game. It is possible to get into this game for a reasonable price, and it has been greatly enhanced from what it was before. I will still be a casual player and not play in tournaments, that stuff doesn't interest me, but will be playing among a small group of friends only. If you want to be a serious tournament player, then I believe the flaws and pitfalls of this game can come into play.


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Pete Lane
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Thank you for this. I think my biggest issue with BGG stems from people who hate on this game simply because they had a bad experience 10 years ago. The game has changed dramatically, and WOTC was aware that they needed to take action to improve the way this game is viewed.

You DON'T need to spend millions of dollars on this game, any more than you need to buy every Dominion expansion.
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Bashing Magic has been far too cool for far too long. It really is an elegantly simple mechanic that so many come back to because it really is so timeless. Crazy competitive people with suitcases of foil decks can't diminish the quality of the game. Especially when played casually among friends.

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Quote:
Thank you for this. I think my biggest issue with BGG stems from people who hate on this game simply because they had a bad experience 10 years ago. The game has changed dramatically, and WOTC was aware that they needed to take action to improve the way this game is viewed.


I agree as well. Too much hatred directed at magic, although the game is still highly ranked on BGG. That being said I first played back in the Ice Age era, and while magic has improved, I had fun then and I still have fun playing with the old cards. I still love the simple card art from back then.

I just finished all of my decks after a three year hiatus, so like the OP I buy only certain cards. The Internet, where I can buy singles, has saved Magic for me.
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stagger lee wrote:
I think my biggest issue with BGG stems from people who hate on this game simply because they had a bad experience 10 years ago. The game has changed dramatically,


In what sense?

You mean the various rules tweaks or the pushing of creature power?

I've played Magic on and off throughout the years and I don't think that the game is substantially different now than it was originally aside from the pushing of creature power levels and the weakening of spells (and blue).

Some of the rules have been simplified, but the game is still incredibly complex.

Many of the staple cards you need for a effective deck are cheap, but that was true back in the day as well.

I guess the colours have more cohesive themes now, or at least that what the suits at Wizards want to tell us, but I thought the original distribution of colours made sense as well and find this more marketing than anything.

The new core sets are definitely a positive development because of the more obviously thematic cards (theme not simply pasted on), but does that make the game better? I don't know, probably not to me.

Not meaning to be overly contrarian, but I just don't find the game today markedly different than the one I first encountered during Revised. There have been changes, but it's still, at its heart, the same basic concept with 15 years of tweaks applied to it.
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stagger lee wrote:
You DON'T need to spend millions of dollars on this game, any more than you need to buy every Dominion expansion.

Agreed. I've played Magic off and on for 12 years now. The most recent time i got into it tho, i didn't want to get into buying packs and drafting. I wanted a one-time investment, like a board game.

So i bought a total of one box of packs from the Lor/Mor/Shm/Eve sets, and built myself a Cube. I've not spent a penny since.

Magic: the Gathering:
116$ (cards)
42$ (sleeves - 700)
158$ (total)
300 hours (time spent and counting)
0.52$/hour (entertainment cost)
6 (months spent religiously playing)

Race for the Galaxy (full arc):
113$ (cards - 35+25+28+25)
40$ (sleeves - 400)
153$ (total)
1000 hours (time spent and counting)
0.15$/hour (entertainment cost)
17 (months spent religiously playing)

Those two $/hour amounts will converge as time goes on, as the novelty of Race wears off.

And honestly i only really bought those Magic packs as a courtesy to my FLGS. In reality i could have simply built the cube out of the boxes upon boxes of free commons and uncommons he had lying around! Race could have been more expensive than Magic for me!
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CortexBomb wrote:

Not meaning to be overly contrarian, but I just don't find the game today markedly different than the one I first encountered during Revised. There have been changes, but it's still, at its heart, the same basic concept with 15 years of tweaks applied to it.


Well there has been about 15 years of rules updates and changes that have made it into the game that have tweaked and improved things. If you've been playing through that time period you forget there was a time when "The Stack" didn't exist.

The game has been tightened up even in the last 3-4 years really. Set sizes are more streamlined, new mechanics are less overwhelming, they have revisited older popular mechanics instead of inventing new ones that we'll never see again, design space has been opened up, and the addition of Planeswalkers as a "face" to the game are all pretty huge. It's definately come a long way from Ice Age, that's for sure.
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I guess we just differ on whether any of those changes are major then.

LIFO was basically the same as the stack minus the fact that you can stop the resolution of the stack (in non-combat situations now) whereas the entire pile had to resolve at once pre-5th. I didn't forget it, but in effect it opened up some things and closed off some others.

The stuff from your second paragraph, eh, I think it's all just about what they've been doing since I started playing the game. I don't think the new mechanics are any more or less difficult to grok than the ones from the earlier sets (with the notable exception of Phasing and Banding, both of those were rules nightmares).

Planeswalkers, I'm largely indifferent to, they're kind of neat, but they don't really make the game all that different, especially for players like OP who are building on a budget and who will probably never even own one. The game used to use the Shivan and the Hurloon Minotaur as faces, I thought those were just as effective, although, obviously, the minotaur was not all that useful vis a vis the planeswalkers, though the Shivan was an iconic and powerful card for its period.

I would never argue that the game hasn't changed since IA, it has. But I think of the changes more as a gentle slope of evolution over time, and none of them profound enough to make the game really markedly different. I just don't see how someone who didn't like the game in the AlIce period could pick it up now and say, "Wow, I disliked the game before and I do like it now." I know this is, in some ways, what the OP is arguing, but that's one of the reasons I chimed in here, I'm legitimately curious why, because I don't feel that the game is altogether different now than it was when I started. Particulars and nuances have changed, but the game itself is largely the same.
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Am I the only one that misses interrupts?ninja
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gittes wrote:
The Internet, where I can buy singles, has saved Magic for me.

This is another good point: playing Revised in 1994 meant buying pack after pack, or paying inflated hobby-store prices. Now you can go to TCGPlayer.com and instantly have a source for every single card you may want, at whatever the competitive going rate is.

Not to mention the advent of 4x playsets easily available and affordable via eBay.

Stewie wrote:
Am I the only one that misses interrupts?

You might be.
I remember playing Unlimited back in the day and struggling to understand why they made Instants and Interrupts 2 different types.
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fightcitymayor wrote:
gittes wrote:
The Internet, where I can buy singles, has saved Magic for me.

This is another good point: playing Revised in 1994 meant buying pack after pack, or paying inflated hobby-store prices. Now you can go to TCGPlayer.com and instantly have a source for every single card you may want, at whatever the competitive going rate is.

Not to mention the advent of 4x playsets easily available and affordable via eBay.

Stewie wrote:
Am I the only one that misses interrupts?

You might be. ;)
I remember playing Unlimited back in the day and struggling to understand why they made Instants and Interrupts 2 different types.


Like the OP, I tried Magic briefly in the '90s only to come back to it this past year. A new interest in all the amazing boardgames I never realized existed (thanks BGG!) helped bring me back to Magic, but the reasons you mention here (cheap complete sets on E-bay, especially) are major ones, as well.

But I would add to one of the OP's points that, aesthetically, the game has come a tremendous way. For me personally, the art on early sets tended to be broken up as follows: @ 5% gems, @ 25% solid, with the rest ranging from mediocre at best to downright awful. As much as I love actually playing the game (which I really do!) I probably wouldn't have spent nearly as much money as I have over the last year if the cards weren't such a visual treat. It's a rare card that doesn't make me pause to admire its art.

I find the whole issue of aesthetics in gaming fascinating. To many it doesn't matter much. Some argue it shouldn't matter at all. But I put a relatively high premium on a game's visual attractiveness, almost as much as its game play. There are so many awesome games out there, that all things being equal--or mostly equal--I'd rather spend my money on a game that I'm going to enjoy looking at as well as playing. I'm guessing I'm not alone, especially considering the more recent successes of Magic and of high-production games from companies like FFG.
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I find the artwork in general to be of a higher quality, but it's also been significantly homogenized. While that's good from a unity of design perspective, it does mean there's fewer times I crack a pack and see art that is genuinely impressive. Whether that trade-off is worth not having to see a pile of ill-defined blobs and Drew Tucker scrawled at the bottom is a tough call.

P.S. Turns out a decade long hiatus from the game did nothing to lessen my distaste for Drew Tucker's art. C'est la vie.
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He's actually my favorite artist on Magic Cards.

I've personally had enough of the vanilla-sinewy artwork that is overexposed on M:tG cards. At least with a Tucker card I know who painted it based on style.
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markgravitygood wrote:
At least with a Tucker card I know who painted it based on style.

Ditto Phil Foglio in the early Magic sets.
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I agree that the quality of the art on Magic cards is certainly higher overall these days. But I really do miss some of those early artists and styles, because every card kind of looks the same these days. I really like the works of Drew Tucker (I can't understand why people hate him, that's real art!), Phil & Kaja Foglio, Quinton Hoover, Rebecca Guay for instance. And I even like that one card with art made by Fay Jones!
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Wheelockian wrote:

Like the OP, I tried Magic briefly in the '90s only to come back to it this past year. A new interest in all the amazing boardgames I never realized existed (thanks BGG!) helped bring me back to Magic, but the reasons you mention here (cheap complete sets on E-bay, especially) are major ones, as well.

But I would add to one of the OP's points that, aesthetically, the game has come a tremendous way. For me personally, the art on early sets tended to be broken up as follows: @ 5% gems, @ 25% solid, with the rest ranging from mediocre at best to downright awful. As much as I love actually playing the game (which I really do!) I probably wouldn't have spent nearly as much money as I have over the last year if the cards weren't such a visual treat. It's a rare card that doesn't make me pause to admire its art.

I find the whole issue of aesthetics in gaming fascinating. To many it doesn't matter much. Some argue it shouldn't matter at all. But I put a relatively high premium on a game's visual attractiveness, almost as much as its game play. There are so many awesome games out there, that all things being equal--or mostly equal--I'd rather spend my money on a game that I'm going to enjoy looking at as well as playing. I'm guessing I'm not alone, especially considering the more recent successes of Magic and of high-production games from companies like FFG.


Yes, I completely agree with you. And that is a major reason for my appreciation of the game today. I didn't emphasize this enough in my OP, but another main criteria for my cards buying is theme and aesthetics, if the card has superb artwork to complement a creative theme and idea, then that card gets me very interested. And the art IMHO on some of the Magic cards is so well done and like you said, great to look at. So I am very much in agreement with you about the aesthetics of the game.
 
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I wanted to make another comment regarding the complexity of the game that was brought up.

I think the complexity thing is overblown. The game is not that hard to play and understand in my opinion. Sure, there are a few things that come up sometimes that I don't know the answer to, but that is the advantage of having a long time Magic player as a friend! And after he would help me understand the rules and my questions about timing, it all makes sense and is logical. This game is mostly marketed to teens and young people, so the game play is relatively straightforward in the phases and actions that you can do and when you can do them. ( for example, sorcery is only on your turn, instants are any time)

And it is also handy to have a laptop computer, because if a certain card is causing you trouble, there is a huge database on the gatherer Magic website, and all the rulings for each card are there!

Finally, its true there are a ton of new "keywords" that they introduced that were new to me, but I found a great site called MTGSalvation Wiki, and I looked up many things that I didn't know and the explanations are all there in a clear and concise format. Once you learn the meaning of these, it is easy to remember what they do. And also, often times the explanations of those keywords are printed on the cards anyways.
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quinnox wrote:


Finally, its true there are a ton of new "keywords" that they introduced that were new to me, but I found a great site called MTGSalvation Wiki, and I looked up many things that I didn't know and the explanations are all there in a clear and concise format. Once you learn the meaning of these, it is easy to remember what they do. And also, often times the explanations of those keywords are printed on the cards anyways.


MTGSalvation i consider the BGG of Magic sites. It's a great community that generally respects each other and is very willing to help.

As for complexity, it has toned down quite a bit. Time Spiral the set had over 75 keywords... even WOTC said themselves that it wasn't the way they should have taken that nostalgia idea...
 
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If you like to combine affordability with variety, you might like to play Elder Dragon Highlander magic. One general and a deck of 100 cards of which none can be alike (except land of course). This is the primary way I play (unless we draft) and it's an absolute blast.

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Magic is a fantastic game. The only things that prevents it being an everlasting staple of my gaming time are:

1. I have no real-life friends who are into it.

2. It's competitive enough in design that it tends to get my adrenalin up. I can only take so much of it before it gets me physically and mentally exhausted.
 
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entranced wrote:

So i bought a total of one box of packs from the Lor/Mor/Shm/Eve sets, and built myself a Cube. I've not spent a penny since.

I've been thinking about making a Lorwyn/Shadowmoor cube since I like tribal decks. With the shapeshifters, you could theoretically run 10+ tribes in the cube and still have interesting draft choices. I'm curious how this actually works in reality though.
 
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noisenet wrote:
I've been thinking about making a Lorwyn/Shadowmoor cube since I like tribal decks. With the shapeshifters, you could theoretically run 10+ tribes in the cube and still have interesting draft choices. I'm curious how this actually works in reality though.

Mine is likely not a great example as it quickly evolved to use any better cards i could get my hands on (namely from the free commons/uncommons boxes, donations). There are threads on mtgsalvation about making tribal cubes, that would be a good source of info.
 
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stagger lee wrote:
MTGSalvation i consider the BGG of Magic sites.


The only worthwhile subforums over there are Rumor Mills and Rulings. The strategy boards are worthless: the mods don't have the time to keep up with the meta (and their approach is based on hype and not evidence-based) so the Competitive section is filled with awful tier 3 decks or decks from the last season that didn't transition in the current one (seriously, who still plays UWr Planeswalkers, Polymorph or Turboland?), while some of the best decks in the format are often still relegated to Developping Competitive (Pyromancer's Ascension took forever to be promoted, and it's not even its own category, it's been lumped in with the awful Runeflare Trap deck). Random people just spout idiotic suggestions for cards to try in established deck, or redesign competitive decks into garbage decks because they don't know how to design a deck or have never actually played the matchups. Signal to noise ratio is near zero.
 
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XDarkAngelX wrote:
stagger lee wrote:
MTGSalvation i consider the BGG of Magic sites.


The only worthwhile subforums over there are Rumor Mills and Rulings. The strategy boards are worthless: the mods don't have the time to keep up with the meta (and their approach is based on hype and not evidence-based) so the Competitive section is filled with awful tier 3 decks or decks from the last season that didn't transition in the current one (seriously, who still plays UWr Planeswalkers, Polymorph or Turboland?), while some of the best decks in the format are often still relegated to Developping Competitive (Pyromancer's Ascension took forever to be promoted, and it's not even its own category, it's been lumped in with the awful Runeflare Trap deck). Random people just spout idiotic suggestions for cards to try in established deck, or redesign competitive decks into garbage decks because they don't know how to design a deck or have never actually played the matchups. Signal to noise ratio is near zero.


God Has Spoken!
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Wheelockian wrote:
I find the whole issue of aesthetics in gaming fascinating. To many it doesn't matter much. Some argue it shouldn't matter at all. But I put a relatively high premium on a game's visual attractiveness, almost as much as its game play.


Ah, I see, this is definitely not what I would have assumed, thank you for the clarification.

I think the newer style of Magic art is a preference call. I think it's uniformly higher quality, but that it is also more uniform period. As others have noted, some of the early quirky art cards would never be printed today...I'm thinking of Stasis



or even Browse (a Phil Foglio card for those who mentioned him earlier)



I, personally, also dislike the modern frames. They make the game look a little too futuristic for me; though they fit the darker artifact themed sets well.

Of course, my idea of aesthetics probably is a little different than most of the people posting here, as this is my idea of a perfectly designed game board, with similarly excellent components:

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