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Subject: It's not a game! It's a System! rss

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Ururam Tururam
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When I started playing Magic: the Gathering actively, in 1995, the recent game expansion was Homelands. When I decided to quit active playing, it was the time of Apocalypse (2001). Yet since then I play casually using the remains of my former collection.

Magic is not just a game. It is a multi-layer system of games.

The first layer is of course playing the actual M:tG games. You get your deck of cards (the cards represent magical spells and sources of magical energy), your opponent gets their own deck… and you both try to defeat each other by reducing the adversary life points, poisoning him or making him have no cards to draw any more. Since there is a huge variety of possible decks and each deck may give various outcomes due to its shuffling, the resulting spectrum of possible games is virtually infinite.

The second layer is deck-building. In order to play a game on the first level you need a deck! This level can be skipped by buying pre-constructed decks (ready to play), but it is much less fun. There are, in general two methods of building a deck: “draft” when players build their decks using a limited pool of cards trying to use them as effectively as possible; and “open” when players build their decks out of the cards they possess (with some limitation if necessary).

This leads us to the third level of the game – the collection building. And it is also a game! A real game for real money. There is not to many players worldwide who can just buy each and every card they want to have, since the number of different cards is huge, some of them are really scarce, and the initial distribution of cards among players is random due to the method the cards are being sold (in closed semi-random packages). Thus trading cards between players becomes essential. This makes Magic a game of economy on its deepest level!

Magic: the Gathering was my favorite game for six years. Then I realized that it consumes more and more of my time and money as new sets appear each few months (causing my mind to be exhausted analyzing new possible card interactions, and my wallet to be drained). Fortunately I don’t regret my time. I had spent it well. And for the money… If you are good enough playing the third level of the game you can get more when selling your collection than you invested in it!

Magic is a great gaming system. But it has three big drawbacks: it is very complicated, quite costly and really addicting.
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Urtur wrote:
The second layer is deck-building. In order to play a game on the first level you need a deck! This level can be skipped by buying pre-constructed decks (ready to play), but it is much less fun.
I think this is an angle that Wizards has been playing up in the last few years: The idea that precons can indeed be fun, and that you don't need to be a tournament player with the suitcase full of slabbed rares to enjoy the experience.

So I agree that high-level Magic can be a lot more of an "Active Gaming" experience than your average Puerto Rico player is ready for. But it is possible to spend $20 on a couple of precons and really enjoy yourself. I believe that within the Magic universe there is a game for every type of player. It's just that people automatically assume that even the newest noob needs a suitcase full of Power-Nine cards, which isn't the case.
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Brian McCormick
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I bought two Intro packs decks (M12) for $24 otd the other day. One is red/green. The other is white/blue. White/blue has flying, red/green has anti-flying ("Reach"?) Having been out of the Magic scene for - more or less - a decade, I was pleasantly surprised that two off-the-shelf decks would compliment one another so nicely. I'll be teaching my wife this game and picking up more pre-made decks in the future.

Oh, and nice review. thumbsup

(Edit)
 
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Tommy Occhipinti
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Aurendrosl wrote:
I bought two Intro packs decks (M12) for $24 otd the other day. One is red/green. The other is white/blue. White/blue has flying, red/green has anti-flying ("Reach"?) Having been out of the Magic scene for - more or less - a decade, I was pleasantly surprised that two off-the-shelf decks would compliment one another so nicely. I'll be teaching my wife this game and picking up more pre-made decks in the future.

Oh, and nice review. thumbsup

(Edit)


If you're interested in playing cheaply, but would also like to work some deck building into the mix, consider a draft cube. I wrote an article about how I made my core set cube recently, if you want to learn the idea.
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Brian McCormick
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delirimouse wrote:
If you're interested in playing cheaply, but would also like to work some deck building into the mix, consider a draft cube. I wrote an article about how I made my core set cube recently, if you want to learn the idea.

I've played cube before. While that's a cool system, it is also assumed that the cube-er knows a bit about deck construction, card balance, and card combos. My wife is a totally newbie to MtG, so I'mma start off with some pre-made decks and then perhaps (or perhaps not) one day build a cube.
 
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Urtur wrote:
When I started playing Magic: the Gathering actively, in 1995, the recent game expansion was Homelands. When I decided to quit active playing, it was the time of Apocalypse (2001). Yet since then I play casually using the remains of my former collection.



Almost exactly my case, started in 1994, quit collecting around Tempest late 1997. Pretty much all the players I knew quit buying new cards around that time as well. I wonder if it was just coincidence, or if there was a mass exodus of experienced players around that time? Everyone I know cited power creep for leaving (or in the case of 1997, no creep, broken powerful cards).
 
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Richard Hutnik
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Ok, I get it...

Magic has layers...
Ogres have layers...
Onions have layers...

Magic is either onions or ogres...
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Justus
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Funny this afternoon I wrote a big long reply to another thread saying that Magic is a system....and then I see you already wrote something similar!

Interesting to note that our definition of systems is slightly different -- you're theory is a bit more hierarchical where I consider it as a game system as a collection of possible games that use the same components. I'd say more but after spending an hour on that reply I'm a little braindead =)
 
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Nick Short
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Justus, Bruno Faidutti expressed the same idea about Magic in his Ideal Game Library:

Bruno Faidutti wrote:
Magic is not a game, it's an infinity of different games bound in one. Each card deck is unique, and each [pairing] of fighting decks is unique.
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