Twenty-two years ago, a publishing company called Wizards of the Coast invented something completely new. It was a trading card game called Magic: The Gathering. Magic started quietly and with little fanfare. Today, it is translated into ten languages and distributed worldwide to over 11 million people currently playing the game. In our local area, the numbers seem to be rising.
It’s cool enough that the cards are collectible and have amazing artwork, but you can choose cards from a pool of 12,000 to make your own custom deck to battle other players. The recommended ages for this game is 13+ – not because of graphic content, but because of complex mechanics and the mathematical requirements to do well. Magic: The Gathering has more in common with Hold’em Poker and Chess than it does with Ouija boards and role-playing.
How does the game work? Each player begins the game with 20 life or “hit points” and a deck of cards. The object of the game is to use your cards to lower your opponent’s life total to zero and you win. There are a variety of ways to do this, and because you draw new cards every turn, the strategies are always random and the final outcomes unpredictable. You have the right mix of intuition and luck to win.
On the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, a group of 20 young indigenous people are discovering and rediscovering the game for themselves. They call themselves the Pack Rat League.
When asked about the formation of this casual league, spokesperson [tweetable alt=””]Chase says, “Over summer we played volleyball every night. In the winter we needed something to do.[/tweetable] Jordan Jamieson got me playing Magic and it’s really cool. We don’t drink or drug or nothing and we can just hang.”
The only downside to the game is how expensive it is to begin. A simple beginner’s deck can cost around $30-$50 and the most competitive tournament decks can easily total over one thousand dollars. The rarest and most expensive card in Magic – the Black Lotus – sold for $27,302 on eBay in 2013. Yes, almost thirty thousand dollars for one single card.
New expansion sets to Magic are added quarterly and I had a chance to attend a pre-release sealed deck tournament Saturday. The event was organized by Dan Coelho of Brantford’s Alternate Icons Comic Shop and it was hosted at the Sydenham United Church in Brantford. A group named Brant Gamers Guild hosts a night for Magic and other games in the church arena every Saturday starting at 4 p.m.
A total of 34 players entered the tournament and some members of the New Credit Pack Rats joined me to compete. We lost miserably, but it was still a great time. Not only did we meet other Magic players, we got a glimpse of the brand new expansion, “Dragons of Tarkir,” which will be on store shelves Friday, March 27th 2015.