Magic: The Gathering was one of the first collectible card games. It was created in 1993, and continues to be a popular game even today. Wizards of the Coast commonly releases one new "block" of cards every year, which usually consists of three "sets" containing 100-250 cards. They also release an update to the "core" set, which includes new cards and reprints of old cards with new art or updated rules. In the Stardard tournament format, the two most recent core sets, and two most recent blocks are legally playable. Other tournament formats allow four blocks and two base sets (Extended), cards released after 8th Edition and the Mirrodin set (Modern), and some allow almost all cards ever released (Legacy and Vintage). Many hobby stores that sell magic cards also have weekly magic tournaments, such as booster drafts and Friday Night Magic.
Magic the Gathering is a Worldwide hobby with millions playing the game in over 70 countries.
The translation from card game to video game has had mixed results. Magic: the Gathering Online offers an interesting conundrum in that you purchase cards online and have them online only to play, but can only get them sent to you if you have one card from every set. So a gamer must weigh the risks of sinking money into an online game that may not always be there, but has the ability to play with anyone anytime against owning physical cards that can degrade if not protected well, and not having as much of a chance to play with people. Magic Online has been very successful for Wizards of the Coast, and represents almost 40% of Magic: the Gathering's total revenue. There have been several console releases, including Magic the Gathering Battlemage, and Magic the Gathering: Battlegrounds, which have had limited success. Magic The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers was released for the Xbox 360 on the Xbox Live Arcade on June 17th, 2009. It has been well-received, being downloaded over 440,000 times with over 170,000 full game purchases.
- Each player begins with 20 life.
- The most basic type of card is land, which can be played for no cost, but only one can be played per turn.
- All other cards are played using mana, which is created by land. There are five basic land types, which correspond to the five colors of mana. Swamps/Black, Mountains/Red, Plains/White, Forests/Green, and Islands/Blue.
- Creatures and other spells can be used to damage your opponent, reducing their life total.
- A player wins when their opponent(s) are down to zero life, or have no more cards left in their deck. A player also loses if they are given 10 poison counters, such as from creatures with the Infect ability.
- Creatures: Cards that remain on the battlefield that can attack and defend. They may also have extra abilities that can be activated in specific ways.
- Sorcery and Instants: Cards that can do any number of things such as deal damage to another player or their creatures or allow you to gain life. These do not remain on the battlefield, and usually have a one-time effect.
- Enchantments: Cards that remain on the battlefield that are activated when a certain action is taken.
- Artifacts: Similar to enchantments, they are cards that remain on the battlefield. Sometimes they are activated with certain actions, other times they can be 'equipped' to creature cards giving them certain abilities.
- Planeswalkers: Cards that represent powerful characters from the storyline whom you summon to assist you. Planewalkers have powerful abilities, making almost all of these cards highly sought-after.
- Hand: Each player has a hand, which contains cards that he may play. The maximum hand size is seven cards, and any excess cards must be discarded at the end of a player's turn.
- Library: The deck of cards, face down, that the player has not yet drawn. If a player's library is depleted, they are out of the game.
- Battlefield: This contains all cards that are currently "in play."
- Graveyard: When cards must be discarded, creatures are destroyed, or sorceries and abilities are cast, they go to the graveyard. It is basically the player's discard pile.
- Exile: Previously known as "removed from the game," the Exile zone contains cards that have been specifically removed from the game and not placed in the graveyard.
Parts of a Turn
The turn consists of five phases, some with multiple steps to the phase. Some steps or phases require the player to do something, like draw a card during the draw step. Others may not require any action by the player, but may trigger effects on certain cards.
- Untap - the player may "untap" all cards that they currently have "tapped". Creatures become tapped when they attack, and many other cards may be tapped to activate abilities.
- Upkeep - no action required by the player, but many abilities are triggered during this step.
- Draw - the player must draw a card from his deck. If he has no cards left, he is out of the game.
First Main Phase
The player may play any available cards during this phase. The two main phases are the only time when you can cast sorceries, or put land, creatures, artifacts, and enchantments into play.
- Beginning of Combat - during this step, the attacking and defending players may cast instants or use abilities to prepare for combat.
- Declare Attackers - the attacking player must declare all creatures that he will be attacking with. Tapped creatures are not allowed to attack.
- Declare Blockers - similar to the declare attackers phase, except the defending player must declare all creatures that he will block with. Tapped creatures are not allowed to block.
- Combat Damage - all combat damage is dealt concurrently. Attacking creatures deal damage to blocking creatures, and blocking creatures deal damage to attacking creatures. Any unblocked creatures deal damage to the player, reducing his life total.
- End of Combat - similar to beginning of combat. No actions are required, but players may play instants and abilities may be triggered.
Second Main Phase
Identical to the first main phase. The player may cast sorceries, or play creatures, artifacts, and enchantments.
- End - this is the last chance players have to cast instants or activate abilities during the current player's turn.
- Cleanup - All effects that last until the "end of turn" wear off, and the current player's turn ends.