Magic the Gathering has got to be hot on the heels of Star Trek for the honour of being “Geekiest Thing in the World.” Or, indeed “…in the Galaxy” for Star Trek fans.
But I have been spending a little time playing the online version of the game, so I guess it deserves a mention here. It gives me a good incentive to write some more blog posts so that this one can get buried beneath them in the archives.
First, though, just so you have an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s a picture:
That’s the online version of the game. Magic the Gathering, or MTG for short, started life as a real-life trading card based game. Players play with pre-constructed decks of cards from their collections, with cards representing magic spells in a fantasy world. The aim is to reduce your opponent’s life-total from a start value of 20 points down to 0 by casting spells and attacking with creature cards.
Cleverly, the MTG company sell cards in sealed packets, so the only way to buy specific cards is to trade them with other players who were fortunate enough to open packets containing the cards that you wanted. Or you can buy more packets, of course.
Some cards are rarer than others. Some cards are more in demand than others. Single cards can change hands for large three figure sums of money if they are from the vintage sets. Even newer cards can go for up to Â£10 or Â£20 each. And when you think that the minimum starting deck size is 60 cards - you can do the maths yourself.
I was first introduced to the game in its real-life format by a colleague at an investment bank I worked for. It made for a nice escape from mundane banking reality on a lunch time and provided for a bit of intellectual stimulation and competition, too.
Since moving on, aside from attending the odd pre-release event, I’ve had to make do with the online version of the game. Which just so happens to be a perfect recreation of the real thing, right down to providing rooms for trading cards with fellow players. They have even recreated having to pay real money for cards - Doh!
Luckily, MTG doesn’t seem to have turned into an unhealthy obsession for me. More a part-time distraction. I pity the poor chap who just beat me online with his deck containing that I saw:
- 2 x Pernicious Deed worth approx $90 each
- 3 x dragons worth $5 or so each
- 1 x Gifts Ungiven worth $4
- 2 x Dual Lands worth $5 each (probably another 6 in his deck with them)
- and various other cards in the $2-$3 range
He must have wondered why I bothered turning up!