What is Magic: The Gathering?
Magic: The Gathering Logo (c) Wizards of the Coast

April 1998

Magic: The Gathering is a battle of high strategy that begins before the game itself has even started. Two or more players make a deck of about 40-60 cards from the nearly 2,000 now available. Most of the cards are spells which do things like summon up weird and wonderful creatures with which to attack the opposing wizard(s); some are esoteric while others are straightforward, but what balances the game out is that each spell has a casting cost, which must be paid in mana. Mana comes mostly from Land cards which make up about a third of a typical deck, and comes in six types, Red, Green, Blue, Black, White and Colourless. Much of the gameís longevity comes from the fact that decks tend to focus around one to three colours, giving many possible combinations of colours and hence strategies. For each colour has its own strengths and weaknesses. Red is the colour of fire: direct damage or chaotic effects. Black is the colour of death: disease and nastiness typify its cards. White is Blackís nemesis: it contains cards that heal and protect, but is useless and at singling out creatures for direct damage. Blue is the colour of the sea: water and illusion are the main themes, including cards that counter others as soon as they are cast, and spells that steal other playerís artifacts and creatures. Green is the colour of nature and the forest: creatures are this colourís mainstay as well as spells that boost these creatureís strength and help produce more mana. Artifacts are ancient treasures and weapons left over from the wars that formed Dominia, the world that Magic is set in. They are neutral in colour and can therefore use any colour to be created including colourless mana, sometimes created by certain creatures or spells, or by the artifacts themselves.

None of this description gives any indication of the intensity and sheer fun that is involved a game of Magic: The Gathering. You really have to try it out for yourself to see whether youíll like it or not. But I bet that you will, everybody Iíve ever introduced to Magic to has liked it. So either go to your local comic shop and buy a double pack of the beginnerís set Portal, or download a demo of M: TG from Microprose direct, either way you may be about to enter a world of fantasy, adventure and strategy you will never want to leave.

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