The Main Page of Pain Mage

by Jörg Zuther

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Punkt  WotC Magic?
Punkt  Rules
Punkt  Links
Item  Magic in Berlin
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WotC Magic? Magic:The Gathering (M:TG, here just called Magic) is a card game that was invented by External Link IconRichard Garfield. Usually, when a card game is played, one player provides one fixed set of cards the whole lot plays with. Further, most card games are old. Magic (first released August 1993) introduces a totally new class of card games, the so-called Collectible Card Games (CCGs) or Tradable Card Games (TCGs). The cards are released in limited and unlimited sets where some cards are rare, others uncommon and the rest common (like Baseball Cards and the like), and are sold in packs called starters and boosters containing a random mixture of cards from the according set. Well, not completely random: Usually, boosters contain one rare, three uncommon and eleven common cards, and no card is more than once in the pack.

Somit hat also jeder Spieler seinen eigenen, individuellen Vorrat an Karten. Spieler wählen aus ihrem Vorrat Karten aus, mit denen sie spielen möchten, und bauen daraus ein sogenanntes Deck zusammen. Um also Magic spielen zu können, benötigt man mindestens zwei Spieler, von denen jeder einen eigenen Kartenvorrat besitzt.

It is not difficult to find Magic players nowadays, since this game has received an extremely high degree of popularity:

In Magic, the players are mighty wizards and sorceresses trying to reduce their opponents initial 20 life points to zero (and, of course, to hold their own life total above this level). This sounds brutal, but its up to your own imagination to visualize a serious fight between mages or just some sort of sports to train their magical abilities.

There are two basically different classes of cards: Those that represent lands and those that represent spells. To cast a spell (this means, to put a card into play permanently or to play it for a solitary effect) needs some magical energy called mana. Every spell shows the type (there are different colors) and amount of mana one needs to cast the spell in the upper right corner. This mana is provided by the different types of lands (swamps, mountains, forests, planes and islands). Each turn, you can play at most one land such that usually there's only a slow growth of the mana base. More powerful spells that need more mana normally can't be played in the first few turns of a duel.

The different colours all have a different flavour: Black is the colour of death, disease and destruction, red the colour of chaos, fire and brute force, green the colour of nature, plants and beasts, white the colour of order, life and healing and blue the colour of mind, intrigue and water. The spells can be further divided into creatures (whose main purpose is to attack the opposing mage and protect their own master), artifacts (providing powerful effects), enchantments (to modify the course of gameplay or the properties of lands, creatures, artifacts and other enchantments), sorceries (one-shot spells with powerful effects that can only be played at certain occasions) and instants (one-shot spells that can be played at almost any time -even in reaction to your opponents dirty deeds).

Both deck building and gameplay are challenging and fun. It is difficult to build a deck that can take on any other deck regardless of its structure. There's a vast variety of viable strategies - land destruction (mana denial), hand destruction (discarding), fast efficient creature hordes (overrun the opponent in only a few turns), card recursion (most involving the graveyard - the pile of used or destroyed cards), all sorts of control (slow decks that ward off first onslaughts until they gain control over the game), all sorts of combos (decks that rely on managing to play a deadly card combo usually consisting of 2-3 cards) and many more. It is also possible to build theme decks, e.g. around creature types like zombies, goblins, elfs, soldiers and merfolk or featuring some unexpected subject like a jewel deck or an astronomy deck. Naturally, theme decks tend to be significantly weaker than general decks due to the thinner card base.

Note, however, that playing magic has its drawbacks. It is an expensive and time consuming hobby. Card prices exploded over the last two years (February 2003). If you want to build strong decks you need too buy many starters and boosters or have to buy wanted single cards from traders and other players. Single rare cards that are high in demand can cost you $20 and more! On the other hand, the variety of possible decks you can build growths exponentially with every booster you add to your collection.

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Even the basic magic rules are extensive and packed with details. Further, at a card base of over 5000 different cards, no simple ruleset can cover all interactions between all card combinations. Several rule overhauls were necessary, which is the main reason that many old cards needed new wordings. You find everything at the

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Magic in Berlin
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first published: 27.11.1997 Critics, comments, remarks, questions? Mail to © 1997 - 2006 Jörg Zuther
last modified: 03.09.2006