Magic: The Gathering enchants card enthusiasts

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“Magic is not Yu-Gi-Oh,” first-year Tania Russell said upon having a friend comment on the cards spread out before her, keeping her hand close to her chest to avoid any sort of cheating. “It’s so much deeper than that.”

Most card enthusiasts can recall a time when a Charizard may have been the most powerful card in their arsenal or when a Blue Eyes White Dragon could almost guarantee victory, but now the tide has changed and a new game has taken the New College campus by storm. Originating in 1995, before both Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokémon debuted, Magic: The Gathering has slowly been garnering a solid fanbase of about 6 million people, according to its website. The game itself is relatively simple. Each deck must contain a minimum of sixty cards, compiling of a variety of creatures, sorceries and lands. Players are wizards whose object in the game is to knock their opponent’s life points down to zero by casting spells and summoning monsters.

“For me [in comparison to Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh], my biggest problem is that with Yu-Gi-Oh, there’s no pacing–you just play your cards all at once and boom! you’re dead,” second-year James Eveland said. “With Pokémon, I don’t have so much of a problem with, but I get sick of the universe it’s set in.”

On Sept. 24, a pack of about fifteen New College students ventured to The Dark Side, a comic book and game shop on North Beneva Road for the pre-release of a new series of cards called Innistrad. The official release followed six days later on Sept 30.

“I went because it sounded like it would be a lot of fun,” first-year Zachary “Zack” Altman said. “It was a bunch of geeks playing Magic with forty cards, which is smaller than a usual deck, but we were playing with the packs handed out only at the tournament. I enjoyed it so much, but it felt like it would never end. We were there from 9:00 to 4:00, like seven hours.”

Starting to break into the Magic crowd is a relatively inexpensive undertaking. A starter deck for beginners is about $20 and from there, each pack is around $4. Alpha sets, however, which are described by Altman as being “the original cards,” can go for hundreds of dollars.

“I would say that I spend about 10 hours a week playing Magic,” Altman added. “What really got me into it was the fact that you can play dragon cards, no lie. My friend came up to me and was like, ‘This game plays with dragons,’ and I was like, ‘Yes!’”

The Magic Club, which traditionally takes place in the Gender and Diversity Center (GDC) or sometimes in HCL 4 at 8:00 p.m. on Saturdays attracts about thirty “unique players” a meeting.

“It’s a typical meeting,” Eveland said. “We just sit around and play. Sometimes we have workshops and special events. There’s no leadership roles or anything; we’re a collective unite.”

Eveland also added that anybody interested in joining Magic Club can e-mail him so that they can be put on the official mailing list for updates on where the club will be held.

“I enjoy the strategy, I enjoy the reactions on people’s faces when they’re in the thick of the game,” Russell said. “My favorite card is Traproot-Kami. It  is a  defender, meaning it can’t attack, it can just block creatures that attack you and creatures that fly. It’s just a very fun game. For some reason, it’s just really addicting.”

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