Students Discuss Card Game, “Magic: The Gathering”

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By: Katie Betz, betzka@mnstate.edu

A game created by a college student is being played by students at MSUM.

MSUM student Nick McCallum, a sophomore finance major, is one of four students who meet “randomly throughout the week” in the CMU to play “Magic: The Gathering.” The game has been around since 1993.

The other three players are Hannah Edwards, a sophomore art education major; Jes Kalina, a senior animation major; and Mo Smith, a senior film production major.

 “It’s a normal trading card game. You have cards and then you play with them against other people,” McCallum said.

To play “Magic,”a player needs a deck of at least 60 cards. The decks can be larger, but it must be small enough to shuffle. According to McCallum there are six different categories of cards: creatures, enchantments, sorceries, lands, instances and artifacts. McCallum explained that there are multiple formats of gameplay, but he and the rest of the groupprefer a version called “Commander”because it is good for socializing.

“I like to stick with Commander because it’s more like socializing with the other players and there’s politics involved where you make agreements with other people to try and stop a third person who’s doing really mean stuff and getting overpowered,” McCallum said.

In this version, each player must have about 100 different cards, and only a few can be duplicated, including a Commander”[ card which they can play at any time during the game. Each player will startwith 40 “life,” plus the life added on by certain cards. The game can be playedbetween individuals or pairs, and run anywhere from 20 minutes to four hours.

McCallum joined the play group at the beginning of this year. His brother got him into playing the game in June of 2017.

“We were just at Walmart one day and he said I should buy are made deck, and so I bought that. Then he brought me to a midnight event where there was a new set coming out and he showed me how to make a deck and that’s where I started playing,” McCallum said.

The event was a pre-release event in Champlin, Minnesota, where people could play the newest cards the week before they were released. 

“It just seems kind of fun to me, so I started playing it more often,” McCallum said.

Kalina has played “Magic” for about 12 years and Edwards has played for about two.

Playing “Magic” can get expensive. McCallum explained that each card can cost anywhere from one-cent to $25,000. The most expensive card is one of the first ones ever made, and McCallum thinks its power in gameplay is exaggerated.

If someone wants to start playing “Magic,” McCallum recommends that they begin with a pre-made deck because those decks are made by the people who created the game, so they have a good idea of which cards are good to start with.

“It’s important how the cards affect the other ones and the synergy between them,” McCallum said.

It is important to make sure that each card will work together in a deck. McCallum’s own deck has a lot of “mean” cards. He explained that in one of the decks he owns there are a few cards that will make one of the other players lose half of their “life” rounded up. Another “mean” card is a“creature” card which makes the player it attacks discard half their deck.

“We have a joke where we’ll say, ‘People hate fun,’ because they play mean (cards), but then they’re hypocrites because they play mean (cards),” McCallum said. 

McCallum said that his favorite part about “Magic” is socializing and playing against people with different styles.

“The way that people play sort of reflects how they are. Some people will play more aggressively. Whenever they’re playing, their decks will often show more aggressiveness,” McCallum said.

Kalina enjoys that “Magic” provides such an “open-ended” world, allowing people to find something they are interested in.

“I think that’s what makes it really special–that you get to enjoy that with people you like and it’s a different experience for each person who plays it, so it’s like we’re both playing two different games but at the same time,” Kalina said.   Edwards said that there are a wide variety of reasons people can enjoy “Magic,” such as the lore behind the game, the gameplay or the politics between different players.



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