Do You Believe in Magic?
How Calgary plays the world’s most popular card game.
By Lexi Wright
CORRECTION: In our October 8, 2015 print edition of The Reflector, we wrongfully put the incorrect story under this headline. We apologize for any confusion.
Mulligan. Mana. Tap. Attack. Win. Defeat.
These are some of the terms you may come across if you ever visit a Magic: The Gathering event. On Sept. 27th, 2015, approximately 140 people gathered around at Broken City, one of YYC’s trendiest bars, to celebrate the pre-release of a new set of cards from the increasingly popular trading card game known as Magic: The Gathering.
The premise of the game is simple: players collect and buy cards to make a deck which they can then use to adapt to their own strategies and defeat their opponents in casual or competitive events. There are thousands upon thousands of deck building combinations and techniques, and each card is catered to specific colour: blue, red, green, black, or white. Each colour has its own unique properties and can work differently depending on the tactics used by individual players. Blue for example, relies on manipulating opponents whereas red revolves around attacking at the earliest opportunity.
The Reflector spoke to Robbie Schmidt, a pro-tournament level Magic player who has been playing Magic: the Gathering for roughly fourteen years.
“The game has a lot of theory to it, it’s like chess and poker. So there are elements in the game where you have strategy that changes every turn or every move your opponent makes. Being good at math, breaking down complex equations-its problem solving”
A unique thing about Magic: the Gathering is that it caters to people of all ages and genders. Kids aged 12 to elders aged 65 could be observed at the pre-release shuffling their cards before a match and working out a successful deck.
“[Calgary’s] Magic scene is huge. It’s really good, I think it’s the biggest in Canada”says Brian Durkee, who also attended the Sept. 27 pre-release. “It’s super peppy, there are a lot of people who come out [to play] and it’s lot of fun”he tells the Reflector.
While many Magic: the Gathering events in Calgary are predominantly male, female player Jennifer Crotts, says that it isn’t as intimidating as it looks.
“It’s like 90% men, but being such a competitive environment, I think that generally speaking, it attracts more males. It’s just the style of game that it is”. While Magic: the Gathering can be played at a tournament level, it is also heavily played by everyday individuals looking for a social time and lots of casual fun.
“Some of the events you go to are so competitive with big prizes, and then some of the things you go to are just fun get-togethers. It’s a really wide range, but basically whatever you’re looking for, you can find,”says Crotts. Magic: the Gathering first came about in 1993, and it won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Part of what has made the game so successful is the addition and constant rotation of new cards. Those players who strictly collect cards can use pre-release events to get a first-hand look at the newest set, and those who play can get a feel for the games latest strategy. While some cards range from as little as twenty-five cents, there have been cards sold around the globe for as high as $15,000. The rarity of the card depends greatly on the time it was released, with Alpha and Beta being the earliest released sets.
“Over the course of three years, I probably made about $80,000 [playing Magic: the Gathering]”Jared Maguire tells the Reflector, a pro Magic: the Gathering player who was rated in the top 100 players in the world. “My advice for new players would be to try and not spend that much money on cards, and keep in mind that winning is good but if you’re not having fun, you would be better off getting another job. Because if you are treating Magic like a job, the hourly wage is pretty bad.””.There is definitely no shortage of Magic: the Gathering events in Calgary, and regardless of whether you are a new or returning player, going to such events can not only be a great way to meet professional players, but it can also enhance your social circle and lead to fantastic Magic memories.