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Magic: The Gathering
Magic the gathering-card back.jpg
Magic: The Gathering's card back design
Designer Richard Garfield
Publisher Wizards of the Coast
Players 2 or more players
Age range 13+
Random chance Some (order of cards drawn, various card abilities)

Magic: The Gathering (MTG; also known as Magic) is a trading card game created by Richard Garfield.

First published in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast, Magic was the first trading card game produced and it continues to thrive, with approximately twenty million players as of 2015.Magic can be played by two or more players in various formats, the most common of which uses a deck of at least 60 cards, containing no more than four of a single card, with some exceptions. Magic is played in person with printed cards, or using a deck of virtual cards through the Internet-based Magic: The Gathering Online, or on a smartphone or tablet, or through other programs.

Each game represents a battle between wizards known as "planeswalkers", who employ spells, artifacts, and creatures depicted on individual Magic cards to defeat their opponents. Although the original concept of the game drew heavily from the motifs of traditional fantasy role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, the gameplay of Magic bears little similarity to pencil-and-paper adventure games, while having substantially more cards and more complex rules than many other card games.

New cards are released on a regular basis through expansion sets. An organized tournament system played at an international level and a worldwide community of professional Magic players has developed, as well as a substantial secondary market for Magic cards. Certain Magic cards can be valuable due to their rarity and utility in game play, with prices ranging from a few cents to thousands of dollars.

  • 1994: Mensa Select Award winner
  • 1994: Origins Awards for Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Board game of 1993 and Best Graphic Presentation of a Board game of 1993
  • 1994: Origins Award for the Legends expansion as Best Game Accessory
  • 1995: Deutscher Spiele Preis special award for new game mechanics
  • 1995: Italian Gaming Society Gioco dell'Anno award winner
  • 1996: Super As d'Or award for "Best New Game Concept and Genre Introduced in France"
  • 1997: InQuest Fan Award for Best CCG Expansion for the Weatherlight expansion
  • 1998: Origins Award for the Urza's Saga expansion as Collectible Card Game Expansion of the Year
  • 1999: Inducted alongside Richard Garfield into the Origins Hall of Fame
  • 2003: Games Magazine selected Magic for its Games Hall of Fame
  • 2005: Origins Award for the Ravnica: City of Guilds expansion as Collectible Card Game Expansion of the Year
  • 2009: Origins Award for the Shards of Alara expansion as Collectible Card Game Expansion of the Year
  • 2012: Origins Award for the Innistrad expansion as Collectible Card Game Expansion of the Year
  • 2015: Origins Award for the Khans of Tarkir expansion as Best Collectible Card Game of the Year
  • White is the color of order, equality, righteousness, healing, law, community, peace, and light. White's strengths include a roster of smaller creatures, as well as the ability to create creature tokens, both of which are strong collectively; protecting and enhancing those creatures with enchantments; increasing one's life points; preventing damage to creatures or players; imposing restrictions on players; disabling the capabilities of opposing creatures; and powerful spells that "equalize" the playing field by destroying all cards of a given type. White creatures are renowned for their defense-favoring abilities, many of which include "Protection" and "Vigilance". White magic opposes artificial fabrication, this being represented by many of its spells that can destroy artifacts and enchantments. White's weaknesses include the fact that many of its spells favor smaller creatures; its passive playing style in which it relies on an opponent's actions to maximize its own effects; and the nature of its most powerful spells that usually affect all players equally—including the casting player.
  • Blue is the color of intellect, reason, illusion, logic, knowledge, manipulation, and trickery, as well as the classical elements of air and water. Blue's strengths include allowing a player to draw additional cards; permanently taking control of an opponent's cards; returning cards from the battlefield to their owner's hand; forcing cards to go directly from a player's deck to their graveyard; and negating spells before they are successfully cast. Blue's creatures tend to be weaker than those of the other colors, but commonly have abilities which make them difficult to block, "Flying" being the most common evasive ability among Blue creatures. Blue's power of extra-sensory perception is represented by the ability "Scry", which allows the player to look at the top cards of his or her deck and choose whether he or she will draw those cards the subsequent turns. Since Blue magic revolves around advancement and technology, it has the highest number of cards having beneficial interactions with artifacts. Blue's weaknesses include its inability to destroy spells already placed on the field, having them returned to the hand instead; the fixation of negating and delaying enemy actions, while itself lacking an aggressive plan; and the way it prolongs the game and victory, thus allowing the opponent a possibility for a sudden comeback.
  • Black is the color of power, ambition, death, illness, corruption, selfishness, amorality, and sacrifice. It is not necessarily evil, though many of its cards refer directly or indirectly to this concept. Black's strengths include the ability to destroy creatures instantly; forcing players to discard cards from their hand; decreasing a player's life while you usually gain that same amount lost; evasive abilities are common among Black creatures; and resurrecting creatures from a player's graveyard. Furthermore, because Black seeks to win at all costs, it has limited access to many abilities or effects that are normally available only to one of the other colors; but these abilities often require large sacrifices of life totals, creatures, cards in hand, cards in library, and other difficult-to-replace resources. One of the most notable abilities among Black creatures is "Deathtouch", which always causes creatures damaged by those possessing this ability to be sent to the graveyard, regardless of the damage amount assigned. Black's main weaknesses include an almost complete inability to deal with enchantments and artifacts; the tendency to inflict itself with severe negative effects in order to defeat the opponent; the way in which it overly relies on cards inside the graveyards; and difficulties in removing other Black creatures.
  • Red is the color of freedom, chaos, passion, creativity, impulse, fury, warfare, lightning, the classical element of fire, and the abiotic geological aspects of the classical element earth. Red's strengths include the ability to directly damage creatures or players; destroying opposing lands and artifacts; and sacrificing permanent resources for temporary but high-profit power. Red has a wide array of creatures, but (with the exception of late-game powerhouses, such as Red's notable dragons) most tend to be defensively weak, rendering them easier to destroy. As a trade-off, some of these weaker creatures have the ability to temporarily raise their offense value, leaving their defense value unaffected; many other Red spells focus on this concept of glass cannon offense. Much like Blue, Red explores the element of trickery, this being represented by spells that are able to temporarily steal an opponent's creatures; divert or copy other spells; and those involving random chance. In terms of keyword abilities, Red tends to focus on quickness and speed, this being represented by the popular abilities "Haste" and "First Strike". Red's weaknesses include its inability to destroy enchantments; the self-destructive, single-use nature of many of its spells; the overall lack of defense value or toughness of its creatures; and the way in which it trades early-game speed and vulnerability for late-game staying power, in which it may not last that long.
  • Green is the color of life, nature, evolution/adaptability, ecology, interdependence, instinct, and indulgence. Green's strengths are on the battlefield, usually winning by means of combat with creatures, of which it has a broad menagerie. These tend to be notably strong at a low mana cost and have abilities that make them more survivable, the two most common being "Regenerate" and "Hexproof". Many of Green's creatures also possess the ability "Trample", which allows the attacking creature to deal combat damage to an opponent even if blocked by a weaker creature. Recurring elements among Green spells include increasing a creature's offense and defense value, temporarily or permanently; forcing two or more creature to fight with each other head-on; the opposition against creatures with "Flying"; and the ability to create creature tokens. Green spells often focus on growth, this being represented by gaining life points; generating extra quantities of mana; and directly obtaining land cards, thus allowing the player to cast their more expensive spells quicker than usual. Since Green magic revolves around natural order, many of its spells can destroy opposing artifacts and enchantments; notably, Green has the fewest cards having beneficial interactions with artifacts. Green's weaknesses include its inability to prevent non-combat-related attacks, namely actions that affect the hand, library, or graveyard; its one-track method of destroying enemy creatures through combat only; and its trouble stopping attacking creatures that have bypassed Green's own powerful creatures, beyond them being very little protection left.
  • Multi-color cards were introduced in the Legends set and typically use a gold frame to distinguish them from mono-color cards. These cards require mana from two or more different colors to be played and count as belonging to each of the colors used to play them. Multi-color cards typically combine the philosophy and mechanics of all the colors used in the spell's cost, and tend to be proportionally more powerful compared to single-color or hybrid cards, as requiring multiple colors of mana makes them harder to cast. More recently, two-color "hybrid" cards were introduced in the Ravnica set, and appeared extensively throughout the Shadowmoor and Eventide sets. Hybrid cards are distinguished by a gradient frame with those two colors, and can be paid with either of the card's colors; for instance, a card with two hybrid-red/white icons can be cast using two red mana, two white mana, or one of each. Several sets have made multi-colored cards a theme, including Invasion, Shards of Alara, both Ravnica blocks and others. Core sets do not typically include multi-color cards in them, although the Core 2013 set was the first to do so.
  • Colorless or Devoid cards belong to no color, and most often appear in the form of Lands, Artifacts, or cards related to the Eldrazi creature type. Unlike the five colors, Colorless cards do not have a specific personality or style of play. Sometimes, colorless cards will imitate the mechanics of a particular color, though in a less-efficient manner than a similar colored card. Often colorless cards are linked to one or more colors via their abilities, through story references, or through flavor text on the cards themselves. With the Rise of the Eldrazi expansion, however, colorless cards that are neither artifacts nor lands have been introduced for the first time in larger quantities. These cards have been more recently featured in the Battle for Zendikar set that was released in 2015.
  • Block Constructed formats are defined by the cycle of three sets of cards in a given block. For example, the Ravnica block format consists of Ravnica: City of Guilds, Guildpact, and Dissension. Only cards that were printed in one of the sets in the appropriate block can be used in these formats.
  • Standard, formerly known as Type 2, contains anywhere from five to eight sets. The Standard card pool undergoes a "rotation" once a year, usually in October, when older sets rotate out of the format and the fall set is released. As of July 14, 2017, the Standard card pool consists of Battle for Zendikar, Oath of the Gatewatch, Shadows over Innistrad, Eldritch Moon, Kaladesh, Aether Revolt, Amonkhet, and Hour of Devastation, with 5 cards banned. For the history of Standard, see Timeline of Magic: the Gathering Standard (Type II).
  • Modern is a format that was first played at the Magic Online 2011 Community Cup, a response to players' desire for a non-rotating format that is more accessible to newer players. Wizards of the Coast introduced Modern as a legal format on August 12, 2011, and saw its first paper magic play at Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011. Modern consists of every block and core set using the modern card frame since the release of 8th Edition to the present. Certain cards that released in products that are not standard legal such as Planechase or Commander series cards, are not legal in Modern, even if they have the modern card frame.
  • Legacy Is a format that allows every card ever printed except the Legacy banned list. It is distinguished from Vintage in that certain cards are banned for power reasons.
  • Vintage, previously known as Type 1, is an Eternal format. The only banned cards in Vintage are cards using the "ante" mechanic and a few other cards that the DCI considers inappropriate for competitive Magic. Because of the expense in acquiring the scarce old cards to play competitive Vintage, some unsanctioned Vintage tournaments permit players to proxy a certain number of cards. Currently, the only format with a Restricted List is Vintage. Proxy cards are forbidden in DCI-sanctioned tournaments, except as replacements for damaged cards when created by the event judge.
  • Commander (originally known as Elder Dragon Highlander or EDH) is a casual format, but can be played competitively. In this format each player constructs a 100 singleton deck that has a legendary creature that acts as a commander. The deck construction is limited to the colors that are represented by the chosen commander and there cannot be two or more cards with the same name with the exception of basic lands. The legendary creature chosen as commander is kept in a special "command zone" and may be cast at any time you can afford to cast the creature. If the commander card would enter any zone other than the battlefield from anywhere, its owner has the choice to return that card to the "command zone", where it can be cast again for an additional two generic mana to its regular cost. The banned list and unique rules are governed by an independent body (not by Wizards of the Coast).
  • Sealed Deck tournaments give each player six 15-card booster packs from which to build his or her deck.
  • Booster Draft is usually played with eight players. The players are seated around a table and each player is given three booster packs. Each player opens a pack, selects a card from it, and passes the remaining cards to the next player. Each player then selects one of the remaining cards from the pack he or she just received, and passes the remaining cards again. This continues until all of the cards are depleted. Players pass left for the first and third packs, and right for the second. Players then build decks out of any of the cards that they selected during the drafting. Talking, signaling, and showing cards is forbidden during the drafting process, except for double faced cards from the Innistrad and Shadows over Innistrad blocks and "Magic Origins", which cannot be hidden as each side of the physical card has a spell printed on it.
  • The majority of cards are sold in booster packs, which contain fifteen cards normally divided into four rarities, which can be differentiated by the color of the expansion symbol. A fifteen-card Booster Pack will typically contain one rare (gold), three uncommons (silver), ten commons (black), and one basic land (colored black, as commons). Sets prior to Shards of Alara contained eleven commons instead of a basic land.
  • Four to five Intro Packs are released with each set. An Intro Pack is a pre-constructed deck aimed at newcomers that highlights one of the set's mechanical themes. It comes with two booster packs from that set, a rulebook, and a fixed selection of cards, including one foil rare. This product will be replaced with Planeswalker Decks in Kaladesh, where there will be two 60 card preconstructed decks featuring a planeswalker from the set.
  • Each set from Mirrodin Besieged to Gatecrash featured two Event Decks, which are pre-constructed decks designed as an introduction to tournament play. Beginning with Dragon's Maze, each set featured only one Event Deck. However, event decks were discontinued after the set "Battle for Zendikar".
  • Previously, cards were also sold in Tournament Packs typically containing three rares, ten uncommons, thirty-two commons, and thirty basic lands. Tournament Packs were discontinued after Shards of Alara.
  • Baldwin & Waters (1998). The Art of Magic: A Fantasy of World Building and the Art of the Rath Cycle. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast. ISBN . 
  • Flores, Michael J. (2006). Deckade: 10 Years of Decks, Thoughts and Theory. New York: ISBN . 
  • Moursund, Beth (2002). The Complete Encyclopedia of Magic: The Gathering. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN . 


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