I doubt anyone reading this post has not heard about Magic: The Gathering. This card game has been around since 1993. We began playing a couple of years later, and we stopped playing when we were old enough to realize they were just selling paper at outrageous prices.
I came back to it when I discovered “pauper”, a variation of the game where players can only play with really cheap cards. This post contains what I like and dislike of the game, and an introduction to Pauper Magic.
Fast and strategic
The game usually plays very fast, so you can go through several games in an hour. It works very well for those evenings you have nothing prepared, and allows for several players to compete against each other or in teams.
Very easy to learn the basics, but with deep strategic decisions. You make your deck of cards with a strategy in mind (damage, creatures, control, etc.) and you need to play each turn to develop that strategy. It is not a tactical game, a good turn will seldom make you win if your deck and play are not consistent.
Expensive and lazy
It is expensive. The competitive version of the game only allows you to play with cards published in the last year! A basic deck to begin is $20, but if you want to play in competitions at your local store and have any chance to win, then plan to spend $20 a month. A collection to play with a couple of your friends and make different decks to experiment and have fun, probably around $200.
Now they offer you lower prices if you buy them online. Now instead of paying for paper you can pay for small chunks of an online game…
The other famous drawback of Magic, at least for us roleplayers, is that it discourages game preparation. In order to play an adventure of most of roleplaying games you need at least a couple of hours preparing it. Some you get some of the heroics, magic and fluff of fantasy roleplaying games, with no time investment. I could say it kills the hobby, but the truth is that the players who sift to Magic were probably not really interested in roleplaying games.
In this version of the game you can only use the most common cards of the game. Most of people sell those cards in bulk packages because they have no use for them, but to a budget gamer they are still useful.
You can play online to Pauper Magic even cheaper, where there is an active community at PDCMagic.com. You can also read some of the internet guides to competitive pauper, like the one at MTGO Academy. Check those if you like competitive play but it goes beyond your budget.
This format is the only reason I have bought a few cards in the last 15 years. You can afford a few new cards, which add new tricks to your decks, and play casual games with your friends. The biggest budget no longer wins the game! 😉
Other card games
There are awesome card games, which are not collectible. If you try Magic but you don’t want a collectible game, try one of these. You buy the game and that’s it. Here are a couple which play fast, have a deal of strategy in them, come with nice illustrations, and are really fun:
- Race for the Galaxy: Build your galactic empire!
- Thunderstone: Recruit heroes and storm the dungeon!
I will post some reviews of these two games, because I like both a lot.