Why Magic?

If all goes well, this article (and along with it, this column) is one of the first things you will be reading on Pojo.com's newly formed Magic: The Gathering website. Chances are high that most of you who read this article will be visitors from one of Pojo's other sites (such as Pokemon) who dropped in to check it out and maybe to see what this Magic game is all about. If so, welcome!

Since I intend to be a regular presence on this website for quite a long period of time (read: until they drag my decaying corpse away from the keyboard to give it a proper burial) I suppose I should begin by introducing you to my column, right?

(motions to column)

Readers, this my column. Column, these are my readers.

Now that introductions are out of the way, I'll start by addressing the question that is probably on many of your minds, especially if you're new to Magic or haven't even started playing. Maybe you know absolutely nothing about it. That's cool; that's what I'm here for. But there's a question that, for many of you, needs to be addressed before I try to tell you anything else:

"Why should I play Magic over Pokemon or whatever TCG I normally play?"

Good question. Hopefully I have a good answer.

The most obvious answer is that, of all the little foil packages of cards that you can currently acquire in exchange for pictures of dead presidents, Magic offers without a doubt the most stable value for your money. When you buy a booster of Magic cards, you are buying more than just an assortment of little cardboard rectangles with pretty pictures on them. You are buying a guarantee that these cards will continue to offer you entertainment for a substantial length of time. You are buying a guarantee that there will be others who share your enjoyment of these cards, and that there will be a reliable governing body to regulate the environment in which these cards are played. You are buying a guarantee that the people involved in the design in production of these cards were probably not smoking crack. In short, you are buying a heck of a lot more than you would with most other games on the market, including Pokemon.

Do not get me wrong. Many of the TCGs out there are excellent, and offer good value for their money. I still enjoy playing Pokemon and buying the cards, and I will continue to do both as long as the cards are printed, but even I have to admit that Pokemon has seen its prime. Certain things about the game need to be fixed, and I don't see that happening soon, unfortunately. So for the time being, I have chosen to be significantly more active in Magic than I am in Pokemon, at least as far as actual playing of the game goes. While I certainly don't encourage anyone to give up a game that they enjoy, I believe that for many people whose TCG of choice seems to be slumping, Magic can offer a reprieve and a way to play cards in a truly competitive, fun environment.

Some other reasons why Magic, for better or for worse, beats the crap out of just about everything else out there:

1.      Greater depth.

Pokemon is an extremely one-dimensional game, with almost every deck in existence seeking to win by drawing all six of its prizes. Moltres Stall is just about the only solid deck that has ever sought to win solely by depleting its opponent's library, and even that deck seems to have fallen out of favor of late. While it is true that there are multiple ways in which the various decks go about bashing their opponents' heads in, they all boil down to this same principle sooner or later. While I can't speak for most of the other TCGs out there, I suspect that they would find it hard to compare to Magic in this regard as well.

In Pokemon, if your opponent has 1 prize remaining and you have 6, it means you are probably dead. In Magic, if you are at 3 life and your opponent is at 20 life, it could mean you are dead. But it could also mean that next turn you will cast Wrath of God, then sit behind a wall of counterspells while your opponent struggles to recover his creature base. It could also mean that your next turn will be longer than usual and will end with you saying something along the lines of "Stroke of Genius you for a lot." It could mean a lot of different things, and that's one of the things that makes Magic so nifty.

2.      Card pool.

There is no argument that Magic possesses just about the largest card pool of any TCG in existence. Despite what some people would tell you, this is hugely positive thing. Having a lot of cards means much more than just having a lot of cards-- it tends to mean having a lot of good cards, and this means in turn that there are a lot of viable strategies in almost any given environment.

On a related note, the increased size of the card pool means that the good cards are much more evenly distributed among the various rarities. Ever tried to make an all-common deck in Pokemon? Didn't get very far, did you? In Magic, the concept of decent all-common decks is not unheard of. The decks in question might not be fiercely competitive, but every now and then one comes along that just might be able to give tournament decks a run for their money. While it's certainly true that the best rares are far superior to the best commons, many commons are no slouches (Rancor anyone?) and almost no deck would be complete without a number of common cards.

I hope to discuss the issue of rarity in a future article, so hold this thought.

3.      Bannings, restrictions, and varied formats.

Wonder of wonders, there are people at the DCI who know what is good for the Magic environment!!! Wonder of wonders, they admit that certain cards need to be banned or restricted and that formats should be created in which older sets are phased out!!! And-- OH YES-- THEY HAVE THE POWER TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT BESIDES STANDING AROUND AND SCRATCHING THEMSELVES!!!

If the sarcasm in the preceding paragraph was lost on you, then you have never played a game of Pokemon in your life.

Here, then, we have given three excellent reasons why Magic is an enormous beating and why you should begin pumping your money into it as soon as possible. On top of this, there has probably never been a better time for a beginner to enter Magic than right now. The Invasion block has arrived, bringing with it an incredible amount of fun new cards and banishing the broken Urza Block to the realms of older formats. I know that I have never had more fun playing the game than I have had in the past few months, and I know many people who feel the same way.

Give it a try. Buy some cards, read the rules, and try playing against some friends. I think you'll like it.

Tune in here next week for more randomness.