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Who Wins the War on Magic Players?


Due to the Magic of deadlines, this article and the next one you will read by me will all be submitted about the same time as you read my PTQ SD report. I will be heading out to Vegas on Friday for a weeklong trip to GAMA, a Trade Show for Gaming retailers, distributors, and manufacturers. Rest assured that when I get back I will write an article about some of the interesting new things I find at GAMA, at least the things I am allowed to talk about.


Today Iíd like to discuss an interesting industry ďfightĒ going on right now amongst the CCG world. Calling it a fight may be the wrong way to put it, as I expect some parties arenít even aware they are fighting, or are doing it accidentally at least.


The fight seems to be over the Magic playing community.


Its been a week since Duel Masters came out, and if you read my last report, you heard that at my last PTQ, both Duel Masters and Marvel were being shown by different people, with different responses.  But one thing was certain; both games threaten to cannibalize parts of the Magic market.


Marvelís fight for the Magic market is deliberate and calculated. The Marvel game is targeted at the same age group as Magic players, and the strategy and complexity is similar to Magic in several ways. In addition, they even claim their game fixes some of Magicís inherent flaws, like mana screw.


Now, I donít want to get off on a rant here, but why is mana screw the sudden hot topic of other TCGís and their players. It seems no matter what game I hear about or talk to someone about, I always hear ďWell, at least in this game you canít get mana screwed!Ē


Mana screw happens. Like the lung cancer you get after smoking that 10,000th cigarette, its an unpleasant after effect of the game YOU CHOSE TO PLAY, and somewhere in your brain you have already decided that those cigarettes are worth the occasional coughing up of a lung or eventual final painful cancer ridden death, so, enough. Enough harping on mana screw. If you donít like it, donít play Magic. But, like a chain smoker, we donít want to hear about how your way is better and how that will never happen to you because you play game X instead. We like our cigarettes, and we donít care about the problems with them, and Iím pretty sure if we took the time we could come up with at least thee major problems with your game that are equally as bad as mana screw.


Anyway, most games do not have mana screw, but they have other problems with randomness that EVERY card game has. In Lord of the Rings, you have hands where you just never draw your Fellowship side or Shadow side. In .hack, you get a bad Destiny draw during a critical fight. In Duel Masters, you draw all the wrong color cards to play against your opponent.


Itís a card drawing game. Randomness happens. If you want to play these games, you need to not only not hate it, but you need to embrace it as one of the interesting parts of the game, and relish in the fact that sometimes you too will get to be the top deck king of your local card chucking store.


Er, sorry, Dennis Miller took me over for a minute.


But this is all an aside. The main issue is that suddenly games are targeting Magicís Player base. Marvel even goes so far as to say it will be inviting professional Magic players to their first Pro Tour type event, according to an interview by Jeff Donais where he explains that top players from several different games will be invited. And a lot of players are showing a lot of interest.


Even more surprising, at least locally, is the transition of Magic to Duel Masters for several of our players. Players hear the game is ďlike Magic, but without mana screw,Ē and become interested. Duel Masters is flying off the shelves here, and its mostly kids and Magic players buying it right now.


So, who wins the war on the Magic playing community? Why, Magic does of course. Most of these transitions will be very temporary. Magic players are unlikely to stay in Duel Masters because it is not as complex as Magic, and the difference in how sets are made will frustrate a Magic player. Smaller quicker sets mean a fast changing environment, and most Magic players donít like that.  But thatís ok, Duel Masters isnít really meant to steal Magic players away. Quite the contrary, itís supposed to steal away Yu Gi Oh and Pokemon players, and eventually draw them into Magic, and in that regard I expect it to do a stellar job.


The people that move to Marvel from Magic will be one of two types: the Spike and the player who has a genuine interest in the new game. Itís my expectation that the Spike will move quickly in and out of the game. They will realize its just as hard to do well at Marvel as it is at Magic, and they have cards and investment in Magic, so will jump back over. The person with a genuine interest in playing a new game will be pretty happy with Marvel. Itís a very well put together game with good mechanics and ideas, and from what I have seen, a fairly balanced card pool. I donít think these people will quit Magic, but I think if they go into Marvel with open eyes, theyíll be pleasantly surprised and stick around.  Most of Marvelís real customer base will come from other TCGís and casual gamers I think. People who hop from game to game looking for something they like, refusing to play Magic because ďeveryone plays that stupid gameĒ will really find something to sink their teeth into with Marvel.


That leaves most of the Magic playersÖ playing Magic. For those of you concerned because all of your friends are suddenly building Duel Masters decks, or have pre-ordered 2 boxes of Marvel, donít worry. Those players arenít really going anywhere. In fact, maybe you should try doing the same. It never hurts to learn a new game, and I for one can say I have learned a bit more about my Magic playing through Duel Masters than I have from playing Magic.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or things you think I should write about, feel free to e-mail me at rayp at primenet dot com.


Have a good week!


E-mail me at

Have a great week!

Copyright 2001


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