Magic: The Gathering

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
The standard Magic card back. Its design is meant to represent the cover of a Spell Book.

Magic: The Gathering is a Collectible Card Game, produced in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast (eventually the owners of that other great geek game, Dungeons & Dragons). It was the first true Collectible Card Game,[1] the Genre Popularizer, and even today it is one of the most popular card games in the world.

At the core of each deck is a duel between god-like wizards - the players themselves, who are described in game parlance as "planeswalkers." These planeswalkers deploy a wide array of spells, creatures, artifacts, and enchantments (IE, cards) as they vie to dominate entire realms ("planes")—or, if you prefer, to reduce the opponent's life total to zero. Notable gameplay elements include:

  • The "Color Pie": Spells are divided into five different colors—White, Blue, Black, Red, and Green. Each represents a different philosophy or ideology with their own strengths and weaknesses, and there are complex interrelations between them. (For more on the colors, see our Useful Notes and Analysis pages.)
  • The Mana system: To play their cards, players need the correct amount and color of mana, gained from land cards. More-powerful spells cost lots of mana, and decks that try to stuff in spells of every color risk drawing the wrong lands and being unable to play any of their cards.
  • It's "collectible": You assemble decks out of your personal collection of cards. This gives you a chance to create a deck that no one else on earth has. (And of course, it encourages you to buy more cards.)

For a more complete analysis of gameplay (which is, of course, the heart of any game), we wrote a Useful Notes page for your enjoyment.

The game spawned several Video Game adaptations. Some of the more prominent ones:

  • Magic: the Gathering: A 1997 Card Battle Game by MicroProse. It contained both a free-dueling mode, allowing you to build decks and battle them against AI opponents, and a campaign mode, where you could travel across the land of Shandalar exploring, dueling enemies, collecting cards, and eventually battling a Big Bad.
  • Duels of the Planeswalkers: A more modern adaptation available on Xbox Live Arcade and Steam, originally released in 2009. It consists mainly of traditional Magic gameplay, in addition to a puzzle mode. A sequel (Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012) was released in June 2011, to coincide with a new Core Set release.
  • Magic: the Gathering: Tactics: A 2011 Turn-Based Strategy for PC and Play Station 3 inspired by Magic. The gameplay bears little to no resemblance, but much of the flavor is retained.
  • Magic: the Gathering Online: The official program for playing the game online.
  • ...And more.

The official Magic website can be found here.

Under the surface of the collectible card game that lies at the core of MtG lies an expansive storyline, with each set representing a period of history, a world in the multiverse, or a combination of the two. Magic: The Gathering contains the following media:

  • A collectible card game: The core of the franchise.
  • Comic books: Several miniseries of tie-in comics published by Wizards of the Coast and Dark Horse Comics.
  • Books: Several series of books in the storyline, with each cycle corresponding to an expansion set in the card game.
  • Video Games: A number of video games of varying quality.
  • Webcomics: Several webcomics that can be found on the MtG official site.

Tropes used in Magic: The Gathering include:

Due to length, the trope list for this work has been split across several pages:

  1. previous attempts mostly involved baseball cards