Magic: The Gathering
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 60+ cards, containing no more than 4 of a single card with the exception of basic land cards, either in person with printed cards or using a deck of virtual cards through the Internet-based Magic: The Gathering Online, on a smartphone or tablet, or 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.
Richard Garfield was a doctoral candidate at University of Pennsylvania when he first started to design the game. During his free time he worked with local volunteer playtesters to help refine the game. He had been brought on as an adjunct professor at Whitman College in 1991 when Peter Adkison (then CEO of Wizards of the Coast games company) first met with Garfield to discuss Garfield's new game RoboRally. Adkison saw the game as very promising, but decided that Wizards of the Coast lacked the resources to produce it at that point. He did like Garfield's ideas and mentioned that he was looking for a portable game that could be played in the downtime that frequently occurs at gaming conventions. Garfield returned and presented the general outline of the concept of a trading card game. Adkison immediately saw the potential of this idea and agreed to produce it.Magic: The Gathering underwent a general release on August 5, 1993.
While the game was simply called Magic through most of playtesting, when the game had to be officially named a lawyer informed them that the name Magic was too generic to be trademarked. Mana Clash was instead chosen to be the name used in the first solicitation of the game, however, everybody involved with the game continued to refer to it as Magic. After further consultation with the lawyer, it was decided to rename the game Magic: The Gathering, thus enabling the name to be trademarked.
A patent was granted to Wizards of the Coast in 1997 for "a novel method of game play and game components that in one embodiment are in the form of trading cards" that includes claims covering games whose rules include many of Magic's elements in combination, including concepts such as changing orientation of a game component to indicate use (referred to in the Magic and Vampire: The Eternal Struggle rules as "tapping") and constructing a deck by selecting cards from a larger pool. The patent has aroused criticism from some observers, who believe some of its claims to be invalid. In 2003, the patent was an element of a larger legal dispute between Wizards of the Coast and Nintendo, regarding trade secrets related to Nintendo's Pokémon Trading Card Game. The legal action was settled out of court, and its terms were not disclosed.
Magic was an immediate success for Wizards of the Coast. Early on they were even reluctant to advertise the game because they were unable to keep pace with existing demand. Initially Magic attracted many Dungeons & Dragons players, but the following included all types of other people as well. The success of the game quickly led to the creation of similar games by other companies as well as Wizards of the Coast themselves. Companion Games produced the Galactic Empires CCG (the first science fiction trading card game), which allowed players to pay for and design their own promotional cards, while TSR created the Spellfire game, which eventually included five editions in six languages, plus twelve expansion sets. Wizards of the Coast produced Jyhad (now called Vampire: The Eternal Struggle), a game about modern-day vampires. Other similar games included trading card games based on Star Trek and Star Wars. Magic is often cited as an example of a 1990s collecting fad, though the game's makers were able to overcome the bubble traditionally associated with collecting fads.
The success of the initial edition prompted a reissue later in 1993, along with expansions to the game. Arabian Nights was released as the first expansion in December 1993. New expansions and revisions of the base game ("Core Sets") have since been released on a regular basis, amounting to four releases a year. By the end of 1994, the game had printed over a billion cards. Until the release of Mirage in 1996, expansions were released on an irregular basis. Beginning in 2009 one revision of the core set and a set of three related expansions called a "block" were released every year. This system was revised in 2015, with the Core Set being eliminated and blocks now consisting of two sets, released biannually. While the essence of the game has always stayed the same, the rules of Magic have undergone three major revisions with the release of the Revised Edition in 1994, Classic Edition in 1999, and Magic 2010 in July 2009. With the release of the Eighth Edition in 2003, Magic also received a major visual redesign.
In 1996, Wizards of the Coast established the "Pro Tour", a circuit of tournaments where players can compete for sizeable cash prizes over the course of a single weekend-long tournament. In 2009 the top prize at a single tournament was US$40,000. Sanctioned through the DCI, the tournaments added an element of prestige to the game by virtue of the cash payouts and media coverage from within the community. For a brief period of time, ESPN2 televised the tournaments.
While unofficial methods of online play existed previously,[note 1] Magic Online ("MTGO" or "Modo"), an official online version of the game, was released in 2002. A new, updated version of Magic Online was released in April 2008.
In January 2014, Hasbro announced a franchise film deal with 20th Century Fox for Magic: The Gathering, saying that they wanted "to launch a massive franchise on the scale of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings." Simon Kinberg is serving as writer and producer for the project. In June 2014, Fox hired screenwriter Bryan Cogman to write the script for the film.