Hello again! Today's topic is the next in the series of challenges we are doing with our friend who does the Cool Factor 5 blog. Make sure that after you read this, you check him out. The link follows the post. Today's topic is a way we play a game that varies from the way the rules state.
Magic: The Gathering. Every gamer you know has an opinion on it. Love it or hate, it's probably the most profitable game out there and has a strong following that should ensure its persistence for years to come. But my first impression of the game wasn't great.
A skeptical start
I first encountered Magic as a teenager. A friend had a couple decks and we played a few games. It was interesting, the art was fun, but it really didn't capture my imagination. A few years later when I was managing a coffee shop, a couple fellow employees decided to try it out. There was a comic shop down the hall and we decided to each grab a starter deck, and then only expand when we all decided to pick up a booster to keep it fair. By this time, I had already written the game off as a "rich kid wins" game, but was willing to play around to pass an hour every now and then on slow nights. It was okay... I'm not sure we played more than a few times before getting bored.
So... the early experiences weren't stellar, and I made it a point to avoid the game. The people I knew who played spent a lot of cash on it, and that never seemed like a great idea. And so a decade passed.
A new beginning
Recently, my wife got hooked on the XBox 360 game Magic: Duels of the Planeswalkers. One thing led to another and pretty soon she harassed me into picking up a couple premade decks and play. Grumbling, I eventually conceded and tried it out. She and I have played fairly regularly for the last year now. This past year, we decided that since we mostly just played each other, we could come up with an ongoing game with some persistent elements that carried over from game to game... sort of a campaign.
For those of you unfamiliar with Magic, the premise is that you are planeswalking wizards fighting for supremacy. You win by either attacking your opponent and depleting his hit points (the basic game starts you with 20) or depleting their deck (referred to as your spellbook). Decks are usually 60 cards and assembled with cards that (ideally) synergize with one another. Our variant had us starting out as novice planeswalkers. We started with 10 hit points, a hand size of 5 (instead of 7) and had a pool of 90 random cards to assemble our decks. As we played, we both gained random cards and had the option to spend cards to increase hand size, hit point total and gain other benefits that extended beyond the present match. The mechanic we used was that we spent rare cards to gain these benefits. I'm not going to exhaustively go through the exact mechanical details, but we loved this format. In particular, it helped me learn more about the art of building decks.
Anyway... I hope this encourages you to look at the games you currently own and try something new. Angie and I had a blast with this, and I expect we may try a new campaign at some point in the future. What are some variants and house rules you have tried or would like to try for games you like? Tell us! And visit Cool Factor 5 to see what he's trying. And to give credit where credit is due, that guy gave us some ideas for how to structure our campaign. Thanks, Julian!