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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No Mystery to Magic

The Information Age has brought about many changes in our lives, even in the most unexpected areas.  Magic the Gathering is no exception and the Internet has deeply affected the experience of playing the game.  No, I'm not referring to the handful of digitized versions of MTG out there, I mean the collectible card game available at your favorite local comic shop. ;p

In the early days of Magic, a casual player (Planeswalker in the MTG mythos) would buy decks or packs of cards not always knowing what to expect.  Sure, there were a few things you heard about from a friend and were hoping to get, but in large part, each set of card pack held a bit more mystery than today.  With the advent of Internet spoilers, every card is exposed ahead of time.  It's a bit like peeking into your parents' closet to see your presents.  You can pretend to be surprised when you open them, but you've still robbed them of the chance to witness the real thing.

Why does this matter?  Well, if you decide to try out the "sealed deck" or "draft" formats of Magic, the difference is obvious.  The idea behind playing the aforementioned game types is to highlight strategy and adaptability.  When you have a "preview" of the full set, you get to make plans and contingency plans ahead of time.  Not only that, but it makes some players dissatisfied with the contents of their pack simply because they didnt' pull the hottest card in the set.  If they didn't see what they don't have, they might appreciate what they do and learn to use it.  Rather than facing variations of the same combos, we might see more creativity out there. I'm not saying it makes Magic any worse, but like peeking at presents, it dampens the experience.

Imagine the pulling this card without prior knowledge of it re-emerging from the previous Mirrodin block.  Now imagine your opponents' faces when you play it.  Don't get me wrong, I'm one of the multitudes of players scouring the Internet for the earliest clues of what's coming down the pipeline.  I know it's impossible to put the genie back in the bottle, but it's still nice to think of a time when people had to really think on their feet.

That being said, Scars of Mirrodin, the newest set of Magic is due out on October 1 and looks to be a dynamic and fresh set.  With new mechanics infect, metalwork, and proliferate, there are too many reasons to give this set a try.

- Ryan

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