It was over 20 years ago that Richard Garfield introduced Magic: The Gathering (MGT) to the world. While many thought that trading card games would never become mainstream, according to the ICV2 magazine, there are now over 12 million players of these games worldwide, with countless new decks, cards, fanfiction, short stories, novels, and other forms of media appearing constantly.
Over the past two decades, there have been a number of iconic moments that would not only change MGT itself, but also the world of fantasy gaming as a whole. Here is a closer look at just a few of the most iconic moments and how they affected trading card games forever.
Magic: the Gathering, The Basics
While the game can now be played across a number of mediums, such as on gaming consoles, MGT was originally played with physical gaming cards that could be traded and collected.
In its original format, two or more players would create decks and then compete in a battle. Known as planeswalkers, the players begin with 20 life points and the goal is to remove all of the life points from the opposing player. Every card has slightly different attributes with a wide array of character cards, magic cards, and much more. The game is a mixture of both luck and skill and players have discovered a nearly infinite amount of strategies and variations to play with.
Iconic Moments of the Initial Years
MGT was received like many other successful trading card games: warmly by a handful of enthusiasts, but without significant critical acclaim for a number of years. In 1993, the same year in which the game hit stores, the first tournament was played at GenCon. Also known as dueling, this first tournament collected a small but highly interested group of supporters.
Spreading of the Game
By the end of the 1990s, the game had taken off around the world. Not only had the original creators helped to build multiple base decks and expansion packs, players had come to devise powerful new tactics, and had further spurred interest online with their own fanfiction and art. What truly put MGT on the world’s stage was the Pro Tour, which crowned eventual MGT Hall of Famer Bob Maher as its first ever champion. Videos of his win spread across forums and message boards all over the internet, further increasing interest in the game.
Magic: The Gathering Today
There are now trading cards in over a dozen languages, many of them containing unique artwork for mechanically identical cards. According to the MTG Salvation database, there are now over 11,000 cards in circulation, with millions of reprints around the world.
In 2013, NBC News reported that Hasbro, the current owner of MGT, claimed that the game is its biggest seller in their $1.2 billion portfolio. With many tournaments now in the range of 4,000 or more duelists, MGT remains as popular as ever while still attracting new players.
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