Most of you have probably heard of Magic: The Gathering (MTG) the collectable card game made by Wizards of the Coast. I play it, mainly with my girlfriend, and we’ve got a collection of around 3000 cards now. I initially suggested the idea because I’d been toying with the idea of doing something like this but had no one to play with. For most of the time, as players, we’re evenly matched but the interest comes from creating decks, something I’ll probably talk about in a later blog post. In this article though I want not to talk about the game so much, but more about why I enjoy collecting it and what I think are the reasons people want to play it.
Why I enjoy it, however, is not a simple answer because there are many factors. I wouldn’t call myself an “avid collector,” and those who are probably think 3000 cards is a rather small collection to possess. However, I will say that I like knowing I can get a fair amount more cards for a relatively low price, and there is always an excitement associated with getting and looking at new cards, and since I’ve only ever collected one other thing and that’s Warhammer, it’s nice not knowing quite what you will get. On top of this, I enjoy the art of each card, each picture coming from a different artist with a different style, and it is satisfying to look through all the different cards and see such varied pictures. Also, as anyone who’s even glanced inside a Games Workshop knows, Warhammer is prohibitively expensive. At some point I am going to sell off all my Warhammer models because I just don’t want to think about all the money I spent on it that is, now effectively, wasted. I’ll get back to the pricing later on though. Compared to Warhammer though, MTG is incredibly cheap.
More importantly though, I enjoy playing the game. Having a collection of something for a collection’s own sake is something I understand, but I don’t have the money to do so. MTG has a game and a collection so the money I spend on it feels more worthwhile. The only problem I have with playing it is that, to make a really good deck I need to sift through around 1000 cards to decide whether they would be good or not for the playstyle you are seeking. As a result I don’t make new decks very often. Looking for help on deck building on the internet is also slightly frustrating as a lot of information seems to be aimed towards tournament level players whose decks are exclusively made of the rarest cards you can find. The other day I was looking at a tournament winning deck of 60 cards, the average size for a MTG deck, and, from a quick look on ebay, the deck was easily worth £500-£1000. That said, I never went into MTG looking to play in tournaments, so it’s a moot point for my enjoyment of the game.
Here we come again to pricing. Wizards of the Coast has, in my opinion, a very reasonable pricing structure. While I buy most of my cards secondhand on ebay, Wizards do a lot to make the brand new cards feel valuable. My girlfriend and I started our collection by buying a “fat pack,” also known as a “deck-builder’s toolkit.” This is a pack that contains 550 cards and is about £25, depending on which version of MTG you are buying. More recent ones are sometimes slightly more expensive. It contained everything we needed to start playing, including some rare cards to make sure that, if we played against a person with a more established collection, we weren’t going to be completely whitewashed. Obviously this deal works out at about 5p per cards, and I think, when you think about it that way, the money because easier to justify. On average, my 3000 card collection has cost me around 4p per card, so I’ve spent about £120 on it.
I must conclude though that, if you even have a passing interest in CCGs and TCGs then you’ve probably already heard of and played MTG. This was why I wanted to make this slightly different. I didn’t want to just outline the game, you can find out how to play for yourself. This was just my view on why I enjoy it, and hopefully it’s offered some insight.