163: The Writer, the Star and the Villain

The Writer, the Star and the Villain

"Magic: The Gathering just celebrated its 15th anniversary. It's awarded millions of dollars on it's Pro Tour. But its greatest accomplishment was also its first: It launched an entirely new type of game, collectible card games (CCGs.) Mash the addictiveness of trading cards with the strategy and competitive spirit of chess and you're certain to find something amazing.

"There are three people who have built their reputations on the franchise. One is the head of its research and development team. The second is its champion, the name every competitive player knows. And the third is our story's 'villain.'"


Jon Finkel is more of a Magic god in America. European players have their own icons, such as Kai Budde, who still is the highest earning Magic pro of all times.

With so may people competing and taking an active role in the game there aren't really icons anymore in the strictist sense. There is no one player who embodies all that Magic has to offer- Jon is more of a godfather of Magic and no longer the hot young Pro of 6 years ago. His win this year in the PT was a shock to everyone. A good shock, none the less.

Juilen Niltsen, the Ruel brothers, Patrick Chapin, "BP aka the guru" Flores, Terry Soh's legendary jedi mindtrick, the $16,000 Lightning Helix, the always obnoxious Rafael Levy and the ever zen of Wafotapa- these are the faces and stories of the game now, and the story is much more complex than the "good vs. evil" days of yore, or "the case of GP *blank* vs. Mike Long" that we heard about in the past. Lets not forget how the Japanese redefined the game 4 or 5 years ago, in the same way Tiger Woods did to the golfing world not so many years ago.

Anyway, it's a great game. And I love it.

It's a pretty interesting game. I really liked the diversity of viable strategies and the whole randomness of the cards just forced you to always adapt; there is a strategy to poker, after all. But the one thing that I couldn't ignore was the high cost of being competitive. I bailed out early after I realized that Magic is about making money, just as much as it is about being a game. Still, it's a great game at its roots and that's why it'll be around for a long time.

Nice article about my favorite game. But I simply have to correct the author in that Jon Finkel is NOT the most successful player of all time. This is still Kai Budde, by quite a margin, whether you count lifetime earnings, Pro Tour victories or any other benchmark.

Escapist meets Magic...

I think my dreams have come true...

I've been playing for the past two or so years with my Uncle casually. And, it's quite expensive at that, I usually end up spending €13 or so per deck. Then I started noticing these player cards they ship with the decks, and saw how much these tournament guys were earning +$10,000 etc. o_O


Good idea for an article. I found the execution a bit off, though, kinda like it was stuck in "introduction" mode the whole way through. I was hoping the article would say more than it did. Maybe it should have been about a page or two longer?

-- Alex

I also found this article a bit off. I'm not sure what this article was supposed to accomplish, or how it relates to a bigger picture. The ending felt truncated, so maybe the point got lost.

I used to play Magic, but between my job and college, I've found little time to play it, much less keep up on the new card sets. This article was really kind of a light-shedding to me. While I can see that Long is using some tactics that aren't exactly smiled upon, it wasn't illegal. he used whatever it took to win. Not condoning it, just pointing it out.

In the circles I travel in, M:tG is either denigrated outright (by people who see it as something embarrassing to be associated with- you know the type of person I'm talking about) or referred to in a wistful past-tense. I belong in the second category; I loved it intensely for about three years. Unfortunately WotC insisted on, in my opinion, overcommercializing the game and running it directly into the ground. Each expansion seemed intent on outdoing the last, with new creature abilities every expansion, and this was the major factor which drove me away from the series. ("I attack with my flying, stomping, overrunning, happy, super-happy, spiked, slimy, nougated Phyrexian Superbitch.")
Even so, I don't count a single one of the untold hours we spent casting Counterspells and summoning Shivan Dragons to be wasted. It was fun right up until the end. Nevinyrral's Disk FTW!

I attack with my flying, stomping, overrunning, happy, super-happy, spiked, slimy, nougated Phyrexian Superbitch.") [...] Nevinyrral's Disk FTW!

Your choice of card names gives you away: you gave up before Magic became good. Modern Magic begins with Invasion block.

As for keywords, that's pretty much the point of an expanion: to expand the game. The day a set comes out which doesn't do anything new will be a sad day for Magic.


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