Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar: My explanation of Magic to non-Magic players is usually, "Imagine chess with thousands of different possible pieces where each piece, when played, changes the rules of the game. Then throw in the luck and bluffing of poker. That's Magic."
Adrian Sullivan: "Do you know anyone that collects baseball cards? Well, in a way Magic is like that... you can collect the cards. But you can also play a game with them. If someone could play a game with their baseball cards, they'd need to make a team. They wouldn't want a deck of baseball cards to be all pitchers or outfielders. Of course, everyone has different opinions about who might make the best team, so everyone could have a different deck. Well, Magic is like that, except instead of baseball, it's fantasy based, like Lord of the Rings."
Some people disapprove of aspects of the game, or the game in its entirety, on various grounds. These include, but are not limited to, the ChiarkPerson, who thinks of it as: 'A vaguely tedious craze that we used to play after school in fifth form until we realised that it usually ended up in arguments about the rules, and the rich kids always won anyway.'
These points and others have been / are being discussed to death - see links below.
"For a game which is meant to have every rule on the cards, it's got an awfully big rulebook. Admittedly, most of those rules are stating what to do when two or more cards contradict one another." (The complexity of the rules is spoofed by WebComics/StrangeCandy's [Godhood: the Assembly] in [strip 476]).
Whilst a very fun sequence, I'd say that it was more directly a riff on YuGiOh. Which descends from Magic via Pokemon. (Poke added simplified mechanics and a tv/comic/movie tie-in, which YuGiOh stole and made still more evil.) --Vitenka
Players purchase cards. They then take some of the cards which they believe will work well together with each other, put these together to form a deck, and use them in a game.
Cards are shuffled. Players take turns to play cards, some of which remain in play and others of which take instant effect. Certain cards provide resources which are then consumed by other cards to create more powerful effects.
The aim of the game is to do twenty total damage to an opponent before they do so to you. There are, naturally, exceptions to this.
The primary difference with this type of game is that practically every rule can be modified by a card. This means that to be able to compete, you must have an encyclopaedic knowledge of all cards currently in the environment. This is a part of the MetaGame.
This is a little harsh. It's possible to build very effective decks which will beat a lot of other decks, while knowing only a tiny fraction of the available cards, and not aware of a lot of the 'tricks' one can do. Of course, these things help. But it's not really true to say you must have an encyclopaedic knowledge. --AlexChurchill (defensively :)[This disagreement spawned the discussion on most of the subpages linked below; explore according to your taste...]
A basic introduction to the concepts which aren't printed on a card can be found [here]. This won't mean much to you if you haven't played, though, but AlexChurchill finds it useful to have on hand when teaching the game to new players.
Discussion and subpages
One big argument was split across about six subpages:
Note that the [full set] of Monty Python cards is available online. PeterTaylor found "width=223 height=318" to be appropriate for printing them. For those who don't know HTML, you want to scale them to about 71.5% by some other means.
Comedy tournament report
[This spoof report] is rather entertaining if you've ever read any online articles reporting how well some player or other did at a MagicTheGathering tournament. It was written in 1998, but is just as funny now.
Yes, that struck me as astonishly evil too. An utterly terrifying green-white mana denial deck - which previusly would have meant MTG: Benalish Emissary and MTG: Hall of Gemstone, neither of which are particularly terrifying. Admittedly it uses MTG: Humility, which is quite hard to get hold of. But it really is a horrendous lock then. Of course, there'll be lots of 1/1 creature combat... could do with a MTG: Island Sanctuary, MTG: Urza's Armor, or MTG: Dueling Grounds to defend yourself against the hordes of humble lands whose controller may be quite irritated at you. Island Sanctuary has the additional advantage of preventing you decking yourself, as would MTG: Words of Worship if you've got some mana artifact (although MTG: Star Compass would be a bad choice). Hey, I should do Single Card Strategy articles... --AC
I spent this evening teaching my mum to play. Often quite slow at picking games up, she was quite getting the hang of it by the end of the hand, and was saying it was a shame I was going away tomorrow, as she'll likely have forgotten it all by the time I come back. --ChrisHowlett Having read some of the links from the Mirroden spoilers page (don't worry, no spoilers here!) I was wondering if any of the M:tG books were actually any good? Is it worth looking out for as someone who is unlikely to play or is it just really a way of promoting the game and adding in-references? --Kazuhiko
They are unutterably awful. I read them as CastOffs? from someone who wanted the free limited edition cards. They are bad Guide To FantasyLand implementations, with bolt in card references. They then go and blow up their own take on the background, which is, regardles,s inconsistent with the one provided by the cards. They were rushed out promotional material and it shows. --Vitenka (Note, I've not seen any but the first three, but I'm going to presume it holds true throughout)
I assume you're talking about the Homelands trilogy? They are indeed awful, and deserve ignoring. However, the novels and/or anthologies from Rath and Storm onwards (The Thran, Brother's War, Planeswalker, Time Streams, Mercadian Masques, Nemesis, Prophecy, Invasion, Planeshift, Apocalypse, Odyssey, Chainer's Torment, Judgement, Onslaught,Legions, Scourge and Moons of Mirrodin) are somewhat improved. Or so other people tell me, anyway; I've not read beyond the sample chapters available on the WotC website. The book that is traditionally recommended as the best is Brother's War, if you want to try and find out.
If MarkRosewater? is MaRo, MarkGottlieb? is MaGo and RandyBuehler? is RaBu?, dosn't that make AnthonyAlongi?...? It's also not too hard to make MarkGottlieb? MaGott?, which is incorrectly spelt, but hey.
That hadn't occurred to me, but yes, it is disturbing. Or perhaps suggests one should use a different abbreviation. Did you attend those PartIIIMaths lectures where the lecturer innocently used perhaps the worst possible abbreviation for "homologous analytic function"? I didn't spot that either until Nagi pointed it out to me... --AlexChurchill
I've seen that before; my response is no it doesn't, because that abbreviation system only applies to people who work for Wizards. --SF
I hadn't encountered the maths one, no. I wonder if this adversely affects Alongi's chances of being hired by WotC? --CH
I just saw an MTG: Black Lotus for sale on ebay. Starting bid £500. Is that realistic? --FR
Was last time I wondered about such things (admittedly, that was 1998). --Requiem
(PeterTaylor) Sounds a tad high: I'd say 450-480. Unless, of course, it's absolute mint condition.