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Forget everything else, Magic The Gathering is my Game Of The Year

Dan Lipscombe

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Forget everything else, Magic The Gathering is my Game Of The Year

Featured Image Credit: Wizards Of The Coast

I’ve been thinking a lot about my games of the year, as is the tradition for this point in the calendar. If I think hard on the topic I know what my list is, but topping it isn’t what I thought it would be. It’s not even a video game. Kind of. At the moment, I’d probably vote for Magic the Gathering.

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It doesn’t matter how it presents itself, whether it’s played via Magic the Gathering: Arena, or in-person with flimsy cardboard, it’s been a joy to play this year and I can’t get enough. I first learned to play the popular card game around 12 years ago, when I was a not-so-fresh-faced 29-year-old. It was something I wanted to play as a teenager, but coming from a low-income household, I could never keep up.

Even arriving late to the game, it was a great experience; admiring the card artwork, learning the unique rules, and opening booster packs in the hopes of cool rare cards. I always played with one friend - we discovered the game together - and we’d play as often as possible. We must have played for a good year or so until he moved away and my crippling social anxiety made me pack away my cards.

MtG
MtG
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Roll forward to now and a few of the YouTubers and streamers I watch begin to get into Magic, playing against each other using SpellTable, an online app that reads the cards you place down via a webcam to display them on your PC. I dug out my old cards, had a bit of a browse, and decided to download Magic the Gathering: Arena. I needed to refresh my knowledge, I’d forgotten a lot and things had changed a great deal.

Suddenly, I remembered how much I loved the game. I was playing games against random people, losing more games than I won, but I didn’t care. It felt great to put together new decks based on certain gameplay mechanics or focusing on a particular theme.

The most recent expansions to the game, Wilds of Eldraine and Caverns of Ixalan, have been particularly fun to explore and learn, and they felt like a good jumping-on point. The former had a focus on fairy tale stories and tropes and a gimmick that had the cards telling ‘stories’ within each game that bestowed bonuses to your deck. With Caverns of Ixalan, we get to explore underground worlds with cards that roam these underground areas and caves, uncovering certain cards in the deck.

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One of the newer features from Wizards of the Coast, the makers of Magic the Gathering, is that each set crosses over with a pop culture franchise. For example, Caverns of Ixalan featured cards based on Jurassic World, while the next expansion that releases in February 2024, Murders at Karlov Manor, will crossover with the board game Cluedo (Clue in the U.S.).

MtG
MtG

Suddenly my passion was expanding, taking in films, video games, and franchises I’d begun to love over the years. Oh, how I’ve coveted the Doctor Who Commander decks that were released recently, and I just had to add the Secret Lair Fortnite land cards to my collection, and I’ve got several more releases on my wishlist, particularly Final Fantasy and Fallout crossovers.

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My excitement continues to grow and I’ve dragged in my best friend, my sister, and my old MtG friend who visited me recently and we picked up right where we left off all those years ago. It took a while, but now I catch myself thinking about MtG during the day, wondering which cards I can use to head up a new commander deck, or which themes I want to explore next - maybe dinosaurs, or pirates, perhaps a ninjutsu deck.

It has now reached a point where I was watching Magic streamers when new cards from the Karlov expansion were showcased, viewing as eagerly as I would a new video game trailer. So, yeah, it seems MtG is kind of my game of the year. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some boosters to open, which is an addictive experience breaking my bank balance.

Topics: Free Games, PC

Dan Lipscombe
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