They don’t put on wizard costumes or dress up as goblins, werewolves, vampires or angels, but the crowd that gathers at Crimson Imp Games, Inc. in downtown Seneca Falls each Friday night still enters a world of Magic.
“Every Friday, face a greater challenge,” is the catchphrase of Friday Night Magic, a card game that has grown in popularity in the past several years. It attracts everyone from middle schoolers to college students and even doctors and lawyers.
Crimson Imp Games Inc. is one of the closest places to Wayne County to come in and have a “Constructed Standard Magic the Gathering” tournament sanctioned by games publisher Wizards of the Coast using DCI rules. (Formally, Duelists’ Convocation International – the game is played all over the world and competitors have to be registered to be in tournaments).
About 20 people play each Friday at Crimson Imp, but there are bigger gatherings at similar shops in Syracuse and Rochester. Crimson Imp Games Inc. owner Ballard Shull, better known as Bob, says people of all ages have come to play.
“Magic the Gathering” was created by Richard Garfield and introduced in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast. It was created to be a trading card game with a high amount of strategy. In standard constructed Friday Night Magic you have a minimum 60-card deck with the choice of a 15 card sideboard, using only the newest few sets and the latest core set. The Wizards of the Coast website explains that “In the Magic game, you play the role of a planeswalker—a powerful wizard who fights other planeswalkers for glory, knowledge, and conquest. Your deck of cards represents all the weapons in your arsenal. It contains the spells you know and the creatures you can summon to fight for you.”
A price for a good deck can range from $50 to $500, depending on your card preference and budget. Players may also begin by spending significantly less on a pre-made starter deck for about $12.
In the new 2013 core set which officially came out July 13 of this year, Nicol Bolas: Planeswalker makes its second debut in the cycle, as do Planeswalkers Chandra the Firebrand, Liliana of the Dark Realms, Jace Memory Adept, Garruk Primal Hunter, and Ajani Caller of the Pride. The most valuable non-promotional Magic card is the Alpha version of Black Lotus signed by the artist. Collectors have paid $15,000 for lesser versions of the card. There are many different creature card types in the collection. A few are goblins, vampires, werewolves, elves, druids, humans, shamans, demons and angels. Decks can be based around these creature card types and they all have their own individual effect and speed.
Twelve-year player, 24-year-old Alex Johnston says that “Not since the time of the gladiators has a games competition been so fierce or its stakes so high. Albeit only a card game, greater men than I have tried and failed at mastering Magic: the Gathering. So I say to you aspiring Planeswalker, good luck, and ‘may the odds be ever in your favor’.
Crimson Imp Games Inc.’s owner Bob Shull says “I’ve been a nerd since 1978 playing games anywhere from Dungeons and Dragons, Role Play, and Magic the Gathering. Magic is a way to relax, socialize, have fun, and for some kids to stay off the street in a controlled safe environment. Some players can find this game addictive if you like to compete, everyone has a chance at winning and that rushing feeling after winning can hook you straight to Magic.”
This game, similar to sports, teaches children how to win and lose more gracefully. Magic also contains a great amount of strategy and vocabulary that most people aren’t exposed to on a regular basis. The thing about Magic is that it’s always changing. There’s an unlimited possibilities, new sets are always coming out and you never know what your opponent is going to play. When you create your deck you have to think of all the possibilities making this game very strategic and competitive.
At Friday Night Magic, after five to six rounds the points are counted and prizes are awarded based on a player’s total Planeswalker points. The larger the event and store determine the prize pool size. First place through eighth place are guaranteed prizes in the form of booster packs. First and second place are awarded the foil promo card of that month. The points are recorded into the DCI database and as your points accumulate you can see your productivity amongst other players in your area, state, country, and even around the world on the official Wizards of the Coast website. As you gain your points and experience you could be invited to join the Pro tour qualifier events in your area. If your really good you could go to events nationally and internationally. The stakes are higher and the prizes can be anything from Magic goods and products too large amounts of money.
Five month player, 15-year-old Katy Broach says “After learning to play Magic, I’m definitely not going to be playing Monopoly when I’m bored anymore.”
The author and photographer are entering 10th grade at Clyde-Savannah High School.