I love games. Board games, party games, card games… heck, even mind games. Don’t date me.
I regularly go to Target and search for a game, any game, I have not played. And I almost never succeed. That’s right, I look at a wall of games at a major retailer and usually can’t find a title I have not played. I have an addiction. Don’t date me.
And I say all this to establish some credibility for my forthcoming thesis. I know how you Thought Catalog readers crave credibility. And whining. I have a favorite game designer. He’s German and you’ve never heard of him. I own games that aren’t successful enough to ever actually be sold in a store. I spend too much of my time figuring out the strategy and gameplay of everything in life. So I love games. All games. And that’s why I feel safe in saying…
Magic: The Gathering is the best game ever created.
You, dear reader, are likely thinking one of two things:
1) What the hell is Magic: The Gathering?! (Sub-thought: Is that a colon? In the title of a game?!)
2) I know what the hell Magic: The Gathering is and saying it is “the best game ever” is a stupid declaration to make. Also, is he warning people not to date him? He plays Magic. No one’s lining up.
For those of you in the #1 category, congratulations. You probably tasted the sweet nectar of Popularity in high school. But secondly, to fill you in, Magic: The Gathering (or MTG) is a unique, collectible card game made by Wizards of the Coast. Unique collectible card games use non-traditional playing cards (hence: “unique”, not the ace and two of spades) that you buy new ones of to add to your own deck (hence: “collectible”) to make it better.
And yes, it’s a little similar to Dungeons & Dragons. You sit at a table and play your own cards that have dragons and knights on them against an opponent(s). But you aren’t wearing a costume and you aren’t role playing (so no, you’re not talking like you’re a half-orc named Bracgus). But the idea of the game is that you are a mage/wizard/dork who is casting spells, summoning creatures and generally just trying to kill your opponent(s) with your magic.
Sounds great/stupid. Why the hell would anyone say it is the best game ever made?
Here’s why: it is completely adaptable and has flawlessly evolved since it was first published in 1993. Every year – now multiple times a year – they release new cards that seamlessly integrate into the existing catalogue of existing cards. Each year new game mechanics, or rules, are introduced that only add to the previous mechanics. Imagine a game which has existed for twenty years which creates new pieces and rules every year while still simultaneously allowing you to play with the original pieces and rules from two decades ago.
I’m not talking about Monopoly that now has Boardwalk being The Empire State Building because it’s the New York City or Simpsons edition. It’d be more like if Hasbro released additional Monopoly sections you could add to the original board. Make it bigger or smaller. Oh, also, to complete the comparison, Hasbro would also have to create new houses and hotels, new ways to move around the board and new ways to make and lose money. And they would have to do this every year. For a generation. And everything they added, since the beginning, couldn’t mess up any of the pre-existing rules they had created beforehand. So… it’s pretty damn impressive. Maybe that’s why Hasbro likes Wizards of the Coast so much.
Yes, a few Magic cards have been outlawed or limited in “official” play (don’t ask) but, realistically, a deck created when I was a child could legally play and win against a deck I built with completely new cards I bought this morning while using almost none of the same mechanics to do so.
Feel free to suggest a more complete, comprehensive and better game than that. I look forward to the challenge. I just untapped all my mana.