WHAT IS MAGIC THE GATHERING?
Magic the Gathering is the original collectible card game first released in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast. Not long after, I was introduced to the game in the third grade by a friend of mine. I traded a Spider-Man comic for a small deck of black cards and I was instantly addicted. I wanted to get more zombies, demons, and goblins with gnarly art and cool powers.
Magic and card games like it have always been a great way to make new friends and engage your mind in some interesting and fun ways. I have made lifelong friends playing Magic and games like it, but Magic has always been the best and most enduring. I have played a lot of games over the years, but Magic must be number 1 because I keep coming back to it and so do many, many others.
While weekly tournaments run out of local hobby shops are the norm, Magic also has a professional tournament circuit. Wizards of the Coast has recently announced a robust eSports program for 2019 with $10 million in prizes, so Magic is poised to get bigger than ever in its 26th year.
WHAT IS A COLLECTIBLE CARD GAME?
A collectible card game is where two or more opponents compete against one another, each with decks they have customized themselves before the game begins. Basically, it's a strategy card game where you design your own deck to play with by collecting cards. New cards can be bought in packs, decks, or other bundles but like any collectible there is a robust secondary market for individual cards and other memorabilia associated with the game. Individual cards can fetch exorbitant prices, especially for older cards and ones that are out of print. This makes Magic and games like this a potentially expensive hobby to pursue. Enter Arena...
WHAT IS ARENA?
Arena is the newly released free-to-play online version of Magic the Gathering for Windows PC. It is currently in beta, but will fully launch later in 2019. It is fully functional and ready to play, so if you are at all curious, download it now! It is free-to-play, however you can purchase more in game currency to buy packs and enter events more quickly. Having spent about a month now playing it, I have to say for anyone looking to try Magic, but DOESN'T want to spend any money, this is absolutely worth a look because you earn so many free cards and decks early on you should have plenty of options to toy around with while you figure the game out and start to get more competitive. You earn new cards and packs at a steady enough rate that a casual player looking to enjoy Magic should be more than comfortable with the rate their collection grows without spending a single penny.
WHY SHOULD YOU PLAY?
As I have mentioned before, Magic and games like it, including board games and RPGs, are a great way to be social and make friends. As a bipolar person this is great for me because it can be hard to be social, even with my friends. Not only is it easy to schedule a game night, there are plenty available in most major cities you can pop in to whenever you feel up for it. I prefer Magic myself for a few reasons I will explain.
I tend to have a lot of anxiety and when it's bad my obsessive compulsive disorder symptoms go through the roof. One thing that has always been an easy thing to get absorbed in for me to get some relief is Magic. Aside from the social and intellectual engagement involved in playing the game itself, there is a lot of small joys to be found in the overall Magic experience. Little things like sleeveing up a new deck I spent hours tinkering on can give my mind something to do when it's racing with anxious thoughts.
I have been very ill and out of work with a still unknown major health issue since October. I am waiting on tests and results ad nauseam for now, so Arena has been great for me to deal with the depression, isolation, and anxiety I have been experiencing as a result because I can enjoy my favourite game from the comfort of my sick bed. I was also able to do it for free after I had to sell every print Magic card I owned of value to help get by while I'm off work.
If you're ever looking for a good way to distract your brain from anxious thoughts: Try to learn a new game. I suggest Magic because it is easy to learn, but sophisticated enough that it gets more intricate and engaging the more you learn about it and how it works. It's also by far the most popular, so other players are easy to find in most parts of the world.
If cost is a thing, Arena is a great option just for the almost meditative state you can find yourself in poring over your collection for the right card to finish your latest deck. You really don't have to pay anything to play, although if you want to climb the rankings you are probably going to have to invest some money into your collection. You can also play the print version cheaply, but you should definitely do a lot of research on the game and what to buy before you do because there is a lot available. Arena keeps things simple with only the "Standard" sets available and the latest set "Ravnica Allegiance" incoming both in print and Arena soon.
This very site will feature lots of guides for Arena in specific to start, but most of the material will apply to the Standard format in print Magic because it's the same card pool Arena currently uses. I will focus heavily on playing on a budget, with guides on cheap and easy decks to make as well as general strategy info, deck lists, and tournament reports. Expect to see me streaming a lot very soon and I plan to set a schedule for some specific "shows" I have in mind so keep an eye out on bipolarandrew.com!
Here are some links to get you started...
The official page for people new to Magic the Gathering.
The "mothership", AKA the main site for everything related to MTG.
This is a searchable database of every Magic card to see print. This is invaluable to refer to when building your decks outside of Arena.
The official homepage for Arena in specific.
Copyright © 2019 BipolarAndrew - All Rights Reserved, Uncredited artwork copyright © 2019 Wizards of the Coast, Magic the Gathering, Arena, and related game concepts copyright © 2019 Wizards of the Coast