Lover Boy has an acquaintance from work (we'll call him Steve) who is an Army vet the same as Lover Boy. We went over to Steve's house last night for dinner and drinks and Lover Boy noticed Steve had a shelf on a book case stacked with cards from the popular trading card game Magic: the Gathering. Apparently, Lover Boy played while he was deployed, as had a number of his fellow soldiers (the things you learn even after years of being together).
It seems it was a thing with them. Apparently this is also where Steve developed the hobby as well only he kept it up even after returning to civilian life. I had also seen the game played while I was in college but I never played.
Steve lamented not having as many opportunities to play and asked if we wanted to throw down a few hands. Steve's girlfriend (we'll call her Margaret) protested saying it was wrong to impose on company but I could see in LB's eyes he was carried back to some fun memories so I said I was willing to learn how to play.
The premise of the game is each player takes the role of a "planeswalker" a being capable of moving through wild, magical universes filled with amazing creatures and phenomenon. Each planes walker has a repertoire of spells they are able to cast as they battle their opposite members.
In practical terms the players have a deck of cards.
These cards come in several types, i.e. land, creatures, enchantments, "instants" etc. In order to possess power sufficient enough to cast the spells players must "tap" the power of the land but you can only lay down 1 land card per turn (assuming the luck of the draw puts them into your hand) you take so there is a slow build-up of your power.
Moreover, the land cards generate different colors of magical "mana" which are used to power similarly attenuated spells. Swamps produce black; forests, green; mountains, red; islands, blue and plains, white. Some more complicated spells require multiple colors.
Each turn you may tap some, all or none of the land you have put into play and at the beginning of your next turn they all reset.
Tapping land for power allows you to play other spells you may have drawn, such as creatures. Creatures are rated for the amount of damage they both deal and can absorb. They remain in play until they are removed by another spell or they take more points of damage from combat than they are capable of enduring.
Enchantments have effects that remain in play until something forces the enchantment to end. Other cards, such as "instants" resolve immediately but any number of instants may be played consecutively by any players so long as they have adequate untapped lands. For example, I tried casting several spells against Steve only to have him constantly thwart my efforts with a "Counter Spell" card.
When creatures battle the player who is currently taking their turn announces which creatures in play are attacking and against whom they are attacking. Other players are then allowed to declare which of their own creatures are blocking. Sometimes combat is spiced-up with a round of furiously cast instants but in the end the attackers and blockers subtract the amount of damage they do from the amount of damage the opposing creature can sustain. Any creature that has its defense ability reduced to 0 is removed from play. Attacking creatures that survive combat may actually inflict damage upon the designated planeswalker.
Each planeswalker starts with a life score of 20. Although this number may be increased by various spells the toll of spells and creature attacks eventually reduces the player to 0 forcing them from the game.
Last night I played 3 colors which I enjoyed. At first I played a red goblin deck. The illustrations on the cards and the text portrayed them as humorous if albeit self-destructive creatures that attack en masse to overwhelm players. however, while they were fun to play I couldn't seem to get the deck to play as I was told it was designed. We'll chalk it up to my n00bishness.
I also played a green elf deck. I had more success with that one as it produced so much mana I never seemed to be at a loss to cast any spell I wanted. Soon I had a sizable army of elves that plucked enemy flyers from the sky and over ran their defenses.
The last deck I tried was a black deck. It had plenty of nasty effects such as forcing Steve's creatures to attack Steve himself and inflicting diseases that wore down ever increasing amounts of the enemy's life.
Lover Boy played a white and blue angels and priests deck and I could see he had remembered how to play. He also took over the goblins and ran roughshod over the table.
Steve fancied his blue or blue-black decks with many flying creatures and he could string together combinations of spells. Although I was at a decided disadvantage playing against him I learned a lot watching how he manipulated seemingly unrelated spell effects to tremendous potency.
Margaret didn't play but she was my able coach.
All in all I had a good time and now Big Bang Theory seems ever slightly closer to my soul. I would definitely do it again and if anyone is curious about playing please set aside our trepidation and treat yourself. It is a game that will challenge you mentally. The art that adorns each card is fabulous and the "flavor" given to the game makes me smile just recalling how rich it seemed.