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Magic: the Gathering was the first collettable card game. It is a strategy game played by two or more players, created by Richard Garfield, and presented in August 1993 at the Origins Convention by Wizards of the Coast. In 1991 Richard Garfield had already developed his first game, RoboRally, but the Wizard refused to produce it for lack of funds, although it declared its interest in a portable game that could be played at any time and place.

The project presented later attracted more attention. Several years of development, during which several times the rules of the game were tested and modified, followed its first presentation. The testers were the first people to call the game Magic, but the name was too generic to allow the registration and then the name was changed, before into Mana Clash and only later the name by which it is known today was chosen: Magic the Gathering. The sales soon surpassed what had been estimated and the first Alpha, Beta and Unlimited series cards went soon over. The numbers also told the unexpected success. If the initial plan was to print two-year extensions, it was soon necessary to go to the current four. The Alpha series was printed in 2,600,000 copies while the Arabian Nights series , the fourth, was produced in more than 40 million copies. The essence of the game has remained the same over time, even if the rules have undergone three major revisions with the publication of the Revised Edition in 1994, the Sixth Edition in 1999, and Magic 2010 in July 2009. With the publication of the eighth Edition in 2003, it was also revised radically the visual appearance of the cards. The first Magic tournament was held in the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, one year after the commercial launch of the game.

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The game is not complex and it is compelling, thanks to the ability to build more and different decks which allows you to change strategy playing always-different games. In Magic, the player is one of the best magicians of the Multiverse: the Planes walker. Some of them are friends and others enemies. All the players can manipulate terrifying magic and they lead armies of creatures coming from the endless planes of reality. The deck of cards represents all available weapons. It contains known spells and creatures that can be summoned. There are thousands of cards you can choose from and each player must have a pack containing at least 60 cards. The game begins with players scrambling theirown deck, which is also called library. Seven cards are caught and the lands counted. In order to start playing you must possess at least two of them. Players begin the game with 20 points each and the goal is to reduce them to 0, by attacking the opponent with creatures during combat. In the deck, variously composed and customized by players, lands, creatures, sorceries, instants, artefacts, enchantments, and planes walkers are included. Land cards are the basis of any effective decks that produce mana, the magical energy needed to launch all the other cards in the deck. There are five basic land types, each corresponding to one of the five colours of Magic. Each colour has different strengths and abilities. Certain types of magic are put on the battlefield and become "permanent", others produce their effect and then are placed in the cemetery (the discard pile). The creatures are permanent and represent the followers under his/herown command. During combat, they can attack opponents or contribute to defence against enemy assaults. Artefacts and spells are permanent and represent magic objects and stable manifestation. Witchcraft spells are instantaneous and are powerful spells that can affect the game in many different ways. After their effect took place, these spells go to the cemetery. Finally, the Planes walkers are powerful allies to appeal for fighting by your side. Today there are about 400-500 characters and over 100 creatures.

Each card has marked on it the name, the image, the type and cost of paper, a description of its abilities; in case it is a creature you can also find a description of strengths and toughness.

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Some cards are more common, while others are rare, as a consequence of their circulation.

The cards can be Common, Uncommon, Rare and Mythic (the latter have been introduce into the Shards of Alara version). Being collectible cards, the rarity is also determined by the age of the card itself and the circulation that was made when it was printed. Moreover, with the Legacy Urza series, the foil or "brilliant” cards were introduced; these cards are much more difficult to find so the cost is usually double or triple compared the normal version. Obviously the more expensive cards are the ones belonging to the first editions and, among them, the one called Black Lotus (also € 2,000). There are also cards printed by the Wizards on special occasions and that you cannot find in the market. Among them: Proposal, printed on the occasion of the marriage of Richard Garfield Lily Wu (9 pieces); Splendid Genesis, printed to honour the birth of the eldest daughter of Garfield, Terry Linnea (110 specimens); Fraternal Exaltation, printed on the occasion of the birth of second son Schuyler (220 specimens); 1996 World Champion, printed to honour the world champion Tom Chanpheng (one copy); Shichifukujin Dragon, printed during the opening of Japan DCI Tournament Center of Tokyo (a single copy).

The most powerful cards are all part of the first edition. The acronym that indicates these cards is P9, which means Power Nine. The nine cards are: Black Lotus, Mox Emerald Mox Jet, Mox Pearl, Mox Ruby, Mox Sapphire, Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, and Timetwister. Because of their strength, they are now banned from all Magic tournaments, apart from the Vintage one where you can only play them in single copy. Each of them has a value that exceeds hundreds of euro and each of them is included in the list that forbids reprinting. It is believed that their excessive force is due to the fact that they were part of the series that had to launch the game and then attract people towards it.

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There are also books, videogames and PC programs about Magic. The first books - short stories - were attached until recently to the Fat Pack. There are also a number of novels set in the world of Magic that accompany and tell the reference expansion background. The first videogames are broadcast in 1997, even if the first well-made games appeared only in 2002. With the development of graphics technology, we have arrived at the best titles available among which we can include the Duels of the Planes walkers, coming out every year. The newest, currently available, is that one of 2015. This is certainly the best way to learn to play Magic: a detailed tutorial that helps build decks and extricate themselves in the game. There are also many programs, tools, and apps, to create clusters, databases, evaluate the effectiveness of created clusters, simulators for PC, PlayStation and Xbox and sites to play online. Among the programs, we mention September Editor Magic, Magic: The Gathering Online (the official simulator), Cockatrice, Magic Work Station. Among the apps Magic 2015, Counter Magic The Gathering, Magic: Deck Builder, MTG Tracker. There are anyway many programs, which are continuously updated.

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Massimiliano Richiero

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