As someone into gaming and comics, I’ve obviously been aware of Magic: The Gathering’s existence for some time. From various internet memes to inspiring the name of my friendly neighbour hood black-metal band (Phyrexia), Magic is a force of geekdom that I have encountered from time to time but completely ignored. While browsing through Forbidden planet I’d often pass by related books or starter packs but my perceptions of it being inaccessible and, well, not that much fun, always kept me from wanting to investigate any further.
Yet that all changed last week when I visited the Wizard Of The Coasts’ office for a hands on look at the new iPad Magic 2015 experience. When I first entered the building I was guided in by an experienced elder by the name of Dan. He took me into the chamber of instruction marked ‘conference room’ and proceeded to sit me down with the patience of a paladin, and instruct me in the ways of this curious form of Magic.
Smiling politely and using several high level cloaking spells, he managed to conceal his frustration with my blank looks and foolish questions as he showed me through the game’s initial tutorial. Transporting me to the planes of the mystwalker, Dan had somehow summoned a helpful female voice through the mystical, apple blazoned device which talked me sweetly through each step of the basics (I called her Lady Magic). I was then called upon to actually do something, and after laying down a ‘land’ I was informed by both Lady Magic and Dan (repeatedly) that this resource would allow me to summon creatures on my next turn. Stroking my meagre beard and chugging my plastic tankard of Latte, with a furrowed brow I proceeded to summon forth a creature and took my first step toward mastering the art of Magic.
From that moment – and after an hour of Elder Dan slowly repeating things – it all clicked. I was blocking my opponent’s attacks and playing my cards cunningly – and not just when Lady Magic told me. After clearing the first part of my training, Lady Magic disappeared (I think the sound of my phone going off displeased her) and I was sent to fight through the game’s story component alone.
After being abandoned by my elder and lacking any caffeine filled beverages, things were not looking great for my wizarding career. But could I let the realm of empty conference room be taken? What would Elder Dan think if I let hell fire reign through the digital cards and break through the mystical portal? I took a deep breath, picked up the iPad [Ed: you mean mystical portal?] and met my destiny head on. After successfully defeating my opponents, it seemed that my initiation was complete – if there was any Magic around I had most certainly gathered it.
As this victory basically made me a qualified magician, I have decided that I will share with you the basics that were bestowed to me. It turns out that mastering Magic comes down to playing enough lands for you to tap so that you can summon some magical buddies. After tapping lands, the key to winning lies in strategically placing creatures with enough attack and defence to destroy their enemy counterparts. Although in my experience an Elder Dan is also pretty key to winning. There are various permutations, and different cards do different things but essentially – that is how Magic works. Gandalf had it easy… and it only took me two hours to grasp this! Magic indeed.
After successfully completing my gruelling training regime, I deactivated the portal of apple and bid both Lady Magic and Elder Dan farewell as I rode the lift to the relative safety of the realm known as ‘ground floor’. Armed with my new found wisdom and a backpack filled with starter packs, I left safe in the knowledge that I had achieved something today, and completed a true geek rite of passage. When the game comes out, you too will be able to learn under Lady Magic, and if you have ever had even a passing interest in the series there has never been a better time to do so. But what of Elder Dan? Well, if you need additional training I am told that he can be found travelling around the mystical planes of Croydon and offering guidance as he secures the peace of the realm at ‘in store events’. If you want a word it’s probably best to contact him Monday to Friday though.
Article based on hands-on time at developer’s office. Travel was paid by PR.