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Old card game sees newfound popularity at Ohio State

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“I started around the fifth grade,” said Danny Powell, a second-year in international studies, chuckling when he recalled the first time he played the card game Magic: The Gathering.

Magic: The Gathering is one of the first and oldest trading card games, celebrating its 21st anniversary this year.

Members of the Tabletops and Gaming Association at OSU said the game has seen an increase in popularity at Ohio State.

The game is played with two people and each player creates a deck of cards and uses strategy to try and take the opponent’s life points down to zero.

“I joined the TGA last year, my freshman year,” Powell said. “We get new members pretty rarely — some people just show up the first day and don’t come back, but there are a bunch of people who just got into the game or just heard about it somewhere who will just come by and we’ll tell them what we do and will play a few games with us.”

The TGA is a gaming community at OSU that plays primarily board games and card games. Members usually meet on Saturdays in different rooms of the Ohio Union to play games like Magic.

“I think it’s quite popular,” Powell said of the game.I’ll be wearing one of my Magic shirts and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, you play Magic?’ and I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, I do.’”

Kevin Krymowski, treasurer of the TGA and a fourth-year in material science, said Magic has definitely seen a boost in popularity, partially because of the accessibility of the game.

“One of the big things Wizards of the Coast, the company who makes Magic, keeps bragging about is how their newest release is like the most open release ever. And they’ve said that for a few years in a row. It’s a good bragging point,” Krymowski said, noting the company’s push to make the more comprehensible to newcomers.

Powell said he thinks Magic has seen an exponential boost in popularity over the last three years because the cards keep getting better and more exciting, and because of the amount of events including the Grand Prix (the most game’s most popular tournament), the StarCityGames.com Open Series, and even the tournament at Columbus anime convention at Ohayocon this past Friday and Saturday.

“I’ve gone to Ohayocon in the past,” Powell said. “There are quite a few people there. It’s really fun. You get to meet a bunch of people, play a bunch of really fun games of Magic, and it’s just a great event all around.”

Krymowski has been a member of the TGA for three years and said he has seen a increase in Magic players in his time in the club and outside.

“I’ll be walking around campus and occasionally I’ll happen to see people playing Magic,” Krymowski said. “And often times when I go to the game store, I’ll see more people from OSU playing there … it’s not rare at all to see someone playing the game around campus.”

Powell and Krymowski said they enjoy the artwork, and that it is another draw to the game as well as the social aspect, which includes discussing Magic with like-minded people at 6 p.m. Friday Night Magic tournaments at local game shops like Comic Town.

“The Magic community has impressed me a lot for just being a very, very nice community that’s easy to get into and they look out for each other,” Powell said.

Krymowski said that the game has a lot to offer from nuance to simply fooling around.

“Even if you don’t really like things one way, you can always turn it into something more enjoyable,” he said. “It’s a greatly flexible game for a lot of interests.”

Powell said when people start playing, they get hooked.

“The first thing that happens when you start playing Magic is you lose. A lot,” Powell said. “But that makes you want to get better … When you get better and start winning, the feeling’s really great so you wanna keep playing more and more and more.”

Powell said anybody is free to come to the TGA if they are interested in learning how to play.

“We can show them,” he said of new players. “We have plenty of decks for them to use if they want to play a game with us.”

Krymowski, too, said that the group always welcome newcomers.

“The game is pretty fun. If it looks intimidating, it’s really not,” said Powell. “If you have any questions about the game just ask somebody who plays. They’ll probably be more than happy to talk about Magic because we all just love talking about it.”

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