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"Magic: the Gathering", the top-selling trading card game will arrive on CD-ROM this year. Wizards of the Coast, the publisher of the card game, and MicroProse Software have teamed up to create a computerized version of the award-winning game.
The product will be an interactive multiplayer online computer game that will allow two methods of play. The first method is the stand-alone game which features an apprentice option to give the player a chance to learn the rules of the game. Once novice players no longer need help from the tutorial, they will start playing against the computer from the 1,000 cards available. There is even an option (play a quest) which emulates the online environment to allow the player to practice before going online to fight against real human players.
The second method is going online to duel against other wizards, although players will only be able to fight one player at a time.
As in the card game, where the winner chooses a card from their opponent, the CD-ROM version will also include a reward system. Players will gain cards depending on how well they played, and special rewards will be given during tournaments and online events.
The card game features artwork from dozens of artists who created original illustrations of a rare beauty for each card. To give the computer game the same look as the card game, MicroProse used Super VGA 256 color graphics that faithfully reproduced the original art from "Magic: The Gathering". On shipment of the game, it will include the revised set of Magic: The Gathering and the 4 expansion sets: Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends and The Dark. Other expansion sets will follow as additional disks, for example, Fallen Empires, the latest expansion set available for the card game.
First of all, "Magic" is a complex game but simple to learn. The game was designed so that it required minimal equipment and takes 15 to 20 minutes to play. In the rule book, it is said that you can start playing within a short time, but if you want to know all the other rules you might encounter when playing with a more experienced wizard, you will have to take a little more time to learn the rules.
Second, the artwork is excellent and this is probably the reason why people buy them and start a collection. As different editions of the game (Alpha, Beta, Unlimited and Revised) have been published, each with a limited number of cards, except for the Revised edition, prices have risen for these limited editions. For example, the card called "Black Lotus" from the Alpha edition is now worth $100 US and is no longer available in the Revised edition. Another example is the first expansion set called "Arabian Nights" that was released with a print run of 5 million cards. If you want to buy a booster pack (8 cards) from this expansion set, it will now cost you about $35 US instead of the original price of $1.45 US back in the beginning. This is why "Magic: The Gathering" is called a collectable trading card game.
In total, there are over 1,000 cards available for the card game and with expansion sets coming out every 2 to 4 months, that number increases. The next expansion sets will be "Ice Age" - a stand-alone game which can be played as an expansion set as well, and "Chronicles" - an assortment of "Arabian Nights", "Antiquities", "Legends", "Dark" and "Fallen Empires". However, to make a distinction between the original black bordered cards and the new ones, "Chronicles" will have white borders.
Whatever it may be, the card game or the computer version, "Magic: The Gathering" is definitively something you have to try. Even if you do not like playing against other wizards, you will enjoy the cards enough to want to start a collection as soon as you see them. Having myself discovered the card game only recently, I feel as if I am already addicted to this strategy game filled with wizards and casting spells.