About a year ago, over the summer between my freshman year and my sophomore year here at Brandeis, I began playing a tabletop card game called Magic: The Gathering. If you haven’t heard of it I don’t blame you, its name had barely crossed through my life before I began playing that summer.
After being gifted a starter deck in the form of a preconstructed deck for the Commander format by a friend, I quickly became obsessed with Magic. My friends from high school and I bought the newly released Commander Legends Battle for Baldur’s Gate decks and I eventually even crafted my own deck, a horrific pirate-typal list that took my opponent’s best cards to use against them. I later retired that deck, mostly because I didn’t get a lot of enjoyment from making my friends miserable when I played it.
Later, as in this spring, I built another deck and ended up getting a writeup I made about it published on Commander’s Herald, a Magic website that publishes articles about deckbuilding, satire, news and more. I was overjoyed to be sharing my passion for Magic with the world, and even convinced my friends who had never heard of Magic to take a look at my writing.
That’s actually exactly why I’m writing this article: to convince even more people who haven’t heard of Magic before to learn about it. At its core, Magic: The Gathering is about bringing people together. It literally has “gathering” in its name.
Magic is a great way to bring people together for a few hours, and I can say that it has definitely strengthened my relationships with my friends here at Brandeis. Having the ability to sit down and jam some games for a few hours, catching up on life and classes while throwing cardboard slabs down on the table, is just great. I’ve had some of my deepest conversations over a hand of Magic cards, and I fully expect to have even more. It’s also a great way to make new friends: I’ve gotten sage advice on life and deckbuilding from some of the nerdiest nerds to ever nerd in the back of my local game store.
Magic, and other tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons (DnD), Flesh and Blood and the newly released Lorcana are amazing. Although I can really only speak for Magic and DnD, tabletop games like these provide a way to destress and connect with friends in ways that videogames and social media simply can’t. There’s something really special about these games, their analog nature making them somehow more engrossing.
I really and truly believe that everyone should try Magic once. There’s about a million ways to get started, from YouTube channels like Tolarian Community College and The Command Zone to websites like EDHREC and the aforementioned Commander’s Herald. And, despite some recent exceptions, Magic can be a very affordable hobby to get into. Preconstructed decks that play well against each other can be had for as little as $30 on some marketplaces, and cards can even be proxied to provide a free playing experience.
In short, play more tabletop games. Spend more time doing fun things with the people that matter. For me, the best way to do that is to play Magic with my friends and laugh way too loud at my own awful puns while I do so. Find your own little nerdy beach and capture that same joy, it’s well worth it.