I recently went to a friend's house for a casual Magic: The Gathering (MTG) card game format called Cube Draft. Cubes are created by players using various old and new cards from the game. They contain 360 cards put in 24 specialized 15-card packs. Some players make themed cubes or include very powerful cards to make games interesting. A benefit of cubes is that they are reused over and over again. Typically, you draft with 24 sealed booster packs containing 15 cards. Once opened, sealed booster packs are not used again. Eight players are ideal for any drafting format using 360 cards, or 3 packs of 15 cards per player.
Alex, David, Ben, and I were the only players able to attend the recent Cube Draft night. Typically, we have six to eight players come to MTG game nights. Instead of having a normal cube draft, we decided to play a one-on-one format called Winston Draft. A Winston Draft uses 6 booster packs of 15 cards shuffled into one pile. The top 3 cards are laid out separately and face-down next to the large pile. The starting player looks at the first card. If they want the card they can take it; otherwise, they must add one additional card from the large pile. The player repeats the process for the next card laid out. If they pass over it, they once again add a card to it and look at the third face-down card. Finally, if all three cards are passed over, the player repeats the steps as stated before and takes a random card from the top of the large pile. Players go through this process until all cards are taken by either player. There is a risk-reward scenario when deciding to take cards. You can end up with a stack of 3-5 face-down cards continuously passed over and must decide if it is worthwhile to take it. Usually, taking a large pile means that at least half of the cards are unplayable for a specific strategy, but it opens up more options. Magic is a much deeper strategy game than many people realize; especially, when playing with a cube.
One of the great aspects of playing MTG in a casual setting is enjoying a few beverages while socializing with friends. Alex tries to host a monthly event to get everyone together. Formats change each month depending on player interest and new card set releases.
Alex and David started playing Magic in 1994 and quit a few years later. After a 20 year hiatus, they both returned to a game from their childhood. Alex's return to MTG started after his first child was born. He began looking for ways to have fun with friends while at home. What started as game nights with friends led to the creation of a Meetup group called the Queen City Game Club. The group brings together adults around Charlotte, NC interested in various strategy games and board games. Ben met Alex by attending various group gatherings. I asked Alex, David, and Ben what they enjoyed most about the game and why they play now.
Alex: "I like the depth of replayability. I came back after being invited to a draft in 2017 for the Hour of Devastation set."
David: "I got back into the game to teach my kids strategy and critical thinking skills. The game had enough depth to keep their interests."
Ben: "Every game is different in limited formats (e.g. draft). I am not as interested in deck building, but I enjoy Magic in other game types such as commander."
MTG is game enjoyed by millions of people around the world. There are many ways to play the card game between two and eight players. Some players stick to a particular format while others play them all. Each game between players creates different strategic decisions and scenarios. MTG celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. There are not many games in existence that have captured players' attentions for such a long time.