Magic: the Gathering

I wanted to share with you that I now write about Magic: the Gathering at, specifically the variant of the game called commander.  I’ve played magic for a long time, and I think it has some interesting philosophical worldbuilding that mostly flies under the radar.

In 1993 Wizards of the Coast premiered a game that would create a whole new genre of games: collectible card games.  Magic has been often mocked for various reasons, but in my opinion, it’s generally a fun way to while away 20-60 minutes.  In the lore of the game is some fairly interesting worldbuilding.  In my opinion, it’s not taken very seriously in the ongoing story that Magic presents through the cards, but I’ve always found the idea of various forces, essentially philosophic in nature, that are acted out by human agents in conflict.  Truth be told it’s very similar to what people believe who are Christians, that the world is locked in a conflict between two forces.  But in magic, it’s five magics, and each one has different aspects, and the five form an interesting wheel of allies and enemies.

Magic in fact traces many of its foundational ideas to a series of novels by Lyndon Hardy, who is a fantasy author in addition to being a physicist.  In a sense, it’s in a weird little sub-genre, nearly alone, that we might call “hard fantasy”.  It goes into a rather detailed magic system and explores it, and the system has a relatively consistent set of rules.

I’ve written elsewhere about how I think the prevalence of what might be termed hard magic systems are hardly magical at all and might be more appropriately labeled strange physics, but I think it’s an interesting series of books nonetheless.

You should expect to see a weekly article from me about Commander, or else magic in general, or else arena, but mostly commander.  While I once played magic fairly competitively, and even ended up briefly employed by Wizards of the Coast and am in fact an inactive level 2 judge, I had not played for a long time until I was talked into picking the game up again by some friends on a more casual basis.  If you’re interested in seeing some of my columns they are available at goonhammer.

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