“Magic: The Gathering” is a tabletop and digital strategic, collectable card game that traces its roots back to the humble year of 1993, where it found immediate success.
Whereas the game itself is filled with complex rules and thousands of varying cards with unique abilities, the story and lore of the world in which the fantasy game takes place is equally as deep, spanning millennia and entire planes of existence.
Traditionally, it is a two player game. As the concept goes, each player is what is known as a “Planes Walker,” someone who has awoken the spark within them, giving them the ability to travel across the planes (different worlds across the multiverse). You fight against other “Planes Walkers” you’ve encountered by casting various spells and calling forth the creatures you’ve befriended and allies you’ve made during your travels—in the form of cards.
To win, simply reduce your opponent’s life to zero.
The game has garnered an international following and you can play it on your kitchen table, Friday nights at your local card shop, Grand Prix events, pro-tour qualifiers and if you can win your way there, the pro-tour itself.
At the Star City Games Regional Championship on March 7, players gathered to fight their way to the top in order to win the $5,000 in cash prizes, and win their way into the Star City Games Invitational Championship where they can compete for the $100,000 in cash prizes.
In this tournament at the Knoxville Convention Center, run by Card Monster Games, the format being played was the “Modern format,” which currently allows cards from sixty-six past expansions. This differentiates itself from other formats such as Vintage, Legacy, Pioneer or Standard (for an incomplete list).
“We’ve had widely varying number of players the last three of these events. Last year this event had 295 people, in the fall we had 146. And this year we had 207. Worries about the Corona Virus have affected turn-outs around the country this year,” said Mateen Mansoor, Director of Operations at CM Games, who oversaw the organization of the tournament.
And when asked what the biggest challenges about organizing such an event are, he said, “The hurdles are getting with the convention center and working with them, getting the judge staff together—you have to have level 2s and level 3s to run the event—and then advertising to get the word out so people know to come to our event over Atlanta, for example.”
However, not all players who frequent these events choose to compete. Some players just come to trade cards, while others enjoy hanging out with their friends.
Wesley Reed, a player who made it into the Mythic Championship 4 (also known as the pro-tour) in Barcelona, Spain, chose not to compete at the main event of the Star City Games Regional, but still attended. His reason for not playing involved the format that this particular tournament was utilizing for its main event.
“I don’t really have a preference for a deck in the Modern format, and I’d rather just chill and play formats that I enjoy,” he said.
However, he was very positive about the tournament over-all, saying, “It’s set up very well — CM Games runs great events — I just prefer the Pioneer format. I just don’t really like the Modern format at the moment.”
At the front of the hall, glass cases were set up where players could buy cards and other related merchandise or sell valuable cards for cash or credit.