The tabletop gaming of my younger years was defined by Magic: The Gathering. Indeed, Richard Garfield’s amazingly successful collectible card game (CCG) started a fiery craze and for good reason. The game was drenched in lore and backed by a wonderfully sharp play system. It survives to this day because even after all these years Magic: The Gathering still offers an expertly crafted play experience.
Even so, Magic has never been the most accessible game on the market. Garfield, ever committed to the theme, gave esoteric names to some of Magic’s features. Those willing to learn eventually adapted and naturalized things like Sorcery, Instants, Interrupts, and Libraries, but teaching the uninitiated has always been a chore. Since its release in 1993, entry into the franchise has become even more perilous. While Wizards of the Coast smartly faded out some particularly complex systems and concepts, they continue to add new mechanics and an ever-growing number of cards. Familiarity is hard enough, let alone mastery. Keeping up with Magic: The Gathering remains a time consuming and expensive effort.