6 Ways 'Magic: The Gathering' Is Weird Around The World
We may all have our differences, but there’s one thing that unites us, brings us together, and makes us all members of one great big family: we know that Magic: The Gathering absolutely rules. It’s the world’s most complex game and yet still manages to attract millions of players each year. Since the trading card game debuted in 1993, it’s spread across the globe and has developed local quirks and differences along the way. You probably know that Canadians invented EDH, the game’s most popular format also known as Commander. And you can probably guess that the London mulligan was developed in… that’s right, you guessed it, London. From pricing to the way drafts are rewarded to drinking culture, here’s a round up of some of our favorite ways MTG is different around the world.
Some places around the world, looking at you Australia and Japan, do something which is unheard of for many in the Limited scene in the U.S. It’s called ‘rare re-draft’ and it’s not exactly the most democratic way to play. Limited Draft games are when players create decks from randomized packs of cards, picking one card from each pack and passing them on until they’ve hopefully cobbled together a winning strategy. You get to keep the cards you draw and sometimes even take a sweet rare card that’s unplayable in draft, but otherwise valuable. In rare re-draft, at the end of the tournament, every player turns their rares back in and the winners get the pick of the litter. It’s maligned by more casual players because it means savvy players wind up with the tastiest picks and liked by those same savvy players because hey, to the victor go the foils.
No More Russian or Korean Cards
You used to be able to find cards printed in Russian, Korean, and Traditional Chinese. But Wizards announced they’ll no longer print sets in these languages. If you have any cards in those languages, hang on to them, they might be valuable someday. But it seems that Wizards felt the player base for those languages just couldn’t support the physical printings. Or maybe it’s just not a bad time to get out of bed with Russia. You can still play in both languages online however.
In Germany They Play With English Cards
Limited formats are a popular way to play Magic in game stores around the world. With the draft format being particularly popular. Magic is printed in eight different languages to accommodate player bases around the globe; including German and (until recently) Russian. However, in Germany and Eastern Europe they mostly play with English cards for Limited due to those cards being more readily available and the fact that while there are many languages spoken in that region, pretty much everyone speaks English too.
DO Drink And Game
A pint and a game is the way to play at home in the U.S. but laxer (better) alcohol restriction laws in Europe mean that more gaming cafes and stores have access to liquor licenses. The growth of the game stateside means you’ll see more and more folks posting up at their favorite neighborhood watering hole, but it’s less common for gaming stores to have access to a liquor license here. Lower drinking ages also contribute to pint and pack culture in Europe. Older teens who would be illegally acquiring alcohol in the U.S. can just bring their deck to the local pub and play a game with their friends. Anyone have a spare EU passport lying around?
Cheap Italian Rares
For years players have been baffled when they go to buy certain cards online. They’re looking for some sweet cards from the game’s early days, maybe they’ve saved up fifty, seventy, heck, a couple hundred bucks that they’re ready to drop on their Commander deck or home brew cube. And when they get to their chosen marketplace, they find the card they were looking for available for a third of the price. And in Italian. Italian cards, specifically Legends have a reputation for being cheaper than their English counterparts. The Legends set came out in 1994, the year following Magic’s debut. Popularity of the game was growing wildly in the U.S., but not as rapidly in Europe. The publishers printed way too many Italian cards and are now more readily available than cards intended for a U.S. audience. The art is also legendary for looking more vibrant and colorful than American cards. The Italian cards are just Italian chef’s kiss.
The French invented dueling… in Magic. After Commander aka Elder Dragon Highlander, was invented in Canada, a young judge by the name of Kevin Desprez took his knowledge of the game back to his native France. As people began playing the format in different combinations, it became clear that two person Commander games are very different from multiplayer games. If one player arises as an early threat in a multiplayer game, that works to their disadvantage and they become an early target. But in a two player setting, the game is over before it’s even begun. So the good people of France took it upon themselves to create new rules and a separate list for banned cards in a new Commander format we usually call one-on-one, but is also known as French Commander.