Monday, July 18, 2011

Magic The Gathering vs. Wizard101

A couple of weeks ago my daughter and I bought a couple starter packs for the collectible card game Magic The Gathering (“MTG” from here on out). I should have tried out this game a long time ago, but everyone told me that the cost to play the game over time was extremely high. That kept me away, but I wish I would have just tried it. Meh.

So, the local card shop/comic book store is about 15 minutes away from our house, and it’s a good one. It’s snuggled into a strip mall in a very unassuming location next to a Christian Strip Mall church and a Mexican Supplier Store (I imagine all the Taquerias nearby use them as a grocer).

Along a side wall inside the game store is a long series of tables where locals gather twice a week to try out their luck and finely crafted MTG decks against each other. We were told to show up on a Wednesday . . . that’s when newcomers were more accepted. Friday was tournament night. They called Wednesday “New Guy Night.” I quickly turned that into “Triple N,” or New Nerd Night, and the phrase Triple N around my house was born! When we showed up Wednesday and told a couple of people who were showing us how to play the game my joke about Triple N, they laughed and one even suggested an improvement. “N3”. Well played!

Ever since that time, my daughter and I have really had MTG on the brain. We’ve picked up a number of booster packs and contemplated buying a few fun decks like “Knights vs. Dragons.” I even purchased MTG: Duels of the Planewalkers on Playstation 3 . . . um, not all bajillion expansions of it . . . just the basic $10 game. My daughter hates it and thinks it’s far too complex. I love it. I think it’s helping me learn the game better. To each their own. ;)

I can safely say now that I see how people can spend hundreds of dollars on this game in trying to build a variety of decks. We’re at least $50 into it by now. What can I say? It’s incredibly addicting and fun! Building the perfect deck for every type of opponent you come up against would be a VERY costly and time consuming adventure (since there's like 10,000 different cards or what have you).

This whole MTG thing was not my idea. It was my daughter’s idea, but I'm firm believer in playing alongside your kids (and it seemed interesting to me as well), so why not, I'm all in. Unfortunately, she’s young for this game. There were a few swear words at Triple N the other night that made me cringe a bit . . . at the same time, there were some genuinely courteous people. One even apologized for the others in the crowd. He was a nice guy around 19 years old. I found out he just lived about 5 minutes from me. Nice!

Anyway, now I'm starting to see where MTG and Wizard101 are the same, and where they are different.

1- Where Wizard101 has pips, MTG has "lands." A land card is played at the beginning of the round. Pips are given to you at the beginning of the round. Both pips and lands count toward how big of a spell card you can play.

The difference is that pips go away after you've cast a spell and you have to build them back up, but lands usually stay so you can keep casting higher cost spells. I say usually because MTG is so complex with so many different cards that any object in play can be killed or boosted (including lands). Sometimes you can play a card to get more lands or remove opponent lands. etc. etc. etc. *insert complexity*

2- In Wizard101 you can summon one minion that hangs out to fight and attack for you every round--they are programmed to play from a mini-deck of cards all their own. In MTG you can summon any number of minions to fight and attack for you (called creature cards), but you have more control over their actions, which are usually limited to attack and block, but most have abilities that are activated by either "tapping" them or by them being introduced or removed from play.

3- In Wizard101 you have treasure cards that you apply to spell cards to buff them up or make them different all together (Gargantuan or Death Minotaur for example). In MTG you have enchantment cards that can modify both your spells and your opponent's spells. You also have equipment cards that can be used to modify your creature cards to make them stronger or have new effects like "infect."

4- In Wizard101 your damaging spells are usually creature cards that do a certain amount of a type of damage (like a fire dragon does fire damage). In MTG, most of your damage comes from your creature cards (remember those minions from item 2), but you can also cast "sorcery" cards that will cause your opponent damage. Damage from both your creature cards and sorcery cards are from a type (like a fire goblin does red card damage or a fireball does red card damage).

5- In Wizard101 you have "schools of magic": Fire, Ice, Storm, Balance, Death, Life, Myth. In MTG you have five basic lands: Plains (white), Island (blue), Swamp(black), Mountain (red) and Forest (green). Sometimes you get lands that can be played as any of the above or could be one of two land types.

There are other similarities and differences, but I think you get the point. There are differences, but the similarities are quite striking. In the end, Wizard101 is a social MMO with quests, a PvE element, housing, gardening, pets and can be played from the comfort of your home. MTG is a player vs. player card match--that's it, and that's ok.

If you're interested in learning more, Dylan and Sam are totally your dudes:

I'm sure there are a ton of people that play Wizard101 that have played MTG before, so feel free to leave your comments if you have some experience with the game and see the similarities and differences. I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Thanks and Happy Dueling!


mattgreen said...

Wizard101 has unfiltered PVP chat, Magic has tournaments....

Really, there are jerks spouting off in Wizard101 avoiding the filters and generally being repugnant, with Magic they do it in the same room and will often stop it if you ask in my experience. It's no different to reporting someone for using idiotic and inappropriate profanity in the middle of the bazaar.

I played competitive magic for ten years and met my wife playing it, which is a great thing because the family now plays Wizard101 and has a great time. first hit the shelves when I turned 16- imagine that for a moment. I flunked FAR too many exams because of that game, and even though I ended up working for the company it took a while to get a career on track.

Awesome game. Rocked my world. I've been 'clean' for 5 years now. *twitch*

Carlos Ravenhaven

Winged Nazgul said...

In another life, I was the proud possessor of a 4-digit DCI member ID, complete set of Power 10, and various tournament level decks of all types. I've since cashed out my cards and know better than to dabble a little bit with the addiction that is M:TG.

Wizard 101 first attracted me because the combat mechanics resembled M:TG and not because of the Harry Potter inspiration. TBH, I have read all the Harry Potter books and watched the movies because of time spent playing in Wizard 101. It's obvious KingsIsle got the inspiration for their combat from M:TG mechanics but tweaking it to both the MMO and intended tween audience. I quickly found that deck building in W101 wasn't as robust as I had hoped it would be. On the upside, I found being able to burn through your deck by wholesale discarding a welcome change.

One of the things Duels of the Planeswalkers really doesn't teach very well are advanced play concepts like card advantage:

Heroic Pyromancer said...

You play magic, too? Friendly, what color deck do you play? I play green blue infect deck and a red white deck from the new starter deck new phyrexia. I have been playing Mtg for about a year. I hope you will become an awesome and strategic magic duelist, and your daughter.-Thunderblade
Btw, I have a new profession: drawing wizards. I have two wizards currently I am drawing. After that, it is you to draw next. So if you could just drop by on w101 and wear an outfit that represents so I could draw you, that would be fantastic.

Raven said...

when i was 13 i play MTG.
that was back in 93. then
when Wizard101 came out i got a email
from some one to join and i would get a free pet. so i did get the free friend dragon pet now
i have spend over $6,000 on wizard101
and one MTG lot more then that.
and now for the mtg players cheak
out my deck and my site

John Lifeglen said...

I've dabbled in M:TG by borrowing one of around 30 of my friend's decks. She's insanely deep into it. It's a great time and I really enjoyed learning to play. My favorite of her decks was a blue/black deck that forced the opponent to discard a lot of cards and take damage for doing so.

All of her decks are scarily set up in a manner to completely shut down something the opponent can do. Using her "easy" green deck I quickly realized that I could build up an N critter and add trample and then just go to town!

If you're enjoying M:TG then you might want to take a peek at Elements. It is also a turn based card game, totally free, all online. You're playing CPUs. It's sort of similar-ish in play. Just check out

I'm glad you and your daughter can have so much fun with it!

Firezilla said...

I have dabbed in the MTG Art, and I have to say, it is very adicting! My cousin plays in tournements for cash, but I do it for fun. Oh, and the five types of cards (Red, Green, Blue, White, Black) to me, reasembles Fire, Earth, Water, Light, and Darkness.

Jason Dragonblood said...

If you bought the duel of planeswalkers 2012 on stream, xbox 360, or PS3 then don't forget to get the code and follow the instructions on the site it sends you to. You can get a ticket to turn in for a free promo card. I traded mine in and got my card plus 2 free minidecks they were giving away.

Seth Dragonflame said...

It helps when u make ur own deck, rather than using a deck u bought in the store. for instance, u can make a black deck, since most black cards can generate u can block with that card and regenerate it that turn

Anonymous said...

After leaving Wizard101, I stumbled upon MTG and instantly loved it! The main thing that attracted me to MTG was all the different cards and deck ideas. If you try hard enough, you can build a deck around almost any card which gives you endless possibilities. In wizard101, the choices are much more limited. I enjoyed the feeling of individuality that MTG provided me. However, since I enjoy building many types of deck with multiple different cards, the cost of MTG is rather high. But if you're a casual player who also plays wizard101, MTG would be perfect for you!

Fin and Quinn said...

Thanks Friendly. You broke the ice for me. I have always wanted to play Magic, but I never really took the time to. I just returned from the store, and my Dad and I are going to play it after we learn it. Thanks Friendly. Oh and if you are into card and board games, you should try out, Settlers of Catan, and Dominion.(though they can be expensive, but they are very fun.)-Fin

Tesh said...

MTG is a rock solid game. I've played it since high school (which was er... 16 years ago), and I've dabbled with designing my own cards more than once. Every gamer should at least be aware of the game and learn its core concepts. It's a very well designed game.

The marketing and addictive nature of the production of the thing is also worth studying... and avoiding. You can get a lot out of the game without getting sucked in, though. (The XBox iteration is pretty good for this, too.)

I definitely saw MTG roots in W101, and thought it stronger for it. It does things its own way in many cases, but drawing on MTG for some inspiration helped it build its own solid game design.

...I do like W101's monetization system better, though. ;)

Dylan Anvilcrafter said...

I have only one word for you. SLIVERS. Check them out.

PyromancerJonathan said...

I play MTG. Have for 4 years, over 1,500 cards. If you have any question about it, feel free to ask, :)

Jenna UnicornDreamer said...

I have a Magic deck... I dont play well :p