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Magic: The Gathering facts for kids

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Magic: The Gathering is a trading card game. Players buy and trade cards, and build their own card decks. Decks must have at least 60 cards. Players can play in tournaments, and there are even professional Magic players. Most players of Magic: The Gathering simply call the game Magic. The game is in a fantasy world involving magic. Richard Garfield made the game in 1993. It is said to be the first trading card game. The current Head Designer is Mark Rosewater, who also writes a weekly article about the game called "Making Magic."

2 or more people play the game. Players attack each other causing them to lose life points. Each player starts at 20 life points. There are many kinds of cards that can be used to reduce another player's life. Players can attack another player with a creature or deal direct damage with a spell. You win the game by reducing your opponent's life to 0, when your opponent runs out of cards to draw, or when a card says that you win the game.


Richard Garfield started to make the game at University of Pennsylvania. In 1993 he showed the game to the game company Wizards of the Coast. The company liked the game, and started to produce it.

The first cards were made in 1993. The cards are produced in groups of cards called "sets". The first sets were very successful, so more sets were made. About four sets are produced each year. Cards made before 2003 look different than newer cards, but are still compatible with the modern game in most cases.

Professional Magic began in 1996. Professionals play in tournaments around the world in the Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour. A player can win as much as $40,000 in one tournament.

Magic: The Gathering Online (MTGO) was made in 2002. Magic players can now play their favorite game on the internet. A new MTGO was released in 2008. Also, a new online version called MTG Arena was released in 2019.

Generally more males play the game than females.

Playing the Game

A game of Magic is played by two or more players. A player starts the game with twenty "life points". A player loses when he or she has zero or fewer life points. There are different ways to lose life points: players play "creature" cards and attack other players with them, or players play spells on other players. There are also other ways for players to lose: they have no cards in their deck, they have 10 "poison counters", or a card is played that says they lose.

Players begin the game by shuffling their decks (mixing up their cards) and then taking up seven cards. Each card has a different power. Players takes one new card at the start of each turn, but the first player does not take a card on their first turn. There are many steps in each turn. Certain cards can only be played in certain steps. A player can have no more than seven cards at the end of their turn. If they do, they must put cards into their "graveyard" (next to their deck) till they only have seven.

There are two basic kinds of cards: "spells" and "lands". Lands give its player "mana" (magical energy). Mana is used to cast spells. A player may only play one land each turn. More powerful spells take more mana to play. There are also different kinds of spells. "Sorceries" and "instants" are played, and go directly to the "graveyard" after their effects take place. "Permanents" stay in play after they are played, and their effects stay as well. "Creatures" are a special kind of permanent that can attack and damage other players.

legendary creatures and planeswalkers are a totally different matter.

Colors of "Magic"

Most spells are one of five colors: white, blue, black, red, and green. To play a spell, at least one mana that is the same color as the spell is needed. Players normally get this mana from "basic lands": "plains" for white, "island" for blue, "swamp" for black, "mountain" for red, and "forest" for green. Each color has strengths and weaknesses, with white magic dealing in protection and defense, blue magic dealing with manipulation and thinking, black magic dealing in death and greed, red magic dealing in fire and emotion, and green magic dealing in strength and nature.


Each card has a picture that gives an idea of the power of the card. Card sets are usually made along with stories, and the pictures on cards generally show actions, events or characters in the stories.


  • 1994: Mensa Select Award winner
  • 1994: Origins Awards for Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Board game of 1993 and Best Graphic Presentation of a Board game of 1993
  • 1994: Origins Award for the Legends set as Best Game Accessory
  • 1995: Deutscher Spiele Preis special award for new gameplay
  • 1995: Italian Gaming Society Gioco dell'Anno award winner
  • 1996: Super As d'Or award for "Best New Game Concept and Genre Introduced in France"
  • 1997: InQuest Fan Award for Best CCG Expansion for the Weatherlight expansion
  • 1998 Origins Award for the Urza's Saga set as Collectible Card Game Expansion of the Year
  • 1999: Inducted alongside Richard Garfield into the Origins Hall of Fame
  • 2003: Games Magazine selected Magic for its Games Hall of Fame
  • 2005: Origins Award for the Ravnica: City of Guilds expansion as Collectible Card Game Expansion of the Year
  • 2009: Origins Award for the Shards of Alara set as Collectible Card Game Expansion of the Year

Richard Garfield and Donato Giancola have also won personal awards for Magic.

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