Magic: the Gathering

Magic: the Gathering started with a handful of friends in 1993 that built a fun card game featuring fantasy tropes, puns, and a verbose set of game mechanics that has evolved into a world-wide phenomenon to become the largest and most-played Collectable Card Game on the planet, as well as the most intricate game that has ever existed with regard to rules and rule interactions. Wizards of the Coast maintains this game and grows it every year with in-store play, tournaments, store-managed events, the Pro Tour, and playing the game on other platforms including console games and online play.

It’s also a ton of fun!

The game itself has a relatively easy rule set at the entry level, but it has a high mastery level. Like most of our games here in the shop, Magic has an amazing community of players and we support a variety of formats here in the store. We are also a Wizard’s Play Network store which means we have exclusive access to promo cards, art, and other awesome things that help make the store better and give you a reason to play at our tables instead of just at your kitchen table!

Wizard’s Play Network and Events

The Wizard’s Play Network is how Wizards of the Coast tracks players and stores for your record, performance, and even for big events that you are invited to. Any player who wants to play in any of those events will need an Account with Wizards of the Coast, which can be quickly and easily set up: Create a Wizards Account

Got that done? Neat! We’ll just need the email address you used to set the account up with, OR you’ll need to use the Companion App (available at your App store on your phone). The Companion App is pretty incredible and we highly recommend it for all of our players, including our typical Friday Night Magic players as it can make announcing parings a snap and it can also be used to track your life totals and other game aspects! Players using the Companion App can just log into the event at any Friendly Local Game Store, including Game State, after they’ve paid in for the event!

Formats and Events

Magic features a huge set of cards; as of September 2021, there were nearly 23,000 uniquely named cards in the game. But, not all of those cards are able to be used in every format, and some of them can’t be used in any format because they were printed as special sets. There are dozens of different ways to play, but here at Game State, we have a few shop-favorite formats and events scheduled around them.

Magic uses swiss-pairings for its rounds, meaning each player plays each round and is paired against a player of similar record for the event being played. The number of rounds being played depends on the number of players involved:

4-8 Players: 3 Rounds
9-16 Players: 4 Rounds
17-32 Players: 5 Rounds
33-64 Players: 6 Rounds
65-128 Players: 7 Rounds

Major events, big tournaments, and something other than our typical weekly events will have a cut to the Top 8 after Swiss Rounds have ended. Those rounds are single-elimination rounds where each player proceeds only if they won their matchup.

Now, on to the normal events we run!

Friday Night Magic – Limited Format

Friday Night Magic at Game State is almost always Draft, that is a limited Format where each player sits in a pod, typically of 8 players, and each player has 3 packs of cards. When the draft starts, each player opens one pack, takes the card that they want, and pass the remaining cards of that pack to the player on their left. The second pack goes to the right, and the third pack goes to the left. At the end of the draft, you have 42 cards to choose from to build your deck which is typically a total of 24-26 cards that are non-land cards and 14-16 land cards (lands generate the mana, or energy, you need to play the non-land cards or use special effects on cards in play or in your hand).

You get to keep the cards you draft and we also put two packs per player into the prize pool for the end of the event. Those packs are distributed to the top 50% or so of the players, plus there’s generally promotional cards and or packs from Wizards of the Coast!

We always recommend that players bring in a deck for a favorite format of theirs for pick-up games before or after Friday Night Magic!

Commander – Constructed Format

Commander has one of the largest set of cards that it can draw from, but there is a Banned List of cards that are not allowed in the format. Each deck is a 99 card deck and one of those cards is your Commander. This Commander must be a legendary creature and the mana symbols (the card’s color identity) dictates which mana symbols can be found in the other 99 cards; if your Commander is Black, White, and Red, you cannot have any cards with Blue or Green mana symbols in your deck.

Commander can be played 1v1 or it can be played in a multiplayer format with pods as large as 8. There are other ways to play that give players roles in a multiplayer format such as Two-Headed Giant, Kingdoms, Emperor, and other formats that put the players into a team or even into a battle of wits against the other players! Commander can also be played at a cut-throat, competitive level and while some of our players enjoy playing that way, the heart of this game is at a casual, fun, semi-competitive level.

You can either build your own deck or purchase a pre-constructed Commander Deck here in the shop! Ask our team or community for more details, and many of the players here have an extra deck (or 10) that you might be able to borrow to learn how to play! We usually play Commander on Saturday Nights, so check our

Modern – Constructed Format

Modern is a constructed format that uses a large number of the cards that go back to 8th Edition (or most of the cards since 2002!). Only cards printed specifically for Modern players (Modern Masters, Modern Horizons, etc) or normal Standard-legal Sets (any set typically sold by Draft Boosters) are allowed. Like the other formats, there is a Banned and Restricted List of cards that are not allowed in your deck, but this list is updated monthly where some cards are taken off the list and others may be added.

Modern is second only to Commander for favored Constructed Format for our players here in the shop. We play Modern on Sundays and our special events for Magic are typically either Modern or Pioneer.

Pioneer – Constructed Format

Pioneer is a newer format that we started playing on Saturdays. It has a smaller card pool than Modern, starting at Return to Ravnica and going forward to the most current sets. Pioneer has its own Banned and Restricted List and it is a little less cut-throat than Modern, but is still challenging and fun!

If you don’t have a Pioneer deck built yet, that’s just fine, most of our players have one that they might be willing to lend to you! Check our Events out and see when we’re running Pioneer here at Game State!

Pick Up Games

There’s generally players in the shop, especially in late afternoons and evenings, and they’re usually looking for players to sit down and play casual games, play-test new decks, or sit and brew new builds! Come on in, learn, test, or play, but bring your favorite decks with you!