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Another great innovation it has over chess is making people pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year to the creator. I'm only being half sarcastic here; monetization seems like a difficult aspect of game design for an "analog" game like this.





>Another great innovation it has over chess is making people pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year to the creator. I'm only being half sarcastic here; monetization seems like a difficult aspect of game design for an "analog" game like this.

In the original rules of the game, players had to ante up a random card from their deck every game. There were other cards that added to this ante during the game itself, much like doubling in backgammon. The point was to make the person who went out and spent a lot of money on the deck likely to risk more "monetarily" than the player who only spent a few dollars.

I played this way for many years and I still think it's the best way to play the game, with the trading of cards to get back the ante card a key mechanism to improve one's deck.


Some parts of this are appealing but overall it seems like a bad design; new players and players with worse decks will have to give up cards far more often. Their cards will be cheaper on average, yes, but having to frequently replace a random card sounds like it would be very tedious. This also icentivizes people to pick on weaker players.

There’s just enough luck involved that the risk-reward ratio was probably mostly right in those early days, especially as the game wasn’t designed with the expectation players would ever have perfect information about scarcity and relative power level of individual cards.

Even so, it wasn’t fun to play with ante, so most people didn’t do it; Magic smartly went with the flow rather than fight against it, and that’s a huge reason why the game persists successfully to this day.

(Details gleaned primarily from episodes of Mark Rosewater’s “Drive to Work” podcast, at least the best episodes of which are mandatory listening imo for any designer of any stripe, especially one who is also at all a fan of MtG. Yes, Garfield is the game’s creator, but Maro is the game’s central nervous system and has been for more than 15 years!)




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