Sorin is a player of one of the biggest, fascinating and complex card games: Magic: The Gathering. He told me many times about it and he also invited me to one of his meetings with other players… but I didn’t make time for this. But because he is just as stubborn as I am, yesterday he came to our house with more decks and some beers and we finally let the fun begin.
Later I found out that Hearthstone is often compared with Magic: The Gathering, as they have many things in common. And they really do.
Mana, Life, the strategy of combining cards, the monsters, I understood them right away because I was already used with Hearthstone. But I have to say that this was actually my first experience with an offline card game so complex and with so many rules.
As any other epic games out there, Magic: The Gathering has its background covered in fantastic stories in an infinite realm of Magical worlds. Also, when a new deck comes out, a short video is made, with amazing graphics and effects.
Although I find a little hard to explain the rules, as I am also a noob, I’ll do my best.
🎴 Each player has at first 20 life and whoever knocks down the opponent, wins. There are 8 types of main cards: Creature, Artifact, Enchantment, Instant, Land, Planeswalker, Tribal, and Sorcery.
🎴Creature is the only card that can attack or block. The creatures have a power of attack and a toughness/ life. Some of them also have abilities that can boost their stats and become more powerful. The other types also include a creature or spells that improve the stats, give you life, return a card from the graveyard etc.
🎴 That’s why, even though the creatures may be the core, the other cards can change the outcome of the game. They are supporting players: with Sorcery and Enchantments you can change the stats and become really powerful, while with Instant cards you can block an attack or change the stats of a creature right away when you are being attacked.
🎴 To summon a card, you’ll need mana, which is in the form of Land cards: Plains, Forest, Mountain, Island, and Swamp. Obviously, the more powerful a card is, the more mana it costs.
Hearthstone vs. Magic: The Gathering
First, I want to point out the money issue. Hearthstone is free to play, while Magic is Pay to Play.
To play Magic online you have to pay around 10$ per month and if you want to play it physical, obviously, you have to buy decks. The decks themselves aren’t expensive, but if you want to win at least one game, you will have to buy more decks, as a good deck is often made out of the best cards from many other decks.
Card games are most of the time Pay to Win because as you can guess, there are many types of cards, each of them with their particularities, some are rare cards, while others have incredible stats.
But the important question here is how much you have to pay in order to win. While the most expensive deck in Hearthstone was around 200 $, a Magic card can reach the sum of thousand of dollars. Why? Because they really exploited the rarity of some cards. There are even 2 cards which were printed only once. Imagine how much they cost now.
So why would I pay so much to play a game? I would have to be really passionate about the game. And I think that’s the interesting part of Magic. It attracts people with its stories and it bets on its exclusiveness.
And even though up to a point I can be called a geek, I don’t think I would invest money because I’m volatile and after a week or two I can stop playing it, as I did with many others.
I think games are supposed to be casual hobbies, but I agree that Magic: The Gathering is one of the best games out there and the superstar of CCGs. If you have the luxury to spend money in the game, it’s really a nice hobby to have, otherwise I think you can feel kind of limited.
Regarding the rules of the games, I think they are quite alike. Considering that Magic is a lot older, I would say that Hearthstone was inspired after Magic.
In both games you draw cards, summon creatures, use spells and also, the objective is the same, getting the other player to 0 life. But, it’s true, Magic is a little more complex. While in Magic the cards have a graveyard and you can get them back, in Hearthstone they are simply destroyed, with no chance of getting them back.
Also, in Hearthstone each player gets one mana with each turn, while in Magic you have to draw Land cards, in order to have mana. So you can happen to have creatures, but no mana or the other way around.
Obviously, Magic: The Gathering takes more time to learn than Hearthstone, which is an advantage for the players who want games to make them use their mind intensely and to the ones that have the time to lose themselves in a fantastic world with many stories to learn about.
In conclusion, Magic: The Gathering is fun to play and it can give you some kind of a special feeling, as you are playing an exclusive game.
Just like board games or other physical games, it is more personal and it’s a nice way to spend time with your friends. If I want to spend time with friends and play a game, between these two, I would choose Magic. But if I want to relax my mind and just play a game, I would choose Hearthstone.