I played Magic: The Gathering a little when I was in my early teen's.
We were intellectual kids, we liked that sort of thing. Chess, Go, MTG, etc.
A couple acquaintances I knew went on to be pretty good, like competing at their big tournaments. I gather that the MTG world is big enough that you can actually scratch a pretty decent living playing, if you're good, and it's a lot of fun (though intensely stressful).
I think one of the reasons Magic was so much more popular than other similar games is because they got the "color" right - the names of the cards, their effects, and the general metaphors towards real life things are spot-on. Similar to how Chess thrives by its pieces being military/kingdom units, Magic thrives at least in part because the cards can be analogized to parts of human nature we all intuitively know.
This one has always fascinated me -
Costs: One blue mana
Enchants one creature.
The creature gets +3 offense and +3 defense when unstable mutation is played.
The create then gets -1 offense and -1 defense every turn, permanently, until it dies.
If you don't know the game even rudimentarily, it's hard to put this into context. But basically, it takes something weak early on and makes it VERY strong. It packs its biggest punch by coming out of nowhere into strength. Then it grows weaker and dies.
Coming into strength is hard. Enduring, lasting strength - no tricks - even harder. Unstable Mutation is a nice trick. It's like, BAM, that 1 attack 1 defense guy just became a 4/4. That's a big deal.
But then you die as the trick wears off.
That's life, eh? Building lasting strength takes 3-4 turns of training, prep, resource development. You can do a little trick, mortgaging the future to get more power now... but it costs you in the long run.
Of course, you could try to parlay that trick into huge gains, and consolidate before you die off.
But, of course, everyone thinks they can do that, but everyone's not always right...
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