Puget Sound welcomes new Magic: The Gathering club


Puget Sound is now home to the UPS Magic Club, an organization of students dedicated to the Magic: The Gathering fantasy card game. Players and those wanting to learn are welcome to join and sit in to watch, participate and experience the MTG community with their peers. The UPS Magic Club meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Thompson 310.

The card game has been played since 1993, stemming from northwestern Washington and spreading around the world. Tournaments are hosted from coast to coast and can offer cash prizes of up to $45,000 for championship winners. Different events draw all manner of players to compete and can range from local businesses hosting smaller tournaments to the games of the Grand Prix. Recently at a tournament in Charlotte, N.C., attendance records were shattered with upwards of 2,600 players.

Here at Puget Sound, however, the competition is far from formal and allows casual players to improve their skills and have fun while battling other students on the tabletop. Part of the club’s philosophy is that any player can join, and with more play comes the improvement of skills. More advanced players are able to guide newer players through the various rules and regulations of MTG.

Part of what makes the game so daunting is the rules that influence every moment of play.

“So far, I feel like it’s kind of a high barrier for entry,” freshman Victoria Vaz said. “But I feel like people have been conscientious of the fact that I’m still a new player. People are pretty accommodating because they know that the metagame is … hard to understand.” Vaz has not been playing for as long as many club members, having started in the summer of 2012.

The club’s vice president Kazuya Tamura, officially referred to as the Deputy Tsar, has been playing on and off for the past six years. Tamura often plays in local competitions where others are strictly casual.

“It’s always fun to see people try something new, something they maybe haven’t tried before, something they didn’t think they would try until they heard about the club,” Tamura said.

While casual play allows for new members to delve under the surface and hone their skills, sanctioned competition is not necessarily the next step. “If you find that you want to be more competitive at Magic, then … definitely do it. But if not, that’s what casual Magic is for,” Tamura said.

The UPS Magic Club aims to help those interested in both areas of play, providing smaller events for the members of the club. Internal funding helps to raise money for cards with which the members can play in sealed events. These smaller events are a less strict preview of how Wizards-sponsored competitions might play out.

Junior Mark Frankle, President/Tsar and founder of the club, hoped to unify players in group play, tournaments and other events within the Puget Sound players’ community.

“I decided back in September of 2012 that I was sick of having people play Magic separately, I was sick of having a bunch of tiny little … playgroups, and people had been talking about a Magic club since I was a freshman—so I decided that it was time to actually get it done,” Frankle said.

Frankle relates that the club had humble beginnings as many Magic groups do: by crowding people together in Thompson Hall, in whatever room they found open to them.

“The club is a place for people to gather, so we get a lot of people that we wouldn’t normally see,” Frankle said.

Part of what makes a community necessary for the game is the fact that it requires a minimum of two players to have real-time interaction. Magic: The Gathering Online has made it easier for people to connect without face-to-face communication, but the physical presence brings the game to life in a way that the online world cannot.

“It only gets better with more people together,” Frankle said. “Variety in both player and deck are both important. We have a gamut from casual to competitive that’s much better now than it was. People grow as players and make a lot of different connections, friendships … Nobody’s in their mom’s basement. This is college. Puget Sound is a place where everybody is a nerd, and that’s one of the things I love most about it.”

The UPS Magic Club consists of people from all grades and areas of study, and encourages anyone interested to join in the game. The club seeks to include and assist anyone from any background to pick up a deck and jump in.