Magic the Gathering!
Okay, so for those of you who don't know, Magic is a card game. Each player assembles a deck that is composed of land, creatures, and spells. Land is used as a mana source to fuel your spells, and can be used each turn. There are 5 basic types of land: Plains (white mana), Mountains (red mana), Forests (green mana), Swamps (black mana), and Islands (blue mana).
In the upper right hand corner of a card is the mana cost. A number over a gray circle indicates that many mana of any color. All other mana costs appear as a colored symbol. You may (generally) have a limit of 4 of any one specific card in your deck, with the exception of basic land. So if you have 4 Shivan Dragons, you are not allowed to have any more, but you can put other types of dragons in. Depending on the type of game being played, there is a lower limit of 60 cards in a player's deck... which means that even if you pour tons of money into building the ultimate deck, there's always a chance that you'll just be dealt a bad hand.
Basic game play goes as follows:
Each player begins with 20 life points. The object is to be the last player with life points after all other players have been eliminated. A player may be eliminated by reducing their life total to 0, by attempting to draw from their deck when it contains no cards, or by receiving 10 or more poison counters.
Each player has a starting hand of 7 cards. Each player takes a turn in a pre-determined order. A turn is separated into the following phases:
- Untap step – All resources become available.
- Upkeep step – pay any ongoing costs.
- From this step on, the stack is in effect. Basically, if you take an action and an opponent reacts with an instant card, that instant goes into effect before your action. If you play an instant card in response, your response goes into affect before their card, and so on.
- Draw step – draw one card from your deck.
- Play cards from your hand. Summon creatures, play sorceries, react to the instant spells your opponents may play.
- You may play a total of one land from your hand per turn.
- Creatures which have just been summoned typically have summoning sickness and cannot be used during their first turn in play.
- You assign attackers from your usable creatures to attack a target player.
- That player may assign defending creatures to block your attacking creatures.
- All damage is assigned. Any creatures destroyed during this turn are put into the graveyard.
- Same as First Main Phase.
- Once again, only one land per turn.
- Ending Phase:
- Anything that resolves at the end of turn takes place.
Of course, for every rule, there's a card that violates it. In all cases, the text on the card supersedes the general rules of play. In a two player game, the first player skips their first draw step.
If you've never played Magic, I would highly recommend giving it a try. It's a great lunchtime diversion at work. You'll know you're playing right if the combination of cards you just played seems like it should be cheating. Or maybe you're already a longtime planeswalker. I like my blue/white merfolk deck. What do you play?