Archenemy is a new way to play Magic The Gathering with your friends. Instead of the one-on-one duels that were the hallmark of the game (the XBLA game is called Duels of the Planeswalkers for the love of Pete), Archenemy makes one player uber-powerful so that he can take on two, three or even four other players. In fact, the rules do not limit the number of adversaries at all. In this way, if you have a bunch of guys (or girls) who want to play Magic, you have a way for everyone to be engaged together instead of splintering into separate corners of the room to duel it out. For me, it was a great way to reacquaint myself with the collectible card game as well as introduce some people in The Escapist office to the wonders of Magic.
I first started playing Magic the Gathering back in the proverbial day. It was 1993 and here was this game that was the perfect meld of the fantasy roleplaying tropes that I loved (elves, goblins, wizards, etc.) with easy gameplay that even my non-nerd friends could enjoy. I played for a year or two, but then my time was absorbed by high school drama club productions and, dare I say, girls. I sold my cards in the summer of 1995 to a buddy for a cool $200. He was happy to have them for there were more than a few rare artifacts in amongst the chaff of Grizzly Bears and basic lands. After I cashed out, I didn't really think about Magic for more than a decade.
The first time Magic reentered my life was during Gen Con 2009. I had been to the previous year's Gen Con but had limited my wanderings to the show floor and gaming nigh-on incessantly. The next year though, I had a little bit more free time to wander and I stumbled upon a back room that was filled to the brim with people hunched over thousands of square feet of tables, playing card games. It felt like I was in a different convention, to be honest, for these gamers were all participating in high-stakes tournaments of collectible card games, with Magic prominently featured as the prime event. There were plastic sheets protecting every card and players nervously shuffled their hands while plotting out their next play. The palpable tension was different than anything else at Gen Con, even when I happened to walk in at almost 11pm.
When I started working here at The Escapist this fall, Magic was still barely a blip on my radar. I had exchanged a few emails with a PR guy who worked for Wizards of the Coast and when he offered to send me some Magic cards, I thought, "What the hell?" It was fun to play when I was a kid, and it's now my job to be familiar with popular games. See, that's how they get you. Those little cards are like crack.
It started when an officemate saw the decks on my desk. "Oh hey, you play Magic?" "Yeah, I'm thinking about getting back into it." "Cool," he said. "I have thousands of cards after splurging on the Exalted set last year." "We should play." "Definitely." Inspired by that one tiny innocuous conversation, I've bought more than 30 boosters, decks and other accessories and I plan to go in with them on getting a box of boosters for the new Magic 2010 release later this month. *Sigh* I'm hooked again.