Playing with Magic: A tournament for everyone


Last week's wet cold of Duluth was a minor inconvenience to the warm, inviting interior of Dungeon’s End. Inside, dozens of people rip open little slips filled with cardboard and the scent of a freshly printed book. They’re playing Magic: The Gathering.

Magic: The Gathering is a collectible trading card game where you build a deck of various fantasy things and duel with another player. It’s a combination of strategy, skill, and, yes, luck.

Zach Lunderberg has been coming to Dungeon’s End to play almost weekly ever since he came back from studying abroad in Japan. But this weekend in particular is special because a new set of cards is being “pre”-released.

Every few months, a new set of cards is released, generating continued interest and changing up the way the game is played. The prerelease lets players play with the cards a week before they hit store shelves.

For these pre-releases, a different kind tournament is run.

Instead of building decks ahead of time, players open six packs and construct decks on the spot using the cards they open. This makes it so you are both opening new cards and playing with them immediately.


“A lot of it comes down to the luck of the draw,” said Lunderberg. “Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t.”

A certain level of luck does come into play, as not everyone opens the same cards. However, the company that releases Magic: The Gathering, Wizards of the Coast, releases the full set online so players can see what the set will look like and plan ahead.

Though this particular midday turnout wasn’t the biggest, these kinds of events tend to be on larger side people wise. Because there is no need to own cards beforehand, lots of new players show up to these kinds of events.

The tournament in total runs for four rounds, which takes between five and six hours to complete and prizes are awarded to the top players, usually in the form of more packs.

Lunderberg went 1-3 that day, I went 3-1.


But playing the game is just one aspect of it, another is the thriving secondary market, which acts as a mini stock market solely for Magic cards. Some players can leave with more money than they spent to buy in.

Unfortunately, both Lunderberg and I lost money that Saturday. Still, a lot of it comes down to the experience.

It just goes to show that sometimes, especially when the weather is down, that you can have just as much fun on inside.


This story is part of our #Five3Duluth project, a collaborative social media event chronicling a day in the life of Duluth. If you want to read more stories like this or participate yourself, join us on Saturday, May 3, by sharing your pictures or stories that day on Twitter at #Five3Duluth.

May 3 in history: The wreck of the Hesper

Target shooting: keeping sharp in the off season