From humble beginnings way back in the early 90s with Limited Edition Alpha (cards from which now fetch a small fortune) to the exponentially more successful and mainstream collectable card game enjoyed by millions today, Magic: The Gathering is arguably the quintessential tabletop experience perhaps second only to Dungeons & Dragons. Thirty years ago, however, Richard Garfield could never have foreseen the budding phenomenon he had created, even revealing recently that he never expected it to succeed to such a degree.
Speaking to Geek Tyrant in a new interview, Garfield details how, when it became clear that Magic was destined for exceptional success, he was in disbelief. This was despite his own confidence in having created a good product – something, he says, is rarely enough on its own to ensure good fortune.
I was floored at the time with Magic‘s success, I never would have thought it would succeed like it has. I knew it was a good, compelling, and unique game when it came out – but many games I loved weren’t super successful so I knew that being good wasn’t enough.
While Garfield has since departed Wizards of the Coast to become an independent game designer, he continues to play Magic, telling the site that draft and sealed deck formats are among those he has a particular fondness for, adding, “when I construct a deck I like making weird stuff work – or more often failing at it.”
A fascinating trip down memory lane, then, and Magic: The Gathering continues to evolve almost three decades later. The latest expansion, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, is available now for MTG Arena, though due to manufacturing delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, physical versions of the set won’t be widely available for a few weeks as yet. For the latest updates on that front, see here.