In my time as a Magic player I have come to form opinions on the game. I don’t claim for these opinions to be the most learned opinions, but they are what I have formed over the years.
What I love:
Magic is whatever you want it to be.
It can be “that one game” you play at times, kinda like how most people play board games. It can be what your group of friends does every weekend. It can be something to be competitive over. It can become your career.
Magic can be played however you want.
There are so many formats and philosophies to the game that you can pick and choose want you want to do with the game. Duels, multiplayer, EDH/Commander, budget, pauper, cube, draft, constructed, etc. Hell, I’m sure there are some people out there who have a metagame of only using pre-con decks (that would be very interesting to try out).
This is what got me into the game. You can design your deck however you want, with whatever theme you want, in whatever colors you want. The restrictions on mana and costs force you to be even more creative in your choices.
Each block comes out with new mechanics and has a new point of view on old ideas. There are so many different cards in magic (over 13,000) that there is probably something you’ll like.
The game isn’t just a pile of mechanics. There are tales about the characters in the cards. You liked Mikaeus, thought he was a cool guy? You’ll be disappointed then.
Magic is just a game afterall. Even if a video game has good graphics, wonderful story, and deep characters if the gameplay is simply unplayable none of that matters. The same is true for card games. I think Magic’s system is wonderful (other than explaining the stack to new players).
What I don’t like:
The monetary cost.
It’s an expensive hobby. It is hard to describe to people why $5 is cheap for Mana Vault, or why Black Lotus costs $6000. They are just pieces of cardboard after all. This said, I still buy a fair amount of cards each year, I just dread how empty my wallet will afterwards.
The process of teaching new players.
I love getting new blood, but the sheer depth that Magic has can make it complicated to teach a new person. They might find some things intuitive while others completely stupid (again, the stack is one of those things to some).
I also feel a tad guilty when I basically get people hooked on the cardboard-crack that is Magic (some people I’ve helped along quickly spent over $100 on cards. I even saw a guy who bought the entire High Tide deck within two weeks of starting the game… wasn’t sure how to feel about that).
What I hate:
Magic is whatever you want it to be, and can be played however you want.
Yes, I did list these in the “what I love” section as well.
People come from different points of view on the game, thus their understanding of cards is mixed. At times you will hear complaints that a card is bad when it isn’t, or hear that a card is good when it is terrible. This is usually from the casual crowd, probably the largest demographic of Magic players. And who can blame them? It is not required that just because you find the game fun you must read every single article there is on magic, study the process that R&D makes cards, and learn how to analyze cards in respect to the format they are printed in and other cards that came before it. That said, this can be annoying to people at times who do do such things.
People also have their own philosophies on the game. I have heard of someone being proud they only buy individual cards for decks they want to play (to saving money), while I have heard another disliking anyone who builds decks out of anything but random packs. People like to make up their own rules for the game (a pet peeve of mine), such as changing poison damage to 15 or making Emrakul counterable and only have Annihilator 4. The definition of what “casual” means is a massive topic of debate. Because of all of this it can be hard to find new people to play with and even frustrating to talk about the game with others.
Even when playing a specific format with agreed rules you can find people who get pissy about how others’ decks are created. The power level disparity in casual is a problem. Many look down on netdeckers. Someone even got mad at me for using the Rats’ Nest deck (with Umezawa’s Jitte removed) of all things, saying tribal was overpowered (this was within the first three turns of me using the deck).
I know people out there will disagree with something I’ve said here, but that is to be expected. The variety of opinions is Magic’s greatest strength and weakness.