Several video games based on the Magic: The Gathering franchise exist for multiple systems. Some have attempted to translate the card game to electronic play nearly exactly; others have taken more liberties and drawn more from the setting than the actual rules of the card game. Benefits of successful video game versions of the card game include convenience, practice, and challenge. However, artificial intelligence for a game such as Magic is an extremely hard problem, and such software usually must be continuously updated to stay current with recently released card sets. Video game versions often expand on artwork, and may include unique cards that rely on randomly generated numbers or variables, effects which would be difficult or annoying to duplicate in real life.

Magic: The Gathering (Microprose)

Named after the game itself, Magic: The Gathering was published by MicroProse in February 1997. The game takes place in the plane of Shandalar, where the player must travel the land and fight random enemies to gain cards, and defeat five wizards representing the five colors. The player must prevent one color from gaining too much power, and defeat the planeswalker Arzakon, who has a deck of all five colors. Adventure game and role-playing game elements are present, including inventory, gold, towns, dungeons, random battles, and character progression in the form of new abilities and a higher life point total. Two expansion packs were published, Spells of the Ancients and Duels of the Planeswalkers.

The game is notable as being the last game the esteemed game designer Sid Meier (Civilization, Railroad Tycoon) worked on while employed by Microprose, though his involvement was short. Meier left before development was complete to found Firaxis Games.

Magic: The Gathering: BattleMage

Magic: The Gathering: BattleMage is a real time strategy game published in 1997 by Acclaim. It is set on the continent of Corondor, where a planeswalker named Ravidel forces the most powerful mages to fight each other, so that he can eventually destroy them and conquer the land. The game received a poor critical reception due to its unfair AI, unfriendly interface, and unbalanced gameplay.

Magic: The Gathering: Armageddon

Magic: The Gathering: Armageddon is an extremely rare arcade game published by Acclaim in 1997, somewhat similar to BattleMage. It is possible that as few as four machines were made. Acclaim's Mountain View, California-based coin-op division went out of business shortly after creating the game, so it never went into full production.[1]

Gameplay is a cross between real time combat and strategy, with characters representing one of the five colors. White had healing and soldiers; Blue countermagic and water creatures; Black death and undead creatures; Red fire and mountain creatures; and Green elves and forest magic. The game was controlled with a trackball, and supported up to two players.[2]

Magic: The Gathering (Sega)

Magic: The Gathering is a Dreamcast game published and released by Sega in June 2001, though in Japan only. It takes place in the town of Magic Heart, the surrounding areas of Murg, Camat Island, Lydar Forest, Yeluk, Tornell, and The Balance Tower. It includes cards from 6th edition, Alliances, and Tempest. The game included 10 cards unique to it, generally utilizing random mechanics that would be difficult to implement in real-life card play.

Magic: The Gathering Interactive Encyclopedia

The Magic: The Gathering Interactive Encyclopedia is an application and database of cards released by Wizards of the Coast. At its time of release, it contained up to the Mercadian Masques expansion; its database was updatable over the Internet, and continued to be updated by Wizards until the release of Judgment and Magic Online, which Wizards considered as superseding the Interactive Encyclopedia.

The Encyclopedia included a strategy information section and deck builder with pricing. It also included a free online play mode, albeit one lacking rules enforcement.

Magic: The Gathering Online

Magic: The Gathering Online is a 2002 game developed by Leaping Lizard Software and maintained by Wizards of the Coast itself since version 2.0 in 2004. It focuses purely on gameplay, and includes no additional storyline. Included are cards from Invasion and all later sets (excluding Unhinged), with updates available as new sets are printed. Magic Online has also attempted to release older sets, starting with the Mirage block. Games are held in chatroom-style sessions, and virtual cards can be won or purchased with real money. Virtual cards can also be converted to real paper cards by having WotC mail them to you but at the cost of losing them in the online virtual world. MTGO also offers a variety of online tournaments including draft, in which players use purchased/traded tickets and booster packs to enter into a draft. The prize is to win many more booster packs as well as keep all the original cards in the booster packs you joined the draft with.

Magic: The Gathering – Battlegrounds

Magic: The Gathering – Battlegrounds is an Atari game released in 2003 for both the PC and Xbox platforms. It was another attempt to do a real-time battling game, with wizards frantically running around casting spells. The Xbox version of the game offered downloadable creatures, arenas, and enchantments, though the PC version did not.

Magic: The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers

Magic: The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers is a video game based on the popular collectible card game of the same name for the Xbox Live Arcade and Microsoft Windows developed by Stainless Games Ltd and published by Wizards of the Coast. It was released first on XBLA June 17th, 2009, with a PC version being said to follow. It was announced on February 18, 2008 by way of a press release.[3] An expansion pack was released on XBLA on 21st October 2009.

Magic: The Gathering Tactics

Magic: The Gathering Tactics is an online turn-based strategy video game for the PC based on the card game. Announced on November 2, 2009, it will be developed and published by Sony Online Entertainment, with a release date in late 2010.[4]

Independent and freeware adaptations

Various independent programmers have made software associated with Magic: The Gathering, albeit not always with the approval of Wizards of the Coast. One of the more notable early attempts was Apprentice, which was designed to emulate real-world play over the Internet. It allowed players to connect to each other and play, but all the rules-enforcement was done "by hand," just as in the real world. DragonStar studios got Wizards of the Coast's permission for the product, and it had no copyrighted art in it. Magic Workstation is similar to Apprentice in that is gameplay only, but adds more graphical support. It is not officially sanctioned by Wizards of the Coast, and mentioning it on their official forums (it is known as simply "the forbidden program") is a violation of the Terms of Use.

Another piece of software in a legal grey area is MtG Editor, a tool which creates images of self-designed Magic: The Gathering cards. Its creator, Mr. Weikopf, was sent a cease and desist letter concerning distribution of the software.

Magic Set Editor, a custom card creation program created by Twan Van Laarhoven, is still under going development, and released a new version (0.3.8) on January 15, 2009. The program has grown to include various additional features, including statistical data on the set being created, random booster pack generators, translations for ten languages, and support for 28 games. MSE also supports exporting created Magic sets to both Apprentice and LackeyCCG.

Firemox (previously known as Magic-Project) is an open source Java program that matches players over the Internet and also enforces the rules. The card game rules are coded in a custom XML language. Moreover, the rules engine is independent from Magic: The Gathering, so further implementations of other card games are possible. Currently Firemox has around 6,000 Magic: The Gathering cards available.

MTG Forge is another program with rules enforcement; it also attempts the more difficult problem of artificial intelligence for a computer player. Currently it has over 3500 cards.

Lackey CCG is an engine that attempts to simulate many card games. It has a plugin which contains over 13000 Magic cards, some of which are different editions of the same card. Like older attempts, the rules of play are enforced "by hand". It offers simple networking, and has a constant server to host all games, but matching people with identical plugins is more difficult.

OCTGN is a collectible card game simulator which is designed to play Magic: The Gathering and other games. The software is modeled after the Magic: The Gathering Encyclopedia, and uses the same format for card data. Currently, OCTGN2 can be setup to support online, including sealed, games and users can import over 13,000 Magic: The Gathering cards to build a deck using the deck editor component.

Daring Apprentice is a 3d Apprentice-like Magic: The Gathering tabletop. It focuses on an intuitive user interface, but does not support internet play yet.

Wagic, The Homebrew?! (WTH?!) is a game with rules enforcement, that includes an artificial intelligence and focuses on solitaire game versus the computer. Although a Windows and a Linux version are available, it is primarily designed for the Sony PSP.


  1. Jindra, Mark (2008-04-05). Ask Wizards. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2008-07-23
  2. Magic The Gathering: Armageddon. Retrieved on 2008-07-23
  4. Announcing Magic: The Gathering Tactics (2009-11-02). Retrieved on 2009-11-02

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