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Ten Things You Didn't Know — Magic: The Gathering

In the latest Ten Things You Didn't Know column Karen Knapstein examines Magic: The Gathering. The popular role playing card game marks 25 years in 2018.

1Magic: The Gathering was created by Richard Garfield and introduced by publisher Wizards of the Coast in August 1993. This was the same year Garfield earned his PhD in mathematics. In the year 2018, the popular role playing card game will turn 25 and earn its official “vintage” status. is the world’s largest Magic: The Gathering store. The store boasts an impressive inventory that includes out-of print sealed product and more than 20 million individual cards.

Magic: The Gathering – A History of Popularity

3 According to Ben Bleiweiss, General Manager of Acquisitions at, a near-mint

Black Lotus Card

Card, Black Lotus, Alpha, card type: Artifact, artist: Christopher Rush, rarity: rare. $20,000-$30,000.(Courtesy of

condition Alpha set of Magic: The Gathering, “will set you back at least $150,000.”

4 The Black Lotus card is one of the most eagerly sought after by collectors. During January 2017, a 1993 Alpha Black Lotus card, graded BGS (Beckett Grading Services) 9.0, sold on eBay for $23,999. In December 2016, A Beta Black Lotus, graded BGS 8.5 NM-MT+ sold on eBay for $9,499.99. As of February 2017, has a Alpha Black Lotus listed at a price of $19,999.99 – but it’s currently out of stock.

5 Richard Garfield, Magic: the Gathering, and Wizards of the Coast were all inducted into the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame in 1999.

Production in the Billions

6 When Magic was first introduced in 1993, it had 295 cards and print run of 2.6 million (1,100 possible sets). It sold out immediately. This was followed by the 302-card Limited Edition Beta set with black borders. It had a print run of 7.8 million, which also sold out very quickly. The Beta set was immediately followed by the Unlimited Edition white-bordered set of the same 302 cards. Its print run was 40 million. By the end of 1994, Wizards had printed its billionth card.

7 Through its many base sets and expansion packs, Wizards of the Coast has run the total number of Magic the Gathering cards up to more than 16,500 unique cards.

8 Over the last two years, the prices achieved for original Magic: The Gathering art has been steadily climbing. “Hornet Sting,” an oil on paper laid on board illustration by artist Matthew Stewart, dated 2000, sold for $400 through Heritage Auctions. Heritage also sold “Knight Errant,” by Matthew D. Wilson, which illustrates card #24 in the Magic: The Gathering 7th Edition, for $382.

Tour of Magic Pros

"Knight Errant" original illustration art

Illustration art, Magic: The Gathering, 7th Edition, Card #24, “Knight Errant” (Wizards of the Coast, 1999), artist Matthew D. Wilson, 10-3/4” h. x 8” w. $382(Courtesy of Heritage Auctions,

9 The Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour was introduced in 1996 in an effort to prevent the CCG (collectible card game) from fizzling. Today, Pro Tour tournaments held around the world award cash prizes to the top 64 finishers at each event. The prize money comes from a total prize purse of $250,000. (First place finishers are awarded $50,000.) With five individual Pro Tour titles, former professional Magic player Kai Budde (Germany, b. Oct. 28, 1979) holds the record for Pro Tour victories; his professional cash winnings total more than $300,000.

10 Standard format tournament play – the most popular tournament format – only allows players to use cards printed within the past three expansion blocks (approximately 18 months’ worth of cards) to build their playing decks, meaning active tournament players must constantly update their card holdings.


Magic: The Gathering is a registered trademark of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Magic: The Gathering and all Magic images are copyright © Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

Compiled by Karen Knapstein.
Sources: Wizards of the Coast,; Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles 2017 Price Guide;; Sabotage Times: 20 Years Of Magic: The Gathering, A Game That Changed The World by Titus Chalk.

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