This information is quite a bit younger than most of the stuff on my site, since it was created a whole year after Magic came out. Nevertheless, it's pretty fun reading. If you're into that sort of thing. All further commentary is by the original author/compiler, David Bedno, not I.
Back when the only place to exchange information on Magic was over usenet, there was, originally, only one group for Magic. The group had been up for a while before someone (me, in this case) got tired of seeing the same questions asked over and over again (Periodicity = 3 days in some cases), so I wrote this. Consider it a historical document. Magic will never be this innocent again.
If it ever was.
[Administrative Trivia: This is the r.g.d FAQ, v1.0, 22 June 1994] [Future changes to the FAQ go here.] Welcome to Rec.Games.Deckmaster What's included in this FAQ: 1) What is the newsgroup for? 2) What is Magic? 3) Where can I get cards and/or play? 4) What are all those abbreviations? 5) Are there any newsgroup conventions? 6) Can't we get a newsgroup for sales? 7) Who answers the questions? 8) Trading/Auctioning/etc. 9) How can I trust people on the net? 10) How much are my cards worth? 11) Where can I get more info? 12) Rant about periodicity. 13) Author! Author! What's not included in this FAQ: A) Rules summaries. B) Card summaries. C) The price of rice in China. 1) What is rec.games.deckmaster for? This newsgroup is for the discussion of all collectable trading card games, which at the moment is just Magic: The Gathering, but will include many other games in the near future. Discussion topics include rules questions, card rarity questions, ideas for new cards, Wizards of the Coast policies, artwork and selling and trading of cards, among other things. Selling and trading of cards is a large portion of the newsgroup, as the trading of cards is a large portion of the game. 2) Ok, so what is Magic: The Gathering? Magic: The Gathering (Magic, or MtG) is the first of the collectable trading card games to hit the market and make a splash. You play a wizard, and with your cards, which represent spells or energy for spells, you try and defeat your opponent(s). There are well over 400 different cards in the game, soon to be more, with some being out of print, and some very common, so each game is generally going to proceed differently. That's just a brief and not great description. Other people I'm sure have better ones. The best way to find out what the game's about is to watch it being played, or to play. 3) All right. Suppose I want to play. Where do I go? There have been confirmed Magic sightings in most major cities. The best places to go would be game stores that sell Magic. The people in the store, whether they be clerks or customers, may well know where to find a place to play. Another method is to try sitting down in a public place with a deck of Magic cards and see who's attention you get (it's similar to Solataire in this way). Or, if all else fails, you can ask on the net if anyone in your area plays. Magic is not yet found in the major chain stores, which some have declared to be a Good Thing. Many independent game stores are carrying Magic. 4) What are all those abbreviations? What kind of special vocabulary do I need to know? Ok...you'll likely see a lot of abbreviations. Here are some of the more common ones. A Alpha. The original printing of MtG. These cards have black borders and very rounded corners. B Beta. The second printing of MtG, correcting items from the Alpha printing. They also have black borders, but the corners are not nearly so round as alphas. UL Unlimited. The third printing of MtG. The first of the white bordered cards. RV Revised. The fourth and current printing of MtG. These cards are also white bordered. You can tell the difference between UL and RV by the generally lighter appearance of the card, and in the UL there's a small bevel between the card picture and the line seperating the picture from the border. In revised, the picture and the seperating line meet directly. Some cards from the supplements (see below) are included in the RV, and some UL cards have been removed. AN Arabian Nights. The first supplement to MtG, with cards based around the old Arabian Nights stories. Far more accurate than you might think. AN cards have black borders and are out of print. AQ Antiquities. The second supplement to MtG, with cards based around an ancient war by two mighty wizards. AQ cards also have black borders, and are also out of print. LG Legends. The third supplement to MtG, released June 13. This is a 310 card set, and is much in demand. Not out of print, but very hard to find. DK The Dark. The fourth supplement, due for release "sometime in July". Your milage may vary. PPG Pocket Players Guide. A paperback book which contains the rules at a readable size, some examples, some strategy hints and other helpful things. R Red mana. W White mana. G Green mana. B Black mana. U Blue mana. Tim Prodigal Sorcerer. So named because of a reminder of Tim the Enchanter from the Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie. Sam Samite Healer. Also known as the Anti-Tim. Sam's just a convenient shorthand. REB Red Elemental Blast. BEB Blue Elemental Blast. WotC Wizards of the Coast. They make Magic (among other things.) netrep Network Representative. The online voice of WotC. RTFFAQ Read the Friendly FAQ RTFC Read the Friendly Card 5) So are there any newsgroup conventions to be aware of? Well, other than the general Usenet conventions, not really. However, if everyone were to start using the following keywords in their subject lines, life would be a lot simpler. SALE You're offering cards for money on a 1-offer basis. TRADE You're offering cards for cards. AUCTION You're offering cards for money on a beat this offer basis. META You want to talk about the newsgroup. There's currently some room for controversy over whether a trade auction (cards for cards on a beat this offer basis) should be considered a trade or an auction. Feel free to use either one; you're as likely to get flamed for one over the other. And don't forget the standard Usenet conventions: Flame people over email only, try to keep to 70 character lines, don't post in all CAPS unless you have to, be polite. 6) I'm not interested in the sales and auctions. Can't we move the to another newsgroup? The short answer is that we're working on it. The long answer is that the discussion is going on in news.groups, and a call for votes should be going out in the next week. If all works well, in about 6-8 weeks from the date of this post (see top), there should be a newsgroup called rec.games.deckmaster.marketplace. And if you'd rather have a different name for it, well, tough. 7) I see a lot of people answering the rules questions. Who can I trust? It's important to remember that this is Usenet. If you ask a question, you'll get many answers, some of which will be correct, many of which will agree, many of which will contradict each other. Tom Wylie (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the netrep for WotC. He's in direct contact with WotC and has access to the decisions of the design team should the need arise. He's also played the game a whole lot, and so his word can certainly be trusted. As you read, you'll pick up on other people who's opinions can be trusted. 8) I want to sell some cards. How should I do it? Ok...here's my *personal* opinion on selling and trading over the net. There's generally a maximum gain to be made by holding an auction. There's also a maximum of difficulty. A straight sale may not get you as much profit, but it should get some, and is much easier to keep track of. My theories on Auction/Sale Netiquette. a) Have a firm ending date. b) Have a reliable mail server. c) Update over the net less frequently than mailing to your bidders. d) Update to the net no more than once a day. Every other day is preferred. e) Keep consistent subject headers. 9) How can I trust people over the net? Good question. Until recently, there hasn't been much of a problem, and, in fact, the majority of people who trade over the net are good people, who will send you what you buy or trade for. However, as some people are finding out, you are taking some chances. In general, if a deal seems too good to be true, it likely is. 10) How much are the cards really worth? Why would someone pay $X for *that* card? Well, cards are worth what you can get for them. If you can find someone who'll buy your extra islands for $1 each, well first, I have some spare islands to sell him, but also, to that person, they're worth a dollar. People pay large sums of money because they feel they need that card. Some people are down to the last cards they need for their collection, others need one card for a deck idea, and others are just trying to hoard a particular card. "It all depends" is the only real answer. If you insist on an answer, there's a posting printed periodically that lists prices based on trades and auctions over the net. How useful you find this may vary. 11) Rec.games.deckmaster isn't enough for me. I need MORE information. You asked for, you got it: * marvin.macc.wisc.edu is the official anonymous-FTP'able MtG archive site. Look in the directory /deckmaster for card listings, long rules FAQ's and other useful items. * The Garfield Games listservers are mailing lists for rules/game discussions (gg-l), trading (gg-trading-l), auctioning (gg-auction-l), strategy (gg-strategy-l). Additionally, there's the Duelist server (gg-duelist-l) and the netrep postings list (gg-voices-l) which cover the Duelist's Convocation and a listing of the netrep postings from the gg-l list (among other things), respectively. To get on any of these lists, mail "email@example.com" with the body of the message being "subscribe gg-l Your Name". Sustitute gg-trading-l or gg-auction-l as appropriate. * Wendell Hicken has a Deckmaster home page with references to many other Magic and Deckmaster related home pages. His URL is http://www.parasoft.com/whicken/deckmaster.html 12) What do you mean by periodicity? Periodicity is a measure of how long it takes for a topic to be discussed AGAIN in a newsgroup. The periodicity of "Where can I get a list of all the cards?" is approximately 3 days. The periodicity of any particular Magic rules question is no more than 3 weeks. What does this mean? It means you should read the group for a few days before you ask your question. It means you should read the Rules FAQ's before you ask your question. It means that unless you like flooding the group with questions that everyone's asked a million times already, you should wait for someone to ask the question instead of you, and wait for the answer. 13) Who are you to be writing this? I'm the person who "saw a great need". I've been playing Magic for a while, but I've been reading news for far longer (approx. 8 years now). If someone thinks they can do a better job, they're welcome to. If people want to leave it to me, fine; comments and criticisms would be welcome. Praise is nice too...