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One card at a time

Representatives of the Magic the Gathering Club pose next to their display of cards, used in combinations to destroy opponents during play of the card game. (Michael Nitroy/Snapper)

Michael Nitroy
Contributing Writer

Justin Fry is bringing magic to Millersville, but not with a wand, a spell or by pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

Fry is president of the Magic Players of Millersville, a student-run club dedicated to learning and playing the trading card game, ‘Magic The Gathering’.

‘Magic’ is a strategy card game that pits two players against each other in single matches or in tournament play. The goal is to reduce the opposing player’s 20 life points to zero by using the cards placed in your deck to unleash attacks on your opponent.

“There’s a lot of thought involved,” Fry says. “It’s a strategy game, but it’s really entertaining because you’ll be talking about statistics, probability and strategy and you can apply that to other places. You’re getting a lot out of playing.”

‘Magic’ has been a family affair for Fry. His step-dad, who played the game since it debuted in 1993 as the first trading card game, began teaching Fry how to the play when he was still in middle school.

“I wasn’t good at all until I came to MU my freshman year,“ Fry says. “It’s because I came to the Magic club that I got better at playing. I met someone who knew how to play, and I went to the club and learned how to get better.”

Representatives of the Magic the Gathering Club pose next to their display of cards, used in combinations to destroy opponents during play of the card game. (Michael Nitroy/Snapper)
Representatives of the Magic the Gathering Club pose next to their display of cards, used in combinations to destroy opponents during play of the card game. (Michael Nitroy/Snapper)

The club comes together once a week for 15 minutes of discussion before entering into free play. Though its roster currently hovers around 15 members, Fry says the club has seen consistent growth since he became its leader. Fry served as acting president for the club last spring, but was officially named president at the beginning of the fall 2015 semester for the club’s fifth year after playing for numerous semesters.

“I’ve spent a lot of money on Magic,” he says. “But I try not to spend too much money. I try to trade instead, but Magic can be a terrible thing.”

New players shouldn’t start digging through the couch cushions for some extra cash just yet. Fry says that the club owns a few starter decks for newcomers to try out before they commit to their first purchase.

“It depends how much money you want to put in. You can probably keep trading your cards to other people and staying afloat without spending too much,” he adds.

While students may struggle to keep up with the expense of the hobby, they’re not the only demographic that has taken to spending money on the card game. The club’s faculty advisor, Dr. David DiRusso, chair of the management and marketing department, has been playing the game since 1995.

“Some club members call me ‘Professor Money’ because of random, old and now expensive cards that they’ve seen me play,” DiRusso said. “Since I kept all the old cards from 20 years ago, I get to use some combos that younger players have never even seen before. Interestingly, when I first looked at the decks I made 15 years ago, my first thought was ‘Wow, I was TERRIBLE at this game!’ None of those decks I made when I was a kid made sense! I’m now much better at it.”

DiRusso continues to support and mentor the members of the club with his many years of experience.

“The executive board is full of bright students who work together effectively and have bold ideas,” he says. “I had no idea the group was so prolific when I agreed to be their advisor and was very happy to see the group function so well. I encourage them to continue their growth, to keep members engaged and to keep having fun!”

Whether you’ve also been playing ‘Magic’ for years or are looking to try it out for the first time, Fry suggests you check out the club’s Facebook page or come out to a meeting on Monday nights at 7 p.m. at the top of the Galley. The club is open to players of all experience levels and its members happily assist newcomers in learning the ways of the game.

“I always encourage people to bring people who haven’t played before,” Fry says. “If I have to find a bigger room, that’s a good thing I guess.”

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