Business Development Lessons I Learned From Playing Magic: The Gathering

Updated: May 30, 2008

I was at the mall a few days ago when a familiar face greeted me. I immediately recognized him as one of my teammates during my competitive days of playing Magic: The Gathering. “Wow,” he said to me. “After what – six or seven years? It’s nice to bump into you today. How are you? Do you still play Magic?”

“Yes, casually,” I answered. “I don’t have time to play competitively nowadays. I usually just attend Pre-release and Vintage tournaments, if I have the time. How about you?”

“Not anymore, I’ve given up Magic a few years ago. I’ve sold all my cards actually, but after all these years, I still know my DCI number,” he joked. “Are you in a hurry? Do you want to grab some coffee and catch up?”

As we walked towards the nearest cafe, I can’t help but recall those years that I spent playing Magic. All the nights that I playtested my decks and the weekends where I joined tournaments. It was fun and challenging, and now, after years of hibernation (I still don’t want to call myself retired), I’m suddenly inundated with memories of those “magical” years.

What is Magic: The Gathering?
It is a collectible card game created by mathematics professor Richard Garfield. Magic, as it is colloquially known, was introduced in 1993. With an estimated six million players in over seventy countries, this mind sport is often compared to chess and bridge for the logic and mental skills required to excel in the game. Through the years, an organized tournament system and community has developed in various countries including the Philippines. More information about Magic: The Gathering can be found here.


“Do you still hear from our other team members?” he asked.

“Unfortunately not anymore. Although I haven’t been exactly looking for them,” I answered. “Which reminds me that I should, maybe they still have their Magic cards with them. Some of the classic cards have been reprinted and the original versions are worth a ton these days.”

The Power of Collaboration
Perhaps one of the best lessons I’ve learned from playing Magic is the value of teamwork. I was a college student during those days and I couldn’t afford some of the expensive cards that I needed for my deck. Joining a team allowed me to gain access to a pool of resources which helped me a lot in my game. If your business is struggling, consider forging a partnership with others in the industry and develop a symbiotic relationship.

“Good to hear that you’re still quite active in the market,” my friend quipped. “I kindda miss those days when we would spend hours hanging out in hobby shops just to sell and trade cards. We made good income for our team back then, didn’t we?”

Learn the Trade Secrets
Magic is a dynamic game. New cards, rules and playing strategies emerge quite often. By keeping up to date with the latest news and developments of the game, we were able to effectively sell and trade cards. Moreover, studying and discovering trends both locally and globally highly improved our playing techniques and deck construction skills. In business, I believe that each industry has a sub culture. Immerse yourself and learn the trade secrets.

“Yup, we were really able to save up quite a sum for our team,” I agreed. “And those small local tournaments served as our best testing ground for our new decks.”

“Not only that,” he added. “The time we spent in those stores also gave us a good peek of the metagame.”

Conduct Market Studies to Test New Products and Services
Every Magic tournament would showcase decks that’s currently popular in the scene. But once in a while, a rouge card deck would perform well and win over the toughest competition. These players didn’t just get lucky with their deck configuration. More often than not, the deck theme was constructed and playtested in local stores and was fine-tuned to perfection. In business, market research plays this important role. Doing so will help you find your edge that will make a new product successful.


“Speaking of which, what’s the current metagame?” my friend asked.

“Blue is currently strong, as well as green,” I answered. “Aggro-Control decks mostly dominate nowadays.”

“Much like your all common mono-red goblin deck which drove us all crazy back then!”

“Yes, something similar to that. But now, it’s merfolks, faeries and elves.”

Business Development Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive
New Magic players often think that they need to have rare and expensive cards to build a competitive deck. This has been proven to be false countless of times. By studying the current metagame and looking for cheap alternatives and utility cards, skilled players have been able to produce tournament winning decks. It is the same for business. There are and will always be free or inexpensive alternative resources which you can utilize to promote growth and development.

“How about black?” my friend inquired. “Is there a black deck that’s currently doing good?”

“Of course, it’s a card denial and control deck.” I replied. “I see that you’re still in love with black after all these years.”

“Yup, it’s the color I know best how to play. So how could I not ask you that question.”

Invest in your Business Strengths
Magic basically has five colors, each representing different realms of power. Deck construction usually involves choosing your primary color and building around its strengths. Extreme work has been done by the game developers to balance the power of these colors. This is the reason why it’s advisable for new Magic players to simply evaluate their personality and adopt the color that best suits their playing style. Likewise, if you plan to develop your business, it helps to first determine your unique strengths, and then incorporate that information to building your development strategies.

The rest of our conversation went on to reminiscing the good old days of Magic for us. The years when Dean was still the head honcho, his wife Nikki would be the only lady playing in the Philippine Nationals and Rickey was still beating us with his Prosperous Bloom deck. Although we sorely miss those times, we know that most of us have moved on to other hobbies and passions. Nevertheless, the lessons we learned through all those years of CCG geekness certainly molded us to become better individuals today.

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Photos courtesy of AuE and pelleb


  1. Hello Fitz. Thank you for sharing this. I recall seeing players come together with their cards at Robinson’s Galleria (Ortigas). I had no idea what was happening then but now I do thanks to this post.


  2. Your name sounded familiar. Then I saw this post about Magic, it is you. You played competitive Magic back in the “Ali Mall days” right? Together with Dean Alfar and the rest of Team Kotik. Hehe! I was in highschool then. More power to your site!

  3. Hi Fitz. I know this is an old post but I couldn’t resist when I stumbled upon it. Over the weekend I met up with old friends who were into Magic, L5R and other role playing games. I never played it myself, but I I learned how to because of them. In my case, I got a few art techniques because I love looking at the artwork and tried to emulate them. My friends are still into it, but not so much. It’s still a nice trip down memory lane. Cheers!

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