BEWARE of MAGIC: The Gathering
Report by Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
August 1995 May only be reproduced in full and must include this notice. May not be reproduced for resale.
May be carried on other non-commercial web sights provided the Logos web address is included.
GenCon is the annual gaming convention, sponsored by TSR (Tactical Studies Research) of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. TSR, Inc. is the originator of the original Fantasy Role Playing Game, Dungeons & Dragons. The GenCon Convention is the place to introduce new products to the FRP (Fantasy Role Playing) crowd because 15,000 to 25,000 people attend GenCon annually. In 1993, when I walked into the convention hall where vendors have their booths, a crowd caught my eye. There was a group of people sitting around a line of tables playing cards and the crowd was intently watching. I had never heard of or seen a "fantasy" card game before, so I asked about it. As it turned out, Peter Adkison and his "basement" company, Wizards of the Coast, had driven all the way from Renton, Washington to introduce Magic: The Gathering. I had no idea at that point that I was video taping Gaming History. At the 95 convention there were so many people packed around The Wizards of The Coast mega-booth that it was hard to get a decent picture. People were buying, selling and trading Magic cards. It was easy to see why "Adkison's basement operation...has mushroomed from 6 to 250 employees, with operations in Glasgow, Scotland, and Antwerp, Belgium, in addition to Renton, Washington." (3). A press release entitled Growing Globally tells of their international success. I was startled to read that there are more than 1/2 Billion Magic cards in circulation around the world with more to come. The company cannot keep up with the demand for the cards. There is such a demand for the cards that they are bought, sold, traded and even auctioned over the InterNet. Now, lest you think we are talking pennies, I have seen bids on cards from $50 to $100. I have heard report of cards bringing $200 and more. For $1500 you can buy the Unlimited Series set and for $1000 the Legends series. Need I say more? "Magic continues to grow and is quickly becoming recognized as one of the most elaborate strategy games in history."(1/5)
The root idea for the game came from Peter Adkison. You might say Adkison is a preacher's kid because his father was an Army chaplain. But his mind was not on the things of the Lord. "While in high school he developed a fascination with role-playing games, such as Dungeons and Dragons, and began developing his own games." (3) He organized a small gaming company that he ran out of his basement called Wizards of the Coast and he began marketing fantasy role playing games.
That's where Dr. Richard Garfield, professor of combinational math comes in. He too was a fantasy role-playing enthusiast. He met with Peter over a pizza in Portland, Oregon, to try to get him to produce the fantasy role playing game, RoboRally. Peter was not interested but said, "he really saw a need for a game that could be played quickly with minimal equipment, a game that would go over well at conventions." (2/4) He suggested the concept for a fantasy card game and asked Garfield if he thought he could develop the game. The rest is gaming history.
I see at least four major problems with this game. These conspicuous problems cause me to urge people neither to collect these cards nor play the game --
The Bible makes it clear in both the Old and New Testaments that occult practices are an abomination to the Lord. Deuteronomy 18:10-12 There shall not be found among you any... that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, 11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. 12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD:
Another scripture passage that points out just how seriously God views the occult and wizardry is Acts 13:10. The Apostle Paul indicts Elymas the sorcerer with these words -- O full of all subtlety (deceit) and all mischief (maliciousness), thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
The fact is, we should not mimic things that are an abomination to the Lord. No one should even pretend to be a child of the devil, an enemy of righteousness. When they do, they pervert the acceptable ways of the Lord!
Perhaps you are wondering, are Magic cards really occult oriented? Read this quote carefully -- "Unlike Dungeons and Dragons, which became an infamous tool for occultists, Magic has not developed an outside mythology. 'This draws on the milieu, the fantasy of Dungeons and Dragons' says Richard Garfield, the creative impetus behind Magic..." '4
The Washington Post, pulls no punches when it says unequivocally that Dungeons and Dragons was an "infamous tool for occultist." Why? Because D&D derived its story line, symbols and characters from the occult and Pagan mythology. But Magic: The Gathering developer Adkison does not think his game has that problem. Why? Because he has gone to D&D for his story line, symbols and characters but not the "real" occult. What is he thinking? Though he has a Ph.D. in combinational math, his reasoning is flawed. Since D&D is based on the occult and is a tool of occultist, then Magic cards will be equally a tool for occultists because they are based on the occult also, the second generation occult data of D&D. After reading two books about the game, watching the game being played, reading numerous news articles and reading scores of Internet E-Mail messages on the game, there is no doubt in my mind that Magic cards promote the occult and violence. Just a word about God's view of violence -- GOD HATES THOSE WHO PROMOTE VIOLENCE. Look at Psalms 11:5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Let's look at some more of the evidence.
Georiga Pabst of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, "Magic: The Gathering takes place in the mystical multiverse of Dominia where players become mighty wizards and, armed with beautifully illustrated cards of various creatures, artifacts and lands, cast spells and enchantment aimed at killing off the opponent." 3 (emphasis added)
Georgia, in the above concise statement, hits the nail on the head. Every player is a wizard or sorcerer and the goal is to build up enough magic energy to kill your opponent. Here's how it works according to the instruction book that comes with the cards -- "There are two basic types of cards: spells and lands. Lands are easy to spot; they say 'land' in between the picture and the text box. Lands are the most common kind of card in Magic, since they usually provide the mana, or magical energy, for all your spells. You can lay out one land per turn, and you may use the land for mana as soon as it is in play." 5/5 Now, how do you kill your opponent? Aimee Miller of the Washington Post wrote, "The rules of the game are simple: Each player starts with 20 'lifepoints.' You gain lifepoints by casting beneficial spells from land cards. You lose lifepoints when attacked by nasty creatures and charms. If you run out of lifepoints, you're exiled, which is a polite way of saying your dead. Players stay alive by annihilating their opponents first." 4 She goes on to say, "Want to crush your opponent in under five minutes? Stack the deck with deadly and destructive black and red Magic cards". 4 (emphasis added)
That brings me to the Mana (magical energy) Chart explaining the different kinds of Magic and how they can be used.
Black Magic is identified as the magic of death. Let me share with you two quotes from the book, Mastering Magic Cards. "The magic of death is often a double-edged sword, however, malevolent to its wielder as well as its victim. Few people summon the awesome might of the Lord of the Pit without being ready to sacrifice their very worldly existence to wield its incredible power..." 1/30 The second quote -- "A black necromancer wields the sacrifice, particularly the Dark Ritual Cards" 1/30
Blue Magic is mental in nature and taps "the elemental forces of air and water." Friends, lest you think this is harmless let me tell you that occultists believe in and seek to tap into the power of what they call Sylphs (elemental spirits of the air). They believe that Lucifer empowers air spirits. That is interesting in light of Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:. The truth is, the elemental spirits that occultists claim to communicate with, whether they be air, water, earth or fire spirits are demons from Satan's diabolical horde. I have personally interviewed a real witch who says she invokes earth spirits known as trolls (really demons) to assist her in her rituals. (See my pamphlet The Truth About Trolls for more information). Magic cards is conditioning children to be receptive to paganism.
Green Magic draws energy from the forest and has vast destructive capabilities. Green or Ecological magic is in fact one of the most popular forms of witchcraft today.
Red Magic is the destructive magic of earth, fire, chaos and war. Chaotic magic is practiced by many today. There are Internet sights devoted solely to this diabolical from of magic.
White Magic is used for protection, healing injuries and chivalrous war. Wiccans claim to practice only this "good" kind of magic. I know that is not true. I have copies of curses that "good witches" have spit out against Christians. And let me remind you that occult magic in any form is derived from Satan and his diabolical horde.
Likely there are those who will protest, What's the big deal? It's only a game! Listen, games are powerful tools for capturing the minds of children. Games point the thinking of those who play them in a definite direction and if that direction is not a wholesome direction, there can be problems. Listen to who is playing the game and what it is doing to them --
"Magic addicts range from kindergartners to middle-aged professionals -- the game's a favorite pastime for Microsoft employees. They also include a substantial number of female players in addition to the 'teenage', white male boys" Renee Shallis of Wizards of the Coast. 4
"Originally targeted to males in their teens and early 20s, Magic now has younger children playing ..."
"After the printing of Fallen Empires, there exists over 1,000 cards, and no one can claim to own all of them. Many of the veteran addicts are familiar with each and every one and can recite their name, abilities, casting costs, and color with no reference to aid them;" 1/5
"The game has literally captured the imaginations of thousands and taken on a life of its own." 1/3 That is a major problem. When anyone becomes preoccupied with thoughts that are an abomination to the Lord God Almighty there is going to be trouble. According to 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 we must reject thoughts that are contrary to God's word, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. If a person refuses to do that Romans 1:21 reveals the consequences -- Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. A darkened heart is serious business!
Let me issue a solemn warning to parents, Magic: The Gathering is dangerous because it conditions the minds of the players to be receptive to the occult and violence and those who really get into it become addicted. It becomes the focus of their lives.
There is one final issue I want to deal with. That is --
Many of those who play Magic cards identify mentally with the Sorcerer they choose to play. That is dangerous. Consider these quotes --
"Part of the game's appeal comes from 'the ability to develop a character -- you get to be somebody else,' says Garfield...In Magic the deck you put together reflects your character -- your persona." 4
"...Magic is closer to role playing than any other card or board game I know of." 2/17
The best thing you can do, in my opinion, with Magic: The Gathering is to follow Acts 19:19-20 Many of them also which used curious arts (occult materials) brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.
Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Because Magic cards "struck gold" there are now more than a dozen new fantasy card games that have been introduced. Many of them add another element you need to be warned of, that is SENSUALITY. In my opinion women are portrayed in pornographic or near pornographic fashion. In fact, as I ready this research report for the printer, I talked to a New York attorney, who is researching Magic cards. She has nearly 1000 of them. She told me that there are definitely cards that are sensual and portray women in pornographic poses. Other fantasy card games include -- SPELLFIRE, GUARDIANS, HIGHLANDER, WYVERN, VAMPIRE, BloodWars, SHADOWFIST, HYBORIAN GATES, RAGE COMBAT, TOWERS IN TIME, On the Edge/ARCANA, EVERWAY just to name the ones that I have researched.
I should say a few words about Pogs (also called milk caps). I am concerned about pogs for the following reasons. First, many of them have occult symbols on them. Some of them have drawings of pagan gods and goddesses. Many are death oriented, containing drawings of skulls, skeletons, etc. I have seen some that are sensual. Others have shamanistic figures on them or witches. But, there are many that have sports figures on them or even Hollywood stars. Even if your child collects only the good pogs, if he trades them with others, he will be exposed to the bad ones. Do you want that exposure? Second, The QVC home shopping channel announcer made the following announcement attributing it to an organization called the Pog World Federation -- Every stack of pogs has its own aura. You concentrate on your ch'i. That is alarming because auras are rooted in Hindu beliefs and the ch'i is rooted in Taoism. Both have occult implications. Basically they are saying pogs have their own energy or life force and so do the players. To win you need to connect the two. That is the occult doctrine of pantheism. Finally, there is the element of gambling that concerns me. Do you want your child playing pogs "for keeps" as we used to say in marbles? I do not believe gambling glorifies God.
1. Mastering Magic Cards; George H. Baxter & Larry W. Smith, Ph.D.; Wordware Publishing, Inc., Plano, Texas.
2. The Magic The Gathering -- Pocket Players' Guide; Wizards of the Coast, Renton, Washington.
3. Success of fantasy sci-fi card game is magical; by Georgia Pabst; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 6, 1995.
4. Under the Spell of 'Magic' by Aimee Miller; Washington Post; 7-27-94.
5. Magic: The Gathering -- Deckmaster's Instruction book that comes with the cards.
A notation on my footnote numbering system: When you see numbers like 2/17, the first number represents the reference material used and the second number indicates the page number.
Information on how to get a 4 color copy of this report is available from --Logos Communication Consortium, Inc.
P.O. Box 173, Oak Creek, WI 53154