Magic the Gathering is played by millions across the world. But it's more than just a card game in Galesburg.
Magic tournaments are a weekly staple at For the Win, the comic book shop and gaming store in Galesburg.
Players of the game are often referred to as "Planeswalkers." Players are able to personalize their own 60-card deck to play with using any cards they own. They then square off against other Planeswalkers and battle for prizes.
On a mid-January weekend, the store was celebrating the pre-release of Magic's latest expansion set, Fate Reforged.
Players had the chance to see and play with cards from the Fate Reforged set almost a week before its scheduled release date.
For the Win hosted four tournaments in all that weekend using cards from the Fate Reforged set.
Mike Moore won the first tournament that kicked off Friday at midnight. The 23-year-old works at the Schwann’s warehouse in Macomb.
Moore said his win surprised him. He said he thought his cards were weaker and he did not expect the deck to perform well.
He first started playing Magic in the 4th grade.
“My brother did it, my dad did it, the older kids I hung out with at school did it. So it was just kind of like an association like, ‘Hey, learn how to play this so we have someone to play with, y’know.' And it was just fun. It was something…and it’s always what it’s been for for me, just something I can share with people,” Moore said.
Moore said he enjoys how players are on an even playing field, where no one's deck is better than another's. He said can still pick up new nuances from playing with the people in Galesburg.
“Someone who’s been playing it for 13 or 15 years, I still learn stuff by playing people. And I don’t get knocked for not knowing something. They’re happy to share. And I’m happy to do the same for them,” Moore said.
Another member of the Galesburg Magic community is Danny Lim. He's been playing the game since it first came out in 1993.
He said a similar strategy game that he played previously is what led him to Magic.
“Growing up, playing D&D (Dungeons and Dragons), you know how to play certain characters, certain creature types and that. With Magic, they influence that a lot. So if you loved the D&D style, Magic is the way to go,” Lim said.
Lim said as one of the older and longest playing members of the game, others frequently look to him for advice.
One of those who does solicit tips from Lim is 15-year-old Michael Quigley. He's been playing the game for about 3 years.
“Most of my decks, I usually get my cards from him (Lim). He’s a really good person. Really good person to trade with. He’s just a really big help,” Quigley said.
Quigley was first introduced to the game through a friend at church. He said the game has improved his self-esteem and confidence, and has also had an effect on his performance in the classroom.
“Since I’ve been starting to play, my math skills have improved greatly. I think every kid my age should at least learn the basics of Magic to help with math,” Quigley said.
More than 12-million people play Magic world-wide. The Guinness Book of World Records named Magic the Gathering the world's most popular trading card game in 2011.