Magic the Gathering is a strategy card game first produced by Wizards of the Coast in 1993. This deck building game can be played with physical cards or in digital format, and was the first of its type to gain widespread popularity. Each game is presented as a battle between two or more wizards. Complex rules govern which cards can be used, allowing players to cast spells as well as summon monsters and items. But how many magic cards are there?
The answer is shockingly complex. First, what qualifies as a card? While some obviously qualify, tokens, schemes and limited edition funny cards are more controversial. Many cards also have multiple editions with slight variations between them. Should those count as one card or many? In addition, Wizards of the Coast is constantly releasing new cards, as well as updated editions of older cards, so a complete count today could be incorrect tomorrow.
With all those considerations, how many magic cards are there? Estimates range from 18,970 to 19,989. Various game formats are used to determine how many cards a player needs for a game, and which cards are valid. Game types fall loosely into two categories: constructed, in which the player has pre-selected at least 60 cards, and limited, in which players must select a minimum of 40 cards from the provided cards.
Prices on these cards vary widely, from a few dollars for a small pack to thousands for a rare vintage card. The most expensive magic card is undoubtedly Black Lotus. As of March 2019, the cheapest Limited Edition Alpha Black Lotus card #232 available was a whopping $15,370 (US). Other pricey cards include Ancestral Recall #47 ($6499) and Time Vault #274 ($5900), both from Limited Edition Alpha packs, as well as Underground Sea #286 ($5999), a Limited Edition Beta card.
Magic the Gathering has been fascinating players for nearly three decades now, and the game has lost none of its appeal. Complex rules keep the game exciting and unpredictable, even for experts. There is even a professional league with massive prizes and television coverage that create a celebrity culture for new and casual players to admire and discuss. This father of deck building strategy card games isn’t fading away any time soon, even if no one knows for sure how many magic cards there are.