Magic gathers at Lawrence University

Meghan McCallum

When students approach head of Magic Club Corin Howland, they often ask him if the club practices or learns magic tricks. The thought is quite enticing – after all, Houdini might have rubbed off on some of us living here in Appleton.
In reality, Magic Club entails different, though just as exciting, activities. “It’s actually the card game Magic: The Gathering,” Howland explains.
“I’ve been basically running it for about two years now, but until now we didn’t really realize that LUCC could fund us, and now we’ve got LUCC money,” Howland points out.
“Another difference is that it’s now open to all Lawrentians instead of invite only.”
A sign in the Union describes Magic: The Gathering as a “fantasy trading card game full of mystery, intrigue and imagination.”
“This makes it sound like we’re playing make-believe or something,” says Howland. “It’s really not – it’s about strategy. It’s a lot like chess or any other respectable nerdy game.”
Howland explains that Magic is a trading card game, but its importance lies in being a game of strategy. “There’s a lot of strategy that goes in to choosing which cards you’ll put into a given deck and how they work together.”
The other part of strategy in playing Magic is reacting to opponents’ decks, he says. “You don’t necessarily know what your opponent’s resources are when you start the game, which makes it a lot more reactive.”
People are attracted to the game for different reasons, however. While the strategy aspect pulls in a lot of interest, Howland says, “Some people are more interested in the imaginary world that surrounds it.”
The club includes about 20 members, who meet Saturdays at 1 p.m. in Riverview Lounge. To anyone interested in joining, Howland says, “You can bring any cards that you’d like to play with or trade.”
Not to worry if you don’t have your own cards – he assures that there will be enough to borrow if needed.
At meetings, says Howland, “You can learn to play if you’ve never played before, or you can just hang out and chat or trade cards.”
As for experience, Howland says it varies within the group. “Some members have collections that stretch back ten years, to the beginning of Magic.”
This year, the club plans to take advantage of its funding from LUCC by both hosting tournaments and participating in tournaments statewide.