Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

They're All Magic the Gathering TV Shows

Okay media's collective obsession with ice zombies and dragons has reawakened my love for Magic the Gathering... which is bad for me, oh so bad for me.  But if I'm going to lock myself in a room for a week thinking about combos and EDH commanders I might as well get a couple of blog posts out of it.

I am super broke right now so new cards are out of the question. No looking at cool new legends and planeswalkers and going ooh what does this button do. (I want the God Pharoh  soooooo bad.)  Evan Erwin I'm not. Wish I was. Hope I can be eventually. But my wallet can't handle it right now.

But I got an itch.  So let's do this.

It's no secret that I've wanted a Magic the Gathering TV show since forever and have pretty much given up on getting one.


 Almost every merchandise driven kid show since 1999 is a  Magic the Gathering TV show.

Kaijudo has it's own weird history and I'll get to it in a bit but for now, everything is trying to be the new Yu-gi-oh and Yu-gi-oh started out as a Magic the Gathering parody. So it's all Magic baby.

Let's Go Back

Okay I shouldn't pretend like the ubiquity of Pokemon was some alien concept. There had been Transformers, Turtles, and Power Rangers before but for some reason, the Pokemon explosion felt bigger, and like the rest of those fads, everybody was trying to get on that sweet sweet pokemoney.

To be fair most of these were using the increased power of miniaturized computer and gaming systems to innovate on the virtual pet fad Tamagotchi started.  So they weren't just knock offs of Pokemon and came out more or less in the same cultural moment.

I don't have a hypothesis for why Pokemon got so big but for a while it ruled the world. And ever since everybody's been trying to do it again. And the fad that cracked the code was Yu-gi-oh.

The combination of  Yu-gi-oh and Pokemon more or less wrote the book on how you market a collectible kid game and guaranteed that everybody was destined to reproduce them FOREVER.

But here is the thing. Yu-gi-oh overtly ripped Magic right the hell off.

Do You Want to Play A Game?

So the early issues of the Yu-gi-oh manga are much more focused on various shadow games than on Duel Monsters, to the point where it and "season 0" are almost unrecognizable from what we got here in The States.

The formula was that Yu-gi a bullied kid who had a penchant for games would get possessed by his alter ego and challenges his bullies to a "shadow game" where bad stuff would happen. Think Death Parade in high school.  A shadow game could be anything but eventually, the writer decided to basically feature a Magic the Gathering reference and the rest is history. The fans loved it so much they demanded more and more of the series revolve around it... and for it to be defictionalized... and get lots of video games... and flashy toy accessories.

BTW who the hell plays card games with a duel disk. You can't read the card. 

While I'm making notes I'll also admit I don't have the time to get into all the stuff that happened between Nintendo and Wizards of the Coast.

This is why the rules are so inconsistent before Battle City. The writer didn't actually expect people to give a rat's ass about the game. They did. Dear lord they did.


So Duel Masters.  Duel Masters basically started out as an unlicensed Magic the Gathering comic. Bless its heart.  No joke. It is a straight long running manga about Magic the Gathering.That works for a comic. But they wanted to adapt it into show. And you just can't do that at least not without a lot of wrangling.

So they had to invent a new card game that was as close to Magic the Gathering as they could get without being sued.  And they did. Like Yu-gi-oh it was defictionalized. But this time around Wizards of the Coast, the company that makes Magic got in on the action and helped develop the game.

I kind of wished they just they market it as is but they wanted Yu-gi-oh money. Most of the changes in Duel Masters are geared toward simplifying the game in ways to make it more similar to Yu-gi-oh. Creatures can attack and block each other rather than just defend the player and there are no designated land cards.  Other than that it's basically Magic with higher numbers.

While Duel Masters is still going strong in Japan, where even the original manga is going strong in the States not so much and Wizard's discontinued printing the game after about five years.

Even when I first started playing Magic had a bit of continuity snarl (Stop apologizing for Time Spiral Rosewater). And Wizards wants to get new players into the game. That's been their priority for more or less five years and almost every controversial decision Wizards has made in that time can probably be attributed to it.

They needed Magic the Gathering lite. A version of the game that wasn't super complicated and had a smaller base of cards. They basically rebranded and relaunched Duel Masters as Kaijudo it went down in 2014 but to this day is probably the closest thing I'll ever get to a straight Magic the Gathering TV show... along with all the other shows and card games trying to be the new Yu-gi-oh.

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