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Jun 28 2015

Magic the Gathering vs Fantasy Football

Magic the Gathering is like… Fantasy Football. No, seriously, it is!

Welcome MTG and/or Fantasy Football readers to my first article in a limited series, Magic the Gathering is like…. This series will focus on similarities between Magic the Gathering™ and other hobbies. In my opinion there are still quite a few folks in this world (especially in my age bracket, 35 and up) that have heard of Magic the Gathering™ but feel that it is either a kid’s game or too nerdy for them to play. What better way to bring others into the game than comparing the similarities to a hobby or sport they already enjoy? By the end of this article series, I am hoping that we may corral a few more players to step into our local game store or playgroups.

Today we take a look at my personal favorite, Fantasy Football. In my personal background, I started playing Magic in 1997 and my Fantasy Football roots are a year older as I created my first fantasy league in 1996. Today I am still playing Magic and the “Wally D. Fantasy Football League” will be in its 20th season! I write MTG articles for MTGCasualPlay.com and I write player updates and articles for FantasyPros.com. I also created an extremely popular fantasy football website, WallydFantasyFootball.com. Both MTG and Fantasy Football have helped introduce me to hundreds of people and allowed me to be a part of several online communities.

For reference:
What is Fantasy Football? Quote: “Fantasy Football is a competition in which participants select imaginary teams from among the players in a league and score points according to the actual performance of their players”.

What is Magic the Gathering? Quote: “Magic The Gathering™ (also known as MTG or Magic) is a trading card game created in 1993. Players buy, collect and trade for cards that are used to construct their own deck and then play a game versus an opponent(s).


Magic the Gathering is like Fantasy Football
Magic the Gathering is like Fantasy Football


After reading this article, I am hoping that my Magic friends share this on their Facebook page or show it to their fantasy football friends that are currently not involved in both hobbies. OR, maybe it’s just the opposite and a few of you MTG players will dive into the Fantasy Football circuit!

Let’s begin!

Throughout the year, Fantasy Football players continually manage their team.

Part of the fun of fantasy football is building your team via free agency and trades in addition to the draft. As a team owner, we are faced with management decisions such as whether or not to bench our star running back against a stout run defense.

An easy comparison can be drawn here. As an MTG player we are continually upgrading our decks (teams). We add and remove cards that we acquire through trades or pick them up at our local game store. We are also faced with “management” decisions as we continually tweak our deck by adding and removing cards to help make it better.

If you enjoy managing your fantasy football team(s), then there is no doubt that you would enjoy “managing” your Magic deck(s).

Fantasy Football Players love to talk about their fantasy team

During the NFL season it is quite common for fantasy football conversation to be initiated at work, get-togethers (or should I say gatherings?) or over a few drinks. While the amount of topics in a fantasy football are boundless, most chats begin with a rundown of who is on your fantasy team. Discussions also include the trading of ideas and advice on who might be a good pickup or drop for your team.

Magic the Gathering™ is similar in this aspect, as is any hobby where two or more individuals share a similar interest. Once the connection is made, conversations usually lead to a rundown of what cards are being played in each other’s deck followed up with giving each other advice on what cards would be a good inclusion or could be cut from the current strategy.

Fantasy Football Players fill their team by drafting players

The Fantasy Football draft, by far, is the most important part of “playing” fantasy football. The best fantasy drafts are the ones done in person, although there are quite a few “online” drafts now-a-days. The in-person drafts usually consist of about 8 to 12 friends & family eating snacks, drinking beer, talking football and enjoying the event. The draft itself usually consists of a selected order and a serpentine style of picking NFL players for a designated amount of rounds. Each player fills out their team and then goes head to head (1v1) against their friends throughout the football season.

In Magic the Gathering™ one of the favorite formats to play is called “Draft”. Drafting consists of eight players that sit at a table and “draft” or “pick” cards to create a deck (team) that they will use in three head to head games versus the other players. Like fantasy football, friendly drafts can include snacks, drinks and enjoyable conversation.

Fantasy Football’s popularity skyrocketed with the development of the internet

Fantasy Football commissioners had it rough in the 1990s. Let us take a look at my league as an example. As the commissioner I was always on my telephone (not cell-phone, this phone was hanging on the wall of my house) taking calls from the other players (team owners) and writing down their starters for the week. Also, phone calls were placed to pick up free agents and complete trades. In the 90s, points were calculated by hand on Monday mornings using the statistics published in the local newspaper.

For Magic the Gathering in the 1990s there was very little information online. Magazines such as The Duelist and Inquest were your monthly sources for articles, deck techs and card prices.

In today’s world, the internet allows us to find anything we want about our respective hobbies. Almost everything can be done on a computer in a fraction of the time. The internet boon magnified the number of people playing both fantasy football and Magic the Gathering™ exponentially into the millions strong we have today. If you like to read articles, particapate, discuss, and find others that enjoy fantasy football, you’ll be glad to know that the same opportunities exist for Magic.

Fantasy Football has a plethora of available information via articles, forums and podcasts

Piggybacking on the boon of the internet, in todays world, Fantasy Football fans are blanketed with an incredible amount of coverage. The amount of fantasy football websites that offer player reviews, strategy articles, and mock drafts are astounding. To top it off, we are also graced with forums to discuss fantasy trades, strategies and who to start. There are also a plethora of Fantasy Football podcasts that discuss the fantasy draft or fantasy football strategies. If I were to plug one of my favorite Fantasy Football podcasts, I ‘d give a job well done to CBSSports

Magic the Gathering also has an overwhelming amount of articles containing set/card reviews, strategy articles, deck building, you name it. MTGSalvation.com leads the way in MTG forums where you can discuss any game format, strategies and ask for help building a deck. Podcasts? Yep, just like fantasy football, Magic players enjoy listening to commentary on their hobby. For myself, my favorite format is called “EDH” or “Commander”. As an EDH player, I look forward to every episode of Josh and Jimmy’s The Command Zone as well as a myriad of other folks that can be found at MTGCast.com.

To solidify the previous section, if you are an information junky and enjoy soaking up knowledge about your hobby, their is equal representation on the world wide web for MTG and Fantasy Football.

Fantasy Football is usually a casual game played with friends and family

Most Fantasy Football leagues are casual. We join a league with friends and family. This helps create a bond and initiate conversations and communication. Getting together for a fantasy football event such as the draft allows for good company and good times. Parents that pass down their love for fantasy football to their kids can create a strong bond for years to come.

Magic the Gathering offers the same casual interaction with your friends and family. Playing Magic helps create conversation pieces during the holidays or inspires a random phone call to “talk Magic”. A monthly gathering for a night of casual Magic would be like a monthly Fantasy Football draft. Like Fantasy Football, parents that pass down their love for Magic the Gathering™ to their kids can create a strong bond for years to come.

Fantasy Football can be competitive

For those in several fantasy football leagues, it is not uncommon for some of them to be competitive. Huge entry fees and cash payouts prove that there can be a ton of money made from competing in this hobby. I have seen leagues escalate into the $1000s just for the entry fee! You’ll be playing against the best of the best when cash prizes are on the line!

So you’re competitive? Look no further than Magic the Gathering! Most Local Game Stores have weekly tournaments where players will go head-to-head for prizes. However, this is the small side of things. Magic also has a Pro Tour where players compete for cash prizes. While the cash prize system needs some work, take a look at 2015’s Grand Prix Las Vegas. This three day event saw over 7,000 contestants with some of the top finishers receiving thousands of dollars in winnings. Don’t get me wrong, it takes years of practice, studying and playing to constantly win cash or get to the pro level, but I just wanted to point out to you that there is the possibility of high-level competition. Hey, wait-a-minute, that sounds just like fantasy football!

There you have it folks. Hopefully, after seeing the similarities, you will be inclined to pick up some Magic the Gathering™ cards and give it a try! OR, for my MTG readers, maybe find a free ESPN fantasy football league this fall and give it a go! If I were to leave you with anything, however, I must retouch on a point that I mentioned earlier. Parents… get your kids involved! When your kids become interested in football, join a fantasy league with them! If your son or daughter is playing Magic the Gathering™, play a game with them!

What are your thoughts or experiences? Do you have any cool Magic/Fantasy Football story crossovers? Did I miss anything? Start a conversation by commenting below!

On to the next!
—wallyd

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