First published in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast, Magic was the first trading card game created and it continues to thrive, with approximately twenty million players as of 2015. Magic can be played by two or more players in various formats, which fall into one of two categories: constructed or limited. Limited formats involve players building a deck spontaneously out of a pool of random cards with a minimum deck size of 40 cards. The other major category of formats is constructed. In constructed, players created decks from cards they own, usually 60 cards with no more than 4 of any given card. Magic is played in person with printed cards, or using a deck of virtual cards through the Internet-based Magic: The Gathering Online, or on a smartphone or tablet, or through other programs.
Each game represents a battle between wizards known as “planeswalkers”, who employ spells, artefacts, and creatures depicted on individual Magic cards to defeat their opponents. Although the original concept of the game drew heavily from the motifs of traditional fantasy role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, the gameplay of Magic bears little similarity to pencil-and-paper adventure games, while having substantially more cards and more complex rules than many other card games.
New cards are released on a regular basis through expansion sets. An organized tournament system played at an international level and a worldwide community of professional Magic players has developed, as well as a substantial secondary market for Magic cards. Certain Magic cards can be valuable due to their rarity and utility in gameplay, with prices ranging from a few cents to thousands of dollars.
The Standard format is continually one of the most popular formats in the constructed deck tournament scene. It is the format most commonly found at Friday Night Magic tournaments, played weekly at many hobby shops. Standard’s former name was “Type 2”. This format generally consists of the most recent three or four “Block” releases. The release of the first set of a new Block in Autumn (usually in September) triggers a rotation; the new Block becomes Standard legal, and the oldest two blocks rotate out. (The previous rule was using two recent “Block” releases plus any core sets released between the older set of the block and the first set that would make that block rotated out). The current Standard set includes the Kaladesh block (including “Kaladesh” and “Aether Revolt”), the Amonkhet block (including “Amonkhet” and “Hour of Devastation”), and the Ixalan Block. For a list of which sets were legal in the past or notable deck archetypes, see Timeline of Magic: the Gathering Standard (Type II).