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Now in our fifth calendar year
PCR #218  (Vol. 5, No. 22)  This edition is for the week of May 24--30, 2004.

Floridaís Commuter Airlines from the 1960s to the 1980s: Part Five
 by Will Moriaty
"Soul Plane"
 by Mike Smith
Introducing Myself....On Gaming....Magic: The Gathering....Marvel Origins....What's Ahead
 by Ben Gregory
Review: Van Helsing....Shrek 2 Shreks the Box Office....Mudonna Cancels Israeli Tour Dates
 by Andy Lalino
The Fall of Troy
 by Brandon Jones
The Return of Vampirella....Couch Potato Quick Takes....Shows I'd Like To See
 by Vinnie Blesi
This Week's Issue....Congrats....Consumer Tip....Top 10 Challenge....Meet The Beatles, Part 18
 by Mike Smith
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Ben Gregory

On Gaming

Greeting fellow gamers!
This being my first article for this web page, I feel the need to introduce myself (to those who aren't familiar with me ) I AM THE GREAT AND POWERFUL BENZINI!! (Great and powerful being of course, subjective terms.) I am an avid comic reader, and an avid gamer. I have been playing and reading for more than 30 years and I now have a son to whom I can pass on my wisdom. (read: Corrupt ) My purpose for this particular venue is to espouse the virtues and vanities of the gaming world. Lots of you out there play games, be they of the Board-type, Video-type, or ( what I'm focusing on this article ) the Collectible Card-type.

Magic: The Gathering
Magic the Gathering (MTG) started out in a small back alley of Seattle in 1993, when an employee ( Richard Garfield- with a masters degree in combinatorial mathmatics ) of a small game company called Wizards of the Coast, was given the off-handed assignment of creating an entirely new concept in games. And he did. Collectible Card Games, also known as CCGs, have since sprouted up in all known shapes and types. The idea is to buy your cards like you would any trading card, like baseball cards or other "collectible" sort of card, with rare, uncommon and common finds. You would then put what cards you had or traded for into a deck, with which you play against others who've done the same. These "Duels" have grown into grand melees and tournaments. The MTG game has been printed and reprinted in over 12 languages, and is distributed world-wide. Not only that, but the purses for some of these tourneys have ranged into the hundreds of thousands for a single tournament win, upwards to the MILLIONS for those who go on the Pro Tour. (Borrowing phrases from Golf tournaments.) And be immortalized as a playable card with one's likeness as artwork. Pretty Kewl, huh?

Now don't think you can just jump in and start making the big bucks, this game ain't easy! Oh, the RULES are simple enough, but almost each card you play "modifies" the existing set of rules so that the permutations of Deck building have become nigh-infinite, with a few deck "types" usually surfacing with each new expansion set printed. And they have been printing them, roughly 2-3 sets a year since '93. For more info on this particular game check out: http://www.wizards.com/magic/playbig.asp, or you can do a websearch and come up with more info than could be related in any ONE article.

Marvel Origins
Now, having got THAT out of the way, *whew* , allow me to introduce you to the latest in a string of CCGs set in the Marvel Universe, Marvel Origins, or, the VS system featuring many of the Marvel characters (there are plans for a DC set as well) created by many MTG design team members (it IS a good game, very important) for Upper Deck Entertainment (a long-established company, ALSO very good). Upper Deck has committed to no less than a 10-year plan of high-dollar tournaments to support the game, right at the outset, making learning this new game a possibly profitable venture (as well as getting some of the "rares" at the start of something big --possibly an investment for the college fund?)

So, what could be said about the game as far as playing pro? You start out on the same footing as everybody else, the cards are still easy (read: inexpensive) to obtain, so you have as much chance as anyone to get that 100,000 dollars up for grabs in this, the FIRST pro-tour year. Ah, to play cards for a living, and a comic-related one at that! *sigh*. I plan to attend 2 pro tour qualifiers this year, so I can let all of you in on the mayhem, first hand. One more thing, there will be some special Spider-Man VS Doc Ock starter decks to be released in June, right before a certain Spidey Sequel is released.

What's Ahead
I plan on doing a few mainstream comic reviews this year, cuz, there really IS some good stuff left out there.

Till then, play fair, play often, and learn from others' mistakes so you don't have to make them yourself.

"The Great Benzini" is ©2004 by Ben Gregory.   All graphics, unless otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.