Magic: The Gathering and Metazoo
The year was 2000, I was 12 years old and decided to learn how to play a card game called Magic: The Gathering and that would be the game I would play competitively for almost 22 years. Fast forward to Collect-a-Con Houston, my friend Clayton and I had a vendor booth selling Pokemon cards. Our friend James Studley flew from Iowa to Houston because he wanted to play the Metazoo card game in the first sanctioned tournament. James won 4th place on Saturday in sealed and 1st Place on Sunday. His total prizes equaled to be worth more than the 1st Place prize for a Magic: The Gathering Grand Prix tournament ($10,000). On the way to the airport I told James that ”I’m in” and asked how Magic: The Gathering and Metazoo were similar.
Why I Play
I first want to say that I’ve played MTG mainly competitively and have not been a fan of casual play. The first time I seen Metazoo cards was at Collect-a-Con and thought the game wasn’t real. One of the first cards I read was Loveland Frogman and when I seen that you had to blow a kiss to the card to use it, I scoffed at it. I said ”this has to be a joke right?” because I couldn’t believe anyone was taking the game seriously. Soon I learned that the effects like that are usually not relevant, but sometimes they are and they can be fun. I cannot say enough about the community that’s involved in this game, it’s absolutely amazing and one of the key factors that I will continue to be involved in it until I cannot do so.
Metazoo and Magic: The Gathering are very similar in gameplay, which makes the transition extremely easy. Your deck size minimum is 40 cards in Metazoo, while being 60 in MTG. Cards have their deck limit printed under the name on the top left instead of the four per deck rule in MTG. As you can see on this card, the Spellbook (deck) limit is two.
Cards (pages) are limited generally on the power level. As you can see on Gaasyedietha the limit is two and the power level of the card is extremely high. As long as Gaasyendietha is in play you can play spells from your Cemetary (graveyard for spells/potions), which is basically Yawgmoth’s Will on a body.
Here’s a majority of the similarities and differences for Magic: The Gathering and Metazoo.
- The color pie has a total of 10 colors as well as Neutral (colorless).
- Card = Page, Spellbook = Library, Chapter = Hand and Player = Caster.
- Cast = Contract
- Tap/Untap = Fatigue/Awaken
- Creature = Beastie
- Land/Mana = Aura Page/Aura
- Graveyard = Cemetary (only for spells/potions) AND Limbo (only for Beasties and Artifacts).
- Exiled = After-Life (only for Aura/Terra unless a page says differently).
- Each Caster’s starting life total is 1,000 as compared to 20 in MTG. The average attack of Beasties are usually low, so games do tend to take a bit longer than in MTG.
- With the exception of Aura Pages and Terra Pages, everything enters the arena (battlefield) fatigued unless it has the Fleet trait (Metazoo’s version of Haste).
- Artifacts have lifepoints
- There is no attack step, each Beastie can attack any Page as long as it has Life-Points (LP) or a Caster directly. Beasties can also attack as long as it’s awake. There are cards that awaken fatigued Beasties, so yes a Beastie can potentially attack multiple times in a turn. This also means that you can attack with a Beastie, play other cards and then attack with another.
- Flyers CAN be blocked by non-flyers. I know that doesn’t make sense at first, but think about if a Beastie is swooping down to attack.
- You do not lose if you run out of cards in your Spellbook, but the game is a draw if both players run out of cards in their Spellbooks.
As you can see, Chaos Crystal has 25 LP but can easily be compared to Black Lotus due to the ability. Chaos Crystal doesn’t have to be sacrificed once used though!
The Aura cost of the cards are at the top right hand corner. Unlike MTG, Metazoo has the number printed by the Aura type of the card. As you can see on the Page named ‘Bookmark’, the cost is 1 Neutral, meaning it just costs one Neutral Aura. Neutral is the same as colorless in MTG, so you can pay the cost with any color.
As you can see with Tidal Pull, the Aura cost is 1 Neutral and 1 Water.
As I said before, Metazoo has a 40 card minimum, but there are some cards that absolutely broken when compared MTG cards. By just reading these two cards, you can already compare them to similar MTG cards. Drawing two cards for only one colorless mana in MTG is fairly broken, but if you compare the deck size ratio, Bookmark is basically Ancestral Recall.
Beasties are smaller when compared to MTG as well. Some of the biggest beasties in Metazoo are 50 attack points, which is 1/20th of your starting life total so you can compare that to a 1/X attack in MTG. There’s also not a lot of spot removal spells in Metazoo as compared to MTG, so Metazoo is more about combat than casting non-Beastie pages.
Metazoo also as card types called Potions. As of the writing of this article, Potions all cost 0 Aura to play.
The Biggest Differences
One of the biggest differences between Magic: The Gathering and Metazoo is that the only time you can use abilities or play cards on your opponents turn is if the card specifically says it can be used ‘anytime’. So when it’s not your turn, there aren’t many things that you can do. There is good and bad to this, but overall I think it’s a net-positive because this allows you to actually do what you want your deck to do.
Another very large difference is that Metazoo has very few sets when compared to MTG. As of right now, Metazoo has a total of three different sets. Each Metazoo set has around 160 cards. There are quite a few cards that are reprints as promotional cards, and there are also some unique cards that have been printed as promotional cards as well.
Now that I’ve talked about the comparisons of the games, let’s talk about the bread and butter, and that’s the cost comparison. If you go to websites like www.TCGPlayer.com and look at the Metazoo section, you may get a bit nervous but fear not! Metazoo is actually extremely affordable compared to MTG formats like Legacy, Modern and even Pioneer. Right now you can build THIS DECK that just placed 2nd at the Caster’s Cup (Worlds for Metazoo) for less than $300.
A great thing about Metazoo is that the creator and CEO ,Mike Waddell, has stated that they do not plan to do any sort of rotation anytime soon. You can purchase Metazoo cards with the confidence that they will not rotate like MTG formats such as Standard.
Some decks can get in the higher dollar range, but you don’t need to purchase expensive cards to play this game. In a lot of cases, you can build competitive tournament worthy decks for under $100, such as this one HERE.
Basically Metazoo is very similar to MTG and really appeals to casual-type MTG players due to the 4th Wall abilities being so flavorful, but it also appeals to the competitive players with the large prize pools. MTG is also a very technical game with many layers involved and that gives MTG players an edge when compared to other games since technical play is a major factor in both games.
I hope all the Magic: The Gathering players out there will take a look at Metazoo after reading this. The prizes are crazy, like how the first World Championship was a little over 300 players with a $250k cash and at least $250k in other prizes. The community is fantastic and I am truly blessed to be part of Caster Society, which is the main community based organization in Metazoo. I’m 34 years old and was ready to hang up my TCG boots, but Metazoo and Caster Society has lit a fire under me and really brought me back to my old MTG grinder days. Magic: The Gathering and Metazoo will always be a big part of my life and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!