PARIS – Oxford Hills Middle School students have been gathering on Tuesday afternoons to talk “magic.” About 24 students sit around the library tables involved in the game of Magic.

In the game each player has a deck of 40 cards. After everyone shuffles their deck, each draws an opening hand of seven cards. The remaining cards become the player’s draw pile and the space next to that is the graveyard. That is a simplified explanation of how the game is started. It seems that learning the game Magic takes years. Several players likened it to chess.

The students who talk in Magic lingo and plan their every stepare members of the gaming club. The club is one of several after-school programs sponsored by the Child Health Center through a grant from the Department of Human Services. Ryan Watts, a middle school guidance counselor, started the club as a way to offer an activity to students who are not involved in athletics or who are in an off-season from sports.

Watts stated,” we have about 40 kids signed up, but an average of 24 are here each week. Those involved are mostly boys, but we have two girls who recently joined.”

Watts said every player has his or her own deck of cards, adding that many of the players have multiple decks, which they use to make customized decks designed to match or better the competition’s deck.

Joshua Little, who has been playing for many years, said he has 15 decks. He said, “Each night I go home and make up a new set of cards using cards from each or many of the different 15 decks.” He combines cards to make a new set in preparation for the next day’s match.

Jeff Duval, a volunteer who helps Watts, said, “Magic is a game which you can learn as you play.” Watts stated, “The kids love to play against the two of us, especially Jeff who has played in international tournaments.”

Nick Brunjes said Watts taught him to play and now he “enjoys playing with friends.” The levels of gamers are diverse. Some have been playing since they were 7 and have collected many of the rare cards that are on the market. Many of the kids who are avid players place their rare cards or cards they use a lot in plastic protectors so they last. Others have learned recently and are just beginning their collection.

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