'Tis the Season

Posted in Serious Fun on December 10, 2013

By Bruce Richard

Bruce's games invariably involve several friends, crazy plays, and many laughs. Bruce believes that if anyone at your table isn't having fun, then you are doing it wrong.

We've reached that time of year when many of us are struggling to come up with gift ideas for our loved ones. If the people in your life happen to share your love of Magic, you have come to the right place. I'm going to give you some gift ideas that stretch the gamut, from your friend who only plays tournaments to the player who loves to follow the storyline, and everyone in between. Maybe you'll add some of these to your list!

Cards (duh!)

These are the obvious gifts that any of us would love. I love to get a few boosters in my stocking. Christmas-morning Pack Wars are great, and the chance of getting that amazing rare still feels a little like Charlie Bucket getting the golden ticket.

If you're looking to be a little more festive, a Fat Pack offers up a little more than just the cards themselves. My stack of Fat Pack boxes extends high along one wall in my closet. A Commander deck from the recently released Commander (2013 Edition) product is a wonderful gift for any Commander player. Even a player who already has a copy of the deck will appreciate the extra cards to put into the other Commander decks he or she is constantly brewing.

The Holiday Gift Box was put together just for this season. This is an excellent gift for the newer players in your life who will load up their entire collections in these boxes. The dividers you can personalize are a perfect addition. This also works very nicely for the Cube players in your life. The box is a perfect fit for a standard-sized Cube. My Cube friend, Josh, stores his Cube in last year's Holiday Gift Box. The double-sleeved cards, lands, and tokens for all the cards in his Cube all fit snugly into the box.


Every player needs dice and most of them already have some. Dice are easy to find. Every self-respecting game store carries all sorts. Just walk in and walk around. They are likely near the counter somewhere. There is practically a limitless supply of styles and designs, so you should be able to find something that appeals to your player.

But what if your player is a little more discerning? Check out these dice. I would be a little concerned about using these dice on a soft wooden table, but this is a set of dice that is truly spectacular. There are all sorts of options relating to the type of metal and the finish, or even in a variety of plastic. Whether the dice will reach you in time for the holidays may be an issue, but these are some stunning dice and will make the receiver of this fine gift the envy of everyone at the next tournament.

Dice Bags

Most of us have accumulated plenty of dice while playing various games. While a plastic deck box holds a handful of dice, a bag is an easy way to spice things up for the Magic player on your gift list.

I bought my latest dice bag at the last PAX East. It is bright orange and plenty flashy, but I should have waited. Shortly after, I discovered dragonchow.com. They have a wide variety of handmade dice bags for pretty much any preference. dragonchow.com also does the best Tardis dice bag I have seen. If you have a Dr. Who/Magic fan on your list, the Tardis dice bag is impressive.

For more variety, try etsy.com. Almost every dice bag there is handmade, and they range from flat bags with draw strings to bags that look like dragons that swallow your dice until you need them later. When it comes to dice bags, find someone with good reviews and email the maker. If the maker doesn't already have what you are looking for, he or she can probably put it together for you.


Various Magic websites have t-shirts and other clothing related to their sites for sale on their websites. Your favorite podcast may have a shirt or hoodie to let you show your love. I still wear my t-shirt from the long-defunct podcast YoMTGTaps! For official Magic merchandise, mtgmerch.com is your go-to site. The mana hoodies look awesome, and the other t-shirts and assorted clothing offer something for everyone. Even keychains and Fblthp plushies are available if Magic clothes aren't really what you're looking for.

Deck Boxes

Deck boxes come in all types. The inexpensive plastic Ultra Pro boxes do the job in a utilitarian way. Many of these basic plastic boxes also come with a wide variety of art on the various boxes. Some have recognizable Magic art while others offer other fantasy images.

The next step up is probably the Deck Vault. They have a variety of images on their metal tins. The older ones have hinged lids, but the newer ones have a space in the top for dice, beads, or other small items. My deck box would not be big enough to hold a sleeved Commander deck, but it fits sixty sleeved cards comfortably.

The top end for mass-produced deck boxes are the magnetic deck boxes. These boxes tend to be big enough to hold a sleeved Commander deck. They are made of a variety of cloth materials with a magnet in the cover to hold it in place. Most of the boxes that I have seen have some kind of mana symbol on them, but there many other images on the boxes. They hold up to quite a bit of wear and tear.

Score Pads

A score pad can be pretty much any piece of scrap paper, but a steno pad works far better. This isn't the most interesting gift, but the folks at signinbloodlife.com opted to spice it up a little. Their score pads ooze class. If your player regularly attends each PTQ, or even if he or she only go to the occasional Prerelease, these pads are a beautiful addition that many players wouldn't consider getting for themselves.


Every card has art, and most of it is amazing. I own a framed print of Overgrown Tomb that hangs proudly in my living room.

Overgrown Tomb | Art by Rob Alexander

StarCityGames has made buying an iconic piece easy by offering lithographs from various Magic artists. Many artists have their own websites where you can purchase prints and original pieces. Don't immediately assume you can't afford the original art; many are far less expensive than you might think.

JohnAvonArt.com is a great website that showcases John Avon's art. With various sizes and images available, the website is everything you could want if you are looking for any of Avon's amazing landscapes on cards. His website is a model for other artists and makes buying art easy.

The expert when it comes to Magic art is gatheringmagic.com's Mike Linnemann (@VorthosMike on Twitter). He has had several articles linking to artist websites and other events where you can track down particular pieces. Mike has also written about caring for your art and how to keep the cost of framing your favorite Magic pieces down without sacrificing quality. Everything I know about Magic art is what Mike has shared in his articles.

Another great source, if you are looking for a particular card's art, is @OriginalMtGArt. These two sources should be able to put you on the right track to find art your player will love.


Playmats offer endless variety. Some mats have images from various Magic cards on them, while others have random fantasy art on them.

Personalizing a playmat is a great gift! I know of one player who bought a blank white mat and drew a line down the middle of the mat. After each match, he adds another notch to the win or loss column. Other players have signatures of various Magic luminaries on their mats. There are all kinds of options.

My personal favorite is offered by inkedplaymats.com. They let you take an image and download it to a playmat. They print out the mat and send it off. I've used inkedplaymats.com to make prizes for the group of players I TO (tournament organizer) for and they do a great job. The prices range depending on how many copies you want, the size, how much work you want them to do, and how fast you want it finished.

My friend Brandon Isleib, a writer at gatheringmagic.com, commissioned John Avon to draw his playmat. This can be a little more expensive, but playing Magic on a one-of-a-kind piece of art is an impressive gift.

Card Storage

Most of us store our cards in long white cardboard boxes. Some of us use binders to hold our cards. Others use a combination of the two. A number of online stores sell card hotels. The cardboard boxes have slots to hold the long white cardboard boxes, so you'll be able to get at the box that is on the bottom of a stack of five boxes without having to move the other four boxes.

For some collections, fat pack boxes are an option. They are more sturdy than the white cardboard boxes, and certainly more colorful.

A fairly expensive gift idea is a cabinet for a card collection. I have found that the old library card catalogs work very well to hold Magic cards. The benefit of a card catalog is that it fits into the decor in most any room in your house. With drawers that come right out, I can peruse my cards, looking for the final addition to a deck, without having to drag several boxes out of the closet to the dining room table.

These furniture pieces can be very difficult to find. They are very heavy, so shipping them is generally not an option. This means that you need to look locally, or at least in places where you would be willing to travel to pick one up. It took my wife and me almost four years to finally find a catalog that would look good in our home and that was close enough to pick up. With sixty drawers, it should have enough space to hold my collection for another twenty years.

"Booster" Pack

I thought I would end with the most personal option. Put together your own "booster" as a gift. I did it as a gift for someone who had an Equipment deck, but could not get some of the harder to acquire Equipment. I included a mythic rare, three uncommons, and eleven common cards, all related to Equipment. This is a flexible gift option, since it can be the standard (rare, three uncommon, eleven common) or even all rares. Perhaps all premium foil would be preferred. Fifteen cards that all fit into one deck idea is a wonderful gift that shows a lot of thought.

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