An Austin gathering

Published 11:08 am Thursday, November 8, 2012

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Local gamers converge at Legacy

Six men gathered around a table in Oak Park Mall last Thursday to count cards, compare their haul and get ready for that night’s tournament. They all were excited to show off their skills and play the right hand. Yet this wasn’t a poker game, and these men aren’t sharks looking for money.

Scott Aragon plays Magic: The Gathering with Michael Haider during a tournament night Tuesday.

They are game enthusiasts ready to play Magic: The Gathering.

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Almost every night, Legacy Comics & Games hosts a tournament of some sort. Owner Joshua Horvat invites everyone who is interested to come and learn a little bit about Magic, an almost two-decades-old card game using mathematical formulas and a fantasy world that inspires fierce competition. He wants Legacy to be embraced by the community as a gathering space to talk about and play games.

After all, it’s one of the main reasons Horvat opened his store.

“I’ve been a Magic player for a long time now,” Horvat said. A trained culinary chef, Horvat played a lot of Magic with his friends and regularly visited Twin Cities comic shops for years. Whenever they came back from a Magic tournament, Horvat and his friends would always critique the shop and dream up ways to improve the experience. In fact, at one point Horvat’s friends were seriously considering opening a comic shop in the Cities.

“Then we all kind of got back into our life routine and stopped obsessing,” he said with a grin.

Fast-forward several months, and Legacy is not only thriving but acting as a community space for people passionate about comics, tabletop games, video games, and, yes, Magic.

“It’s a good way to do face-to-face kind of stuff,” said Noah Weis. Contrary to popular opinion, it takes a lot of people and a gathering space to enjoy fantasy games like Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh! While there are ways to enjoy these games online, Weis said, it was nice to be able to come to a place and meet people with similar interests.

That’s what Horvat envisioned, as he’s opened Legacy to events of all kinds. A group of Mortal Kombat players have hosted regular tournaments, there are Dungeons & Dragons gatherings on some weeks, and up to 35 Magic players have come out for pre-release events for the latest cards to buy.

Myles Hanson, right, celebrates a dice-roll win against Chris O'Neal as the two play Magic: The Gathering Tuesday.

Magic events are held Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, but the busiest nights, according to Horvat, are Tuesdays and Fridays, when standard Magic tournaments are held. For $7, people can enter a tournament and receive a booster pack of cards which normally retails for about $4. Experienced players can also take part in Modern, Commander and Draft tournaments, which are all variations on the standard Magic format. Of those variations, it costs $15 to participate in a Draft night, where players receive the equivalent of three booster packs. Horvat always offers prizes for each tournament, including rare and promotional cards.

Yet Legacy will soon offer more events, as Horvat plans to expand into other types of games. He plans on getting several Magic for beginners events together — though he needs to collaborate with a few regulars who would volunteer their time teaching the game as Magic can’t really be taught in a class setting — as well as expanding to Yu-Gi-Oh!, Warhammer 40,000 and Dungeons & Dragons events. Legacy can be used as a space for video gaming events as well, provided organizers supply TVs and gaming consoles. Horvat is working on getting reliable Wi-Fi Internet to host computer game tournaments as well.

“We are that outlet,” Horvat said. “If there’s a game and people want to play a tournament, I have the software to provide matchmaking, provide a space for your tournament. It’s good to go.”