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Fun is in the cards at Clarkson this weekend

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POTSDAM — Hundreds of wizards will descend upon Clarkson University this weekend, but they won’t be armed with wands, like Harry Potter, or a staff like Gandalf the Grey. These wizards use cards to cast their spells.

The Clarkson University Gaming Club, in conjunction with Canton hobby shop Gamer Craze, will host a tournament to celebrate the pending release of collectible card game Magic: The Gathering’s next set, Gatecrash.

“We’re looking at taking these prereleases, the largest ‘nerd’ event that takes place in the north country, and melding those to become something even bigger,” said Aaron M. Reardon, Gamer Craze owner.

“We want to work with the community to build it, create a situation where everyone can come, meet other gamers and meet other hobbyists.”

Magic is a hybrid of game and collectible that has spawned a series of fantasy books with a linked story line. The collectible card game, first produced in 1993, preceded the Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh crazes. Magic attracts a somewhat older set and combines the trading fun of traditional sports cards with a game ripe with strategy.

“The thing that gets people into Magic is the strategic level. It has so many intricacies and interactions, the best players in the world are really people who are professional players,” said David A. Yambay, a Clarkson graduate student and event organizer. “Magic is big worldwide. There are quite a number of souls who make a living on magic now.”

Players use cards representing magical lands, creatures, enchantments and effects to try to reduce their opponents to zero lives or make them run out of cards.

The north country has a growing Magic community, said Mr. Reardon.

“We went from pre-releases of 90 people in 2011, by the end of last year we were at 305 registered participants,” he said. “As the community has grown, it has become the instant draw for students and professors coming in. This is a really good outlet for them to get in touch with people with similar interests throughout the county.”

Mr. Reardon said dedicated Magic players have become the core of his business.

Across the country, hobby shops and gaming groups will host similar pre-release events in anticipation of the Gatecrash expansion. The game has become so popular here that the Clarkson event will be one of the largest across the state.

That is in part because of the expanding pool of tournament and door prizes, said Mr. Reardon.

“If you get lucky and pull the best deck out of your pack, if you place, you could walk away with a large prize,” he said.

Prizes are drawn from the number of participants. At the group’s last tournament, $1,000 in prizes was awarded to the top competitors in addition to more than $500 in door prizes.

Registration is $25 and prizes go out to the top 16 players. Registration begins Saturday at 9 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. with packs going out an hour later.

Preregistration is available at the Gamer-Craze store at 47 Main St. in Canton, and at the online store at www.gamer-craze.com

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