Kevin Bryant first-year, Dre Willoughby, third-year and Jack Bueltel, second-year members of Magic: The Gathering meet at Ohio State University Nov. 19. Credit: Aaron Lien | For The Lantern

Card players from across the country will shuffle into Columbus, Ohio, this weekend for MagicFest.

The three-day event will kick off Friday at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. MagicFest will feature several paid events for players to compete in, with winners of the main event gaining access to larger tournaments and chances to buy rare cards. The convention will also have exclusive cards that only attendees can obtain.

“Magic: The Gathering” is a collectible card game that launched in 1993, with regular expansion sets to bring in new cards. There are different ways to play, but most formats involve players summoning creatures from a card deck and pitting them against each other to reduce the opponent’s health points to zero.

The event is welcome to casual players who aren’t as competitive, as well, Denis Stranjak, marketing director for the event, said in an email. He added that there is no door fee, making the event accessible to those who would prefer to hang out or browse the vendors.

“There genuinely is something for everyone, and there are lower stakes and more casual side events outside of the main event,” Stranjak said.

Joey Meadows, a fourth-year in earth sciences and biology and member of Ohio State student organization Magic the Gathering, said he appreciates that attendees don’t need to spend a dime to enjoy the event.

Ohio State’s “Magic” club was reinstated this year by co-presidents Jack Welday, a first-year in neuroscience, and Dane Esposito, a second-year in English. Welday said MagicFest represents the first major outing for the group. None of the members plans to compete, but most will attend together.

“Even if you’re not gonna play at any events, you can walk around and watch people play at really competitive levels,” Kevin Bryant, a first-year in electrical and computer engineering and club member, said. “You can check out the vendors. They’ve got really cool stuff that you’ll never really see ever again.”

Welday said the club currently meets to hang out, play “Magic” and discuss upcoming tournaments. As the members build up their decks for competition, he said they hope to host a tournament of their own.

MagicFest will also host artists who have created art for the game, according to the event website. The artists will be offering autographs, prints and playmats featuring their art for the game.

“Meeting some of the talented people behind the look of the game is always a special experience,” Stranjak said.

Welday said he appreciates the community that “Magic” has provided him as a new student, while Bryant said he enjoys its variety, with different formats and play styles to learn.

“I think being able to hang out with people like this, make lifelong friends, is part of it. And the other part of it is learning how to play the game a different way,” Bryant said. “Any time I sit down at a table, I’m gonna learn how to play ‘Magic’ a different way.”

MagicFest will take place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Competitors can register for events as late as Friday, but there is no same-day registration. More information can be found on at