Let me tell you about a hobby that I've enjoyed for a while; if you're tired of the great outdoors and are looking for a fun, logical strategy game, then you should try out Magic: the GatheringThe COVID-19 pandemic has stunted many in-person events for the game. However, the ones that stores in Billings have held have been in high demand, and the creators of the game have started to acknowledge these local stores again.

What are these local game stores?

If you've ever been inside a game store, they usually feature many different ways to pass the time. From board games all the way up to models and painting, these shops support the local niche groups and give them a place to go and enjoy these hobbies with others. The most popular activity in these shops is Magic, which is played by around 40 million people across the globe.

What makes these shops so special is the fact that they sell the game but also allow the players a place to play the games. The company that makes Magic is Wizards of the Coast, and they've been experimenting with a different way to play the game during the COVID-19 pandemic by doing all their new releases digitally first, using their online game, Magic: Arena. This doesn't help the local shops though, because the players aren't supporting a local business. But that's all about to change.

New game sets will be released to local game stores first again.

Starting with their upcoming set, "Streets of New Capenna," Magic players will get to experience the new set a week before its release in local game stores once again, instead of getting the set early in a digital format. The local game stores here in Billings; KAB Sports Cards and Collectibles, Nerd Rager, and Dragon Egg Games are extremely excited to get paper pre-releases back.

It's about time. It's nice that stores will have a little advantage over Arena now. It should help get players back into playing paper.

- Kris Brester, owner of KAB Sports Cards and Collectibles

 

I like this more, because it will bring players together and everyone can learn the new cards at the same time.

- Dan Alden, owner of Nerd Rager

 

I think it's important. Pre-releases are special and should be where players get the chance to use the new cards for the first time.

- DeWitt Moormeier, owner of Dragon Egg Games

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So, if you'd like to experience a new hobby, and you want to find people to play, check out one of those local game stores. You'll be sure to find a welcoming community of players right here in Billings, and you may even find me playing with them.

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