Does This Look Like A Magic: The Gathering Clone To You?

Does This Look Like A Magic: The Gathering Clone To You?
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Disputes over intellectual property walk a fine line between meting out justice and delving headfirst into a ridiculous bramble of legalese. It’s not clear which side Magic: The Gathering publisher Wizards of the Coast’s lawsuit against the creators of Hex: The Shards of Fate will end up on. But trying to compare the two games, I can already tell that things are going to get tricky.

I mean, just look at the animation up top. That’s an image from the debut trailer for Hex, which was released shortly after the game completed a phenomenally successful Kickstarter campaign in 2013 that gathered well over $US2 million.

Here’s another animation from Magic: The Gathering Online, the digital version of Wizards of the Coast’s landmark card game showing how cards are turned sideways in a similar way:

Here’s a close-up of sample card from Hex:

and here’s a card from Magic:

Similar? Yes. Different? Also yes. And that’s not even getting into the rules for the two games.

So is the former game representative of some “misappropriation of [the] intellectual property” of the latter? That’s Wizards of the Coast’s charge. Attempts to reach Cryptozoic for its side of the story have been unsuccessful so far.

I’m not an expert in either of these games. But since I first wrote about Wizards of the Coast’s lawsuit, I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from people who are. So let me put it out to the card-game playing public: what do you think?


    • And what are your credentials to make such a bold and definite statement?

      There are many CCGs out there in the world, Magic isn’t the only one out there. Most of them follow the same format in having descriptive text on the bottom of the card, and an accompanying image at the top. Most (if not all), use the mechanic where a card is rotated to its side to depict its current state of use. This isn’t anything new, and Hex isn’t the first game to use this outside of Magic.

      Cryptozoic, the makers of Hex, have built a decent business out of making TCGs and CCGs which use the similarities pointed out in this article… and they’re not the only ones.

      It will be interesting to see where this lawsuit goes, but a little ignorant to single Hex out as a lone clone that will get taken down due to copyright infringement.

  • I am by no means a lawyer but copyright, patent and trade dress lawsuits are always complex due to the boundaries of what exactly have you said you own. This is similar to Teller (from Penn and Teller) suing a Dutch magician for stealing his copyrighted magic trick. What’s going to be interesting is seeing what parts get through and which parts get dismissed as well as whether any patents get invalidated (Patents can be accepted and then be found invalid after scrutiny in a legal claim). If you’ve ever read the fine print at the bottom of WotC materials, they have a lot of claims to thing like D20, “Tapping” and other common mechanics.

  • It’s not a copy; it’s inspired by MtG, but so is every other tcg ever made

    This lawsuit is a standover tactic by an industry giant; we have deeper pockets and more lawyers than you, don’t try to compete with us

  • Eh, all card games look the same to me. I really don’t know where I stand on this.

    If they’re only going by turning the card sideways then I wouldn’t call it stealing at all. It’s just an easy way to represent a particular action, whether it be using it to represent a “spent” card, a card turning into “defense”, etc. Seems more like they’re annoyed for starting a trend. It would be like if Infinity Ward went after DICE for having aiming down the sights for Battlefield.

    If there are more similar details then it warrants a look into. But you would need extensive knowledge of both games before calling it.

  • They are pretty much screwed because they ripped off the mechanics and in some cases the cards word for word.

    Almost every card game I’ve played (Yu-gi-oh, Pokemon, even Munchkin) have some sort of turning the card sideways mechanic. The old old game War played with a deck of normal cards uses the mechanic. Hearthstone and probably the WoW TCG use the Mechanic.

    But the games are nearly identically conceptually something which Hearthstone, Pokemon and Yu-gi-oh aren’t. This isn’t some ridiculous nonsense like suing everybody who tried to use the word Saga this looks like they grabbed the rules for Magic, and started making their game from there.

    The crap about the colours I’m going to ignore because Forests are always going to be represent by green, Death will always be Black, Holy will always be White.

    Mind being blue is a bit harder but you’ve already used Green, Black and White so something you can easily distinguish is needed which really only leaves Blue, Red and Yellow. Although I suppose Purple works if there isn’t a blue.

  • Try comparing to MTG: Dual of the Plainswalkers
    HEX looks almost identical, in fact, I though the top pic WAS MTG until I saw the old “Online” version as the comparison

  • Just going to say it: their cards turn left, MTG’s turn right.

    (Yes, I realise I’m being silly.)

    • As someone who plays magic online I really have to point out how right seegrey is. Whatever team they have working on mtgo is and has been for ages massively incompetent. The interface is so terrible and clunky. The trade system basically simulates the advanced technology of newspaper classifieds and the client commonly fails to let you know when you have been disconnected. All this could be forgiven if they weren’t printing digital money hand over fist.

      Wizards should be scared because others are actually capable of doing a competent job with digital card games.

  • Have to agree. It astonishes me that a company that makes SO much money out of a digital product can’t afford to hire UX designers who know what they’re doing (or lets the UX designers do what they want maybe?)

    Magic online is sooooo getto.

    On the other hand I read the legal brief and I’d say they have a right to complain!

  • The “tapping” system, the turning your card onto its side to signify usage or attack is under patent protection if I’m correct (maybe its expired, not too sure).

    The layout of the card itself, with the descriptions on the bottom (including quotes in italics), card classification in the centre, picture on the top and the name on the top left maybe a trademark infringement if Magic trademarked the card design. A lot of other card games have similar designs, but very few (I can’t think of any actual card games) have the combination of all those. The card level (the hexagon with a 3) and the power/defence (whatever the gameplay system is) on the bottom corners are very similar to a few android card games I’ve played…though I’m not sure if any of those a under trademark or design patent given the indie nature of the platform….

  • I’m pretty sure WoTC actually patented the “tapping” action in relation to CCGs, so in that sense they certainly have a case.

  • Let me just say the core mechanics of the game are the same but there are things that are different, for one they are trying to make the game a TCG MMO. There will be quests and raids, PvE only cards, Character and Card development (AkA leveling, Loot etc.) and there are already cards that you can add ability’s to as well. It isnt the same game, but the core mechanics are the same. I became a backer of Hex because I love MTG Online but I always wished they would develop it more than just PVP. Hex is doing that.

  • Cards tap (rotate 90`) to activate.
    There are 5 “colours” of cards each with their own (and basically identical across both products) philosophies and mechanics.
    There are cards that are only used as resources, tapping for one each turn.
    The other types of cards (artifacts, enchantments, sorceries, instants and creatures) are all mirrored with but a change of name.
    Evergreen mechanics, such as trample, haste and flying are mirrored as well.
    Iconic cards such as Form of the Dragon with unique mechanics are copied almost verbatim.

    It’s all good to draw influence from bigger and more established products in your market niche. It is very, very different to rip them off completely, add a few things and necessary cosmetic changes and call a day.

  • Gimme me mo money
    mo money
    no one can use cards but use
    after 24 years, we have so much archived crap
    why not just patent “life”
    then sue all our players for not having one…
    “game feature of magic 2016: be sued for not having a life”

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