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Perham to be center of 'Magic' Saturday

Store manager Joe Heinecke organizes Magic: The Gathering cards at Ultima Gaming in Perham. The playing card game has become a popular part of the business. Major events are coming to the business in the coming weeks, bringing people from all over the region. Michael Johnson/Focus1 / 2
"Magic: The Gathering" playing cards fill the walls of Ultima Gaming on Main Street in Perham. Michael Johnson/Focus2 / 2

Many people living in Perham know it's a magical place, but it's soon to be home to even more "Magic."

This Saturday "Magic: The Gathering" game card players from around the region will descend upon Perham for a Preliminary Pro Tournament Qualifier at Ultima Gaming.

What is "Magic: The Gathering"? It's a game where players buy, trade, collect and play valuable cards that are used against others to win it all. Different cards have different creatures with different powers or different spells, each used as a weapon against others playing the game. Imagine playing a game with baseball cards, where the strengths of each player can be used to win the game. Except instead of a great batting average, the strength might be the ability to breathe fire. Some players and some cards are more valuable than others.

The company that makes the cards has several releases every year. It just so happens that Ultima Gaming in Perham sells the cards and has a prerelease party planned for April 21 at the store. In order to sell the cards and hold these unique prerelease parties, Ultima Gaming had to attain a certain level and be sanctioned by Magic, as if they too are advancing in a game. Employees and area gamers know that for a small town like to Perham to have this kind of events takes a major following.

Being the site of a professional qualifier tournament is no small feat. In fact, it's wildly impressive considering such a tournament usually only comes to large cities like Fargo-Moorhead or St. Cloud. One member of the local group, the Lakes Area Magic group is Robbie Olson. Olson said the following has grown to about 120 people in and around Perham. It's grown so well because of the efforts of the small business Ultima Gaming.

"We have stronger player base than larger communities," Olson said.

While the prerelease party slots are nearly full on April 21, there is no limit at the qualifying tournament April 14. Olson said anyone can come out to the event to play or just take it all in. Store manager Joe Heinecke, who helped bring the game to the store said he expects groups from Fargo-Moorhead will be coming over to Perham for the tournament for a chance against new competition.

Those qualifying at the PPTQ will then have a chance to move onto the regional qualifier, one step closer to winning it all.

Stop by the store for more information or check out Ultima Gaming on Facebook to stay up to date.

If Magic or card games are not your thing, the store also sports its own arcade area, fit with three 50-inch screens and the latest games to try out or hang out all day playing. There are also PCs with a plethora of gaming options that any gamer could enjoy in an updated, modern facility right on Main Street in Perham.

Owner Dave Jopp said he's "looking to make it the biggest gaming hub in the Midwest."

They sell games for all your retro and modern gaming systems and offer weekly events for advanced and beginner gamers. Their hours are Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Michael Johnson

Johnson is a graduate of Verndale Public School. He earned his associate's degree from Central Lakes College with an emphasis in English and natural resources. He earned his bachelor's degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead, where he graduated cum laude in 2008. While there, he double-majored in English and Print Journalism. He's reported for The Advocate, student newspaper of MSUM; The Barnesville Record Review in Barnesville, Minn.; Clay County Historical Society in Moorhead, Minn.; Gillette News Record in Gillette Wyo.; Underwood News in Underwood, N.D.; and The Leader-News in Washburn, N.D. and the Brainerd Dispatch in Brainerd, Minn. Johnson has worked as a reporter for the Pioneer Journal and Perham Focus since Nov. 2017.

(218) 640-2312
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