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Wizard war gets frighteningly real in St. Cloud

Police in St. Cloud say that a dispute over a "Magic: The Gathering" game ended in real violence over the weekend, resulting in one friend under arrest and the other suffering from serious injuries.

"Magic: The Gathering" is an extremely popular trading-card and online roll-playing game in which players take on the role of Wizards and battle stables of magical creatures until one Wizard loses all of his "life points." The game is a worldwide phenomenon with millions of devotees.

A 31-year-old man and a 20-year-old man were apparently caught up in the game just after midnight on Friday when an argument erupted into violence. The older man thumped his friend on the head with a rubber mallet and stabbed him seven times around the neck and face, according to the Star Tribune.

The alleged perpetrator then called 911, fearing that his friend might die from the attack. Police say that the younger man suffered "substantial injuries" but, luckily, it appeared those injuries were survivable. The younger man was taken to a hospital.

The older man was taken to the Benton County jail where he remained as late as Sunday awaiting charging. The Star Tribune says that he is likely to face first- and second-degree assault charges. According to the police, investigators found several pieces of evidence that were not identified in the Star Tribune.

In Minnesota, first-degree assault is essentially defined as a physical assault that inflicts great bodily harm. It is a felony charge carrying a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $30,000 fine. Second-degree assault is a physical assault with a dangerous weapon. Whatever blade was used in the alleged stabbing almost certainly qualifies as a dangerous weapon, but so might the rubber mallet. It is also a felony charge and carries a sentence of up to 10 years and a $20,000 fine if "substantial bodily harm" results. Without substantial bodily harm, the defendant could be sentenced to up to 7 years in and fined up to $14,000.

An interesting side note in this story is that police apparently ran a background check on the 911 caller before they arrived at the scene. That turned up a 2013 conviction for possession of an explosive with criminal intent. That prompted the officers to ask the fire department to run air quality tests in case any potentially dangerous chemicals were around. There were none.

It's somewhat amusing to think of a pair of role-playing wizards getting into a physical fight over a game. Unfortunately, it appears a moment's anger may have gotten one man hurt, and another man is now potentially facing life-changing consequences even if he is full of remorse.

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