Magic the Gathering Duels of the Planeswalker
So ok, we get this review code for Magic
the Gathering Duels of the Planeswalker…and now I feel so bloody old. My
wife Donna and I worked the conventions for Wizards of the Coast many
years ago, several conventions and we had been there when WOTC had
nothing but a small table at GenCon game fair. Donna and I had been
there on the first release of Magic the Gathering the collectible card
game…. created by Richard Garfield and introduced in 1993…..and the
gamers went bug nuts over the game. We used to joke with Peter Adkison
and Lisa Stevens that Magic is doing so well that WOTC would end up
buying TSR and run GenCon eventually….
Talk about prophesy, I
should have shook a bone rattle and made smoke billow from my nostrils
and D20’s explode from my neither regions……because ya know what? It
happened. Ok enough nostalgia, the game Magic the Gathering: 2013 Duels
of the Planeswalker is surprisingly fun to play. We got some ribbing
around the writer’s bullpen, “oh a card battle game…sorry” Because after
all, a battle card game does not sound very cool does it?
I took this assignment because of some of the back ground and knowing
the game a little better than most…seeing it in its original birth as a
card game and all…
You may find yourself
not only being bitten by the virtual game bug, but also the world of
Magic the Gathering. Before this I can say that the console game is
great to jump in and play others in the nuances of the games core rules
and all, even playing against opponents from around the world…the only
big difference being that face to face feel of playing with others in a
game, and also missing out on the collecting part. When my wife and I
started such rare cards as a Black Lotus was coveted, and in a
collecting market would actually fetch ungodly prices. Case in point a
French version of a single card “Under Ground Sea” is being sold off at
the writing of this article… for almost 400 dollars. That’s a lot no
matter what country you’re from. The collecting part can get intense and
the mad scramble to get your hands on the more rare cards is a fever.
The game in its simplest
terms goes like this….The core game follows the standard rules of the
1993 collectible card game Magic: The Gathering. Each player has a card
deck with lands and spells. The lands are used in the game to generate
Mana is the mystical energy that is needed to cast spells. Mana comes in
five colors, and the spell cards may require that certain color of Mana
or a generic Mana card to cast. When it comes to spells there are
several different types. Defensive spells, types that add to attack
bonuses, some are instant effect spells and one time effects. There are
even summoned creatures that can be used for attack and defense
depending on the card.
Players’ alternate turns
playing the land cards, casting spells and attacking their opponents
until one of the player’s life total is zero.
The virtual version has been a round in a couple of other versions for a
while. The latest one brings a couple of tweaks to the franchise, such
as the option for the player to manually choose which mana to tap for
use in multicolor decks.
There are four campaigns, an initial one that introduces players to the
game. This campaign has ten different matches. As the player defeats the
opponent a new deck is unlocked. Within the campaign there are eight
encounters… this is the part that helps players get used to the decks
and use of different strategies. These encounters are against the AI
opponents who actually play certain cards in an exact order. This
enables the player to test the different nuances of a deck.
The revenge campaign has
eleven matches that ratchet up the difficulty. They are harder versions
of the initial main campaign.
The challenge style of campaign has ten challenges to test player’s
abilities. Some of these matches can be won in a turn phase. The real
trick of course is that the player has to figure out how best to utilize
the cards they have to bring defeat to the opponent, and it is not
always about how soon you can take them down. This is like chess but
Then the campaign that gives the game its name, the Planchase campaign
brings it in with four games against groups of three opponents. A plane
card deck is placed in the middle of the game play. Each turn a player
rolls a dice to effect the deck. They can activate a plane or even
change it to another plane all together. The overall change to the game
being played can be interesting to say the least. New planes of
existence can change the flow of the game in an instant.
The game does have a fun
single player offering, the life line of Magic the Gathering Duels of
the Planeswalker 2013 comes from its multiplayer battles. As noted the
game has a few tweaks from earlier virtual gaming versions. I have had
mixed likes and dislikes about the game. For me, I happen to like it.
This is a good doorway into the game for beginners; experienced players
will have their hands full when the planes deck goes into full swing
during game play. While one multi colored deck does get the ball
rolling, experienced players may be watching for what we hope is more
DLC for this latest incarnation of the game…just to add a bit more punch
Also it supports the Xbox Live cam, so you can see your fellow player
who you are facing off against if they also have a cam.
Magic the Gathering as a
game has always had its art as one of the biggest draws, each card a
small master piece of fantasy art. In Magic the Gathering Duals of the
Planeswalker 2013, it just seems the graphics are held back, the art and
presentation gets the job done nicely. It just does not seem to have
that extra pow that leaps out at you.
With that being said, the game is good, it is very good and would be a
perfect start to a player’s introduction into a cards battle game, and
the world of Magic the Gathering. It has plenty of challenges to throw
at experienced players and enough here to teach newbies to defend
themselves in deck combat.
Have fun, play games…Edwin Millheim