Review: Magic The Gathering: Duels Of The Planeswalkers 2013
Magic 2013 is the digital version of the renowned worldwide card game that has stolen countless hours of many card-playing folk. Whether you're a Magic The Gathering veteran or a newcomer, read on to find out if it's your new card-based obsession.
- Worth The Time?If you find it addictive and this is your kind of thing, then it's definitely worth your time.
- Things LovedEasy to learn layout and controls; good ambiance and great main title song; absolutely beautiful painted cards and loading screens; lots of content for a very reasonable price-tag.
- Things HatedOverwhelming for newcomers; difficulty spikes causing unnecessary frustration.
- RecommendationIf you're a Magic The Gathering fan or a fan of card games such as these, don't hesitate and download it as soon as possible.
- Name: Magic The Gathering Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013
- Genre: Strategy / Card Simulation
- Players: 1-2 Players Locally
- Multiplayer: 2-4 Players Online
- Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3, iPad
- Developer: Wizards of the Coast / Stainless Games
- Publisher: Microsoft Studios
- Price: 800 Microsoft Points
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
Entering a world filled with merciless mages, creatures and all types of fantastical beings wanting to be in command of all the realms, one can say with absolute certainty, that conflict will arise sooner or later. With Magic 2013, it’s without a doubt the former.
I would like to point out that I have not played a Magic The Gathering game before playing this one, and have minimal experience with the actual card-game, so if my knowledge is not of a high level regarding the previous incantations, please bear with me.
It can be considered as a sport, because the last time I checked there’s a huge amount of tournaments being held worldwide with a staggering amount of dedication going into it.
The game doesn’t focus on story, but rather on the very deep and intricate gameplay behind the massive array of cards at your disposal. Players will work their way up the Campaign Ladder; battling their way to the evil mastermind of the Multiverse, the dragon planeswalker, Nicol Bolas. Sounds simple enough, but oh, no, it’s much harder than it sounds. It’s difficult to give the game an estimated length, due primarily to the fact that each duel will differ. You will have to experiment with the different decks that are available to you, and sometimes the AI controlled enemy will either be a downright beast or a complete push-over.
For those newcomers; like myself, there’s a descriptive and interactive tutorial explaining the essentials you will need to know. I highly recommend playing that before delving into the game, even if you are familiar with the game, granting you the knowledge about the controls and whatnot. If you’re done with the tutorial, you may look for the “How to Play” option, explaining every aspect of the game in detail. Along with that, you’ll find an even more advanced set of instructions for understanding the game. It’s definitely worth a gander, but will seem extremely overwhelming at first. Once the headache passes, you will be able to play a rather compelling game.
Let’s orate about the gameplay.
Each player will be given a deck of cards. Decks will have different attributes. Your choice will be limited at first, and only after a few victories and unlocks will you be able to experiment. Do you prefer a fire oriented deck? Or perhaps a forest inspired set of cards? Your first victory will reward you with a water deck. You decks are “color-coded” differentiating between the different types of magic. White mages will make use of soldiers and even angels. Blue mages will harness the power of water, air and vast knowledge. Red mages utilizes the destructive force of fire, fury and lightning. Green magic include a lot of ferocity causing damage with tooth-and-claw attacks, while black magic makes use of death and darkness. Each player has a total of 20 life points. When these life points reach zero, you are bereft of life and out of the game.
The variety of cards and their attributes are staggering. When you see the legend in the “How to Play” section, your eyes will bleed and your brain will short-circuit. It’s a lot of information to take in at once, but you’ll get to know your play-style and different types of cards, the more you play. In order to summon anything or cast a spell, you will need mana. Mana can be increased by playing “land-cards”, these cards are essential and take up a rather large portion of your deck. You may only summon one mana card per round. These cards are vital to your war-effort. At the top of each card, you’ll see a series of circular icons, telling you how much mana are needed to play the aforementioned cards. Once the mana is used, the cards become “tapped”. Cards that have to be tapped turns sideways and cannot be untapped until your next turn. The game does it for you, so don’t worry about that.
The interface is properly implemented and easy to learn. Whenever you have enough mana or a spell card can be used at that specific time, it will become high-lighted, making things a lot easier for the player. During either your turn or your opponent’s turn you will have a “Stop Timer” option, giving you time to breathe and figure out what to do next, and not being hassled into making a dumb move or something you’ll come to regret. When your opponent activates a card, it will come floating your direction, and by using the right trigger you may enlarge the card, allowing you to read the all the details and see the beautifully painted pictures. Each creature has a description with two number at the bottom, one signifying the attack strength and the amount of damage it can take during one turn. If that number is exceeded, the creature is sent to the player’s graveyard
Each players’ turn is divided into a bunch of segments, like for example: a main phase, a combat phase and so on. During these phases you may either choose to attack your enemy with one or more of your creatures or just letting the combat phase pass. You may choose to block your opponent attacks if you have any available creatures. Take note that you cannot attack or block with a creature that have been summoned that same round.
Explaining all the different types of abilities will have everyone sitting for hours on end, so I’ll just use this as a quick example; a flying creature cannot be blocked by a creature that is earthbound, but rather by another flying creature or by activating a spell card. The possibilities for most duels are jaw-dropping.
The single player portion of the game is rather large, consisting out of the campaign, alongside the Revenge, Planechase and Challenge modes. The campaign can be broken into segments. Different realms / universes / planes; each containing opponents and “Encounters”. Beating opponents will unlock new universes, cards and various challenges. Encounters will force you to think with different strategies and experiment with other decks to overcome a match with a predetermined set of parameters; for example, the enemy will use the same strategy over and over again, forcing you to think about strategies you haven’t tried before, or the enemy will have an advantage over you, also forcing another approach.
Revenge Mode consists out of all the previously defeated opponents. Sure, it sounds simple enough, but they will be a much more mischievous than before. Planechase is a whole other beast, and by beast I mean, damn tricky. Four opponents will go up against one another, producing nail-biting gaming sessions. The twist, however will of course be a set of cards that sits neatly in the middle of the arena, waiting for the next insolent fool rolling the dice, causing the current “Plane” to change. Each plane will have it’s own set of rules. Rules differ from certain spells not having effect or stronger creatures not being able to attack. It makes for some pretty unexpected results. Planechase is a great game mode, but not one to take head on from the get-go. It can be really unforgiving, even on the lowest difficulty setting. You can hop online and test your wits against other Magic 2013 players. It’s nice to play online and I didn’t encounter any online glitches or crashes.
Two-Headed Giant grants you the couch co-op we all love. You may wish to play this alongside another humanoid or an AI teammate. It’s nice with the AI friend, but tackling this one is supposed to be done with someone alongside you. To summarize, it’s 2 players versus 2 other players, the other team being AI controlled opponents. You will not have individual life points, but instead a shared life total of 30 points It’s fun and makes for some good times with like-minded Magic The Gathering playing folk.