Mmmm, new cards!
Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 is the latest installment in the popular digital version of the Magic: The Gathering collectible card game. Whilst it may not bring much by way of new features to the table over last years installment, Magic fans will undoubtedly snap the game up just so that they can catch a glimpse at the new cards which are being released in the core set from July 13th. But more on the new features and such in a minute, first, let’s cover the basics.
Magic: The Gathering has been around for a surprisingly long time now. Part of the games success comes down to the fact that it is highly collectible, but part is also due to how easy the game is to pick up and play. Players draw cards and cast spells at the opposing player, reducing their life points to zero to win the game. To cast spells, players have to spend Mana which is made available by playing lands. Different lands provide different types of Mana which allow for the casting of different spells. Generally, players will use decks of cards that only contain lands and spells of one of two types. There is a lot of fun in the actual card game to be had from creating the perfect deck, and there is nothing better than having the cards come out exactly as you need them. But that is the random factor in the game, the player is limited by what they actually have in their hand at any given time and the skill behind the game is not only knowing how to use the different cards, but how to make the most of a bad hand.
Playing the game digitally, either on a console, PC or now on the iPad, is a slightly different experience. The thrill of buying new cards and creating the perfect deck is gone, and the social aspect, or hanging around in hobby shops, doesn’t apply. But in some ways the digital game is better, especially for beginners. The AI opponents in the game are very good and everything is explained in detail, so playing the videogame version is the perfect gateway to spending every spare penny on new cards.
The 2013 version of the game, as already said, doesn’t offer too much by way of new features over the last version. But I would be willing to bet that most of the sales will go to owners of the last version, especially is they are fans of the game. Around 100 of the cards that feature in the 2013 version of the game will be new and players of the videogame will see them first, before the Magic 2013 Core Set is released on Friday July 13th. To collectors, this will be near impossible to pass on.
The inability to create your own decks is probably the biggest failing of the digital game, and that hasn’t changed in the latest installment. However, the pre-made decks on offer are very well balanced, ensuring that success in a game is due to skill rather than having a better deck, and players can customise their decks with new cards that they unlock as they play. It’s not perfect, but means that the game is easily enjoyable for new players.
There is a huge amount of content packed into the game, including Challenges which offer an almost puzzle element to the game, and the new Encounters which see the player having to deal with some interesting strategies. However, the most interesting addition is perhaps the new Planechase mode. This new four-player free-for-all mode mixes things up by including a dice roll and a variety of different effects on the game. The result is absolute chaos, but rather good fun.
There have been a few other tweaks to the game, such as being able to choose which lands to tap, but that’s about it. The interface is smooth and easy to get round. It can be a little frustrating at times when the player has to keep waiting for animations and such, but that is the price we pay for having a good looking game.
As an introduction to the actual card game, Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 does a really good job. It will never have the depth or excitement of the real card game, but if you don’t want to leave the house and start spending money on cards, that works out just fine. It is difficult to recommend this version to players of the previous versions, but if you are a fan then you probably have already downloaded it. For newcomers who fancy dipping their toes into the Magic pool, pick the 2013 version up now!