Developer: Stainless Games
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Release Date: July 16, 2015
Nation, it should come to no surprise Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers is a game I have been eyeing for quite some time. I have been playing Magic for years (and other trading card games besides) but I never actually tried one of the yearly “Duels” games because they never let you work on your own decks. Sure, there were plenty of decks to unlock and choose from; a little alteration could be done here and there, and I think last years edition even had a draft system in place. Regardless, it was never quite enough to draw me in.
Of course, Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers changes this. For the first time in the series the player is allowed to collect their own cards from virtual booster packs that they claim from defeating enemies. Eventually, one can build up an impressive virtual collection if they grind at the game long enough. Or you can do as I did and buy the deluxe edition which gives you all the cards you will ever need.
Gameplay in the newest “Duels” is exactly as one would expect: and I mean that in a good way. The game allows you to play Magic against the computer or online against other players without having to drown in the sea of cards and immense competition that is Magic: the Gathering Online.
One might say that the card pool of the newest “Duels” is a little shallow, but giving the player ALL the cards in modern, let alone standard, was not what Wizards was going for here. If you want that, head to Magic Online and feel free to dish out over a hundred bucks a deck to remain competitive. No, what Wizards of the Coast has done here is give players the ability to play in a format much like our current standard (or the last year of sets for those unfamiliar with how tournaments are slotted).
The card pool may not be the biggest or even all the best of what standard currently offers, but it does the job just fine. Magic: 2015 DOTPW doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t, but as I have said that is a good thing. The game doesn’t use any cards that are too complicated for new players to grasp and does a fine job of creating its own virtual set. In effect, it is almost like its own version of the new base set with a few of last years mechanics thrown in for variety.
I think what this game and the others in the “Duels” series does best is introduce new players to how the game works and to mess around with concepts such as the stack (the management of unresolved effects and cards) and deck building. The game even has its own automatic deck builder that draws from the player’s best cards to make a “good stuff” deck in the color the player wants to experiment with.
All of Magic’s core mechanics are represented well; even complicated mechanics such as the stack and the various phases of each turn. I suppose my only real gripe is that the developers left the recent God-type creatures and Planeswalker cards out of the mix, which is odd considering the title of this series. That said, Planeswalkers can be a little wonky and game breaking, and I can tell that this game has had a carefully crafted balance to ensure that no single color can outright rule over all the others (I’m looking at you, Blue!).
While players are free to simply buy an entire “expansion” in the game, the developers took guards to prevent a “pay-to-win” mentality but limited the amount of rare cards a player can own. Many rare and even uncommon cards are limited to less than three copies in a player’s collection which prevents players from just buying all the sets and going on an online rampage over all the newbies still struggling with their base decks.
Players can also buy virtual boosters in game for a small price. The low price of the boosters and even the sets means that many players who enjoy the game are likely to drop the money to have the best possible card collection, but since the price of the game by itself is only $9.99 it won’t break your bank to do the same.
All in all, I have to say I am very impressed with this new Magic: The Gathering game. I have already dumped tons of hours into it and it has only been released a few days ago. My final thoughts on this title is 10/10. Solid buy- tons of fun, and a cheap alternative to Magic: Online for those who just want to play some casual Magic with their friends.
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