Review: Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers

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art-hd-618268Five elements, five classes, two players, one winner. Forget whatever stigma is attached to tabletop gaming. It is a rich and challenging experience sure to keep your attention for hours, even days on end. Josh dons his duelling gloves and prepares for battle.

Card games, now with explosions!

Card games, now with explosions!

Magic the Gathering is a strange and misunderstood concept to most people, with the idea of spending copious amounts of money on printed decks bizarre. But much like Chess is ignored by those who have never taken the time to learn and master its intricacies, Magic the Gathering is an intense experience once you understand the rules.

When you get your strategy down pat, working out the timing of when to play the right spell card or the most useful creature card to drop to bolster your attacks becomes automatic, the game shows its truly awesome nature.

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Round one… Fight!

Problem is, I haven’t played Magic the Gathering in card format in years and the reason is always the same, lack of people to play against. The game is reliant on you seeking out friends and clubs to match your skills against. Fortunately, thanks to the digital age, the franchise has transferred across to computers and mobile devices rendering the issues of finding suitable opponents moot. The recent push onto tablets offers a much more accessible experience.

The first thing you’ll notice is Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers is a little lacking in presentation focusing on recreating the table-top experience instead of a complete story and cut-scenes. The single player offers some easy matches to begin with, allowing players to learn the ropes and work out the rules, then as the “story” progresses you begin to fight tougher opponents. The matches themselves are actually quite fun.

You are pitted against enemies who only use spells, or who only spam small disposable creatures. My favourite was a prison guard who locks down your creatures, stopping their use. All of these matches teach you different ways to fight and help you learn the more advanced tactics to the game.

After fighting  through single player, it’s now time to take the fight to real adversaries. It includes an Ad-Hoc mode for playing with friends locally and a network mode for online play. Matches online are played the same way as the singleplayer with the added ability to chat via the iPad microphone.

Small visual touches are nice

That is one nasty paper-cut 

The package is well put together and incredibly well priced. Decks cost a reasonable amount and the number of matches at your disposal is limitless, no matter what cards you hold. New players wont feel overwhelmed and the singleplayer campaign gives plenty of time to adapt and learn. There is hope for these traditional game types in this digital world and even though the interface could do with a little more work and personality, Magic The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers is enjoyable and a great introduction to the tabletop gaming experience.

8/10

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Joshua Philpott

Tech MacGyver
Games writer, podcaster and tech wizard. Obsessed with obscure horror films, crazy gadgets and caffeine. Passionate, argumentative and open minded. Freelance writer and co-founder rawDLC.

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