Magic the Gathering: Duels 2015

Magic the Gathering finally online playable!

A long time ago I was playing Magic the Gathering with my friends. 1997 played a PC Version where I walked the region of Shandalar to find cards to create my decks from it. It was fun, but since then I never played. No game allowed me to freely create my decks without spending money and play them. This changed now.

The Game

Magic the Gathering: Duels 2015 can be downloaded without cost from Steam. No cost, just as it’s big competitor: Hearthstone. You start with a story mode, which functions as tutorial. Play all the subtutorials, as they offer a lot of gold! After roughly one hour your through with it, you get your basic card set, three boosters and have money for another two. This gives you the possibility to create a variety of decks. Of course a lot of good cards are missing, but you have already quite some commons and uncommons and can create OKish decks. At the start the archetype mode will lead to better decks. Here you can chose any combination of two colors, create a deck to a given theme, have limited freedom of choice, but better cards available. For example the green/black elf deck I found quite easy and powerful. Just stick to the elves when drafting it. All cards used are from the Origins set.

Campaign

In singleplayer mode you play the history of the planeswalkers Gideon Jura, Jace Beleren, Chandra Nalaar, Liliana Vess and Nissa Revane. Don’t expect any Innovation here. Just some story telling, outdated cutscenes and some easily earned coins for buying new boosters – that’s the motivation for the campaign. You can’t even build your own deck.

Free deckbuilding

I mentioned the archetype mode, where you have “all” cards available but only a few choices to make. Finally there’s also a real, free deckbuilding mode. This is the heart of Magic: The Gathering. Unfortunately is the card choice of the base game very unbalanced. Green/black elves are superstrong, while e.g. red goblins are unplayabel due to insufficient goblins. Nevertheless, working with limited amount of options is always a part of deckbuilding. So this is something I can live with. It’ll probably change with the new expansions.

You start with the following amount of cards:

Common: 224

Uncommon: 72

Rare: 20

Play modes and Problems

You can play 1 vs 1 versus AI or humans. You can also play two headed giant versus human players. This is good fun. The balancing is a problem here. Since now there’s some very dominating decks you’ll often play against g/b elves. Depending o  your deck and skill it can happen, that you always lose against the same deck and win against the other (weaker) decks. To get out of this, play g/b elves. So you see the problem. The even bigger problem is that the game is terribly slow. You have quite some time to make your decisions. In fact you sometimes have to wait until you can make them for a two second animation. Sometimes you also have to wait for the timer to run down after making the decision. If it doesn’t sound much, then bare in mind how many decisions you have to make each turn in Magic and that doing nothing is also a decision which has to be made. You’ll easily spend 10 minutes where nothing happens in a game. It’s even more frustrating when you are a fast player, who’s game would last only 5 minutes without this waiting. And now we imagine a two headed giant game…

Summary

Having the possibility to freely build your own deck is a big plus. The waiting time is a disaster. If you are a big fan of the franchise or a romantic who wants to remember the time he played Magic with friends in his school time, then play some rounds. It’s free and it’s fun. If you are new to the game or immune against the described feelings, then just play Hearthstone. You can Play three games in the time you Play one of Magic. Let’s hope that the next version of this game will finally be a good one. Unfortunately we’ll all have to start colecting cards again from scratch then.