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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.


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 Just some story telling, outdated cutscenes and some easily earned coins for buying new boosters – that’s the motivation for the campaign.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…


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.

Game of Thrones: Ascent – Tutorial

Game of Thrones: Ascent Tutorial – A Beginner’s Guide

Game of Thrones: Ascent covers quite well the detail and richness of George R. R. Martin’s famous novels. It is rich in text and detail, which people who read the meanwhile six books might appreciate. The others can easily skip it. In this tutorial I want to help you getting started and also overcoming the limitations you’ll face by not paying gold for this game.

Screenshot vom Browserspiel Game of Thrones: Ascent
Screenshot vom Browserspiel Game of Thrones: Ascent

The Beginning

Before doing anything I have to send out a warning. Don’t spend gold! It’s the premium currency in the Game of Thrones: Ascent. You can get it again for free, but only slowly. So think twice on what to spend it. I’ll cover this later in this tutorial.
Charactergeneration is straight forward. Here it has no influence on the later game. At the beginning the game will guide you very close. You don’t even have a choice. So better just get through it. It will grant you some silver and ressources. During this you also chose your background and swear fealty to one of the highborn houses. The latest one having a significant influence on the game. Still you can just go with your favourite one. You should already decide whether you want to focus on fighting, trading or intrigue. This is your major decision in this game.

The first own steps

After following the blinking yellow arrow for while you are finally free to do what you want. The things you need to buy all cost silver so take care of this first. You’ll get it from your quests as long as you have adventurers to take them and from the counting house.


So have a look at the keep if there are any sellswords worth buying. Just go for the common ones now. Best the ones with one point in your focus field – fight, trade or intrigue. Since it’s only one point it is not such a big deal. You can send the sellsword to an adventure or click through the text and let him quest for you. The first grants you some silver and a ressource and him quite some experience. The last does basically the same, occupies him longer and let’s you progress in the story. It also can give you good items. Some storyquests can become quite tough and some cannot be repeated when you lose, so I’d always send the best sellsword to the quest, the rest on an adventure. Especially for the ones, where you can get good items. Those quests are done faster the stronger your sellsword is. Since you might have timepressure this can become a big thing. Always chose the action with the highest probability of winning. Usually it’s the one you focussed on earlier. For adventures it always is. Two things you have to be aware: You can’t send more sellswords than you have command points. Those you see right on the main screen above them. So best buy slowly as many of them as you have command points. And sellswords can also die, if they get five wounds. Since they recover from wounds within one hour it’s quite unlikely to happen, but if necessary, just give them a rest.


Chosing the cheap sellswords will leave you with some silver left. This can be used to construct and upgrade buildings. Crafting is comparable cheap and is not necessary at the moment. First to spend your silver on is the counting house. Why? It produces more silver. Especially for the first upgrades you get your silver back pretty fast.
Have a look at the village center. You spend ressources on upgrades, so you have to make sure to have enough. In the beginning this is usually the case. To avoid problems later just always build the ressource which you have the least of. You later also have to upgrade this building to be able to produce every ressource.
Further buildings
Crafting is not so strong in Game of Thrones: Ascent. Building upgrades are. They can directly give bonuses to all your sellswords at once. So look which of the early buildings grants the bonus of your focus fields when upgrading. For fighting it’s the Smithy, for trade the market and for intrigue the Embassy. If you don’t have the building, then build it. Whenever you have money left, upgrade this building. Your sellswords will become stronger, master more quests and better adventures and so level faster.


Up to now we haven’t talked about the character. Now he get’s his part. For the items you get, think first of your character. He should always get the best items. This usually means the ones with the highest bonus of whatever of fight, trade or intrigue you want to focus on. You can also use items which give a percentage bonus or a bonus on all three fields if they are only slightly worse. All bonuses from your character affect again all sellswords.
Your character can also skill talents. for most of them I didn’t see much effect. Look for the ones, which bring bonus to the action you use for adventuring.


In Game of Thrones: Ascent gold is earned slowly but continously. You can also buy it of course, but I wouldn’t suggest to. When being careful at spending it, the gold you get automatically is quite sufficient. The game has quite some annoying features, which can be avoided by spending gold and this is what you should spend it to. So there are three important things I’d go for. I unlocked them in this order. And note that ones you unlock one of them, you don’t need to pay gold for further upgrades of this talent:

  • Novice Adventurers: Soon you’ll get a double digit amount of sellswords. Sending them on adventures becomes quite a work. This talent allows you to form parties of them and send them all at ones.
  • Brewhouse (Village Center): Unlocking those upgrades allows you to create up to six ressources automatically after each other. This again saves you a lot of clicking and gives up to five additional ressources for when starting just before going opffline for a while.
  • Money Chests (Counting House): Bringing least comfort of the three but still a lot of value is this upgrade. It’s quite expensive, so best do it last. It allows you to further upgrade the counting house, increasing income and storage. This will be one step to financial independence in this game.
    How to get gold? Some you got and some you’ll get automatically. To get more the only way is to log in every day for one week. Really try to do so until you got all those upgrades listed above. If you know you can’t go online at certain days you can also plan this. You’ll always fall back to day one, if you haven’t been online the previous day.

How to continue

You now should have set up a decent account with stable income, good sellswords and no big problems in proceeding through the adventures. At the other parts of the game like friends, alliances you should have a look. Also what of the items you can craft bring a benefit to you. The sam for the buildings. Which ones are necessary for crafting and which ones bring the bonuses you need? Soon you’ll have a lot of silver. I always waited for 24.000 silver to have then a look for the sellswords. I bought the ones, which didn’t cost gold and brought 30 points of in my case fighting. exchange the cheap ones, equip and level the new ones. The old ones will be useless, I only didn’t find a way to kick them out.

Have fun and enjoy the game!
Winter is coming.

–> Game of Thrones: Ascent

Browsergame: Game of Thrones Ascent – Review


Es gibt viele Browsergames und einige Spiele zu „the Game of Thrones – a song of ice and fire“. Ich  genieße es die Bücher zu lesen und die HBO Serie an zu schauen.  In Sachen gute Spiele sah es zu dieser Thematik erstaunlicherweise düster aus. Auf einer Spieleseite bin ich über das Browsergame Game of Thrones: Ascent gestolpert und habe mir gedacht, die Mischung aus Strategie und Rollenspiel hört sich vielversprechend an und das Spiel ausprobiert.

Game of Thrones Ascent

Das Browsergame verströmt einiges an Flair der HBO Serie. Es ist mit der Originalmusik hinterlegt und die Grafiken sind Zeichnungen basierend auf dem Film. Namen sind an das Buch angelegt und die Komplexität ist vergleichbar mit dem Hintergrund der Story.

Screenshot vom Browsergame Game of Thrones: Ascent
Screenshot vom Browserspiel Game of Thrones: Ascent

Der Start

Ich werde zu einer späteren Zeit noch ein Tutorial schreiben, wie man bei diesem Browsergame am besten startet. Hier werde ich allgemein bleiben.

Zu Beginn muss man sich wie in Rollenspielen üblich ein Geschlecht, Aussehen und Namen auswählen. Der Namensgenerator spuckt hier mehr oder weniger sinnvolle Kombinationen aus Vor- und Nachnamen aus, die irgendwo im Buch vorkommen.  Ob diese sinnvoll sind oder nicht muss man selbst entscheiden, denn darauf nimmt der Generator keine Rücksicht. Natürlich kann aus den verschiedenen Häusern wählen, welchem man die Treue schwört. Sehr positiv ist, daß man hier die Auswahl aus gleich acht Häusern hat. Eine solche Auswahl ist in Browsergames selten. Diese haben jeweils einen eigenen Talentbaum und ein eigenes Gebäude.

Das Spiel

Das Browsergame selbst hat verschiedene Ebenen:

Der Hauptcharakter und die Söldner

Sowohl man selbst, als auch die Söldner kann drei Gegenstände ausrüsten. Diese erhält man von Quests, oder stellt sie in Gebäuden her. Es gibt drei Haupteigenschaften: Kampf, Handel und Intrige. Diese werden mit Gegenständen verbessert. Besonders bei den Söldnern empfehlt es sich zu spezialisieren, da man sehr viele von ihnen kontrollieren darf. Die Söldnern erhalten beim Levelaufstieg Punkte auf die Hauptfähigkeiten, oder eine aus je drei Unterfähigkeiten, wie Handel, Schwindel und Bestechung. Der Hauptcharakter kann beim Levelaufstieg Talente aus verschiedenen Talentbäumen wählen. Bei Tests werden die Werte des gewählten Söldners und die des Hauptcharakters zusammen gezählt. Wieder gibt das Browsergame viel zur Auswahl und motiviert wenig dies wirklich zu nutzen. Ich selbst habe nur ein Drittel meiner Talentpunkte eingesetzt.

Die Quests

Der Hauptfortschritt des Browsergames findet über Quests statt. Dies sind Fragen auf die es gewöhnlich drei verschiedene Auswahlmöglichkeiten gibt, die Silber, einen Rohstoff und einen kleinen Schritt in eine Richtung bei drei verschiedenen Ausrichtungen gibt. Hier gibt es viel zu lesen für Spieler, die sich darauf einlassen und deren Englisch gut ist. Wenn man etwas fauler ist, was hier leicht passieren kann, dann klickt man einfach immer auf das gleiche Feld, denn einen Einfluß der Entscheidungen habe ich kaum feststellen können. Schade, denn weniger Text mit mehr Bedeutung hätte dem Browsergame hier sehr gut getan.

Die Gebäude

Man kann verschiedene Gebäude bauen und verbessern. Von diesen gibt es in dem Browsergame sehr, sehr viele. Hier gibt es wieder Boni für alle Söldner zu holen. Außerdem läuft das Crafting über die Gebäude ab. Einige  Rohstoffe kann man auch  über die Gebäude erzeugen. Gegenstände werden hier erzeugt. Die meisten sind nicht sehr hilfreich, doch einige sind recht stark. Für diese gibt es recht lange Erzeugungsketten. Ein wenig erinnert mich das Browsergame hier an die Anno-Serie. Man muss aus vielen Rohstoffen Gegenstände erzeugen, aus diesen bessere und aus einigen dieser kann man dann einen guten Gegenstand erzeugen. Dies dauert einige Zeit und verschlingt recht viele Anfangsressourcen. Es ist motivierend, aber recht kompliziert zu merken, welcher Gegenstand wo erzeugt werden kann. Das Browserspiel hilft hier, aber es ist einiges an Klickaufwand bis man an der Stelle ist, wo man am besten weiter arbeitet.

Die Abenteuer

Söldner, die gerade nicht in Quests benötigt werden, schickt man am besten auf Abenteuer. Dies bringt etwas Geld, Rohstoffe und vor allem Erfahrung für den Söldner. Auch hier bietet dieses Game of Thrones Ascent sehr viel Auswahl. Und wie in Browsergmaes üblich sucht man sich das beste aus und macht nur noch dies hunderte male.

Der Rest

Es gibt natürlich auch die „Standardbrowsergamefeatures“, wie zum Beispiel die Allianzen. Diese kann man ausbauen und auch gemeinsam Abenteuer bestehen. Hier gibt es wieder Belohnungen und die Möglichkeiten sind wieder sehr komplex.


Das Browsergame strahl einiges an Game of Thrones Flair aus. Es ist sehr komplex, wie auch die Handlungsstränge im Buch. Mein Hauptkritikpunkt ist, daß man sich auf die Handlung nicht einlassen muss. Letztendlich läuft alles nach Schema F ab. Was ich genau mache ist egal. Dies ist das wohl häufigste Problem von Browsergames. Mechanisch ist das ganze aber recht gut umgesetzt. Es kann sicherlich einige Zeit faszinieren, aber der Stein der Weisen ist es noch nicht.

zum Spiel

Civilization: Beyond Earth vs. Civ 5

Civilization: Beyond Eath

The newest version of Sid Meier’s most famous game just hit the markets. In Civilization: Beyond Earth we are now settling in space. Despite this what are the differences to Civ 5 especially including the add-ons Gods and Kings and Brave New World. Which one should you buy?

What’s new?

Starting the game is already different. You can choose different sponsors, settlers, spaceships and cargos (see the linked post for viewing their benefits). This allows you to do more finetuning of the benefits of your fractions. Before you could chose between 34 civilizations, now you have  multiple small choices. This offers the opportunity to do some finetuning of the bonuses. Do you want to fully optimize my colony on growth, or do I want to spice it up with a bit of health or production? You have the choice. On the other hand the bonuses are not so dramatical. Two more ressources, one additional worker, warrior or technology – it provides a boost at the beginning but is no gamechanger like e.g. Venice in Civ 5. This forbids you found new cities and offers twice the amount of traderoutes. Here I don’t see a clear benefit for one of the games (+C:BE, +Civ5).

Next comes choosing a first colony, production and tech. You now don’t have a settler anymore, but see a small area of the map and place you colony. You don’t need (and are not allowed to) waste turns by searching for the best spot (+C:BE – Civilization:Beyond Earth here is better than Civ5). Productionwise everything is similiar but a bit different. You will recognize that you are in space now, but many things will be similiar. Considering the technology Firaxis went from a techtree to a techweb. Now you can not only decide on which branch you want to focus, but also whether you want to go fast in a very specific direction or be very broad. The degree of freedom is now much bigger. The drawback is that the technologies will be more unknown than previously. It’s easy to guess what astronomy, religion or knighthood does. Now you’ll have to do a lot of reading before you specialize to be sure not to miss a crucial tech. Still in the long run I give here the point to Beyond Earth (+C:BE).

One change which was very important to the developers is the alien wildlife. Aliens are not barbarians! (quote Firaxis) Now you have to decide whether to avoid, kill or use(!) the aliens. Again, Civilization: Beyond Earth improved a bit the previous games (+C:BE).

The former policies of Civ 5 now also changed. And now you can also go broad instead of finishing one branch after another. (+C:BE)

Finally at some point you should think about winning the game. You still can destroy every oponent and celebrate you domination victory. The other victory conditions changed and depend one you chosen affection. Here I don’t see a clear winner.

What is missing

Civ 5 has seen a few addons Civilization: Beyond Earth hasn’t seen yet. They offered very strong features. Gods and Kings introduced religion. This gives so much depth and early game choices to the game, that it is clearly missing in Beyond Earth (+Civ5). Brave New World introduced archeology, tourism and bigger interactions with City States. I’m still not sure, whether tourism is a big benefit for the game and how important archeology is, but the city states are big fun (+Civ5). Another thing the addons brought are new civilizations and scenarios. And especially the civs with very significant bonuses and drawbacks. The ones which imho are the most fun.

Pros and Cons:

Pro Civilization:Beyond Earth

  • placing of the first settlement
  • techweb
  • finetuning of the colony when setting up the game
  • aliens are not barbarians
  • new policy structure

Pro: Civilization 5 (+addons)

  • civilizations with very strong bonuses and drawbacks
  • religion
  • city states


Despite Civilization: beyond Earth having more points, the ones of Civ5 seem stronger to me. Civilization: Beyond Earth improved what they touched, but as always Firaxis left things out of the game to come with the addons. Some things like city states are a perfect match for future addons. Imagine the Fremen sieges of dune. Other things seem more difficult to implement. Right now I still prefer Civ 5. It is so well streamlined and so fun to also play without domination victory. This Civilization: Beyond Earth has to achieve in two addons time. And then it will take the crown.

Civilization: Beyond Earth 90 Minutes Let’s Plays

Civilization: Beyond Earth will soon be published. Now some Let’s Players were invited to the Firaxis headquarters and brought back some nice footage, which shows us nice gameplay. Since they were only allowed to play the first 100 turns, still many things stay unclear. We still get an insight in the quests, the aliens, technologies and the mechanics. It’s nice to watch them and get a feeling of what’s nice and what not so. You’ll find the videos at the end of this text. I watched them and try to write a summary for you here.

What we see

Obviously all let’s plays here have to start in the beginning. So we get a clear picture on the different fractions and buffs from the starting choices.

Starting choices

Fractions in Civilization: Beyond Earth

ARC (Covert Operations are 25% faster, +25% on intrigue)

Pan Asian Cooperative (+10% production towards wonders and +25% working speed)

Franco-Iberia (free technology for every 10 virtue points)

Slavic Federation (Orbital Units stay in orbit 20% longer and the first one launched grants a free technology)

Polystralia (Cities can support one more trade route each)

Kevithian Protectorate (Outposts convert into cities 50% faster)

Brasilia (units have +10% Defense in Melee combat)

African Union (+10% food in every growing city when healthy)


Scientists (+2 Science in every city)

Refugees (+2 Food in every city)

Aristocrates (+3 Health and +1 Energy in every ciy)

Engineers (+2 Production in every city)

Artists (+2 culture and +1 health in every city)


Continental Survey (Reveals the coastlines on the map)

Retrograde Thrusters (Wider Area to chose for the first settlement)

Tectonic Scanner (shows Petroleum, Geothermal and Titanium ressources)

Fusion Reactor (Begin with +100 energy)

Lifeform Sensor (reveal Aliens on the map)


Hydroponics (Begin with 1 extra population)

Laboratory (Begin with pioneering technology)

Raw materials (Begin with a clinic in the first city)

Weapon arsenal (Begin with a soldier unit)

Machinery (Begin with a worker unit)


Civilization: Beyond Earth has streamlined some minor things and introduced some big changes. The first thing we see is the foundation of our capital. The position we can choose out of a certain area. No more thoughts whether to move the settler and loose a turn or take only the second best spot.

Also not all civilizations start at the same time. You start first! Other civilizations drop down one by one and reveal their position to you. If they are not cheating, they AI must be pretty to good to avoid a rush strategy to take them out immediately.

A big change is in the wildlife. Firaxis never gets tired of mentioning that the aliens of Civilization: beyond Earth are not like the barbarians in Civ 5. They are not necessary aggressive, if you aren’t towards them. They can also be a ressource for knowledge later on, probably tamed and send against your enemies. I hope they still can also capture cities and be an independent force. Even more since no city states were present and probably are a bit difficult to implement into this setting.

The next big change in Civilization: Beyond Earth is the techweb. It is no longer necessary to develop most of the early technologies to reach the advanced ones. They are no longer arranged in a line, but in a web. So one can very fast go very deep into one of the branches, ignoring most of the early technologies. This gives great freedom and will probably require a few runs or some time reading the different technologies to have a good research strategy. Since most technologies can be reached much faster this will also show how good work Firaxis did with the balancing. Overpowered technologies can again be exploited to win the game easily.

Civilization: Beyond Earth Lets Play Videos

Full playlist

Northernlion (80 Turns, African Union, Refugees, Fusion Reactor, Laboratory, one ocean – one continent)

The Solar Gamer (ARC, Continental Surveyor, Weapon Arsenal, few large landmasse and small islands)

Part 1:

Part 2:

Civilization: Beyond Earth will be released on Friday October 24th 2014
Developers‘ homepage.

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