Friday, 22 June 2012

Magic 2013 Duels of the Planeswalkers iPad

      Welcome to another of my reviews and this time I am turning to the iPad and the arrival of the new Magic game. If you have never played magic before then i better try and explain it here. The game involves a duel between 2 to 4 players. Each player has a deck of cards that contain spells and creatures, and they win by reducing the players' lives to zero. That is obviously a basic explanation, the variation of the cards and the strategy involved is vast, but short of having someone to teach you the game this App is probably the best way to learn.

      Magic Evolution

      When I got my new iPad and looked at all the great card and board games that were available on it I wondered why Wizards of the Coast hadn’t brought their Magic game to the device. I then discovered to my joy that the new version 2013 was indeed due to be also released on the iPad.

       I had been playing the card based of Magic since the beginning but hadn't played it for a few years. Duels of the Planeswalkers 2011 drew me back into the game as it was very reasonably priced and I could play against AI players. I got the game on Xbox but quickly moved onto the PC version as he graphic were clearer and you could play other on Steam without a subscription. I stuck with  DOTP on the PC for its 2012 version, formed a group on Steam for Uk players, and got back into playing real Magic again.

       So we now return to the 2013 version and it debut on the new platform of the iPad. The graphics are the crisp retina display so you can see them even clearer than on the PC. The interface is of course touchscreen so you can touch and flick the cards around much easier than with a control pad or mouse, this improvement was clearly shown when I nearly forgot to activate a cards power before the clock counted down but a quick jab on the card saved the day where a mouse would have failed. And of course the other benefit of the iPad is that it is portable, so you play Magic wherever and whenever you want, which actually might not be an advantage after all. You can also come out of a game in progress and return providing you haven't turn the iPad fully off, which is something the others can't.

       So judging the new version to previous ones I would say the iPad is the best platform for this game and shows how it has evolved over the three variations. But let's have a look at what it offers this time.


       Challenges, which are like Magic’s version of chess puzzles, return but are now separate from the campaign map and have been replaced on there by challenges, which I cover below. Archenemy has gone, but is hinted at by Wizards as a possible return in an expansion, and is replaced by Planecase, also covered below.

       So the game will be immediately familiar to old players and should be clear to new comers. There is a good tutorial for the game although it could have explained Planechase better as there was brief text that disappeared before I could read it, although working out the dice was quick.

       You get all the multiplayer and custom option that have previously been available so you can setup multiplayer games between two to four players, and play two headed giant variations, but let's now look at the new modes and what they offer.


       Magic Planechase

        The first new addition to this year’s edition of the game is  Planechase. This mode adds plane cards to the game where one of these cards is in play at a time, with a global effect that alters the game while in play. It also adds a planar dice, which the active player can role on their turn. There are two symbols on the dice and four blank sides, if you get one of the symbols then a new plane card is drawn. If you get the other symbol then the effect at the bottom of the plane card is resolved. The effects are varied and bring a great variation to the game.

        Planechase adds a good twist to the standard duel. After playing one game it seems to be a bit slower to play than a normal duel, but the global effects changing randomly does make the game an interesting variation, and brings with it the choice of if you want to try changing the world you are playing in, to alter the balance.

        Magic Encounters

        Encounters is the other new addition this year and brings more twists to the standard game. The opponent does not draw cards randomly like in normal duels but instead plays cards in a certain order and you have to work out how to beat them before their plan unfolds.

        This mode is very much against the clock as far as beating the opponent, and can involve variations like them milling your library or having an enchantment that gradually builds and gives victory after a certain amount of turns unless you remove it or kill the opponent.

        This mode has a lot in common with the challenges, but is greater in scope and allows you to play deck against them, so they have greater variety.

        Mono Magic

        One of the new game mechanic additions this year is the ability to manually tap your land, which many have been asking for, the only trouble is this is only useful for one of the ten decks you get with the game, as all the rest are single colour decks, so not much use until we get more decks that are more than one colour.

        I think this would be my only negative on the game. There are a lot of interesting new cards in the game but the decks are again mostly mono colour, and the greater challenges come with more than one colour in decks. But as I said, I expect more of these decks will be added soon.

        Unlocking Magic

        So what do you get deck wise? You start the game with two decks of sixty cards and unlock the other eight decks through defeating the opponents associated with them. You also gain cards through victory, one card per win. There are thirty cards to unlock for each deck so you need to win thirty games for each deck. This gives a longer campaign than the previous edition as in that one you gained multiples of one card with one victory.

        Price of Magic

        The price is the same across all platforms and some have complained about this, but I will say that it is value for what you get. If you went and spent the same money of the real cards you wold be lucky to get one 60 card deck. In this you are getting 10 decks and obviously someone to play against. Add in the additions on the challenges and plane chase variation and I can’t argue about the price.

        The iPad version is free, and you can sample a lot of the game for that. There is then an in app purchase to unlock the full game. I think they have done this to let people see just how good it works on the iPad before buying and is a sensible idea.

        Summing up Magic

        So there you have it, Magic 2013 has arrived on iPad and it is the best version so far. I got many months of play out of the previous versions and I see no reason why this should be any different. The game is intuitive to play on touch screen, the graphics look great, and it is Magic. If you play Magic and are looking for a game you can play on your own or against people in far away places then this is it. If you have never played Magic but like strategic games then this is a great way to get into it, learn the game and maybe start playing the real thing, if you can tear yourself away from this version of course.

        Magic Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 is an excellent debut on the iPad, and I expect it will now hog a lot of my time until the 2014 version shows up next year. So its mark from me is of course -

        Five Stars

No comments:

Post a Comment