Magic The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 Review [PSN]

A good expansion to an already large universe with something for players old and new to sink their teeth into.

rating:4

So, tasked with offering a balanced opinion about the new Magic: The Gathering offering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 from PSN on PS3 (for the sake of fairness, we should mention that the game is also available on Xbox Live Arcade and iPad), we have hurried to offer a concise opinion and some details of what is in this latest edition of the game. First of all, a brief reminder of what Magic: The Gathering is for those, like myself, who know it has something to do with cards, the back rooms of comic book stores and that is about it:
Players take on the role of Planeswalkers €“ powerful mages who battle others for glory, knowledge and conquest. Their weapons include spells, creatures, and artifacts gathered from a vast Multiverse of unique fantasy worlds. With more than 12 million players and fans worldwide, Magic is printed in 11 languages and played in more than 70 countries - Publishers blurb.
To summarize - Magic: The Gathering is indeed a card game, played mostly at the back of a lot more comic book stores, by a lot more people than we ever thought possible. First off, having never seen one of these games before - off to a good start already - a game setting of 'easy' was selected, for a nice gentle introduction. But despite pleading with the game not to play too rough, the tutorial still comes highly recommended to new players, as a confounding bout of dubious card play saw a hefty defeat on the first attempt without us having a clue of what was going on, button mashing like it was our first go on Tekken. After swallowing battered pride, doubling back and going through the tutorial, the whole thing made a lot more sense of course. Graphically, being a PSN/XBLA/iPad game, there is not really much to say, there are very few moving components on the screen at anyone time, so you won't be blown away here. That said, there is some very nice artwork throughout and a decent fantasy rpg-esque soundtrack to listen to. The game is turn based, with players selecting the cards they wish to use for a particular round. The overall objective is to defeat your opposition, who also has a deck of seven cards with which to ruin your afternoon. First moves are a question of getting land cards down to help you attack and boost your mana (magic juice to those unfamiliar with Dungeons and Dragons speak) after which you can start laying out your devious card shaped plans to pulverise the opposition. Now, it cannot be stressed enough that this is a thinkers game and for the right kind of player, a time sink hole to rival waiting for a high quality Duke Nukem game - twelve years and counting. Strategy is as important as patience. The game is played at a relatively slow pace - at least the ones we played did, although that may well have been due to incompetence - and there are an overwhelming number of different ways to attack and indeed to buff your attacks before launching them. To someone with patience and time, mastery would be rewarding, especially if it means beating this guy at the end:
Some more publisher's blurb about the new features in this title:
Players Face a Greater Challenge - Magic€™s ultimate evil mastermind, the dragon Planeswalker Nicol Bolas! 10 Fresh Decks Multiplayer Game Mode €“ Planechase (also known as the mode of failure and pain*) Fresh Puzzle Challenges Optional Manual Mana Tapping Integration between the digital and paper product offering €“ Duels of the Planeswalkers players get the first look at cards from the upcoming Magic 2013 Core Set releasing this summer Duels 2013 will also feature strategic single player campaign game scenarios as well as competitive play, robust community features and unlockable content.
To attempt a summary, if you enjoyed the card game, either the physical one, or one of the recent video games versions, then this is definitely for you, with new cards to keep the battles fresh and interesting. For new players, a little note of caution before recommending this game: it does seem to be a good starting point, with very good tutorials for those new to the game type, but don't expect to master this in a day. There are multiple ways in which opponents buried us alive in our play through. That said, if pre-planning killer strategies and smashing points off your enemies until they succumb to a point free demise is your thing, then once you've got a handle on this, you'll be in your element. It is certainly easy to see how people become taken with Magic: The Gathering, it does have an addictive quality... Anyway, rapping this up now, as the comic book store is about to close and we need to get a few decks of car... uh, the new issue of Batman, yeah, Batman is still cool, we'll stick to that. Off to buy Batman.

Magic The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 is available to buy now for PSN, XBLA and iPad.

For more nonsense ravings from the author check out his blog. Into your Magic: The Gathering? Enjoyed this game? Why not share your thoughts with the world - comments welcome below.
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The Adrian Poole is a member of the human species who occasions upon writing infrequently about those things It both loves and loathes. For more madness from this fool, why not read his blog here.