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FTG Review: Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 (PC/iPad)

As I delve deeper into the land of Magic the Gathering, I’ve finally been starting to get a handle on how the game should roll along. When I was able to get my hands on Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013, I thought to myself, “What better way to play then with a computer?” Now it is known that this takes away some of the tangible aspects of the card game when you play it in digital form. However, there are other options that open up when you don’t have limitless access to the physical cards. There is no way the cash would materialize for me to be able to build some of the decks out there. So why not enjoy some of the limitless aspects of playing it in digital format?

The effects do their job, but they lay on the cheese thick.

When jumping into Planeswalkers 2013, being at all familiar with the basic concept of how Magic:the Gathering works will be a huge benefit. Knowing how to summon monsters, strategies for being the most cunning you can with devious card combinations, and not forgetting to read card descriptions are key elements that one should know going into the game. Rather than having to deal with some of the real life nuisances like keeping what you’re holding a mystery or dealing with a rules lawyer that questions everything, simply booting up Planeswalkers on PC or iPad is a good way to go about playing stress free. Even better, it is easy to jump in and out of on the fly. Fire up the application and start playing hassle free.

Motion comics to the…rescue?

To aid in the solo play, Planeswalkers includes a few different modes to keep players busy. The main mode is the campaign. Within this mode, players will duel against different NPCs, leading up to the Planeswalkers for the domain. With each win, a card will unlock. Some victories will also yield a new deck for players to use. It becomes very useful to play through the campaign if you wish to have a varied deck for multiplayer. Within the campaign mode, there are a few other play options. Certain duels within the campaign feature matches that are called encounters, which pit the duelist against a certain ordered deck build. Also, a revenge mode, planechase mode, and challenges are included. Revenge mode steps up the difficulty of existing matches. Planechase pits you against three other players in the mode pioneered with the first release of Planeswalkers. Challenges put players in a situation or specific scenario that they must overcome. That is quite the list of modes for someone looking to hit the grindstone to hone their skills.

Was it mentioned that things can be done in the computer version that will almost never been seen on the tabletop? Oh, yeah. That just happened.

Multiplayer is something that Planeswalkers does very well. Setting up a match is as easy as jumping into the game and queuing up. The iPad version of the game never seemed to have any problems finding a match at any time. It automatically paired you up with a player(s) and sent you on its way. No fuss, no hassle. In fact, as this review was written, the wait time was about 10 seconds. There was a little sadness in the fact that the two-headed giant mode (aka 2v2) wasn’t available for multiplayer, but perhaps we just can’t have it all. We can have a player status tool instead, apparently.

There were a few neat things in the game that weren’t quite expected. First, the artwork from the actual cards appears throughout the game. While it wasn’t a total surprise, it was a nice touch that they were added in as splash screens. The artwork also didn’t appear to lose any quality when being input into the in game cards. Next, this was the very first look Wizards of the Coast was giving at the Core 2013 set. As Core 2013 wasn’t due out until around 20 days later, this was a big deal for people wanting to get an exclusive look at the new set. Lastly, there is the inclusion of a decent deck manager. Now, it isn’t as robust as the manager available on the Wizards website, but it is okay for the confines of the game. Since all of the decks included are pre-made, there is only so much flexibility. Being able to balance out your deck for your suited play style is much appreciated though.

The artwork maintains its good looks from the physical cards.

Fortunately, the problems with Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 make up a rather short list. As previously mentioned, all of the decks are pre-built. This leaves customization options limited and mixed color decks invisible. When playing the game, the game board is a little too dark. Why it was done with so much contrast is unknown. Because of that, the animations from card taps to the arcs for attacks look out of place- perhaps even cheesy. The motion graphics used at various stages of play reek of bad motion comics, but at least they show off the artwork Magic the Gathering is known for. On that note, the graphics aren’t anything stellar. Keep in mind that they don’t need to be. It is preferable that the graphics be muted some in order for the game to flow without any sort of lag. Probably the two largest issues with Planeswalkers are more of a personal annoyance. Earlier it was mentioned that you lose the tangible play that Magic is known for. I like the fact that another avenue is around for others to play, but the tabletop is where it is meant to be. The other has to do with micro transactions to buy special foil decks or other unlockable cards. The prices are low (around $0.99 on Steam), but I rather spend my cash on real cards.

The deck manager interface is actually pretty clean and easy to use.

When it comes to the worth of Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013, a question has to be asked. How much do you want to invest into Magic the Gathering? If you simply want to just jump in and play to have fun with the game, then the choice is pretty easy- go buy Planeswalkers. However, if you want something more from your experience than interacting with a monitor or touchpad, you have a few options to weigh. If you have some spare cash and want to make a night of gaming with your friends, it might be better to pick up some actual Magic cards. For the price (free on iTunes or $9.99 on Steam) it isn’t a bad way to go to get some practice in. For all the play modes you get, multiplayer capabilities, and training potential, Planeswalkers 2013 is worth the relatively small price tag- even if you spend some cash on virtual cards.

Game provided by PR

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