Too Much Free Time

Discussion and reviews of games for NES, Intellivision, DOS, and others.

First Impressions: Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013

Posted by Tracy Poff on July 8, 2012

I played an hour or so of the demo for Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013. I think it’s a fairly good conversion of the game, but severely lacking in customizability.

Without the ability to build unique decks from the available cards, mixing and matching as desired, it’s just not the same–half the game, at least, is building a deck, but DotP 2013 just lets you swap cards between a deck and its sideboard, AFAICT, which is very limiting.

There’s also a fairly small number of cards available–a sixty card deck and a 30 card sideboard, but a third of the deck is land and there are many cards that appear three or four times in the decks. I guess each of the ten decks has perhaps 30 distinct cards, counting the sideboard, so there are only about 300 cards total, assuming each deck has entirely unique cards, and since you can’t swap cards between decks (I think), you can’t be too creative.

Other than that, it was pretty good–it took a little getting used to the game before I was sure when I needed to stop the timer to play instants–the game shows which phase you’re on, but not which step, so I missed playing an instant after blockers were declared once. It’s not too confusing, though. The animations are a little slow, and I think that I may have toggled an option which made the game stop during damage resolution during combat, which was a pain, but probably my fault.

One thing I didn’t care for was the Planechase mode. It’s a multiplayer (up to four players) mode, which is fine, but the use of the plane cards just made the game confusing–I saw a card that made players mill seven cards at the end of each turn, then draw one of them randomly back out of the graveyard, and another that made non-werewolf creatures deal no damage, plus some ability that sometimes made creatures into werewolves, and yet another that had some other odd combat ability which benefited one player dramatically more than the others. Honestly, I’m not totally sure how the plane cards work–they seem to act like global enchantments, and there’s some die rolling mechanic that goes with them. They just seemed to complicate and slow down the game. I gave up after many minutes and only three turns of play in that mode. I’ll stick to the more traditional game, thanks.

Well, DotP 2013 won’t replace the real game, but I think it’s not a bad buy at $10, and if I can get it for half off some time, I might pick it up.

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