Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalkers review

Enhanced tutorials, themed decks, rare cards, and an all new game mode are just some reasons to check out Magic 2014

August 1, 2013
Magic 2014 Duel of the Planeswalkers

Overall score85%

PublisherWizards of the Coast
DeveloperStainless Games
PlatformWindows PC, PS3, Xbox 360, iOS, Android
Release date26 June 2013
GenreCollectible card game

Enhanced tutorials, themed decks, rare cards and an all new game mode “Sealed Draft” are just some of the features that make Magic 2014 attractive. It follows on from the previous Duels of the Planeswalkers series, but where most of them have fallen short, Magic 2014 delivers.

Tutorials

A focus on education for the n00b (but I bet the semi-pros may learn a thing or two).

Ever asked a friend to explain how to play Magic? If so you’ve probably experienced an avalanche of confusion along with the tapping of cards and strange abstract concepts such as damage resolution.

To make things digestible, Magic 2014 has split up its tutorials. Short interactive tutorials will teach you the game basics, from card types and turn phases, to how to conduct a battle – this already makes it better than its predecessors.

Magic 2014 definitely put more effort into the teaching of the game and it shows.

Rares and Mythic Rares

Where are the Planeswalkers?

The physical Magic collectible card game is an expensive hobby, especially if you want to make a deck that puts up a good fight.

In Magic 2014 however, you’ll be able to play with cards that would usually cost you a lot of money. This leaves you a happy little Magic player with a relieved wallet.

While you’ll be able to play with awesome cards such as “All Is Dust” and “It That Betrays”, one still feels the absence of the Planeswalker card type.

Planeswalkers can be compared somewhat to heroes – a card that is character-based and uses slightly different mechanics to usual magic cards, with powerful abilities that affect the game strongly.

I’m not sure why they decided to leave this aspect out of the game, but you won’t be able to play with any Planeswalkers in Magic 2014.

Magic 2014 Duels of the Planeswalkers screenshot 8

Themed Decks

Soldiers, Zombies, Dragons, Illusions, Slivers…. Oh yes…Slivers…

The beauty and limitation of Magic 2014 comes with its themed decks. The decks are pre-made, but with room to swap cards in and out; cards that you have unlocked either by winning or buying a deck unlock key.

This is a huge limitation because a big part of Magic is the ability to create any deck from the massive card pool. However, pre-made themed decks are awesome because they expose ideas and deck strategies that perhaps you wouldn’t have ever thought of building.

This is a great way to show off more of the dynamics that Magic has to offer.

The zombie themed mono black deck will have you scrounging around your graveyard. Just as your opponent thinks he has managed to get rid of your big zombie badass, you find a way to resurrect it as the theme and mechanic of the deck allows you to.

If you prefer, why not control the ground with spells in the early game, slowly building up your land resources, eventually summoning a huge Dragon which puts your opponent on a 2 turn clock.

By far the most talked about themed deck even before release would be that of the Slivers; a 3 coloured deck that summons Sliver creatures that all help one another with abilities that quickly turn into a force to be reckoned with.

If your opponent is not careful, your 3 x 1/1 creatures might soon be 3 x 4/4 Slivers with vigilance, double strike and haste.

And what about the staple decks you are used to from previous Duels of the Planeswalkers? Fear not; most the usual decks still exist, such as Chandra red burn or Jace blue illusions, but with a twist on what you remember.

Magic 2014 Duels of the Planeswalkers screenshot 3

Sealed Draft

A taste of deck building

A new feature (and very much welcomed) in the Duels of the Planeswalkers series, Sealed Draft is now an alternative play mode.

How is it different? You are given 6 digital booster packs of Magic cards. You then have to sort through the cards and build a deck.

Remember when I said that you weren’t able to deck build because the decks were pre-made? Sealed draft solves that and gives you a taste of what it means to put cards together from scratch to try create a deck of your own.

You’ll be able to battle through and test your deck against some of the AI decks, and even multiplayer duel your friends with draft decks that they’ve made.

You only have 2 deck slots, so you can only draft 2 sealed decks. If you want to do more draft decks you’ll have to purchase more deck slots through the Steam store.

Magic 2014 Duels of the Planeswalkers screenshot 5

Deck Editor

Land control – finally!

While the deck editor is very much the same as before (which means there is a lot to be desired), there is now the ability to control how much land you have in your deck.

The absence of that feature was a big pet peeve for many players in the past, and so I think veteran players will be very pleased about this addition.

Conclusion

Magic 2014 is a package that tries to achieve many things, and does a good job of it. It will teach new players how to play Magic easily and with as little frustration as possible.

It also has enough substance to keep stalwart Magic fans happy and willing to play for hours on end, be it against friends, strangers on the internet, or AI.

Tags: headline, Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalkers, Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalkers review, magic: the gathering, Stainless Games, Wizards of the Coast

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