Planeswalking

The Battlefield

MicroProse’s version of Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers is definitely one of my favorite games. I really enjoyed its unique gameplay, which combined action-RPG elements with Magic: The Gathering’s card strategy. Over the years, I’ve searched high and low for similar games (Etherlords, Battle Forge, Magic: The Gathering – Battlegrounds) to scratch my card strategy itch. But none had delivered the same experience I had with Duels of the Planeswalkers. So when I saw a Magic: The Gathering game with the same title on Steam a couple weeks ago, I jumped as fast as a first turn Ball Lightning and pre-ordered the game.

Sadly, however, even though it shares the same name with my favorite Magic: The Gathering PC game, this game isn’t a Duels of the Planeswalkers re-make. It’s entirely a different game (that’s what I get for buying impulsively). In this version of the game, the action-RPG elements are out of the window. So no more random card loots or buying cards to improve your deck. Heck, you can’t even build your own deck. Instead, you get to choose from two preconstructed decks (a red and green one) at the start of the game and then fight opponents through stages, similar to beat em up games like Street Fighter. However, defeating an opponent will earn you a new card to improve your deck. In some stages, winning against an opponent also unlocks other preconstructed decks.

Overall, even though it’s not what I really wanted or expected, I still find Stainless Games’ version of Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers to be very enjoyable. In fact, I had a hard time letting go of the game just to write this quick review. While the lack of custom deck building is definitely a big issue to me, and one that I really want to be included in future expansions, the AI is at least proving itself to be quite a challenge. The price, too, is cheap enough for frugal gamers like me. I won’t recommend this game to just anybody though. But if you’re a Magic: The Gathering player, former or current, I highly recommend this game.

Note: This review is only about the Campaign Mode.

Score: B-

Gathering Magic

Magic: The Gathering

I have a godson who grew up playing the Pokemon collectible card game (CCG). I remember him and his younger cousins would always play with their deck of Pokemon cards wherever and whenever they can. But the last time I saw my godson, specifically last Christmas, I noticed him sitting in the corner while his cousins played with their cards. So I asked him if he was alright. He told me yes, and that he’s only playing a different game now. Then he proceeded to show me his new deck, which were now composed of Magic: The Gathering cards instead of Pokemon.

Being a former ‘Magickero’ myself, I can’t help but be excited that my godson is playing the game. It even rekindled my interest of playing Magic again. But then playing Magic means spending a lot of money, and I don’t really want to add another hobby to my belt. So being a cheapskate that I am, I decided not to go on and build a deck. Even though it would mean my godson would be bored and be without a proper opponent during family/friend gatherings.

But then an opportunity to acquire some free Magic cards presented itself when I attended the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (or C2E2) last month. Unlike other comics convention I’ve attended, C2E2 volunteers are nice enough to give you a loot bag if they see you’re not holding one. The loot bag contained some comics, discount cards, a book and a 30-card Magic: The Gathering deck. So every time they handed me a bag, I’d just take the deck and threw everything else away. I did this about 6 times and went home with 6 decks (2 Blacks, 2 Reds, a Blue and a Green), allowing me to construct my own deck.

From what cards I’ve gathered, I was able to construct a Red/Black deck that is similar to the old Killer Deck. Take a look:

Spells

  • 4 Terror
  • 4 Shock
  • 4 Incinerate
  • 2 Lava Axe
  • 2 Blaze
  • 2 Kindled Fury
  • 2 Unholy Strength
  • 2 Assassinate
  • 1 Diabolic Tutor
  • 1 Recover

Creatures

  • 4 Scathe Zombies
  • 4 Spineless Thug
  • 4 Flamekin Brawler
  • 4 Lightning Elemental
  • 2 Wall of Fire
  • 2 Drudge Skeleton
  • 2 Hill Giant
  • 2 Axegrinder Giant

So what do you think? Not bad for a free deck, right? I haven’t tried this with my godson yet. But I think it’ll have a chance of winning. Now, if only have some Dark Rituals and Hidden Horrors.