Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Magic: The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers (2013)

Genre: Strategy  |  Players: 1 - 4  |  Developer: Stainless Games

If you’re considering buying DotP then you probably already have a fair idea of what MTG is. That’s good, because I don’t have the space to explain fully.

In brief, it’s a Collectible Card Game (CCG) in which you play as a Wizard (beard is optional) who uses spells and summons in the form of cards to fight an opposing wizard (or multiple fake wizards). You each begin with 20 HP, and have to chop your opponent’s level to 0 before the same happens to you.

The game will explain the rules, but may also make head will spin. The core rules and general strategies required of you are straightforward enough, but the modifiers and exclusions make things overly-complicated.

Once you've grasped most of what you need to know, you can take it to the field and engage an opponent. The first battle is hard! Your deck is piss-poor, so you’ll have to struggle, strategise and pray to any God of luck that may be listening to help you triumph. Kick ass and you’ll be able to tackle the next opponent.

Each successive opponent is designed to teach you something about the intricacies of gameplay. Some are hateful. If I ever come up against a real life player that uses the kind of cheap win tactics on display here, I’ll be tempted to take the fight across the table and shove the deck up his/her ass – sideways. If you’re going to play a game, play it fair.

You’ll eventually be required to use all you've learned in the tutorial phase to combat a less predictable opponent; they’re essentially Boss Battles that force you to call upon all your resources. You’ll get hammered a lot until you can unlock some better cards for your chosen deck; or even a better deck. There are lots of unlockable cards across all decks to encourage repeated playthroughs.

There's no excuse for the length of time it takes an A.I. opponent to make his/her/it’s move. It even goes through the combat phase when there’s NO CREATURES TO FIGHT WITH! The waiting has no practical purpose, it’s simply bad design. As is the absence of fully customizable decks; you have to use what you’re given in each of the five basic deck colours. You can modify them to a certain degree, but it’s limiting and frustrating to long-time players.

MTG: DotP should've been great, but translating a CCG to a PC/Console experience sucked much the fun out of it. It’s largely due to the absence of real people and real interactions. Meeting with friends, rigging a makeshift table from a milk crate and some plywood, getting rat-ass drunk and making Goblin jokes is what makes MTG so much fun; that experience just can’t be recreated online.

Buyer's Guide:
Not available on disc. It's a download only title.

2½ unfair advantages out of 5

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