Regular readers of the forum will know that I have something of a soft spot for Magic the Gathering, so it should come as no surprise to learn that I’m quite enamoured with the game that’s just gone up on Xbox Live Arcade.
Available for 800 points, Duels of the Planeswalkers is a pretty good representation of the original game, and while certain elements have been dumbed down for this new iteration, it’s nevertheless well worth picking up.
The included cards are from the Magic 2010 core set that will be available in July.
The game itself is split into a variety of different sections. There’s a campaign that sees you facing off against increasingly stronger opponents, as well as the ability to play online, either solo or with another player. Best of all though is a selection of puzzles that give you one turn to win the game. It’s a brilliant little edition that was extremely popular in the long defunct magazine The Duelist.
The actual game itself is very solid and plays very well. Although the stack has been removed (something that will no doubt annoy hardcore fans) the core gameplay is still intact and it’s as good as it has ever been. Beat an opponent in the campaign mode and you’ll be rewarded with a card that can be added into your core deck. It’s a nice little touch that harks back to the old days of ante, but it does highlight one of the biggest issues that we have with the game.
Presentation is absolutely superb. It's always easy to work out exactly what's going on.
To keep everything on a fair and even level, Duels of the Planeswalkers deck editing capabilities are virtually non-existent. Wizards apparently want to ensure that people can play online and not have to worry about facing killer decks, so they have ensured that you can’t mix and match from all your available cards.
Deck building in one of Magic’s greatest strengths, so it’s a real pity that it’s been implemented so poorly here. On the other hand, Wizards is offering additional downloadable decks in the future, so future online play should hopefully have a solid following.
It’s obviously not a patch on the official online version of Magic that’s available on the PC, but this is nevertheless a fantastic introduction to the game, and for the measly price point, something that everyone should have in their collections.
The above clash was always going to end in tears. That's a 7/7 monster you're taking on.