Magic: The Gathering

Ok, well let’s face it, this game comes with a free invite to Complete Geeks Anonymous but as someone who used to play the old skool version with actual cards(!), I figured I had a lifetime membership anyway. Magic: The Gathering is definitely not a pick up and play game by anybody’s measures, even if you once played the card game. It is a tactical and complex game that is really not helped by a confusing tutorial that seems more concerned with telling you what to do rather than why you are doing it. This means new comers to the game are most likely going to learn as they go rather than from the tutorial. I would recommend doing the tutorial but only so you learn how to PLAY, not how to actually win.

Graphically, card games are never going to be very exciting but the battle flashes and in depth art on the cards do give some depth that other card games lack. You can play through a campaign with a certain deck in order to unlock the cards you are missing (and let’s face all gamers at least TRY to have a full deck!) but you can switch deck at any point in order to strike down your enemies more efficiently. The decks are based on elementals and work on the same principle as RPGs with opposites causing most damage. However, a good card won for a different deck can make all the difference. There is also a co-op campaign (bless everyone who is trying to bring back co-op, it really needs to be in more games) with the option to get your unlockables with the aid of a friend. All of this, of course, leads to the predictable and agonising achievement of collect everything in the game! And as per usual, if you get into this game, you’ll probably being desperate for those points!

Additionally there as customs duels, for both co-op and single player, in which you can test you skills and find where you have weaknesses in your tactics. Anyone who thinks this is just another card game will be sorely mistaken and will most likely have to put in time in this option as one wrong move can cause chaos, or in extreme cases a horrible grizzly death.

Challenge mode is probably the most insane part of this game, with you generally being thrown into a battle at a point where you are losing horrendously and have X many turns to save the day. These are a lot more mind-bending than they appear at first and should only be attempted by those whose skills have been honed to perfection through battle.

Although very addictive to some players this is definitely a Marmite game. With some games lasting a long time and really exhausting your brain power this is certainly not a game for everyone, but for those who originally played the game, or those looking for a challenge, this delivers nicely. To make this game more accessible there is an option to use (or become) a tutor, when you have either found an issue or mastered the game. This involves playing an online game with the tutor pointing out moves that should be taken if you get stuck. This is a unique tool as these is between real people and could really give some people the edge if they were feeling lost before.

Unfortunately the game is not without fault, and I have often found the game freezing on me, either temporarily or permanently, regardless of which mode I am playing in. An occasional pause sometimes gets it going again but I have found several occasions where I have had to leave the game and re-enter it, leading to frustration and wasted time.

The main other issue with this game has to be the online play. You, and up to three others play head to head (to head to head) with the deck of your choosing. Whilst this provides a chance to up your game and choose whether to pick on one person or eliminate all with a similar ferocity, it does also suffer from a problem that many games have suffered from. With no penalty for exiting, I found that on every occasion I played online the host left before the game had finished, leaving them with no loss and me very annoyed as I was winning. Yes, we all know we can report people for doing this but frankly it’s a major annoyance when 4 player games take up a lot of time and your strategy is working, only to have the win snatched from you because of a sore loser. As I am yet to have been able to finish an online game this, to me, appears to be a major problem and I can only hope an update will give some penalty for quitting prematurely.







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