Planeswalking – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014 Expansion

Magic is awesome. It’s great fun collecting cards, looking at all the pretty pictures and creating decks of decks from scratch. It’s an intriguing experience pitting your decks against others’, deciding which cards to exchange and  trading with others for cards you’d like. It’s just nice to sit around a table and shoot the breeze with a group of friends while having a game.

But what if you can’t just phone up your pals and ask them if they fancy a few games?

Well, don’t fret, young Planeswalker, because Magic the Gathering: Duel of the Planeswalkers 2014 has you covered.

Magic 2014 Logo

D14 is more or less like playing a regular game of Magic: yes, there are cutscenes and a central narrative where you’re seeking to defeat an almighty mage, but the central gameplay boils down to cards on a table. It would have been cool to have seen spells come to life onscreen, but this is Magic we’re talking about: you don’t really need flashy graphics to enhance the playing experience.

Holy hell!
Although seeing things like this ingame would have been awesome.

Gameplay is exactly the same as its real life counterpart, but what’s great about D14 is, no matter what level of skill you may, there’s always something new for you to learn. Complete beginner? No problem: you’ll be taught the basic concepts of the game, what each individual area portion of a card means and the idea behind things such as +1/+1 counters.

Nailed the essentials? Then you’ll discover what the different combinations of decks can do and their strengths and weaknesses, finding out which one suits your playstyle best.

 

All in all, Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014 is a damn fine game and teaching tool.

A master magician? You’ll be able to conjure up answers to pressing questions such as; is it wise to play this mana-farming mono-green deck against a rapid proliferation one?; Will slivers outlast my direct-damage enemy?; Was it really necessary for me to raise a massive army of zombies to utterly obliterate my opponent?

The expansion is also greatly useful when it comes to teaching you advanced mechanics of the game. Adding more Planeswalkers,  decks and campaign missions to the mix, each new plane is an introduction to some of the more intricate concepts of the game . You’ll return to Ravnica, an area that focuses on decks that use Devour – when a creature enters the battlefield, they can ‘eat’ other creatures that player controls to make them more powerful – and Bloodthirst – a creature enters the battlefield more powerfully if an enemy player was damaged directly.

Blood Ogre

Kamigawa is a land filled populated by powerful samurai. The two main concepts here are Bushido – blocking/blocked creatures get power and toughness bonuses – and Ninjitsu – which means *clears throat* ‘if a player has a Ninja in hand and controls an attacking creature the opponent has declined to block, he or she may pay its ninjutsu cost, return the unblocked creature to his or her hand and put the Ninja onto the battlefield tapped and attacking.’

That's a lot of text.
It’s as complicated as it sounds.

But that’s a good thing: by encountering all these decks, you get a solid understanding of which trumps which. You get a good variety of decks and the ability to customise them, allowing you to look through each individual card and see which ones would suit your real life decks. It’s a shame that you can’t straight-up buy Heroes of Avacyn or Chant of the Mul Daya in real life. That would be awesome.

So many cards, so little time.
So many cards, so little time.

The only thing really missing from D14 – and perhaps one of the most crucial elements of Magic – is the social aspect of the game. It’s fun playing against an AI, but it’s just not the same as playing a human opponent. Part of the fun is seeing how your deck works against others’ and fine-tuning it, something you can’t do with computers and a limited card collection. The fact that non-Planeswalkers opponents rigidly adhere to the same card order turn after turn without fail removes some of the dynamism experienced while playing against real people.  It can also be quite a laugh when your deck is getting utterly destroyed by a pal’s, whereas with the videogame, there’s nothing to stop you restarting when you’ve been dealt a bad hand. It’s good finally besting a virtual opponent you’re stuck on, but it’s nothing compared to defeating that guy with the unstoppable newt deck that defeats me over and over again.

All in all, Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014 is a damn fine game and teaching tool: it will bring you up to speed on all the concepts, either preparing you for your first foray into the real game or building up your knowledge levels, allowing you to make more powerful decks and unleash more advanced tactics upon your opponents. While it pales in comparison to the real life version, if you fancy a game here and there, it’s, well, magic.

 

She's hot.
Ignite your spark.

 

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