(This continues Jason’s E3 quick takes. I honestly don’t know how many more games he saw because he spent most of the show throwing up in West Hollywood at Tom CHick’s house.)
I’ve played a lot of Magic the Gathering. I started playing around the time of Unlimited and stopped around Ice Age. Some of you know what I’m talking about and some of you don’t. Here’s a quick translation: “Jason McMaster is a nerd of epic proportions.”
In this case – and very, very few others – this kind of cred puts me in a unique position. I’ve played the game in just about every form or incarnation. Thought I put down the cards early on, I’ve stayed up to date on the changes in the rules and every electronic version it has had to date. With this in mind, I can speak on the minutia of the rules and any changes in gameplay as someone who has been there. However, I’m not going to do that because a) you don’t care and b) it’s super boring. Instead, let’s discuss the streamlining and spectacle in Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013.
The demo begins with a new animated sequence that introduces the new game. We’re going to be seeing a lot more from the famous mages that populate the Magic universe. Jace Beleren and Chanda Nalaar, among others, will be fighting against Nicol Bolas to determine the fate of the planes.
The new campaign is interesting as it switches up the pace and style of play between matches. One game might be a straight-up duel while the next a challenge or gimmick deck. The bosses are the same tough affairs they’ve always been, but now you can control the difficulty.
One thing Wizards is doing with 2013 is giving players the option of difficulty for the AI based on how much they know about Magic; essentially giving new players a break and teaching them the ropes at the same time. This is a smart move that could lead to a greater number of new players.
The new star rating system applied to decks is another boon. Before you play a match, you can scroll through your decks and see how it stacks up against your opponents in a few different categories. It makes picking the right deck for any occasion quick and painless.
The other thing that made an impression on me from the demo was the addition of the new Planechase style of play, which has just recently been released for the card game. In this mode, you play with larger cards that represent different planes and a die. Every turn you roll the die and if it comes up with a certain symbol, you can change the plane and draw a new one from the deck. The plane cards have different global effects that either help or harm your type of deck. It looks pretty interesting.
There are a lot of little changes such as the ability to tap mana without a card or the addition of different multiplayer types, but one thing caught my eye: if you go by your local card shop, you can get a small booster of the newest cards for free. For fans of Magic, this is a big deal. Free cards!
We don’t have to wait long for Duels of the Planeswalkers as it launches tomorrow, June 20th. One thing of note – this year also sees the first iPad release for the franchise.
I’m pretty psyched.