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Subject: Rushed Review of Magic The Gathering (Smoothsmith) rss

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Chris Smith
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Solihull
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Welcome to my short(ish) review! I decided to review every game I own, and seeing as that takes a while, they're kinda rushed! I tried to break things down nonetheless, and I hope you enjoy the review!

Rushed Reviews Of All My Games

The Short Sell:
You're a Wizard [Insert Name]. Naturally, being a wizard, you should fight other Wizards, so prepare yourself some spells, gather some artifacts and summon exotic creatures to battle your way to greatness. Or something like that.

Components:
- Cards
- Cards
- Cards

There's some cards, cards & cards which make up this game, going along with the including cards to make for a large pile of cards. Decent quality cards though, so top marks.

5/5

Setup:

I'm not really 'qualified' to speak of all the forms/variants in the game, so I'm just talking with personal experience in mind here.

Setup in MtG is less of a 'preparing to play' and more of a 'playing the meta-game'. What I mean is that if you get into playing, you'll spend a lot of time coming up with decks to play with, mix-and-matching cards and trying to create the perfect deck or counter-deck to win with when actually playing. This is a fairly cool aspect, but ultimately for someone that's a 'newbie' or 'non-addict' can be a bit of a pain to think about, being overwhelming and intimidating to look into.

So I'm going to give this a rating based on my personal opinions as an 'entry-level' player, who has only a couple of hundred cards - I think this is sub-par, and below what I expect from a game, which is to say that I disagree with the idea of 'preparing for a game' being fun, so just..bleh.

2/5

Gameplay:

The aim in MtG is to wipe out (kill?) the opposing player (Opposing Wizard I guess..), taking them from 20 health to 0. Each turn, draw 1 card, then you may play a land and one other card, then activate any number of cards you already have in play if you can afford their activation costs. There's 2 main types of cards (Yeah I know there's more), creatures, which come in weakened and can't attack until they've survived a round, and spells, which are often instant effects. Once a creature is past their 'summoning sickness' they are available to attack or defend - When you attack, the defending player gets to choose whether they personally take damage or if one of their creatures do (so you might let the 9 damage go to a 1 health creature, but take 1 damage yourself so your 9 damage creature lives). When a creature attacks or blocks, it becomes 'tapped', so you can't use it until your next turn.

There's a huge variety of cards in magic which come together for very different playstyles. You might for example have a deck dominated by flying creatures, which can't be blocked by ground creatures that don't have the special 'reach' ability, letting you take out your opponent directly, or might focus on powerful spells, or raising your dead cards, etc. Unfortunately, while the overall 'shape' of your deck makes for all this variety, when actually playing decisions are often limited (Unless you've played so much that you can appreciate deeper tactics, which I do appreciate are there, but trust me are transparent to people that've played less than a 100 times). As a result it just becomes a 'Well I guess I'll just do this 'cause that's all I have mana for' fest, which isn't as fun as I wish it could be.

6/10

Theme:

I don't know if I should really bring up theme as I've not exactly read any lore, but I get the impression that we're supposed to be powerful wizards, battling because um...that's what people do in fantasy worlds. I think this comes across well in card games in general, with the cards being sort of like your spellbook, which you're flicking through to try and find the right abilities to take victory. I don't get why 'lands' are mana, but I'm sure there's a reason.

In any case, whenever I've played, I've never had time to think about a theme to it, and I think that's a pretty good indicator that it's not a very strong tie in. If I read a card and come away thinking 'He takes 6 damage' rather than 'My powerful ball of fire consumed him leaving nothing but ashes' then it's not ideal.

6/10

Conclusion:

A fun yet average card game that I think requires deeper dedication than I possess to really shine. I don't personally enjoy 'the meta-game' of games, preferring that they're self-contained and enjoyable without some 'external' influence - Hell League of Legends is my favourite video-game with 1000's of plays and I still don't like the meta-game aspects like runes...What chance does a particularly expensive card game have!

My BGG Rating: 6/10

Overall: 6.3/10
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Todd Pytel
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Smoothsmith wrote:
...when actually playing decisions are often limited (Unless you've played so much that you can appreciate deeper tactics, which I do appreciate are there, but trust me are (aren't?) transparent to people that've played less than a 100 times). As a result it just becomes a 'Well I guess I'll just do this 'cause that's all I have mana for' fest, which isn't as fun as I wish it could be.'

As someone who's played many more than 100 times, I can assure you the subtleties are there. Of course, you occasionally get hands that play themselves - 2 drop, 3 drop, 4 drop, kill. But much of time, it's a question of "Do I play a Borderland Ranger or Centaur Courser?" or "Do I tap out and play my 4 drop, or do I play a 2 drop and leave 2 mana open for an Incinerate?". Those questions involve implications not at all obvious to a novice, but they are hugely important to playing competitively.

If you want something like a typical board game where you "get it" after half a dozen plays, then MtG is not a good choice. There's a great deal of depth lurking behind even the simplest questions in Magic.


Quote:
...I get the impression that we're supposed to be powerful wizards...

One of the genuinely weird things about Magic is that the theme is not very well-defined, yet the game plays well regardless. In the earliest MtG sets, it was very clearly "You are a wizard, summoning creatures and casting spells to kill the opposing wizard." But as the game has matured, that original idea has been transformed. Many cards represent events, groups, or individuals from a particular world. Are you summoning them? Commanding them? Are they protecting you? What are "you" anyway? A independent wizard? A general? A leader of a tribe? Modern Magic doesn't have a very clear answer to these questions, but the worlds are well developed enough that you (or at least, I) don't really care. Even though it's not entirely clear what I am, it feels like whatever I'm doing fits into the narrative of the world that Wizards has constructed.

Quote:
I don't personally enjoy 'the meta-game' of games, preferring that they're self-contained and enjoyable without some 'external' influence...

I think a good set of preconstructed Magic decks presents plenty to think about without requiring you to get into deckbuilding. However, Wizards doesn't tend to sell such decks, because it's in their interest for you to buy more packs.
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Joakim Björklund
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Overtext?! We don't need no stinking overtext! Oh wait...
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Magic is basically a hobby of its own. The metagame aspects are what makes it tick, at least on the more competitive level and to a lesser degree even in more casual play.

There are few errors in the gameplay part:

- You can play more than one non-land card each turn.
- Creatures can block while summoning sick.
- Blocking doesn't cause creatures to tap.
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Mark McEvoy
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tppytel wrote:
I think a good set of preconstructed Magic decks presents plenty to think about without requiring you to get into deckbuilding. However, Wizards doesn't tend to sell such decks, because it's in their interest for you to buy more packs.


Haven't they released... 34 precons in the past 12 months? (5 intro packs for each of 3 expansions plus M14, 5 event decks including the Modern one, 5 commander decks, and 2 pairs of duel decks?)
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Dan Owsen
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Fun review. I hope you keep playing, because I think the shortcomings you mentioned do become clearer the more you play. Like any good game, it takes some time to master.
 
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peter west
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thanks for the review. this game is definitely one with a very high learning curve. however, that doesn't mean that the aim when playing this game is to become the best tournament player. many players play this game casually (i'm sure many times more than the 'serious' player), so 'mega-gaming' as you define it, is much less of an issue. just make some fun deck with fun interactions and play someone with a similar mind-set. there are many preconstructed decks that you can buy as well without having to go through the process of deckbuilding that the new player may find daunting. giving this game 2/5 for setup is a bit unfair as a result, and implies that more complex games are inherently inferior to simpler ones. a rating based on complexity would be more apt. a higher score would mean the game is more complex, which does not imply any drawback - sometimes you are in the mood for something simpler, sometimes you want something more complex.

you said: "Unfortunately, while the overall 'shape' of your deck makes for all this variety, when actually playing decisions are often limited (Unless you've played so much that you can appreciate deeper tactics, which I do appreciate are there, but trust me are transparent to people that've played less than a 100 times). As a result it just becomes a 'Well I guess I'll just do this 'cause that's all I have mana for' fest, which isn't as fun as I wish it could be."

unfortunately this is the mind-set of newer players and frankly why they are 'new' and may not realize why they keep losing. this would be akin to the new chess player who just makes a move 'just because they can' without thinking a few steps ahead and their opponent's strategy. the way you describe it above almost implies that you are playing a solo game or one with very little interaction. in magic, having played for almost 20 years, you always ask yourself two questions (assuming playing a serious game to win) 1) 'how do you win and how is your opponent going to stop you?' and 2) 'how is your opponent going to win and how are you going to stop them?'. this is very fluid and changes depending on many things such as the board state, your cards in hand, your opponent's cards in hand, what's left in each of your libraries, etc. just playing cards 'just because you have the mana' is very shortsighted and is seen, for example, when the new player just plays all their creatures from their hand only to have their opponent cast a board wipe destroying all their creatures and proceed to lose thereafter with their opponent having kept their important creatures in hand to cast after the board wipe. magic is all about timing and sometimes not doing something (using your mana) is the right play. also, the gameplay is more varied than you have depicted. there are many more ways to win than to reduce your opponent's life to 0. there are decks that try to reduce the opponent's library to zero, and there are decks with cards that 'win' the game provided some conditions are met. i just can't see any justification in someone saying that they can see how 'transparent' the gameplay is while only having played a limited number of times in a complex game.

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