Florian Liouville
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Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers (computer game)



Gameplay (this is for people who have an understanding of Magic the Gathering, I won’t actually explain the game here if you need an explanation I suggest looking at the MtG Homepage, they have a great: how to play)

Since the last iteration of DotPW the basic gameplay hasn’t really changed the game let’s you play Magic the Gathering against a fairly competent AI. The controls work smoothly and once you uncheck the player aids in the advanced settings give you the full control over every aspect of your game.

Obviously since this is a card game and there is some luck involved in the drawing of cards you do not need to get better at the game to beat it. Simply persevering until the opponent gets a bad draw will let you advance in the campaign. Similarly you will sometimes get games that you simply cannot win. While this doesn’t bother me with physical cards I consider it somewhat of a drawback here.

The one big problem I have always had with the basic gameplay is that while the AI plays the game OK on the highest difficulty setting (which I recommend to anyone) it sometimes makes mistakes. While I understand that real people also make mistakes and the programmers probably wanted to emulate that, they aren’t tiny oversights. They are huge, obvious gaffes, sometimes throwing away a sure win.

The multiplayer matchmaking and community have never been much to look at in DotPW and unless you have a friend or group of friends who want to play this with you, you should probably have a look at MtgO or physical cards (at a much increased cost.

The decks:

The core of the DotPW experience has always been the campaign and the constructed decks. The game comes with 10 fairly varied 60 cards pre-constructed decks. The power level is definitely lower than actual T1 tournament decks but they work well enough. Only two are available at the beginning and the rest is unlocked during the campaign (not a problem) Once you start playing (and winning) with a deck you will unlock additional cards for that deck which will allow you to slowly weed out some of the subpar cards and end up with a more streamlined version.

You may elect to play real money to unlock full decks right away or to get foil conversions which give the cards a funny glow effect. I can’t see the point of either.

So what decks do you get? (spoilers ahead, if you do not want to know skip ahead to the game modes)

Rbg Dragons: To me this is the least fun of the bunch. It’s Dragons. How is that possible, you ask? While I think that dragons are usually fun this particular deck works with the devour mechanism where your large creatures eat your smaller ones. This, coupled with the steep mana and color requirements makes for a very draw dependent deck that, even when it works, just doesn’t pay off appropriately.

UB control: Your typical Dimir themed control deck with hand disruption and creature removal. Usually fun because you can gleefully annoy your opponent but without that factor going for it it’s just slow and unimpressive.

R aggro/control: This deck has been a staple of DotPW since the first version. It has some manner of red creatures and burn damage to keep the opponent at bay or finish him off. This deck is mildly entertaining but nothing new.

G Big Creatures: The other staple deck, also nothing new but it has some fun finishers to toy with and I really like the inclusion of Kalonian Tusker, a very effective 2 drop.

W Human aggro: This deck works by relying on the synergy between small creatures with the human subtype when it works well it can produce some truly impressive results. The curve is topped off by a couple of angels which don’t work particularly well with the rest but make for powerful threats on their own.

WRG Slivers
: I knew this was going to be in the game and honestly, I expected more. In MTG, Slivers are the ultimate synergistic creatures, sharing all their abilities with each other which is why many casual players really enjoy them. However in this deck you don’t get many of the most powerful slivers, robbing you of some of the fun this could have been.

B Zombie aggro: This deck starts out by far the worst of all with many subpar cards but by the time you have it fully unlocked it can produce draws that allow for 20 power on the table by turn 5. When it works it is pretty awesome.

U illusions aggro: Yes you read this right, blue gets an aggro deck, that alone is worth playing this deck. of course illusions have some obvious flaws, being very fragile but this deck makes a decent job of protecting them.

W enchantments aggro: Serious magic players don’t get to toy around with many auras because they are so inherently at risk for 2 for 1’s. This is why playing with this deck is such silly fun and can produce some fearsome results if left unchecked.

G Mana Combo: This is by far my favourite deck in the game with truly explosive mana generation and game breaking finishers of the Eldrazi (i.e. ablosutely huge) variation. It is surprisingly consistent and will give you beautiful finishes where you can muster 20+ (or even far more) against your opponents empty board. Pure MtG joy!
So those are the decks so far… with hopefully more to come in the inevitable expansion.

Game modes:
Campaign: In this game mode you have to beat the base version of all the playable decks as well as 18 encounters. These are games where the enemy deck is sorted to be drawn in a specific way instead of shuffled. That means that they never get an unlucky draw. To me the encounters represent one of the biggest missed opportunities since they could have been used to significantly increase the difficulty. Instead most of them are completely trivial. The campaign ends in a “Boss fight” against Ramaz, who is, I suppose the villain of the game. However it is one of the easiest matches in the campaign and is therefore sadly anticlimactic. Finally, there is a sad excuse for a story in the game but it is so barebones that I would have preferred no story at all.

Revenge
This is supposedly the more difficult version of the campaign where you play against the fully unlocked decks but by then you should have your own fully unlocked deck, allowing you to steamroll most of it. If however you choose to start the revenge campaign with a new deck and no unlocked cards it will be a significant challenge.

Challenge
The challenge puzzles used to be one of the most fun parts of DotPW. However this year they have devolved into nothing more than an advanced rules tutorial and will not present any actual challenge to even the newest of players. Sadly a complete throwaway.

Custom game
In this mode you may create 2 on 2 teams or free for all matches, to be fought with the same constructed decks. This is nice for people who want to try it out but there isn’t any motivating factor to come back.

Sealed play
This is the much advertised big addition to this year’s game and simultaneously the best and the most outrageously disappointing feature of the game. The way that this works is that you get 6 booster packs filled with 14 random cards, you can open them and then have to use only those cards to build your own deck and fight it against a fairly stiff opposition. All in all a very fun and satisfying mode and for the first time in DotPW’s history some real deck building. Granted you only get to use the M14 base set but to me, it is still a blast. So why is this mode disappointing?

You only get 2 slots for sealed decks and if you’re thinking you’ll just delete one and start over… you can’t! Once you’ve built your 2 sealed decks that is it. Basta! Fini! the only way to get more is to fork over real cash and where I live that’s 2€ per additional slot or 9€ for 5 slots. Now if this were a free to play game I might be okay with this but as it stands I find this completely infuriating.

Final thoughts

The good:
- -smooth and quick gameplay
- good controls
- fun decks
- scratch that magic itch for a relatively small amount of cash
- If you’re a completist you can get 40-50 hours of playtime
- Sealed play is a fun addition

The bad
- Sometimes stupid AI
- pretty easy on all difficulties
- stupidly simple challenge puzzles

...and the ugly

- Sealed play Limited to 2 decks (!)

Conclusion: So, do I think you should buy this? Well if you are a seasoned magic player and think you can get a real challenge without investing hundreds of Dollars/Euros, this won’t do the trick. If you are new to MtG and want to try it out this is a fairly good way to get started but I would recommend last year’s version over this one for now, the decks were simply much more fun. However, this might improve when the expansion is released. If you are a long time DotPW player and have been satisfied so far this will help you scratch your itch just fine, although you should realize that it is a little less fun than 2013.

Overall rating: 6/10
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Should be posted in VGG, not here. It's not a board game.

Very good review though!
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Tommy Occhipinti
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I've enjoyed each Duels more than the previous so far, and this one is no exception. This one has a much faster interface, and allows you to side lands in/out, which I like. I powered through all 30 unlocks of a couple decks in two days, so I must be playing it a lot!

The AI occasionally does dumb things, but all in all I'm very impressed with it. Even in past iterations newer players would often post and ask if everything was rigged against them to force them to use IAPs to upgrade their deck. Obviously this is not true, but it shows that the AI is performing well beyond the beginner level. More often than not when I see the AI do something I think is dumb, it turns out it has a good reason for it. The one thing I repeatedly see it do that is inexcusable is leave its Terramorphic Expanses uncracked.

The one negative I have to agree with is that I like these decks less on average than the ones in 2013. I really love Liliana's deck, but I've found a fair number of them to be somewhat ho-hum. On the flip side, I think the variety present in the encounters is awesome and fun, and much better than that in 2013. With the exception of the final boss fight, which is just stupid.
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Allen OConnor
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I was going to download this but it isn't comparable with iPad 1.
 
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The Mighty Greedo
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Folilo82 wrote:
You only get 2 slots for sealed decks and if you’re thinking you’ll just delete one and start over… you can’t!
That's a deal-breaker for me. I'll just stick with 2013 instead, since I still have more than half the decks to unlock.

Thanks for the review. Interesting stuff.
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Jack Bennett
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Nice review!
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Matthew M
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Moved to Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers
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Albert Jr. Cukingnan
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Greedo wrote:
Folilo82 wrote:
You only get 2 slots for sealed decks and if you’re thinking you’ll just delete one and start over… you can’t!
That's a deal-breaker for me. I'll just stick with 2013 instead, since I still have more than half the decks to unlock.

Thanks for the review. Interesting stuff.
The iOS version allows for the purchase of extra slots for the sealed deck campaign. Weird/stupid thing is, it doesn't allow for deletion of saved campaigns either.

Anyway, some stuff not mentioned in the review:
-Dubious AI: I've seen the AI cast spells in such a manner that borders on outright stupidity. For instance, Jace derped out by taking control of one of my creatures which he's already cast Claustrophobia (the creature taps and can't untap) on. The AI's likewise targeted one of my creatures with a spell that exchanges control, while selecting another of my minions.
-Bugs in multiplayer: the sound cuts off while playing online in iOS.
-Without turning off "smart" targetting, you can't affect your opponent's creatures with beneficial enchantments.
 
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Michael Nerman
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Thanks for a wonderful overview of DotP 2014. However, I disagree with a lot of what you said. I think the game is a lot of fun, and sets out to do what it is supposed to, which is largely to entice new people to the game. It's cheap and there's a lot of gameplay. While the AI does occasionally make mistakes, it's not very often, and it has improved considerably since last year. The encounters are enjoyable to play. Yes, some of the decks are repeats from last year, but considering that it's designed for beginners, I'm not too upset about it.

I was pretty angry to find that you could only run through the sealed campaign twice, but I looked on the internet and found out that on the Xbox you can just play the game with a different profile, and you get two slots for each one.

I also feel inclined to mention that the numbers are really small on the screen, so depending on your TV size, you might not be able to tell how many life points or cards anyone has.
 
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