Game Reviews

Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013

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Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013

Chances are, if you're a big Magic: The Gathering fan you'll have already downloaded this first iPad edition of the original CCG (Collectible Card Game). So you won't need me telling you that it's fantastic - move along.

Confusingly labelled simply Magic 2013 in the App Store, the game revolves around battling other wizards with a deck consisting of at least 60 cards, with the ultimate aim of reducing your opponent's (or opponents') health from 20 to zero.

Don't confuse this for something like Rage of Bahamut, though. Magic 2013 is by far the superior game, and one of the best card games available on the App Store.

+9 / +9

The reasons for this are the structure, the design, and the presentation.

Structurally, Magic is a straight port from the PC version, with the same lengthy campaign that stretches across multiple game modes.

These modes range from straight one-on-ones to specific 'encounters' that hone in on particular tactics, and from tough puzzles that play out like Chess to a four-player royale rumble across ever-shifting magical planes.

As you progress through the game, you'll unlock up to ten decks of 90 cards, with only 60 of these cards initially unlocked.

Each deck is designed to execute a very specific kind of tactic at first (such as a blue deck that focuses on making your opponent run out of cards), but as the remaining 30 cards unlock you'll have the option of switching things around quite drastically.

You can't mix and match cards freely between decks, though, which will no doubt disappoint Magic vets.

The upshot of this restriction is that the game is rarely overwhelming for new players, and you'll gain a better appreciation for the many nuances present in the complicated battle system because of it.

Play your cards right

The iPad edition of the game is by far the best version of the Planeswalkers series I've played so far, mainly thanks to the extra physicality of touchscreen controls - it feels far closer to playing the physical game than pressing buttons on a joypad.

The inability to duel on the same device is an unfortunate omission, but there is an online mode with ELO rankings and leaderboards to make up for it.

Online is easy to jump into thanks to Game Center, and the lack of support for more than two players is the only real omission from the package when compared to consoles and PCs.

Back to black (deck)

But this is relatively minor in the grand scheme of things. Magic has always played at its best when you're duelling with a single opponent, darting around his tactics, reversing seemingly fatal attacks, and outwitting your foe with clever combos and traps.

The decision to keep IAPs restricted to optional purchases and vanity goods means that everyone plays on a level playing field, too.

If you're a new player looking for a card game with real strategy and bite, or just someone looking to practise or learn the new decks on the move, Magic 2013 is an essential purchase for your iPad.

Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013

A superb strategy game that offers up a complete package of single-player and multiplayer card combat
Will Wilson
Will Wilson
Will's obsession with gaming started off with sketching Laser Squad levels on pads of paper, but recently grew into violently shouting "Tango Down!" at random strangers on the street. He now directs that positive energy into his writing (due in no small part to a binding court order).