Magic 2013 iPad Review
- Touch-based controls add a visceral depth to playing MTG.
- Revised decks add a new twist to favorites; Jace is no longer the be-all-end-all!
- Equally unlock decks through progression or IAP; no additional edge obtained from spending more money on the game.
- Still no cross-deck customization; unlocked cards remain fixed to the deck they're in.
- Also still lacking more in-depth help text for special cards and effect words.
Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 has long since set itself up as a prototypical 'yearly' franchise, but for long-time fans this is nothing new and the iPad version of the latest title lends itself perfectly to the series thanks to visceral touch controls.
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I feel I would have to officially hand in my 'nerd card' if I ever lost the urge to want to play a casual game of Magic: The Gathering with my friends. Sure, some people are going to invest themselves more in the collectable card game than others, but all it takes is a pre-made deck and players looking to have fun and you'll find that the evening gleefully melts away.
Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 by Stainless Games is the first installment of Wizards of the Coast's popular CCG to make its way on to the App Store. It's an iPad exclusive too, but this is only to be expected given the (potentially) huge amount of cards that can be placed on the field at any one time - that and it gives the game a chance to showcase the beautiful artwork on each card.
For those familiar with the Planeswalker series thus far, I need not waste more time in explaining the game - it's exactly what we've seen before, albeit with each deck receiving major overhauls to keep the challenge fresh.
For everyone else, Magic: The Gathering is a game of strategy, wits and more than a dash of luck (though proper deck management can tip the odds in your favor). While only two decks are initially available, each with 60 cards on offer, you can defeat opponents (repeatedly if you like) to unlock additional cards for the deck you're using (up to a total of 90), while also unlocking new base decks in the process. Each one has a specific theme or style of gameplay associated with it (be it aggressive, controlling, speedy, defensive, and so on), but the additional cards you unlock can focus or completely change the style of a deck, making customization and deck personalization worthwhile.
This is especially important if you decide to take the fight online to duel against real opponents - being able to surprise them with an unexpected combination may be the difference between success or failure. No same-device dueling is available, but without a viable way to shield your hand it's an obvious omission. Instead, players can invest themselves in the many challenging AI duels as well as puzzles and additional game modes while unlocking new cards.
What makes Planeswalker 2013 such a great choice for the iPad is its touch interface, something that gives it a visceral edge the PC or console versions can't match. Being able to fling out a card from your hand or hold down on an opponent's card makes the iPad version feel like the next-best thing to a real match.
If you fancy yourself a bit of a card jockey or you've always wanted to try Magic: The Gathering, but didn't have the time or friends to make it happen, this is a definite must have for your iPad.