Put the cards back in your pocket, the digitial version has arrivedReviewer - Jonathan Westlake
Almost exactly a year after the Xbox Live’s release, Magic the Gathering: Duel of the Planeswalkers has finally arrived on the PC via Steam. As a fan of Microprose’s first attempt to recreate this popular collectable card based game back in 1997, I jumped at the chance to take a look at Stainless Games’ effort to take this game electronically.
If you’ve not had much experience of MTG, the idea is to use your deck of creature, spell and artefact cards to defeat your opponent(s) known as “Planeswalkers”. Land cards are used to generate “mana” to fuel the other cards, with more powerful cards requiring greater mana to cast. Creature cards can attack and defend with various degrees of power and playing strategically is critical to success. As you are typically limited to casting one land card per round you have to balance your deck with cheap as well as powerful cards - else you will find you are defeated before you have cast anything. There are many other factors to consider including land type, flying versus land creatures, defensive walls and rule/attribute-altering spells which add to the complexity of the game.
This complexity makes for one of the game’s greatest strengths, but inevitably it is also one of its greatest weaknesses too as there is a fairly hefty learning curve to get up before you have a chance of winning your first game. This is one area where playing the game electronically has advantages; the basic tutorial gives you a pretty good push in the right direction and trial and error against an infinitely patient, if merciless, AI is very effective way to learn. If that’s not enough for you, there is also a mentoring feature where you find online mentors to help you learn or if you are feeling nice, you can offer to mentor beginners yourself.