Magic: The Gathering is a game that is ever evolving, from the printed collectible card game to a series of online offerings, and despite the odds has remained relevant while many others have faded away into obscurity.
It was just announced on the official Minecraft web page that the Magic the Gathering skin pack is now available for players to download.
Fans of Dungeons & Dragons can now venture into the worlds of Magic: The Gathering. The new expansion, Plane Shift: Innistrad, uses the fifth edition rules of the iconic tabletop RPG. It is a free supplement to the game, and a follow-up to this year’s Plane Shift: Zendikar.
The release of the Duels of The Planeswalkers introduced a new audience to the world of Magic: The Gathering by translating the mind-bending puzzle solving nuances of the card game into an exciting and animated video game. It stands out as one of the best introductions to Magic: The Gathering as it guides players through almost all aspects of the game – except for expert strategies and next-level mind-games – and does so in a way that balances the fantasy side of the game with the mathematical and problem solving sides. Another quality the move to a digital environment introduces is an extension of the story-telling Magic: The Gathering is establishing. Enter a veil-cursed Garruk.
What is a ‘veil-cursed Garruk’ you might ask? Well, first, Garruk is one of the original planeswalkers introduced to the card-game in 2007. Before that the planeswalkers were omnipresent but inaccessible. Players are considered planeswalkers, but the mythos of the card-game included pre-existing planeswalkers with background stories that propelled the game into new worlds. In 2007, with the release of Lorwyn, the planeswalkers became playable and usurped the Minotaur and angel as the faces of the game. (Angel? Minotaur? It’s a long story.)
The chain-veil is a fairly new inclusion in this whole background story and it is essentially a magical item that grants ultimate power but transforms the wearer into a demon. We’re treading on fairly safe fantasy ground here. Think the One Ring. I can’t say I’m entirely committed to the lore of Magic: The Gathering, but it does create momentum and propel the game into a more rounded and fulfilling experience. The infallible aspect of the characters renders them easier to relate to and invest, however minutely, emotionally in.
What Garruk’s Revenge provides is a pre-constructed Green deck and the opportunity to play against a veritable ring of fire of challenging computer opponents. The deck is, unfortunately, unsatisfying to begin with, which maybe is the point. As opponents are felled, more cards become available and the deck can be changed and adjusted to suit the player’s style. This is almost an exact import of the experience one has when first becoming acquainted with the game. Beginning players start off with crappier cards and through trading, winning, and buying more, the available card pool increases and player’s decks become more complex, advanced, and capable of winning.
Garruk’s Revenge is hard. I was surprised to play each match multiple times, learning of new cards and tricks as the games progressed and using that new information to my advantage. This was refreshing as I had imagined (being an experienced Magic: The Gathering player) that the game would be a breeze and I would easily vanquish my foes. Not so. My opponents were excellent and I only won through smart strong plays instead of through luck of the draw. This is how one gets better at Magic, by playing opponents better than oneself.
Certainly the most alluring aspect of the expansion is the introduction of new cards into the available card pool. This is what Magic revolves around. The ability to battle opponents, win cards, and implement them into your deck remains a highly satisfying adventure and reason to play in the first place. Other than this, the expansion offers adjustments to pre-existing deck-building and multiplayer elements that were requested from players of the original. One thing that Wizards of the Coast excels in is listening to its audience, and Garruk’s Revenge displays once again WOTC’s commitment to bringing their flagship game to new platforms.
Another year, and that means another Magic the Gathering Core set. Each year around this time Wizards of the Coast releases a set that acts as a starting point for new players and a foundation for the Standard environment. It used to be that the Core set was comprised solely of reprints, and in that way Magic the Gathering recycled itself at the same time it provided a little history. Since Magic 2010 Wizards has moved from reprinting old cards to developing new ones, and in 2015 they have really outdone themselves.
In this latest set Wizards has enlisted the help of 15 guest designers to invigorate their brand and offer some alternative perspectives to the very insular design world of Magic. These aren’t just any old folks though, these 14 (excluding the community designed card) are all veterans of the video game industry, and they have cooked up some truly weird, memorable, and flavorful cards. This move of including guest designers of this caliber shows where Magic the Gathering is heading as a brand, and where they want to place themselves in the year(s) to come: at the intersection of digital and paper gaming.
Another move that cements this is the recent launch of Magic Online Version 4, and the closing of the previous client. This new version, while still not perfect, is a much sturdier and more stable platform that can be adjusted and improved as time goes on – in other words, Wizards is all about longevity.
With multiple sets coming out every year it seems there is no end to the innovation and influx of new cards and in-game mechanics, establishing Magic as one of the most complex and multi-faceted games available. The Core set walks a very fine line between alienation and introduction: if it is too ‘dumbed-down’ more experienced players will hate it, and if it is too complex, newer players won’t get it. Magic 2015 artfully rides this line and I think both newer and experienced players will be happy with it. The set has flashy cards, some extremely powerful cards, and then some cards that make you wonder, “Why did they print this?” But, the greatest achievement in the set is balance. Nothing feels outrageously overpowered and there is a fine mix of wacky build-around-me’s as well as strong cards that can be slotted into existing competitive decks.
One last thing is that the new set has also changed the look of the cards. At this point in the game they are kind of like Google arguing over the right shade of blue. In the end though the subtle changes to the card frame (and the custom made typography) are further refinements to an already finely tuned product.
Favorite Card: Necromancers Stockpile
I can’t help it, I love cards like this. There may not be enough zombie cards in Standard for this to be excellent, but even so, a way to cycle through cards for two mana off a two mana down-payment is not unplayable. Where this has much more potential is a format like Modern where the number of zombies available grows exponentially. Still, love this – reminds me of my Ghoulraiser, Gray Merchant of Asphodel pauper deck.
Best Art: Nightmare
I so wish this card was awesome – and it is, don’t get me wrong, it just doesn’t see any play. Lush artwork though.
Most Hopeful Card: Nissa, Worldwaker
It’s nice to see Nissa get a solid treatment here. In her former incarnation she was niche playable, here though I think she has a solid chance of seeing wider play. She’s able to defend herself, ticking up her loyalty all the while, and then she allows you to ramp from five mana into nine mana!
What?: Aggressive Mining
Designed by Minecraft’s Markus Persson Aggressive Mining begs for you to play the game in a totally different way. How do you use it? When is it good? When is it bad? We’ll have to wait and see.
It’s been years since I actively played collectible card games. Even back when I was into them, I never was a competitive player. My minimal spending money in high school and college meant buying a couple of packs once in a while, not boxes full of cards to build several perfect decks, like many of my friends. Like a lot of things, at some point I had to decide if I was going to double down and renew my focus to reach the next level or move on to other things, and I chose the latter.
In that sense, playing Magic 2015 is a trip down memory lane, while effectively illustrating the changes and evolutions the game has had over the years. For those of you who haven’t played, the basic objective of Magic is to whittle down your opponent’s life via summoned creatures or magic spells. It’s an intuitive concept, and there is a tutorial included in Magic 2015 that does an effective job of teaching you the fundamentals of the game. If you are new to Magic altogether or simply need a refresher and an understanding of the new mechanics like myself, it will get you up to speed quickly, and Magic veterans can skip it easily.
The matches play out exactly as you would expect. Your play area and your hand are presented at the bottom of the screen, with your opponent on the top half. Deck and hand counts and remaining life for each player are presented in the corners, leaving most of the play field uncluttered. Whenever a card is played, it is presented to both players so they have a chance to look it over, and a handy “More Info” button is available if you need an explanation for one of the card’s abilities. The game also keeps track of any buffs or other effects cast on creatures, with different symbols for status effects, or updating the strength and toughness of each creature so you don’t have to track any of the math yourself.
Unfortunately, that’s really all there is to it – digital representations of cards. The cards themselves appear to be exact copies of their physical versions, including the artwork and flavor text, but that’s all there is. A fight between two summoned creatures consists of a sound effect and watching the health on the card tick down. There are no interesting animations or models of these various creatures. I was hoping for some BattleChess-style combats between the different creatures – or at least some interesting visual effects for when you cast a spell. In this sense, the game does not take advantage of the medium at all.
It’s also rather shameless in its efforts to get money out of you. The original $10 asking price is reasonable enough, but then the game offers several card packs to purchase. The most expensive include all the cards you unlock via completing the story, which questions why you purchased the game at all. Even if you want to play multiplayer, the main story is not long, and asking people to pay an additional $20 to skip the single player content is absurd. Alternatively, you can spend money to buy small booster packs, a model that mimics the traditional CCG experience. Again, however, if I am already purchasing the game, asking me to pay additional money for more cards is unreasonable.
There’s also no real progress made if you lose a match. If you win, you can get cards, but lose and you get nothing. The game would benefit from a system where you can collect gold or some other currency, then use that to purchase additional card packs, rather than the all-or-nothing system it uses.
In the end, Magic 2015 does a reasonable job of simulating a tabletop session of Magic: the Gathering. However, in the face of other competitors like Hearthstone, it needs to be more than “reasonable” to justify its asking price.
Into Magic: The Gathering? Read our retrospective on the digital migration of Magic: The Gathering from card game to online powerhouse. See the sample below.
Also in the July 2014 issue: an interview with Yager, how to succeed with a comic on Kickstarter and an interview with Yosuke Hashimoto, the producer on Bayonetta 2.
Pick up the full issue in our store.
Wizards of the Coast have announced the first details behind the yearly video game version of their popular deck building game Magic the Gatheirng.
In Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers, players will be hunted by one of the series most well known characters Garruk Wildspeaker, who’s mind has deteriorated after becoming cursed.
One of the goals that Wizards of the Coast is trying to accomplish is having players at the centre of the story, rather than having a series of random duels with AI opponents like in the other Duels of the Planeswalker games.
The game will also be the first in the series to allow players to fully customize their own decks, as well as having brand new cards from the Magic 2015 expansion. In previous iterations, player could only pick from a handful of pre-constructed decks while only being able to unlock a few extra cards to swap out per deck.
Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers comes out later this year on Xbox One, Xbox 360, iPad, Steam, Android, and Google Play.
During their PAX East panel last weekend, Wizards of the Coast, creators of the deck building card game Magic the Gathering, announced that they will be having videogame designers and creators designing cards for the upcoming Magic 2015 Core Set expansion.
The first card revealed was Genesis Hydra by Plants vs Zombies designer George Fan.
The full list of game designers who are creating cards for the 2015 Core Set are as follows:
- Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins: Gabe & Tycho, creators of Penny Arcade
- Markus “Notch” Persson: Creator of Minecraft and founder of Mojang
- Richard Garriot: Creator of the Ultima series
- David Sirlin: Designer on Super Street Figher II Turbo HD Remix
- Rob Pardo: Chief creative officer at Blizzard, lead designer of World of Warcraft
- Isaiah Cartwright: Lead game designer for Guild Wars 2
- Justin Gary: Designer of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer and Solforge
- Stone Librande: Lead designer of Diablo 3, creative director of SimCity
- Brian Fargo: Founder of Interplay Entertainment and inXile Entertainment
- Mike Neumann: Gearbox Software, creative director on Borderlands
- James Ernest: Owner and lead designer for Cheapass Games
- Edmund McMillen: Indie designer of Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac
- Brad Muir: Game designer at Double Fine Productions, project lead on Iron Brigade
In addition, there will be cards in the set that members of the Magic community have submitted, reviewed, and voted on in the past.
The Magic 2015 Core Set will release on July 15th 2014.
The newest videogame iteration of Magic the Gathering, Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers will release later this year on Xbox One, Xbox 360, iPad, Steam, Android, and Google Play.
Wizards of the Coast, makers of Magic: The Gathering have announced their product lineup for 2014
There’s a war being waged on the plane of Ravinica in the Magic: The Gathering multiverse.
Brian David- Marshall has been working in and around comics for many years. He started his career Deluxe Comics where he got to work with industry veterans like George Pérez, Keith Giffen, Paul Smith and Dave Cockrum. Other than giving him his start Brian also credits his time at Deluxe with giving him a somewhat unrealistic impression of what an entry level position is in the comics industry.