Magic the Gathering

As some of you may know while a young adult, Magic was a huge part of my life. Summers were spent socializing, gaming, and strategizing. Trying to hash together the best decks, the coolest combos, basic teenager geek cred. Luckily, I probably won more tournaments than I didn’t.

For those familiar with the game, I played from just around Homelands to Planeshift. I’ve played a few limited tournaments since then, but by no means have I bought more than a pack or two here or there.

Now I’ve tried to keep up a little bit with new sets, and rules changes (including the new “no more mana burn” ruleset). Anyway, this topic comes up with the new XBLA game, Duels of the Planeswalker. Which is a borrowed name from the original Microprose “Shandalar” series. Maybe one of the first video games I was excited about getting (even at it’s expensive price).

Now this will be a quick little review of the XBLA game that I got last night (around 11) and played for a few hours.


  • Pretty. Now I haven’t played Magic Online, but this game is pretty. Flying creatures hover on the board, all the art looks great in High Def, even the targetting lines look slick.
  • Simplified interface. The game autotaps for you, auto untaps, draws, etc etc. Basically the game autopilots through a lot of mundane parts of magic and cuts it down to pre-combat, combat, and post-combat.
  • Puzzles. I love puzzles. Problem solving is one of those things that turned into a career for me. I had subscriber to Inquest Magazine (before it changed it’s name) for the two page puzzle. Some of those things were harsh. A few of these puzzles are pretty easy, and I can’t tell if there are only the 8 that are unlocked to start or if there are more once I get through them.
  • Nostalgia. XBLA is a goldmine for nostalgia games. I can’t wait to play a few two-headed giant games with my friends I played magic with growing up.
  • Value. $10. That’s right. Growing up I spent $100 on the Microprose game and first expansion. While that game is larger, and had more of a roleplaying feel (Go find it and play it if you never have) the basics of it exist in this new title. The good comparison is the dvd comparison. I can buy a dvd for 15 bucks, and watch it a handful of times. And get maybe 6 hours of entertainment. Since I’ve already played for 2 hours. I think I’ll get plenty of entertainment out of it.


  • Deck building. One of my favorite things about Magic is deck building. The ultimate customization of thousands of cards and unique combos that different cards allow. The deck starts with a base “theme” and you can unlock what looks like up to 17 cards and add those into the starter decks.
  • Combat timing. Maybe this is just me, but since the phases/steps are timer based I’ve had a little bit of trouble with combat timing. I almost lost a game because I missed regenerating one of my creatures. I had to replay one of the puzzles, to successfully activate a creatures on attack ability.
  • AI. They claim the AI is better, and it seems decent for now, but it still attacks when it should be holding off to block, and I’ve noticed a few mis-matched blocking assignments. I’ll hold judgement until the AI does something unexpected to turn around a lost game. I’m really competitive so we’ll see how that goes.
  • Deck building. Sorry, I just wish it was better.


  • DLC. I don’t know what the dlc will actually be and how much it costs. I generally don’t buy dlc, but once in a while I do.
  • Multiplayer. I haven’t broken out the multiplayer, so we’ll see how that is once I get that far.

Ah good ol’ Magic. I still have my decks lying around somewhere, if you are up for a game. I generally play Lock type decks. My first actual deck being a Stasis deck. It doesn’t exist anymore, and it got deconstructed because it wasn’t too fun to play. Oh well, gotta get some work done before I can go back to playing.

One Response to “Magic the Gathering”

  1. […] already posted about my Magic playing days a few times. And this one is more of an in memoriam to my old card-playing days and some of the old […]

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