Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012

Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012

Available on XBLA, PSN and Steam

This game has a doozy of a title so I will hereafter be referring to it as DotP 2012.

DotP 2012 was developed by Stainless Games and published by Wizards of the Coast, the same company behind the physical card game.

The video game incarnation strives to streamline the card game experience into something quicker and easier to understand than reading a dense rulebook for first-timers. The game features cards from the new Magic: The Gathering 2012 core set, which means the cards you’ll be seeing here are the same cards you’ll be seeing played on the streets (yes, on the streets).

Story

Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012In the game, all players are planeswalkers, powerful beings who can summon monsters and cast spells in a show of power. Past that, DotP 2012′s story is mostly nonexistent save for the opening cinematic, which introduces the player to the Archenemy gametype of 3 planeswalkers versus 1 beefy planeswalker. The opening is nifty and is worth watching the first time.

There are also some snippets of characterization during the loading screens, but these are forgettable unless you’d read some of the Magic lore before.

There isn’t any feeling of story progression to the game. Once you finish a duel, you are brought back to the main menu. Every time.

Art and Sound

Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012The card art is beautiful.

Wizards of the Coast hire some very talented artists to create real flavor in the cards. It’s a real treat to be able to zoom in on cards and see a small painting.

The animated effects are lacking, though. A small fireball may come out of a card and send a creature to the graveyard but it has no weight to it. The same goes for when creatures inevitably clash. They simply glide over to the graveyard as if they are being benched.

This adds to the fluidity of combat but it also makes each spell cast feel like a throwaway moment. Perhaps a decision was made to make the cards feel like the planeswalker pawns they are.

The production values are alright but it’s a very barebones game.

Gameplay

DotP 2012 very faithfully translates the card dueling experience to your TV or computer monitor. I’m a former Magic fanatic and I feel right at home with DotP 2012′s rules and card effects. The AI on the hardest difficulty makes very good decisions and is able to surprise  me when I’m not prepared.

Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012Newcomers to the card game should be able to grasp the fundamentals within their first 2 games thanks to the inclusion of an informative tutorial and various tips that appear when encountering mechanics for the first time.

The game tracks the phases of a turn with a helpful bar on the top-right of the screen. The AI’s turns will progress fluidly with a different progress bar unless the player wants to interrupt it in order to think or cast a spell. I found myself using this frequently in order to thwart my opponent’s plans.

DotP 2012 is very streamlined. There’s no need to shuffle the deck manually to make sure that your hand is balanced. This is very welcome in a game that has a lot of shuffling.

Deckbuilding is limited. Each theme deck has a base of 60 cards as well as 16 unlockable cards that can be substituted or added into your deck. DotP 2012 improves over its predecessor by allowing players to remove base cards from their deck rather than just being able to add or remove unlockable cards.

Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012DotP 2012 includes the new custom gametype Archenemy, a cooperative gametype that has 3 planeswalkers (human or ai) working together to defeat a powerful planeswalker who is able to draw from a second deck in addition to their own. This second deck features scheme cards which have powerful effects that truly tilt the game in their favor.

The Archenemy can resurrect your graveyard to fight for them, make you choose between sacrificing you or your allies’ creatures, and a host of other powerful things. I cringe when the first turn has the Archenemy fielding a 4/6 artifact creature while my team only has a single 1/1 blocker.

Other than the 1-on-1 and Archenemy gametypes, there are also free-for-all games and 2-on-2. Online multiplayer includes all the gametypes.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, I quit Magic a couple of years ago because I couldn’t afford to keep up with how fast the cards were coming out. Regardless of that, I really enjoyed the dynamic of the game and I missed not being able to play it.

DotP 2012 feels like it was tailor-made for someone like me. I don’t want to pay $5 for a set of booster cards to mix with my collection. Although DotP 2012 is limited in its deckbuilding, it gives players the chance to play with a large amount of cards and find willing opponents over the internet at will.

Now, if I have a Magic itch, I don’t have to ask anyone else if they want a game. I can just hop on DotP 2012 and play a quick free-for-all.

DotP 2012 is a very well done card simulation game. It offers most of the card game experience. The $10 price tag is a value when compared to the physical cards.

Rating: 4/5

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