After hiatus of several days on a tropical island, far away from the chorus of laments over loot drop rates, PvP nerfing and other controversies that furiously preoccupy the collective intelligence of the MMO blogosphere, I returned to civilization last night and fancied a quick bout of something a bit different.
I opted to try out the newly-available demo for Magic: The Gathering, Duel of the Planeswalkers 2013 (MTGDOTP 2013) on Steam.
In a previous life, I misspent my latter school days saving up pocket money to buy Revised Edition boosters. This was long before I started to consider the negative impacts of ‘pay to win’ business models and how game mechanics can manipulate our desire to dominate the competition by selling us power. Names like Royal Assassin, Shivan Dragon and Savannah Lions still conjure up the images of these desirable rarities, combined with the scents of fresh cardboard from newly opened booster packs that waft through my nostalgic memories of those summer afternoons.
At its core, M:TG offers addictive turn-based gameplay. Combat focusses on what is in your hand and that of your opponent, with the card deck introducing chance and random elements serving to render the gaming experience exciting. You never know what card you will draw in the next few turns which could turn around your fate for the better or condemn you to failure.
For new players, or those of us that haven’t picked up a Magic in many years, Duel of the Planeswalkers offers the perfect (re)introduction. No longer do you have to worry about purchasing the best cards or assembling the perfectly balanced deck, as Stainless Games have already assembled 10 decks to enable you to jump right into combat. Furthermore, as opposed to PC version of M:TG developed by Microprose, the different phases of play have been greatly simplified, so it is far easier to understand at what times you can interrupt your opponents’ turn in order to disrupt their plans and wreak havoc on their minions.
I’m delighted to see that Magic has survived all these years and indeed I believe that MMO developers could learn a lot from M:TG because to me it exemplifies the ‘Easy to Play, Hard to Master’ mantra, with superior strategy (and luck!) triumphing over faster reactions.
If you’re feeling burned out on MMOs or just want to try something new, I would recommend giving the demo a spin.