This year’s new version of the perennial MTG digital game has finally arrived for PC. And players of the Duels of The Planeswalkers series will immediately feel mostly at home here. The biggest change is that the game has now eschewed the previous model in favor a F2P client with continual updates for new card sets. Only partial sets are expected, as competing with MTGO or paper MTG would be terrible for WoTC. So in a sense, this MTG channels Hearthstone and other F2p card games to draw new and old players to the digital battlefield. As such, the full annual releases are now a thing of the past.
On release, players explore the first available Magic Duels content through both cards and a campaign that takes players through the origin stories of five of Magic’s most iconic Planeswalkers, including my personal favorite Jace. It’s a cool way to handle a single-player campaign that has players advance their decks as these legends advance their own lives, leading up to their transition to powerful planeswalkers. The game features campaign, solo-battle, multiplayer battle and leaderboards, and 2-Headed Giant play (2v2). Players can also partake in tournaments.
The core of the game relies on a currency system that grants gold for partaking in battles and completing daily quests.
Players can then purchase boosters to build out their collections for custom decks. Gone is paying for DLC of new card sets. The monetization model here revolves around purchasing gold through RMT.
Fortunately, all the cards included can be unlocked through rigorous play. No card-crafting mechanics or drafting though. Maybe a future expansion will include draft features to allow for more gameplay styles. It would be great if Drafts were included, even if you don’t get to keep the “cards” you draft at the end of the duels. This could be done easily without endangering play in MTGO or in real life. However, boosters in Duels don’t contain cards you already have a playset of, so there is no need to disenchant stacks of extra cards like in Hearthstone. As having extra cards isn’t a thing.
Magic Duels is the best implementation of the Duels of the Planeswalkers series yet, with great deckbuilding options that can pull together themed decks in mere moments and cool incentives to experiment outside your comfort zone. If you’re a new player looking to learn Magic: The Gathering, Magic Duels is the best place to start. If you’re a seasoned veteran, the way the game uses rarity restrictions to create a unique environment make it an attractive alternative for some duels.
So as most would expect, this game is a gateway product for other WoTC products. Much like DoTP, it’s meant to draw new and old players back to the table. And it doesn’t disappoint in that aspect. It is a bit like a watered down MTGO with an updated interface, but it serves it’s purpose well.
This review pertains to the PC version of Magic Duels, coming to Steam on July 29. Magic Duels is also available on iOS and is coming to Xbox One and PS4.