Magic 2014 — Duels of the Planeswalkers
Review by Protoss
What is Magic 2014? Well, Magic 2014 is the collectible card game "Magic The Gathering" in its fourth iteration of the series "Duels of the Planeswalkers" (DotP), not to be confused with the Microprose game of the same name that also is known as "Shandalar".
Magic 2014 allows you to compete with a number of pre-built decks (as of writing this: 10 in the base game, 5 in the expansion and 2 in the deck pack) with 60 to 100 cards against other pre-built decks or in the campaign mode against so-called "encounters" that don't follow the Magic deckbuilding rules.
It would be too complicated to go into details of the complete Magic rules, but the basics should be explained here: When you build a deck, you can freely choose what cards you have in it, which include any number of basic lands, up to 4 of each other card of the same name, and up to 1 of each restricted card. In the computer game I review here, the game takes care already that you can't build an illegal deck unless you have less than 60 or more than 100 cards. The "more than 100 cards" rule does not apply in real-life magic but because of the influence of luck generally a deck is considered more efficient with less cards in it, unless it is specifically built to maintain a larger card base.
After you have built your deck you can play. In the computer game, instead you have the pre-built decks with unlockable cards. This means you can customize your deck to a degree but not as freely as you would in real life Magic. This is on one hand good to introduce you to the game, on the other hand it also limits your options.
When you start an actual game, usually both players (it works similarly in a game mode with more players) draw a hand of seven cards each. You can exchange that hand for another one with seven cards, then six etc. down to one. You will usually want to have a certain number of lands and other cards in your hand.
Lands are used as a mana source. Almost every spell in the game costs mana. There are five mana colors in Magic plus colorless mana. A card that requires colorless mana to be cast can be paid with any mana, while a card that requires a specific color must be cast with that color. In the first turn, you will usually play a land - you can play at most one per turn unless other effects allow you to play more - and maybe cast a spell. There are different kinds of spells:
Permanents are spells that go to the battlefield when cast. Those can be creatures, enchantments or artifacts. Creatures can attack the enemy, enchantments and artifacts have different effects that affect the gameplay. Usually a permanent can only be used by its controller, who normally is the one who cast the spell.
There are also instants and sorceries which are spells that can be cast to have effects on the gameplay, for example making a creature stronger or weaker until the end of a turn, or dealing damage.
In your main phases, you can play permanents and sorcerys, in your attack phases you can attack. If your opponent has the turn, he gets those benefits and you can block. Instants can be played at any time, even in the opponent's move. Two decks are even built partially around instants that prevent an enemy's spells from working.
Your objective is to defeat your opponent who starts with the same amount of life as you, usually 20. When you win with a deck you unlock a new card that you can use in it later.
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Posted: November 25th, 2013