Friday, 28 June 2013

First Impressions: Magic the Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014

Tap that mana.

Time flies when you're having fun, so it has been nearly a year since the last instalment in the Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers series came out. The newest instalment, Duels 2014, was released just this week to relatively little fanfare all things considered. Still, given the amount of time I sunk into the previous iteration, I was happy to pick this version up as well. The $9.99 price point didn't hurt much either.

This version lands with a couple of new features, the most notable of which is the new mode, the draft mode, which allows players to build their decks from random boosters for the first time in the Duels series. To me, at the moment, this isn't something that I can comment on, having not played it myself. However, with what I currently know about it I'm both happy and a little angry. Let me explain why.

I have no doubt that sealed is going to be one of the more popular modes that have been introduced. It is something that people have been asking for, and it will sure play a hell of a lot better than things like planechase or archenemy (the latter of which I was fortunate enough to not be a part of). However, when you build a sealed deck, you cannot reset the slot it uses; one time only. You start with two sealed slots, but you can have up to 20. How do you get that many? You buy them. Although there's nothing forcing you to buy any of these slots, the fact that the combined cost for slots 6-20 is $26.97 or almost triple the game itself makes me cringe.

I know that part of the reason for that cost is because the base game is a bargain, but to me it's still a bit of a sore point. Putting that aside though, there are plenty of things to like about this edition of the game. For one, people can finally, finally, control the amount of lands in their decks, rather than the game automatically putting them in for you -- which it can still do by the way, you can just override it if you want -- and there seems to be a little bit more control simply due to that fact.

As for the decks themselves, well, from what I've seen they are somewhat more balanced than they were before. To me though, this is a bit of a double edged sword, because while a lot of decks are easier to play, there's nothing as unique as Dream Puppets was in the previous Duels. That and while I believe the balance is better than it is in 13, there are still standouts, like Avacyn's Glory looks like it's basically Peacekeepers part two, which isn't going over too well with the people that were fed up with the deck in 13.

Complaints aside though, I think that this is a decent addition to the series. Even though the expansions to the Sealed component cost way too much, I believe that it is something that will be adding a lot of excitement to the game, because it's a mode that simply works (it is what a lot of Magic is based off of, after all). And the decks that I've played so far have all been fun and decent. So if you're on the fence, I'd say that it wouldn't hurt to give this one a serious look.

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