• Gameplay
  • Sealed Play
  • Sound
  • That nervousness when you first go up against the Chant of Mul Daya deck

I still remember the first time that I ever got into the Magic: The Gathering card game. I was around 8 or 9 years old and my older brother brought over a box full of cards he got from a friend, sat down and taught me what I needed to know to get started (mainly because he was looking for someone to play with at the time). For many years after, I kept the card game up as a dedicated hobby but I eventually stopped and gave all my cards away. However, that itch to keep playing was there and that’s where these Duels of the Planeswalkers games came in.

My last, and, to date, only, foray into the Duels of the Planeswalkers series was last year’s release: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013. I had fun with the game despite a little bit of limitation the video game put on players. However, this new release attempts to take the series in a good direction–even if it’s just in small steps.

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Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014 is much like its predecessors in terms of gameplay which is you play Magic: The Gathering. You still have the usual tutorials, campaign mode, online play, challenges, and secondary duel styles–like Two-headed Giant and Free-for-All–that will help you get used to the game if you’re a first timer trying out the game or a seasoned player just looking for some offbeat fun. As you play through campaign mode, you can unlock decks of which there is a total of ten (five are unlocked in campaign mode while three are unlocked by participating in Planeswalker duels; two decks are available at the start). The usual tips and assistance are around as well to help you along if you’re a first-timer. While in most cases the game being quite the same is not a problem for this particular series, many of the audio issues and the excessive loading times are still intact. It’s a shame that these issues weren’t addressed.

The game expands, or improves, on a couple of areas. The first is the addition of more multi-colored decks that you can unlock. While magic2014_campaignthere aren’t as many (only three of the decks are multicolored), that’s still three times the amount than last year’s Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013. In the past game, you only had a black/white Exalted deck you could unlock in-game. In this addition, you have a black/blue deck, a red/green/black Dragon-themed deck, and a red/green/white Sliver-themed deck. While this may not be a massive addition to the series, it still shows that Stainless Games and Wizards of the Coast are addressing that particular complaint from the past title. I hope to see more of these pop up in the future as the series progresses.

Where the game heavily improves though is in the addition of Sealed Play. Sealed Play is, in a nutshell, a mode that allows players to build their own decks. In Sealed Play, you can create a deck by specifying a deck slot to create (I believe one or two are available to begin with; more can be purchased for $2 each). The game gives you five boosters that you can unwrap and from there you can build a deck. For the beginner who is just diving into the game, there are tips to help you along: Sealed Play offers you a checklist to deck building to give you an idea of how to go about it. You can also toggle information on or off on the deck building screen as well or even enable an Autobuild feature if you’re not sure how to start.

deck_buildingDecks you create in Sealed Play can be played in their own separate campaign mode or online with other players. In campaign mode, you can take your deck up against a practice opponent if you so choose or you can take it into battle with Planeswalker opponents. Along the way in campaign, you can unlock additional boosters to give you some added firepower to your deck.

Sealed Play is a step in the right direction for those who wanted the ability to build their own decks (like me), but there are a couple limitations to this new mode. My biggest complaint is the lack of an option to start a deck over from scratch–by which I mean completely from scratch. Seeing as the cards that you receive from the boosters are random, it is possible for players to get five packs worth of cards that they can’t make much use for.

The Sealed Play campaign mode is also not very expansive. For each deck, you face off against six opponents only and you can only acquire three additional boosters during the campaign mode. I’m hoping that this is only a starter point for the Sealed Play mode because I’d like to see a lengthier Sealed Play campaign with the addition of earning a few more boosters besides just three.

The Verdict

Magic: The Gathering- Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014 still contains all the same elements of gameplay as previous entries, but that’s okay. The developers did help in improving on the gameplay by introducing more multi-colored decks (a minor addition) and the addition of Sealed Play. While there are a few issues with Sealed Play I’d like to see addressed in future installments, it’s a big step in the right direction in making future games a powerhouse in trading card video games. If you’re an amateur player looking to test the waters, Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014 will, like its predecessors, not disappoint in getting you started. If you’re more seasoned, the new additions may keep you more entertained and involved with it. You also get a preview of Core Set 2014 while you’re at it, so there’s that.

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