Review: Duel of the Planeswalkers 2014, by Wizards of the Coast
Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014, by Wizards of the Coast
Free ($9.99 to unlock full edition), ****1/2
· Still a decent import of the Magic the Gathering
· Cleaned up interface
· Sealed deck play
· Must buy “slots” for sealed deck play
· Limited sealed deck play functionality
Duels of the Planeswalker 2014 is the 2nd iteration of an iOS Magic the Gathering game. Much of the game remains the same from the previous version (released last year), but the big “hurrah” this year is the fact they released a sealed deck version for playing! This was related to one of my biggest concerns about the game last year, and I am glad to see they did something about it.
The game play screen has little changes from last year.
First, the primer. I am not going to explain how to play Magic the Gathering (it would take up too much space). Suffice to say, Magic the Gathering is a turn based card game where two or more wizards cast spells (represented by cards) trying to vanquish each other. Last year’s iOS game was a good import of that – it had a pretty good multiplayer version, you could play against a reasonably difficult AI, and there were both casual games and a “campaign” mode. As you play the game on campaign mode, you unlock specific cards that you can add to your deck.
You can choose campaign mode, where you fight various wizards in Magic themed worlds, like Innistrad.
As with last year’s version, the campaign mode focuses on a variety of pre-made decks. Even with unlocking cards, there is still a limit to how much you can change the deck from one of the various “themes”. Unfortunately, one thing I didn’t like was that they have entirely new deck themes this year. Don’t get me wrong, I like the new themes – but I would like to be able to play some of the decks I got to enjoy last year – too bad there isn’t an ability to import decks you have unlocked using your Gamecenter account.
Game play modes include campaign, custom play (casual), and the new sealed deck mode.
The game play itself remains basically the same. They have cleaned up the interface a little bit to make the play a little smoother, but overall there is no change. They don’t take full advantage of the touch interface, but that is because the game is still based on the controller (keyboard, PS3, or something similar). Having said that, it is still a very well designed game, with different levels of guidance to help new players, or that can be turned off for more experienced players.
The big news this year is a sealed deck mode. My biggest complain last year was that you couldn’t build a deck from scratch – you could only play with pre-existing theme decks. To counter that, they created a sealed deck mode. You get six booster packs (containing 14 cards each), and you can build a 40-card deck from those. This is a great step towards what I would like to see (being able to build decks from a collection of cards). I am not sure how random the sealed packs are (does everyone get the same sequence of 6 packs?) but it is still fun to put together a deck. As a method of assistance, the game also tells you how good your deck is (although I am not sure how accurate the game is, since you may have some good ideas that the game is missing).
You start with six unopened packs in sealed deck...
And you get 14 cards in each sealed pack from which you can create a deck.
Having said that, there are still some things I don’t like. You have to buy individual “slots” for each sealed deck game you want to play. That is, if you open six packs, that is one slot. If you want another, you need to buy an empty slot to “put” the six packs in. In addition, it only lets you save one deck per slot – you might have a few different ideas of decks to build with your 90 cards, but you can only actually build one of them. You can, of course, take it apart and build another, but it would be nice to be able to save each one. The sealed deck play also has a campaign mode, but you can’t play against other players in a multiplayer mode (which makes me think the sealed decks aren’t truly random).
All in all, as a Magic the Gathering fan, I really liked this game. The improvements are great from last year, and it is still lots of fun to sit down and play against either the computer or another person. The game is free to try, but it costs $9.99 to unlock the full version. You are given two sealed deck slots, but have to purchase additional ones for $1.99 each. While I could still see some improvement in the game play and the sealed deck mode (how about a real “tournament” style mode to play with other sealed decks!), this game still manages to be fun even if it isn’t everything I would like. Four and a half out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating. Please comment on these reviews. All opinions expressed in this review are precisely that – opinions. You may agree or disagree. If you own the app, tell me what your opinion is. If the review prompted you to buy (or not buy) the app, let me know why. If you want more information about the app, go ahead and ask.