App Review: I Love Playing Magic: The Gathering, Just Not With Other People

App Review: I Love Playing Magic: The Gathering, Just Not With Other People

I love Magic: The Gathering. I’ve loved the card game since it first showed up back in the early ’90s. The depth of strategy present in these bits of coloured card stock is astounding, and the work Wizards of the Coast has put into building an empire based on them inspiring. I love Magic: The Gathering. I hate the people who play Magic: The Gathering.

Perhaps it’s better to say that I hated who I was when I would play Magic: The Gathering with other people. Back when the game was first introduced and we were just tearing open packs and playing with no regard to colour combinations or any sort of strategy beyond the moment we were in, I was pretty bearable. Once it became plain that the best way to play was to invest heavily, trade aggressively and build intelligently, I became a total arsehole. I’d dump my disposable income into cards. I’d trash talk. I’d try to slip packs into my other groceries so cashiers wouldn’t notice them. I was a real jerk.

I grew out of it, eventually, but I never lost my passion for the game, so the various electronic incarnations have been received warmly on my part, especially since they’ve made the jump to iOS and now Android tablets. It’s almost like I am lugging about a locked cardboard box (who locks cardboard!?) again.

The latest instalment of Wizards of the Coast’s now annual Magic: The Gathering jam gives me more of fine single-player Magic I’ve come to expect. Magic 2014 has got an extensive campaign that sees the player travelling the various planes, battling AI chumps and taking their decks. It’s got a wonderful series of challenges, puzzling battle scenarios that really deserve their own standalone title.

It’s got everything I loved from the previous instalment, plus one major addition — Sealed Play mode.

Sealed Play mode gives the player a number of booster packs to unwrap, and then tasks them with building a deck out of this random collection of cards. Oh, the memories. This really brings me back, while at the same time holding my hands with some AI deck-building assistance, highly necessary if you’ve not played with physical cards in a while. Now I know what a Sliver is, and I want to hug all of them.

Sealed Play mode sees players working through a series of battles, with new booster packs rewarded as they progress. Unlike some of the pushovers in the proper campaign mode, these battles can be particularly brutal, depending on your building skill.

Available as a limited free download, with the entire game (barring card unlocks and future DLC) unlocking for $10.49, Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalkers gives fans of the series a lot of fun things to do without ever having to interact with another Magic player. There are multiplayer game modes too, but I can’t see those ending well.

Magic 2014 — Duels of the Planeswalkers

Genre: trading card game
Developer: Wizards of the Coast
Platform: iPad, Android tablets
Price: free, unlock full game for $9.99
Get Magic 2014 on the iTunes App Store.
Get Magic 2014 on Google Play.



    It is great on the Ipad but hold off until they update it. The review managed to make mention that at the moment the game is a laggy mess. I am playing on the latest Ipad and the constant lag and the many loading screens make me want to punch a wall. I am not the only one experiencing this either.

    • Don’t buy it for Sony Tablet S – it crashes upon entering the first campaign level after the tutorial.

      Also, no online multiplayer for android, only ad hoc bluetooth.

    • Yeah I should have done that 🙁 Gaming on the go seemed too good to pass up though.

      • I still haven’t found out if the play is cross platform and if I can have the same progression on multiple devices.
        I don’t mind paying for the game twice, but I don’t want to have to finish the campaign multiple times. I guess it doesn’t really matter for sealed play but you still have to beat it to unlock the extra boosters.

  • The 360 version runs fine too. Lots of people online to play too, which is the best part.

  • Yeah, I’d buy it if I hadn’t already bought 2012, and 2013, and if they hadn’t released 2014 before we were even halfway through 2013. So what, we get 2015 at the start of 2014? Then we get 2016 at the middle or end of 2014?

    Nit-picking over the years aside, 2012 is very decent, but 2013 didn’t offer much in the way of improvements for me and felt like a wasted purchase. Something akin to buying the latest madden for a roster update. I’m just not that guy.

    I’d really wanna see more of this ‘sealed play’ mode. Deck-building, in some cases, can be even more fun than the actual play. My younger brother and his partner are Magic fiends. They have giant crates filled with deck-packs. New expansions are bought, cards looked up online, combos and synergies built around a certain theme… A couple weeks ago we binged on the actual game part by taking out some of these dozens of decks and playing them off against each other at random. Winning deck gets discarded into the ‘win’ pile, losing deck gets another chance to prove itself, else thrown into the ‘loser’ pile. Then, all done? He can get back to the fun business of tweaking the decks to make them work better. Leaner, meaner, faster.

    It’s kinda like a real man might tinker with a car in his garage for years and never actually drive the thing.

    • Yeah the pre-built decks never really interested me. All I’ve played so far has been sealed mode. That’s the best part of Magic imo. Work with what you have and the joy of opening a booster.

  • @transientmind : If you’re after “sealed play” against an AI opponent, you might want to have a look at a freeware program called MTG Forge.

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