This is kind of late, but I’ve been playing a lot of Magic 2013 lately so I figured I could jot a few thoughts down. I haven’t played the actual Magic: The Gathering card game in almost a decade, but Magic 2013 has definitely reminded me how addictive it can be. There are a few problems with how the game mechanically functions, but overall it’s a great taste of Magic that’s pretty accessible to new players and old veterans alike.
Rather than dumping you in and expecting you to build a deck from scratch, Magic 2013 provides the player with a series of pre-made decks, all designed to do a specific thing. If you want big creatures in the late game, the green deck seems pretty good. If you want a large army of smaller creatures, there are both red and white decks that can do it for you. There are even decks designed to make the opponent discard most of his or her own deck, or to heal you beyond any chance of losing.
These pre-made decks make it easy for new players (or people like me, who haven’t played in years) to get into the game without dealing with the frustration of deciding things like “how many lands should I put in my deck?” or “should I have more creatures than spells or vice-versa?” Smartly, the game unlocks a new card for the deck you’re using each time you win with it, so you’ll be able to customize the deck more and more as you play. Magic veterans may be turned off by the inability to have complete control of your deck, but I feel like this game serves more as an introduction to the game and deck building than an true-to-life simulation. It’s certainly made me want to pick up and play the real game.
Magic 2013 features a campaign with plenty of modes and challenges. There are standard matches against A.I. (which can also be played in the custom games mode), as well as encounters, which are basically matches that challenge you to beat a specific situation. There’s also a 4-player free for all mode with some twists involving passive effects, and even a 2v2 sort of deal. The multiplayer is where the game should shine, since most of these modes are available for online competition, but most of the people online were too good for me to handle. Sometimes it seems like they just…do things and I lose.
And that brings me to the mechanical problems with this game. It loves to do things without telling you why or how those things are happening. Oftentimes, an opponent’s card will be flashed in front of you for a fraction of a second before it triggers the intended effect. You can choose to zoom in and read it but that doesn’t stop your opponent from continuing to act. A lot of times it can be difficult to keep up, which results in you not learning what went wrong for you. It’s worst in online play because other players are bound to have cards you haven’t seen or unlocked yet.
My other problem is with how the game controls. You navigate between the various cards in your hand and on the board with the control stick, rather than the d-pad. Instead, the d-pad spins the camera to look at things from your opponent’s perspective (which there’s really no reason to ever do). It’s baffling to me that this flat, largely 2d game is not controlled by the d-pad. Even weirder is that you can’t look at any card any time you want. The game only allows you to select and zoom in on specific cards at any given time. This can be exceedingly frustrating when you don’t know what a card does and it’s sitting right in front of you.
Apparently a Magic 2014 is already in the works, so here’s hoping the mechanical issues are solved in it. Even despite the frustrating controls, playing Magic 2013 has been a lot of fun and I’d definitely recommend it to those curious about trading card games. If you’ve been playing Magic for years, you probably won’t prefer this to the real thing, but everyone has to start somewhere. Now, who wants to pick up some Magic starter decks with me? I’ve got the urge.