I’ve been somewhat interested in the new free-to-play online Magic: The Gathering game, Magic Duels
, since I heard that a) it had come out and b) it wasn’t blatantly horrible or absurdly monetized. Wizards of the Coast hasn’t had the best track record with online versions of Magic, or really with anything online ever. Still waiting on those digital tools for D&D 5th Edition guys!
I decided to check it out a couple weeks ago when I first heard it was out, but discovered it wasn’t out on PC, just iOS. I am not one of the chosen of the Cult of Jobs, so I moved on and kept an ear out for the PC release. Last week I learned that it had been released on Steam. I ended up downloading it while we were recording the most recent Aggrochat, and opened it up Sunday. Sadly, horrible connection issues meant it kept crashing in the middle of games or losing connection entirely. Since playing offline would mean not earning any currency for my games, I gave it a miss and played Marvel Heroes instead.
Yesterday, I decided to try again. Apparently the connection issues have been even worse the past few days with servers being entirely down for large swaths of time. By the evening however, things were working smoothly and I was able to play through the first bit of story and get access to my initial cards for duels.
Once the connection issues were out of the way, the game worked very well. Menu items are highlighted to direct you to where you should go next to learn your way around, and the first story campaign introduces the basic concepts, spell types, and abilities as you go along. I had seen someone claim (I don’t recall where now) that the concept of the stack wasn’t included in this game, and that there were no instants. I’m happy to report that that is not the case; I have to assume that they just didn’t play far enough in for instants to be introduced. Most of the decks I tried out in AI duels were green / something and the pleasure of turning a 2/1 weenie into a 7/6 trampler is alive and well.
Currency seems fairly reasonable to earn; it takes 150 coins to buy a 6 card booster, and you get 5, 10, or 15 from an AI duel depending on difficulty level or 20 from a player duel. There are also quests given each day; each of yesterday’s involved winning 2 or 4 duels with particular deck colors and was worth 40 coins. Sadly you don’t earn any coins from playing friends, but win-trading is a thing, so I’m not surprised.
In the end, I was impressed. Magic Duels is a solid online version of Magic (assuming the servers don’t fall over again) that you can play for free. If you decide to check it out, feel free to friend me on Steam so we can duel!