Trying To Choose

Hi all

I've never had any interest in the "Magic" or any of the collectible card games if I'm honest. I've really been quite closed minded and completely dismissed them without bothering to look. Recently though I had my eyes opened to the "possibility" that they might be worth a look after all. Interestingly enough this revelation came not from a real life card game, but from an internal card game featured in a recently released action rpg.

As "Magic" seems to be the most popular I thought I'd start here and with the computer variant. (Duels of the Planes Walkers.) But I'm stuck as to which to choose and I hoped I might pick your brains. :)

I've read in more than one place that "2015" is not very good. For technical reasons I won't bore you with "2014" won't run properly on my laptop. This leaves me choosing between "2013" and "2012". Both of which have "gold" versions on Steam and both of which are the same price.  Any advice?

I watched an earlier "Spellslingers" video where Felicia Day mentioned that while she'd not often played the actual card game, she had played quite a lot of the computer version. Anyone know which version she plays?

Finally... I've seen mention of "foil" cards and I wondered if they are just prettier versions of normal cards and thus more collectible. Or if they are stronger cards in game play terms. If it's the former, what's the point of them in the computer version.

Many thanks in advance for any advice you ladies and gents can offer.

All the best


  • Foil cards are just shiny and metallic. They don't do anything extra in game except glare under the light. :)

    As a long time Magic player (now retired to a home for penniless collectible card gamers) I'd suggest Hearthstone as a pretty good alternative, particularly if you're playing the game on a computer or tablet, as opposed to shuffling physical cards on a table. I've tried a few of the Magic games online, and they're sort of fun for a while, but to me they always lack the main draw (puns are the forgotten fourth unforgivable curse) of IRL Magic, which is building your own deck. There is very limited customization in the online versions, allowing you to tweak a prebuilt deck, but not tear it all apart and start from scratch.

    Hearthstone, on the other hand, has a similar depth of selection, and also did a nice job of circumventing the common mana drought or flood that frequently tanks your game in Magic. The best part, though is that you unlock more and more cards just by playing through the basic tutorial or online matches, and you can then completely build whatever combination you please, within a thirty card deck limit.

    I think it has more replay value, because of those features, and is probably cheaper to try out. Each of the Magic versions offered online is interesting, but I lost interest after going through and beating all the decks once or twice. I haven't seen the most recent ones, though, so they may have added more feature of which I know nothing. :)
  • Thank you for that interesting and useful reply Farlander :)

    I had a feeling that this was the case with the foil cards. So with the actual live game where the cards are nice things to keep (and presumably some are rare and valuable) I get it. I don't see the point then of replicating the foil in the video game though.

    On your advice I've just installed "Hearthstone" (Happily the laptop seems to like it) and played through the first four tutorial levels. Early days of course but my gut reaction is that this was a pretty solid recommendation. :)

    I mentioned my curiosity being peeked by a card game from an action RPG. Well that game was "Witcher 3" and the card game within it is called "Gwent". I turned my nose up at it initially as I didn't think I was interested (and in the process I missed some cards which I could have collected at the start of the game) but subsequently I reluctantly tried it and it really grew on me. I've played merchants, blacksmiths, nobles and lords and now will happily stop mid journey if I'm passing through a place where I see a chance to play cards. I'll break mid quest... once I even stopped mid horse race! :)  (Still won the race by the way.)

    It's difficult though to isolate what quality it has which has caused me to reappraise the genre as a whole. But your first victory against any given opponent wins you a card and you can also find them on sale throughout the game world and in this way you build four (or is it five) different decks as you progress within the game, each of which is customisable to allow you to field the deck you want, giving you a real sense of progression as you build a more powerful collection.

    From what I can see having now played demos for "Magic 2014" on my Kindle and "2012" on my laptop. I suspect that the true lure of the game lies in playing it live with real cards you've collected and against real people. (Sadly something I doubt I'll ever do.) The video game version seems to present you with complete packs and as you mentioned there seems to be little in the way of customization. I played two or three AI matches and I have to admit it did perhaps feel a little soulless. 

    As I'm barely scratching the surface it could be that I'm completely missing the point of course and part of me almost wants to try one of them out anyway to see what I might be missing. Who knows, perhaps the online component might be a complete game changer.

    With "Hearthstone" though, I must say that even at this early stage I feel like I am building a deck and that the game has more character. (Albeit that some of its "character" is a little grating after a while.) 

    I'm keeping my mind open.  The two systems of course are not mutually exclusive so there's no reason not to have both eventually. Particularly if the gold versions of  "2012" or "2013" suddenly become dirt cheap in a Steam sale. :) 

    Meantime though, thanks again for the advice. Certainly now I'll eventually be able to make a more informed decision.

  • If you're looking for a true Magic:The Gathering game on PC, then you want Magic Online.  It's the closest thing to having the physical cards.  You build your own decks and play against other people that have also built their own decks.  That being said, however, the cost is also about the same as the actual cards. Since in Magic Online you have to buy card packs in order to grow your collection and have cards to build your decks with.  Now I haven't played Magic Online in a few years, but just from looking at their site, it seems to have made a lot of improvements since I last played.

    The Duels of the Plainswalker games seem more like they were designed to both spark an interest in the game with new players, and to give long time players a way to just kill some time.  Also if you're choosing between 2012 and 2013, I'd suggest 2013.  Although, as any game that has a yearly remake, you won't find many people to play against in multiplayer as most have moved to the newer version.
  • Agreed with Farlander. MtG is best played live with other people. I've gotten or played two versions on my Xbox and they're ok, they partially helped teach my girlfriend before we went out and got physical cards (all of mine were previously stolen, and so losing that much made me quit for a while) to further play and experiment with. That being said, they're very limited and don't do the game as a whole very good justice, but if they ever have a free trial period or something I'd definitely say give it a whirl to see how it feels to you. 
  • If you want to experience IRL Magic without first amassing a collection of cards then I recommend playing Limited formats, in particular Booster Draft or Sealed Deck.

    In Booster Draft you and, ideally, 7 other players each have 3 packs of unopened cards. Each player opens one pack, picks one card from that pack (drafts) and passes the remaining cards to another player. This process repeats until all the cards from all the packs are gone. You make a deck out of the cards you have drafted then play against a player from among the pod of 8 players.

    In Sealed Deck you build a deck out of the cards you have from a certain number of unopened booster packs, usually 6. The deck you build will be your deck for the tournament.

    This is a very brief rundown of the two most popular Limited formats. You can find more details about these formats at the Wizards of the Coast website here: Booster Draft & Sealed Deck

    I like playing Limited as it takes out the money bags factor and tests my skill at evaluating cards against a time crunch. I won't be playing an opponent who spent loads of cash on multiple expensive and powerful cards. 

    Most games stores should have Booster Draft events fairly regularly. Prerelease tournaments, AKA tournaments that give you a preview of a new set before mass market release, are a great place to play Sealed Deck at a fairly casual setting.

    If you do pick up Magic IRL I hope you enjoy it. If not, well, I know it's not everybody's cup of tea.
    ​"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.​" ~ Marcel Proust

    "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." ~ Neale Donald Walsch
  • When it comes to learning Magic, the main thing you should realize is that you won't master it right away. It generally takes new players 5-10 games to really get a firm grasp on the rules and then you can really focus on strategy and combos. A good way to start is with a simple, straight forward deck, like mono green or mono red. Get used to casting spells and attacking, using the stack to your advantage and when you need to block. Everything else will fall into place as you learn and grow as a player. Pre-built decks are also a good way to go in the beginning. You won't be winning any tournaments, but it ensures that you'll have a functioning deck to learn with. Once you build on your understanding of strategy, then you can try your hand at building your own deck.
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