May 10, 2017

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With the latest regular update its time to remind myself about Magic Duels, the online version of the tabletop game Magic the Gathering. Does the venerable game translate well? Maybe not.

The tabletop card game Magic has existed for over 20 years and I have played it for a decent amount of that time. Recently I started playing the online computer version Magic Duels, but am less than impressed when comparing it to other computer card games such as Hearthstone or Duelyst. It has all the standard parts of Magic, well-designed and balanced card mechanics, collecting cards, designing decks, duelling real opponents in what can be exciting and close matches. However, instants slow down the game as the computer pauses for possible interrupts (either too fast or too slow depending your plans, or lack thereof) and mana problems are endemic so many games are not competitive. Notably these parts of Magic have been skipped by more recent computer card games to great effect. The game has a slight pay-to-win issue, although mainly for new players trying to collect the increasing backlog of cards. Older players can keep up through regular play and quests to get everything without paying real money. Also there are no draft games (my personal favourite) and opponents have a tendency to quit early if the match goes against them. Overall, Magic Duels is an acceptable translation of the tabletop game, but there are many better, similar online CCG’s available now that have improved the basic formula – try them instead, unless you particularly want Magic (in which case why read this review?).

Magic Duels is out free on the Steam store for PC only. It contains micro-transactions.


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