It would be dishonest to say that 2013 is a lot like 2012. Much like Madden or the latest NBA 2k game the Magic the Gathering digital franchise has started to be annually released. At some point down the line taking out 2012′s Arch Enemy Mode for Plane Chase would be like Madden adding rewind plays and then taking them out the following year. Luckily the series has a lot to build on still, and this third entry from Stainless Games is the tightest of them all.
Planechase mode is quite an experience. Last year’s Arch Enemy mode had up to 3 players or AI taking on an AI with 40 health and scheme cards they drew each turn that changed the game. This year everyone gets to experience the thrill of cheat cards. Planechase territories all have an ability and a secondary ability marked by a magic circle. The ability is essentially a rule thats in effect until you move to a new territory. This could mean at the end of every turn you discard 7 cards, or it could say all flying monsters are prohibited from attacking. To move or activate the secondary ability you roll a 6 sided dice with only two symbols. One has the magic circle which ties into the main rule of the card, if its the discarding rule you now can pick one card from your graveyard to revive. If you have the rule prohibiting monsters from flying you may get to make any monster on the field into a flying monster, forever. The other icon on the dice is the Magic the Gathering pitchfork like symbol which has you move to the next territory. Every player gets 1 free roll of the dice each turn then can tap land in growing costs to keep rolling.
A downside to the campaign are the encounter duels. While it is nice the campaign is extended its sad that we don’t get more functional opponents to face instead of the most mindless cast of opponents. The first encounter duel is the best example of this, the AI just summons endless Squadron Hawks. There isn’t anything else the AI will do, besides keel over to you actually playing. In a game where the actual campaign matches end up being fun and challenging this is a disapointment. The Revenge campaign is just the opponents with a little more AI brain power behind them and Puzzle mode returns, thankfully, in its own mode now instead of clogging up Campaign.
What is really impressive here is the decks this year even at their fully unlocked states are so balanced with each other. There will always be obvious advantages but duels I’ve had against humans and computers have been for the most part very even. Each deck has the right kind of strengths and weaknesses with no deck taking control. Even the deck that showcases the return of Exalted ability (If one monster attacks they gain +1/+1 for each exalted monster that didn’t attack) isn’t a runaway in power. It is a strong deck that has its holdbacks like a lack of flying and poor ability to defend. Stainless Games gets my applause for having kept the decks from going out of control this year. Much like the real game it can be easily broken so its nice to see everything stay inside the lines.
Right before the game released we were told we’d be seeing annual releases but no deck editing. While I once wanted to be able to customize my decks I can finally understand the reasoning behind it. Magic the Gathering digital is supposed to be the gateway drug to the real trading card game. In this case where the decks are being this evenly created the need for deck editing and creating isn’t necessary. Yes it turns off the purists but Magic 2013 will attract those wanting to play the game without having to invest a lot of money.
- The decks are very even
- Planechase mode is an amazing replacement for Arch Enemy
- Loading times still suck bad
- Encounters in Campaign are filler