Magic 2014 is the newest installment in Wizard of the Coast’s “Duels of the Planeswalkers” series. Each game in the series takes the popular “Magic: The Gathering” trading card game series and faithfully transitions it to a virtual platform. None of the previous games have featured the same amount of freedom of customization as the actual card game or Wizards of the Coast’s digital version, Magic Online. However, Magic 2014 is an excellent free-to-play addition to the Magic lineup that works as an excellent starting point for new players and a free (or cheap) way to play the game for casual fans.
The card game is twenty years old, but as popular as ever. That said, the nature of trading card games is rather expensive, especially for prospective new players. Magic 2014 caters to these new players right off the bat by asking them how much Magic experience they have. This determines the game’s set difficulty and can only be changed via in-app purchase. Fortunately, the extensive tutorial is excellent at teaching players the basics of the game, and the game will give numerous hints and tips to remind players of certain elements. The tutorial can be skipped and hints can be turned off if players already know how to play.
There’s a ton of content available to players without paying a penny. The campaign features quite a bit of gameplay. Sealed play allows for customized decks built from unlocked booster packs, though new players will likely stick to the pre-made decks while learning. There’s also a deck manager that allows players to make small tweaks to the pre-made decks. More decks and cards can be unlocked by defeating opponents in the single player campaign. Even more features can be unlocked by purchasing the full game for $9.99. This enables a challenge mode, allows for custom single-player games, and unlocks the multiplayer feature. There’s a lot of customization and gameplay available for free, and will give players a good idea as to whether or not they want to purchase the full version.
There are a few issues with Magic 2014, but they fall more on the technical side. Even on high-end devices, there can be some occasional frame rate issues and visual delays. These aren’t too common, but they’re worth noting and will likely annoy players. Experienced Magic players will also take note that Magic 2014 runs much slower than the actual card game. This set up is obviously included to allow players time to react under certain conditions, but it’d have been nice to see certain options to tweak the pacing of a match.
If players make the full game purchase for $9.99, they’re given numerous other in-app purchase opportunities, mostly in the form of decks. There are quite a few decks that can be unlocked, but additional ones can be purchased for about 99 cents each. New players may be more than happy with the available decks as they learn the game, but more experienced players will likely appreciate the variety among the purchasable decks.
Even with some technical difficulties, Magic 2014 is another great entry to their yearly series. Hardcore fans of Magic: The Gathering may be a little lukewarm to the game’s simplicity, but the series is the only mobile option for Magic. On the other hand, Magic 2014 is one of the best options for casual and new players to get a feel for the game, outside of playing the actual card game.
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A great starting point for players wanting to learn the basics of Magic the Gathering.