It seems like just yesterday I’d won a pack of strange cards with the word magic written on them. Peeling off the foil revealed strange, mystical images and symbols — both enticing and entrancing. I was 11 years-old, it was 1994, and I’d just started a lifelong journey into the world of Magic the Gathering.
Over the years, I’ve made several friendships over the game. I played all throughout high school, in some tournaments, and even, a little bit, into my 20s. But the cost of the cards, combined with a dying interest, which often comes with aging, led me to possess outdated decks that were only viable in limited / classic competitions. But the Duels of the Planeswalkers games allowed me to come back to a new, better Magic the Gathering: an MTG with actual rainbow warrior decks, an MTG with more strategy / deck flexibility, and, dare I say, an MTG for a new century.
Today, I’m playing Magic 2014, the latest iteration of the Planeswalkers games. I loved 2013, having went through all the challenges, campaigns, and the expansion. But there was always that certain something which was missing. And that something was the ability to create your own deck. Don’t get me wrong, tweaking and unlocking the decks took some work to actually be competitive with, but the addition of sealed play really makes this a complete game. It allows for you to build your own deck based on the random cards you get from unwrapping virtual, sealed booster packs. You then can win more boosters for your deck by beating Planeswalkers with it. It’s both challenging and fun.
Also, campaign mode actually feels like a campaign! The video cut-scenes are great, and there is finally a story to it. The tedious encounters have been improved to feel more like matches and less like mowing the lawn. And having to unlock decks by defeating their respective Planeswalkers, makes it far more challenging: you’re no longer just allowed to start the game by picking the most favorable deck match-up. You have to work to get decks before you can even work to unlock their full potential.
Back are all your favorite modes, mine is two headed giant, with improved gameplay. It just feels a bit faster to do things, the load times are lessened, and the deck manager has been updated to allow you to manually adjust your land ratio. Magic the Gathering: 2014 also has more achievements, new avatar unlocks, and more personas to play as.
Now I know some people think releasing a new version of a game every year is akin to highway robbery, but compared to actually buying cards and prebuilt decks, you’re getting way, way more bang for your buck, and there are more than enough new cards and features here to justify its release and your purchasing of it. All in all, Magic 2014 is easily the best game in the Duels of the Planeswalkers series, and I’ll hopefully see you on Xbox Live.