Thursday, 17 July 2014

Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015

Magic 2015 came out on steam yesterday so dug into my annual Magic playing. Things have changed a lot this year and as the game now includes actual deck building.

Now it would be a pretty hard sell to call this a bad thing. Building decks is often more fun than playing them, so adding real deck building is nice. But it did come with a cost. The range of cards that you have available to you seems to be much smaller. While in previous incarnations of Duels of the Planeswalkers I got to play an Eldrazi ramp deck and a Howling Mine deck, in this version I get to play a white/black deck or a blue/black deck.

There's more to it than that. For example, both Sanguine Bond and Vizkopa Guildmage are in the cards, so you can build a deck that focuses around killing your opponent with life gain if you want. Raise the Alarm, Triplicate Spirits, Seraph of the Masses and Siege Wurm are all in so you can build a convoke deck. I'm sure there are cards in other colours that are neat too. Still, I feel like I can't quite get a deck to come together how I want it to. I think this game could borrow a bit from the old Shandalar game, giving some options for how to expand your collection that weren't quite just opening packs and seeing what you get.

There are some really direct and obvious improvements, though. The game now has dual lands in it, which is a huge relief since three colour decks in previous incarnations basically didn't work. It also lets you customize how many lands to put in your deck which means that aggressive decks with low curves are a lot more viable. The campaign mode gives much more freedom, with a few encounters that move through the plot and then an "explore" button that gets you to other optional encounters.

Against most of the strategies I've encountered so far Mentor of the Meek is by far the most powerful card I've got, so I'm sticking with token generation as my main strategy for now and for the most part I'm cleaning up for the most part because the computer is very bad at making attacks, but hyper aggressive decks give me problems because there is a lack of cheap removal.

So far I've pulled off a couple of fun Magic moments.

In one game I put an Ordeal of Heliod on a Child of Night and used a couple of dead weights to clear blockers and get two hits in. I could have made a third attack and basically forced him to block with three things to kill it, gaining my 15 life, but I had a Sanguine Bond in hand so I held back. It took me a long time to draw a second black, so by the turn I finally did I was able to cast the bond and a second Ordeal at the same time for 20 life loss.

In another game I got the dream draw of one drop into Raise the Alarm into Raise the Alarm plus Triplicate Spirits into Phantom General. Fifteen is a lot of attacking power on turn four.

And this is what really appeals to me about these games as opposed to real Magic. I can build a deck that does things that I want to do knowing that it costs me nothing to lose and that I don't have to be a jerk to anyone to win how I want to win. Not attacking for a turn so you can set your combo up is an awful thing to do to another human, but the computer doesn't care.

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