The digital version of Magic the Gathering sometimes feels more like a teaching tool than a full version of the actual thing. Yes, you could play against computer or real opponents with decks of cards filled with spells, creatures, and lands, but you couldn’t actually create your own decks. Instead, you had to use sets that the game had constructed.
The newest entry in the series changes this. Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers will let you craft your own decks when it comes out sometime next month for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire. I recently had a chance to take a look at the in-game deck constructor.
It has all of the features you’d expect. Every card in your catalog shows up on the top of the screen. You can then click on which cards you want to add to your deck. You could also use a series of filters if you’re looking for something specific, like certain rarities or creatures that cost a certain amount of energy.
The things the deck-builder can do for you are actually the neatest features. You can click on any card in your deck and use it to search for others that would play well with it. For instance, maybe a creature can give extra attack to other bests. In just a couple of clicks, you can find a list of cards that could take advantage of that ability.
You can also use an autocomplete feature that fills out your deck with cards that have synergy between each other, which is a nice tool for Magic the Gathering newbies. It’ll also automatically add land cards to your deck (you need them to play spells and creatures), but you can also turn that off if you’d rather mess with them yourself.
It’s a great-looking tool, and it adds a feature to the series that fans have wanted for years. It also gives it more parity with its biggest competitor, Blizzard’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, which features a deck-builder from the start. However, unlike in Hearthstone, you earn most of the cards for your library by playing through the campaign. Hearthstone has you earn most of them by buying booster packs either with real or in-game money (you can also craft cards with dust you earn in the Arena, the draft-deck-building mode, or boost your collection with packs you win in such runs).
You can buy packs of cards in Magic 2015, but only for a limited pool of the total catalog. You can’t unlock every card with just money. To do that, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time playing against computer opponents.
Of course, Hearthstone is also a free-to-play game, so it depends more on micr-transactions like booster packs. Magic 2015 will have an initial price of entry when it launches next month.