[Review] Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalkers

Magic 2014 was released at the end of June and is the newest installment of Wizards of the Coast’s yearly Magic: The Gathering video game franchise called Duels of the Planeswalkers. This year’s game is available on a variety of platforms including Xbox LIVE Arcade, PlayStation Network, iOS, and Android.

Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers

Developed by Stainless Games, Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalkers includes ten new decks that each have over 30 cards to unlock. You unlock a new card for your deck with each game you win (or you can pay 80 MSP for a “key” that unlocks all the cards in the deck at once). This allows for a good bit of deck customization if you stick with the standard 60-card deck size. Players are finally able to decide how much land to put in each deck this time around as well. This is an especially useful feature when playing multi-color decks since you are able to determine how much of each land you need based on your style of customization and what colors you lean more towards playing.

One of the major innovations in Magic 2014 is sealed deck play. For those unfamiliar with sealed play, you are given six booster packs that you open and then use to construct a deck with a 40 card minimum. You can also unlock a few additional boosters to augment your deck by playing through the special sealed play campaign. Sealed play is a nice addition, but you can only create a total of two sealed decks unless you want to spend 160 Microsoft Points to purchase another “slot.” This means you can only play through the sealed campaign twice without spending money on it. It seems silly to limit the number of times people can play a mode without paying. At least you can take your deck online to play against other people’s sealed play creations.

The Duels of the Planeswalkers franchise has come a long way since the first game was released back in 2009. The decks now are much more powerful and have a lot more card synergy in this year’s game. There’s a human tribal deck, a zombies deck, and a beefy eldrazi deck just to name a few. Decks now seem to have more removal spells and you can of course choose which lands to tap when casting spells which was a change they implemented last year.

Another of last year’s additions, Planechase mode, was removed from Magic 2014. Most people probably won’t miss it. In addition to the sealed play campaign mentioned previously, there’s a pretty robust single player campaign and a revenge campaign. There are also ten challenges to solve though several are ridiculously easy.

Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers

The main draw of Magic: The Gathering is playing against other people and Magic 2014 delivers a good multiplayer experience. One issue some people have had is that there is no longer an option to remove A.I. takeover in two-headed giant games. That means if one of your opponents (or God forbid, your ally) leaves the game, he is replaced by a computer. Most people would rather just have the game end when someone leaves since playing with an A.I. in two-headed giant isn’t the same.

Magic 2014 costs just 800 Microsoft Points to download and is a must buy for any fan of Magic: The Gathering or card games in general. Magic 2014 is truly the best Duels of the Planeswalkers game to date. It feels more like paper Magic: The Gathering than any of the previous games in the series and will only get better as Wizards of the Coast and Stainless Games release new cards and new decks for it.

Final Score: 5 / 5 stars

Protip: The final five unlockable cards in each deck have to be unlocked using special promo codes. You can get them by entering these codes in the “promotional unlocks” section of the “Extras” menu: