The third instalment of Duels of the Planeswalkers is here. Should you be interested, or is it just more of the same? We chase across several planes, fight a dragon and have lunch with Chandra while finding out.

Why the new name?

Magic 2013 is so named because it ties into the soon to be released 2013 Core Set paper Magic set. Using cards from the set, as well as showcasing deck ideas for them, Magic 2013 is by far the best gateway drug introduction or refresher for Magic: the Gathering ever. This game takes you through all the rules, with the tutorial even explaining how the stack works.

Ten decks to master

There are ten decks, each with 30 cards to unlock. Winning with a deck will net you one card, which automatically gets added to your deck. Don’t forget to remove the cards you don’t like or need, otherwise you will have a rather bloated library. There is a reason why most Magic players tend to play with 60 card decks: it means you statistically have a better chance of drawing the card you want. While you still can’t change the mana base, the decks feel a lot more flexible and powerful than their predecessors. The number of rare and mythic rare cards has increased dramatically, making the decks more consistent at winning, rather than waiting for that one elusive rare to pop up before you can tip the battle in your favour.

Fighting Planeswalkers and Legends and… little hawks?

The battlefield is no longer just the field of play for Planeswalkers alone. The cycle of five new legendary creatures coming in M13 all have a deck for you to challenge and unlock. Each one of these extraordinary individuals will test your skill with their cunning or brute force. The new legendary creatures are:

Talrand, Sky Summoner - M13 Spoiler

They are ready for your command and really pack a punch, if you can master them. Each of these legendary creatures also has an intro pack based on their strengths, so look out for that soon.

To change the pace of the game, a new type of duel, the encounter, has been created. In this mode, where your opponents’ decks can break certain rules, you are bombarded in the same pattern again and again. Learn the pattern and beat the deck, or become overwhelmed. One encounter uses a simple strategy of summoning Suntail Hawk, a lowly 1/1 flier every turn. Sounds easy to beat right? What about a deck that spawns a Primordial Hydra every turn from turn 3 onwards?

The other five decks are based on Planeswalkers and the strengths they embody. Jace runs a deck that kills by depleting your library. Chandra burns everything in sight. Garruk believes that the biggest creatures are the path to victory. Liliana uses heavy removal and insidious life loss mechanics, a staple for those who call on swamps. Ajani shows how powerful gaining life can be. After beating them all, Nicol Bolas is your final opponent. Can you face the mightiest dragon in the Multiverse, with his custom deck?

If you want a change of pace, especially for your multiplayer games, try a game of Planechase. Using the Planar cards from Planechase, get ready for a four player free for all. Will you secretly side with a friend or do you just pick on the weakest prey?

While Magic 2013 still does not include Planeswalkers, nor does it allow for deck construction that paper Magic players would appreciate, it does a great job of introducing concepts and archetypes to new players.

There are still a few niggles, like the AI slowing down when the board becomes highly populous with creatures, and certain abilities (I’m looking at you, Exalted mechanics!) take far too long to resolve, especially when there are five separate instances of Exalted the all resolve one by one, making playing against or with Nefarox’s deck a rather slow affair. There is also still no ‘undo’ button for when a player messes up a spell, such as Cultivate, resulting in half of the spell having no benefit to the player. While I understand paper Magic has no undo button, it does make for a bit of a steep and somewhat frustrating learning curve.

Overall: 8.5/10.

There is no better way to teach someone Magic or to get a quick game in, especially if you don’t live in a house full of Magic players. Ten decks, planechase and multiplayer will keep you busy for a very long time and the game is already hinting at extra cards through the Magic celebration later this year. DotP has come very far since the first game.

There are 300 cards to unlock, what are you waiting for?

[Reviewed on Xbox 360. Also available for PS3, PC, and iPad]

Last Updated: June 28, 2012

Magic 2013

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