PAX Prime 2013: Fireballs, Fireballs, Fireballs!

For anyone attending PAX this weekend who gets the reference, I can confirm that I did not line up to throw virtual fireballs for the goggles giveaway.

I don’t play every yearly installment of the Duel of the Planeswalkers by Wizards of the Coast, but it definitely started with a strong debut and kept slowly adding improvement tweaks on an annual basis after that. I tried out the iPad version at PAX Prime this year, and it still has a strong base of balanced base decks for every core play style: creatures, direct damage, counters and many more. There is an opportunity to reduce the cognitive overhead for players by streamlining some of the commands (there are a lot of check marks required on most turns), but it’s not a big issue.

Capturing the full depth of the Magic card experience is still a challenge for yearly game installments that never have more than a fraction of tournament status cards in the virtual library. DLC packs are useful, but I keep holding out hope for a Rock Band style store of persistent digital purchases that carry over to every version of the game.

I’ve never heard it described this way, but I think that the original Duel of the Planeswalkers game was a foundational piece for modern e-sports. Magic: The Gathering is a universe with an unsurpassed legacy and archive of gameplay pieces that made it uniquely suited for electronic competition among collectible card games, and the 2014 version looks to be another iterative improvement on that experience.

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