Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers

It’s Magic without the CCG elements. That’s kind of like D&D without the RPG elements, which Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro is also doing. That removes some problems but also much of the core game.

By “without the CCG elements,” I mean that there is no deck-building. You can pick one of several pre-made decks. There is some minor deck-building when you unlock new cards for each deck, but you cannot remove existing cards you do not like. On the upside, that removes the standard CCG structure of encouraging you to spend ridiculous sums on getting the perfect deck. On the downside, that removes the entire strategic element of the game, leaving only the tactical side of playing what feels like someone else’s deck. And the decks, while effective against each other, are stocked with trash that you would not use in a normal Magic game.

Playing through the campaign (against a series of computer-controlled decks), it is hard to shake the feeling that winning comes from who gets better decks/draws or from the weakness of the AI, rather than player skill. I have lost games watching enemy creatures fly in while I could do nothing to stop them, and I have won games where the computer never seemed to be able to do much. Then again, it might just be that the basic green deck is a blunt instrument requiring almost no thought: land, creatures, very few instants or special abilities. You only need to win once to advance, so one lucky draw and you’re set (limiting mulligans on the opening hand is somewhat silly when you can costlessly reset the duel).

Playing online might differ. I am always hesitant to test some random online community. It would be playing against others facing similar deck constraints, so again that mix of deck, luck, and minor tactics. For the tactical, there is a series of “win this turn” puzzles, each of which involves a few minutes of reading cards and seeing where the path to victory lies.

I picked this up because I was mostly enjoying Elements, saw the ad (free expansion with pre-order), checked some reviews of the console version, and thought it might be worth $10 to try the market leader. It was a low risk purchase compared to real Magic cards or a night at the cinema. Entertaining in an early binge, but likely lacking in staying power due to the low deck flexibility. I will let you know if that assessment changes.

: Zubon

20 thoughts on “Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers”

  1. A word of warning, supposably it’s process threads are still more fixed for XBox360, and the AI loves to use as much as it can get. My dual-core was easily getting up to 80%, and people were saying that quad-cores were getting up to 60%.

    Anyway, there have been talk of people’s laptops overheating to the point of damage when playing this. So if you play this game (until hopefully they patch it to optimize the threads for a PC), watch your CPU usage and temperatures.

  2. I picked it up yesterday and played the first three levels. Loving the feel of the game so far, and enjoying how much I remember from my M:TG glory days back in high school (2nd ed / legends era).

    I can’t play a normal CCG right now – they’re just too expensive – so this gives me the fix I need without murdering my wallet.

  3. My favorite time playing any CCG was always just after you got into the game and had very few cards available. DotP replicates that “play with what you own” experience pretty well. If you’re really into the deck construction aspect, this is not the game for you.

  4. It’s worth the $10 for some M:tG fun, for sure, but only just imo. Be sure to check out the steam forums for the vast array of fail that also comes with this game, in particular the lack of online co-op… a feature that they advertised. Oops. Kinda strange that M:tG has virtually no electronic presence as a franchise (outside MTGO).

    1. No online co-op? There is an achievement for completing the co-op campaign. I wonder how that works.

        1. Yeah… /technically/ you and your friend sitting next to you can play co-op campaign, and you /can/ also play 2 headed giant hip-to-hip vs. two other hip-to-hip chumps online.


  5. It’s a solid enough bit of MTG playing. I love Limited MTG and deckbuilding, so it’s definitely a somewhat lobotomized game, but all in all, it’s still fun to play and captures the solid *gameplay* of the game. That’s worth the price, methinketh.

  6. Well, that rumor is confirmed. My CPU gets smoking hot when i play this, even for 15 minutes and resets my PC. It’s the only game that does this. I mean srsly now, how can you sell something that does this!!!? They should rlly get into fixing this :-L. (ive got dual-core 2gigs of ram and an uber graphs card…so its not about the normal stress my system has to handle)

    1. Try “Threadmaster GUI” (Google that). It’s a neat program that can limit the CPU usage of individual programs. I limit DotP.exe to about 40%, and everything works great.

  7. I got this game to relive my MTG glory days as well (3rd ed. – IA). For me, I never really had a library of more than ~400 cards so playing this game is like playing with what I used to have in my card holder (weak attempts at burn and weenie decks). Anyway, I definitely think it is worth the $10. I’m about halfway done with the game content after about 10-12 hours of play. The AI isn’t the best, but with the other technical limitations in the game as noted by the OP and other reply threads, this does not really kill the experience all that much. My favorite part so far was the challenge mode. Most are pretty easy, but there are at least 2 that had me scratching my head for a while.

    The Co-Op is pretty bad, especially because you MUST have a controller. You can’t reconfigure another input device or “share” one between players. Also, your decks get enormous after you unlock all the cards for it as the game adds mana to accommodate for the increased size. You would almost never play with a near 100 card deck in a real game would you? It would be nice to tailor that a little as the statistical aspects of the game get completely lost.

    Lastly, I have not had an issue with my PC overheating from the play as other have reported (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz, 2 GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce 8 Series, Win 7 x64). Tonight I was playing the game, music, and ripping a DVD without slowdown.

  8. The temperature of the CPU is a big question, when I am playing the game, the I know from the sensor that my CPU is about 83 degree,it’s seems that I can cook an egg on my computer…

    Anther problem comes when I try to connect my game to my friend in a LAN, I try to create a game , the system told me,error…what can I do ..

    The last defect of this game is it seems impossible to reconstruct my own deck even if all the decks are unlock, which reduces half fun of a cards game.

    1. My CPU doesn’t misbehave when I play the game…. kinda odd.

      Your “last defect” is an advertised feature…. this isn’t a game about deckbuilding, it’s meant as a lightweight prebuild M:TG experience. If you want the full thing, play Magic Online – you can build as many decks as you please.

      1. It’s worth noting, methinketh, that this game is effectively a new Limited format. You only have so many options, and the resulting metagame is more about execution than money decks and elaborate schemes to counter them.

        I find that refreshing. It makes competition more about individual *play* skill instead of the guy with the huge wallet. Isn’t that something that MMO alarmists keep complaining about? That RMT and item shops imbalance the game? Here we have MTG effectively cutting that concern off at the pass (even as it still affects the “real” game). Yes, it kills some of the freedom inherent in the deckbuilding side of the game, but it makes for better PvP in this particular format.

        I think it’s a wise move, even as I miss deckbuilding and drafting.

        1. In practice, I find it to make competition more about luck of the draw. Maybe half the games I have played have been decided by who gets far too few or many lands, or perhaps who never draws a creature s/he can play before the last turn. If you go six turns without drawing that third land, you probably will not get a seventh.

          1. That’s just the nature of the game. Deckbuilding doesn’t ever overcome that reliably, though the money cards like dual and fetchlands can help a little, and you can plot out your curve better than the “preconstructed” decks. Even so, we’re dealing with underlying problems with the “land” mechanic and deck-based (randomized via shuffle) design.

            Perhaps this is a good case study in the limitations of MTG, then.

            I don’t really disagree with you; I’ve seen the same thing myself, but at the same time, play with roughly equivalent decks in MTG will always have that problem. A Charbelcher mirror match is a race to the key combo pieces, for example. A mirror match with many Elf decks is a race to an alpha strike with Coat of Arms, maybe backed by Overrun. Nearly any two creature-based decks will turn into a stalemate until a gamebreaking card shows up.

            There is wiggle room for smart plays with Instants, to be sure, but a LOT of MTG is about drawing the right cards at the right time when the decks are evenly matched, save for the occasional pivotal card.

  9. I fired up this game for the first time, and I completely lose the ability to imput anything. I can select the menu options with the mouse etc, but once it gets into tutorial or game mode, it will not accept any input whatsoever! Can’t use the keyboard or mouse at all. Anyone else hear of something like this?

  10. Just had my first overheat just now. I own a i7 860 + extended ATX case with 3 intake fans + 3 exhaust fans. That is SO fucked up
    It happened while I was alt tabbing.

    Edit: Forgot to mention. 70ºC was the temperature obtained. And it usually don’t get even near that on heavier games

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