Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers Review

Joshua Vanderwall | 28 Jun 2013 12:30
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Magic 2014 Screenshot 05

What really sets Duels 2014 apart, however, is the Sealed Play option. If you're a veteran of Magic, you'll recognize the format as a favorite for pre-release events. It gives you six booster packs, each containing random cards from the set, which you'll use to create a 40-card deck. This is the first time in Duels history that you can actually create a deck from scratch, and is hands down the best thing to happen to the series since its inception. As you play through the Sealed Campaign, you'll unlock three additional boosters to help strengthen your deck, netting you nine total booster packs, which can make for some really powerful decks. The Sealed Campaign is weird, however, as your opponents will be playing constructed decks, which can make them somewhat challenging to defeat, given that you're operating with a random pool, but persistence will pay off with additional boosters, so keep at it. If you don't like your Sealed Pool, you get a second slot so you can try again, with the option of buying additional slots via microtransaction.

Veteran Magic players will almost certainly be constructing their own decks, but Duels is also a starting point for newcomers, so there is an auto-build option available for players not comfortable building themselves. The auto-build function is actually quite competent at putting together a powerful deck, which was something of a surprise. You can even pick a few cards that you really want to play with, and just let the computer build the rest of the deck for you. Advanced players will want to customize their decks, but if you're new, or just in a hurry, don't be afraid to let the computer do the work for you.

Online play has been a staple of Duels for some time now, and this iteration seems to be pushing it even harder. With the lack of replayability in the campaign mode, Duels 2014 is almost forcing players into multiplayer, but the addition of Sealed Play more than makes up for the missing single-player replay value. If you're looking for more of a challenge in online play, then Sealed Play is likely where you'll want to be. Given the attraction that Sealed Play will have for advanced players you're likely going to have a real challenge on your hand when playing your own custom-built deck online, as compared to playing with the pre-constructed decks that everybody has access to.

With a handful of proper multi-colored decks to play with in the campaign, including a 3-color Sliver deck, which they graciously give you halfway through the campaign, Duels 2014 is a definite step forward from the mono-colored focus of the base Duels 2013 decks. The campaign doesn't have the same replay value as earlier versions, but the Sealed Play option will provide more hours of entertainment than mindlessly pummeling a computer opponent with a pre-constructed deck anyways, as long as you don't mind going online.

Bottom Line: Duels 2014 has everything you've ever wanted from a Duels game. The Sealed Play option takes this version to a whole new level, and will make it exceedingly difficult for Stainless to one-up itself again.

Recommendation: Thanks to Sealed Play, this is the best Duels to date. Whether you're looking to learn Magic, or have played every other Duels to completion, this is a must-have title.

Game: Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
Developer: Stainless Games
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360, iOS, Android
Available from: Amazon(US)Amazon(UK)


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