With new content, a new battle system and most importantly new decks with new spells, Duel of the Plane Walkers 2013 (DotPW) reflects the popular Magic the Gathering card game and its expanding universe.
In this incarnation of DotPW the player has several modes of play available to two and initially has several pre-constructed packs to choose from for those modes, other packs come available as you unlock them in came or purchase them online via the steam store. Each mode has its own unique attractions and I will review each section individually.
The campaign mode follows a liner design method where the player progresses through a series of "worlds" or "planes" facing opponents unique to each setting as according to the lore of the card game. Each of the individual plane walkers that you face has a deck customized to their own particular style of play and as you beat them you unlock their deck for optional play as well as more cards in the deck you are currently using.
The game play is intricate (depending on the difficulty) and facing different opponents with your ever improving deck allows for interesting game play and having to adapt your game play according to what you are facing on the other side of the field.
The availability of new decks means that you can replay the campaign mode again and again and experience totally different games with the same opponents because of the different spells and effects available within each of the decks.
The campaign is quite long and you face opponents but also situational combats where the decks are set according to a theme rather than to the character using them, these are minor battles leading up to the plane walkers in each plane but are worth playing as it allows you to test the strength of your deck against some trying circumstances within these battles
Very liner in its development and is unchanging according to deck type. There are no real surprises in game play once you have played through the campaign even if your decks differ from play through to play through only the tactics you employ against them change.
You are stuck with pre constructed decks, the game still has not included the ability to create your own decks and this limits the enjoy ability of the game for gamers from the card game genre.
There is little to no story other than some of the information included in the biographies of the various plane walkers available and the immersive element of story is lost here where it is barely referred to as you progress through the campaign.
- Two Headed Giant:
A game format popular with the card game and one that was successfully implemented in the 2012 version of this game. For those who are unfamiliar this is when two players share a life total and play as a team against another pair, each player uses their deck and you work in combination to defeat your opponents.
Great team game, can use online players or AI as opponents so the elements there can create insightful and enjoyable games that can add lasting replay value for each of the decks and the game as a whole.
The format also allows a mixing of team members and opponents so that each match can be unique in and of itself though I would recommend a fair difficulty in this mode to ensure that you get maximum enjoyment from the match as it allows the AI to react in interesting ways to your tactics.
The inability of players to be able to add their own custom decks to these matches could be frustrating to alot of players who are used to being able to develop their own decks as they do in the card game.
- Free for all
Basically the normal format for most of the card game players, there are four players involved and each is after each other in a free format. There is no special circumstances involved here except for kicking ass and taking names.
- Plane Chase
This is a new format to Magic the Gathering and is now available in DotPW 2013, this format includes a new element called Planes where the effect included on the plane card effects all players. Some of these effects include such things as:
• All creatures gain +1, +1 and haste until planes walk
• All creatures, artefacts and lands remain tapped until planes walk
These global effects change the entire experience of the game, planes walking or changing of the effect is achieved by rolling a planes die which has two symbols, a chaos symbol and a planes walk symbol, rolling chaos has an effect on each plane you are on ranging from "You no longer have a maximum hand size" to "Add a 5,5 flying Dragon token under your control".
Planes walking as it is known shifts the players to a new environment and a new effect within the magic universe, the Planar deck is made of a minimum 10 oversized cards though more can be purchased and used during matches.
This brand new format changes the traditional game of magic into something else quite entirely, by changing at random (depending on the roll) you could be in a commanding position one moment and then utterly at the mercy of one of the other players via a simple dice roll.
This random change of plane creates interesting and new challenges for the player who has to be constantly able to adapt to the plane effect that they are experiencing or to simply weather the effect until someone rolls a plane walk but it is by far the more interesting mechanic to be introduced to magic in a long time.
Being the global effect of the plane cards it means that players can play the same deck but face different situations time and time again giving this type of match a replay value that is unmatched by any other format currently available to magic players.
There are few cons I think of for this format, it can be difficult of newer players to understand and can make games incredibly difficult but that is the nature of the game type but most players who enjoy this format do so because of the challenge that it poses players.
The steam community provides a vibrant and active player base for custom games, ranging from normal free for all to plane chase I discovered that there was a wait time but generally in the evening in New Zealand and Australia that the wait times were not too long and had durations that one would typically experience being in cue in other games.
The replay value of this setting is compromised by the inability of the players to create their own decks and there are only a certain amount of strategy involved in the pre-constructed decks that are provided with the games, players are familiar with their card make up and so it can often be less satisfying as a player to win matches where if custom decks were available.
All formats of the game are available in multiplayer and the amount of pre-constructed decks means that the replay value of this game mode remains steadily high for any player of magic.
Overall this game is a successful follow on from DotPW 2012, it has kept the elements that worked in the previous game and worked on those that did not, it has included new elements that have been a hit with the player base and allows for a multi player experience in a stable community like the Steam community.
While it does suffer from the lack of custom decks, the amount of pre-constructs is note worthy and with the amount of unlockable content, players will be able to change their deck within reason. The game and the history behind it are well served by Duel of the Planewalkers 2013 and I would recommend it highly to anyone who has enjoyed this game and to new comers alike, I would give this game the following score:
Lasting Appeal: 8/10
Welcome to the Planes...
Review by Taha Brown
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