Last Wednesday (July 8th), Wizards of the Coast released Magic Duels, a free app for iOS phones and tablets. The launch content is focused on Magic: Origins, the soon-to-be-released Magic: the Gathering block. If you just can’t wait to start playing with the cards from this block, grab the app and play away! Let’s go over the good, the bad, and the ugly of Magic Duels.
The best feature is easily the ability to build your own decks with your own digital collection. Build decks using the Deck Wizard, or build on your own. When you build your deck, the app will automatically score your deck based on speed, strength, control, and synergy. The downside of the wizard, though, is that you can’t access your full collection or edit the deck outside the wizard once it is built.
The story mode allows players to follow the journeys of five of the most famous Planeswalkers in Magic: The Gathering. Join Gideon Jura, Jace Beleren, Liliana Vess, Chandra Nalaar, and Nissa Revane as their Sparks ignite, carrying them from Plane to Plane. See the gallery below for a peek at each of their stories.
You can pick fights with an AI, an opponent, or even join a Two-Headed Giant match. You earn gold for victories. The play in these matches can be a little cluttered because of screen size. I’ve found it works best on iPad and iPhone 6 Plus. To make things simpler, there are some clear delineations. See below.
The app also allows you to see the entire collection of cards, even if you don’t own them. There are filter tools to allow you to browse your cards according to color, spell type, converted cost, and rarity. These filters make it easy to find cards that fit your need, without needing to flip through dozens of pages of cards.
So far, I’m also enjoying the quests. There is a “community quest” each month, which rewards all players for the overall community participation. There are also quests for using the Paragon decks, which encourage you to play certain types of decks built with the deck wizard. This is a pretty nifty bit, because it can teach newer players about different synergies and strategies.
There are still some bugs to be found. After I updated to the newest iOS version on my iPhone, I’ve been unable to connect to the server, which prevents access to the store, earned gold, and quests. This lack of access to features while offline is a stick in the gears.
As far as consumerism, the in-game purchases are okay. It’s easy enough to earn gold to buy boosters. Unfortunately, there is an expensive option to buy coins with real money. Of course, games like this survive on either ads or in-app purchases, and there are no ads, so I must accept it as inevitable. Just monitor your kids’ activity regarding the store.
Is the app worth your time? Absolutely. Are there some things that need work? Of course there are. When in doubt, check it out. I’ve already logged over 30 hours in this entertainment trap, and I’m loving it. Check out the app, or pre-order your Origins cards for release this weekend from Amazon.