Duels of the Planeswalkers limited card pool is a huge problem

Magic 2015 - Duels of the Planeswalkers Screenshot - Duels of the Planeswalkers limited card pool is a huge problem

Pro Tour Journey into Nyx, a major tournament on the professional Magic: the Gathering scene, featured the “Block” format. This meant that players were able to construct decks using only cards that existed in the Theros block.

The next Pro Tour event is Pro Tour Magic 2015, which will use both the Booster Draft and Standard Constructed formats. It will not use the “Block” format because, to be blunt, Block Core Set is the opposite of fun.

Someone should tell that to Duels of the Planeswalkers, because most of these cards are found in various Core Sets and only Core Sets. When considering my line of thinking that I’m not this game’s target demographic, I can understand the reasoning for this. Core Sets have generally been a less advanced and more accessible release throughout Magic’s history. But there’s a problem when limiting your card pool to only Core Sets: it makes for an incredibly boring game.

It’s one thing when you’re simply drafting these decks. You’re picking and choosing your cards from a limited pool. Deck construction in Duels of the Planeswalkers doesn’t involve a limited pool, though. It involves a set amount of cards and the ability to construct them to your choosing. Oh, and don’t forget the microtransactions, because I totally want to spend money on the chances of getting cards I don’t even want in physical Magic.

The result is an excruciating process that is absolutely mindless. I often find myself beating my head against a brick wall, stuck with completely lackluster cards that I want to tear up and throw into the incinerator. It’s a shame, because I absolutely dig the format of the game’s campaign. I love playing against decks themed from various planes in the Magic multiverse, cultivating in a boss battle against a famous character from that plane.

However, I don’t want to fight them with a crappy deck. I want to fight them with an exciting deck. I want to overpower them with strategy, not evasion.

Maybe next year, Duels of the Planeswalkers, maybe next year.

Wait, no. It shouldn’t be next year, because Core Set 2015 is one of the most exciting Core Sets ever released. Chord of Calling got a reprint, the Soul cycle is pretty cool, Scuttling Doom Engine is the coolest card name ever with an absolutely insane effect that triggers nicely with Shrapnel Blast, the possibility of running a goblin deck makes the 12-year-old inside me giggle with joy. Sure, some of the exciting cards made it, but to be perfectly honest, the game is missing some insane interaction with various cards featured elsewhere in the Standard format.

There’s absolutely no excuse for the poor card pool in this game. To be honest, it’s almost insulting.

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Jake Valentine
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