Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 Expansion Review
If you've read my review of Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012, you'll know I'm more or less pleased with its slick digital take on my favorite card game. DOTP 2012 does an excellent job of both teaching new and intermediate players the finer points of Magic the Gathering, while also acting as a fine time-waster for 'pros' like myself. That being said, though the core game did its job quite well, this minor expansion is really only worth picking up if you're one of the few people who hasn't moved onto playing the actual card game yet.
The real disappointment is that the expansion focuses almost entirely on the Archenemy format, which unfortunately does not lend itself well to this game's lacking A.I. and underpowered deck options. In Archenemy, three players work to take out the titular archenemy, a player commanding a doubled life total and a deck of extremely powerful scheme cards. At the beginning of the archenemy's turn the top card of the scheme deck is "put into motion," causing untold devastation to the three allied players. Though Archenemy battles were available in the original game, players now get to play the part of the final boss, and its honestly pretty fun the first time you decimate your three opponents. But once you realize how hard it is to actually lose a game, the excitement quickly fades.
The probem is that DOTP 2012 does not offer specific decks tuned for playing Archenemy, forcing you to use the exact same decks as in the one vs. one campaign. This means that the archenemy seems to have an almost overbearing advantage, facing off against three decks meant for single-player games, all while gleefully ripping ridiculously powerful effects from the top of the scheme deck. The scheme cards were designed to be so powerful to give the archenemy a chance against three overpowered opponents. Using these game-breaking effects in order to blast such ridiculously terrible cards as Suntail Hawk is really just a downright bore.
Another major concern is that this expansion does nothing to tune up the enemy A.I., which continues to make some rather routine mistakes. I watched one computer opponent suicide rush his bears towards my much larger creatures for no reason other than to watch them die, while another opponent wasted a card to return a skeleton from their graveyard to hand, ignoring the fact that the skeleton could've simply reanimated itself.
Perhaps the most notable error came during one game, where I found myself in control of a gigantic elf army and moved to put their commander onto the battlefield, a creature who would turn my entire lot of forest-dwelling pretty boys into a swift-footed clan of unstoppable forest-walking death. Luckily my opponent, the dreaded vampire lord Sorin Markov, cast his Disfigure spell... killing one of my little pieces of elf cannon-fodder, for some reason ignoring the commander entirely. I slammed in with my long-eared brothers and won that game quite handily, wondering what line of code told this feared vampire to kill my most irrelevant creature and ignore the elf lord of impending doom.
Anyhow, though I see this expansion as a bit of a design mistake, I'm sure there are those for whom the few new multiplayer extras are enough of a selling point. Three new decks are available for play, and there's even new cards to be unlocked for the original decks. It's also a fun sneak peek at some upcoming cards and new planeswalkers. Basically, the new single player campaign is useless, but if you've been having a blast playing online then sure, pick this one up. Though I still think you'd be more satisfied heading down to your local game store and enjoying the game the way it was meant to be played.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]