Magic 2015 Duels of the Planeswalkers Review: Mulligan

In Magic: the Gathering, players are able to mulligan opening hands they don’t like in order to attempt a better start at a game. The drawback is that for every mulligan you take, you start with one less card in hand.

I could care less about any type of mulligan penalty; I’m shipping back Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015 every time.

It’s one thing to have a game that’s both not catered to my tastes and offers a limited card pool. It helps make the game more accessible to newcomers while veterans can still attempt to get their fix on either Magic Online or the physical form of the game. The main issues, though, is that Duels is downright boring. There’s nothing exciting about the game and does a piss-poor job of selling the thrill of Magic to anybody. Couple in the creep of microtransactions and the result is a below-average product that’s an insult to Magic fans everywhere.

At its core, Duels of the Planeswalkers keeps a good idea in-tact when it comes to a campaign: you’re asked to take your deck and traverse across various planes throughout Magic’s recent history. You’ll venture through Innistrad, Theros, Ravnica, and others as you combat various themed decks along the way. The problem here, though, is that you’ll more often than not ram your head into a brick wall over and over before finally moving on. It starts right from the beginning when battling Avacyn, Innistrad’s boss. Her deck features large fliers and a megaton of life gain. My deck features a lot of small creatures in an attempt to swarm opponents before they know what hit them. The only problem, though, is that my deck is missing a lot of power due to the fact that I refuse to pay any money to pick up booster packs or collections. I already purchased the game, why should I spend more money?

Ironically, this is an issue many players, myself included, often face when making the first foray into tournament play, even at a local game store level. Sure, I have all of these random cards lying around I could make into decks, but I’m going to spend more money in order to do well. The difference, though, is the payoff isn’t nearly as meaningful in Duels. What do I get for my money spend, digital achievements and accomplishments? No thanks, I’d rather spend my money into paper Magic and earn store credit/cash.

All of these problems would be detrimental to the overall game if the experience was worthwhile. That couldn’t be further from the truth, though; Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015 features some of the most boring games of Magic I have ever played. In addition to suffering from the lack of physical back and forth between your opponent, the personality has been completely drained from the game. I’m unable to cast instants at my leisure, it’s incredibly easy to make mistakes which result in players getting severely punished, and your decks aren’t nearly as powerful as you think they are.

The irony in all of this is the fact that Wizards of the Coast recently released a “Clash Pack” alongside the Magic 2015 Core Set. It’s designed to give players ready to use decks that, while not overly sophisticated, can still try to hold their own. The amount of value you get from the “Clash Pack” in regards to deck strength and card value is miles ahead of Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015.

I could continue on about the issues I’ve had with Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015, but at the end of the day, it comes back to what I was talking about in the previous paragraph: value. Is it really worth spending money on a digital project that doesn’t fully showcase what’s capable in Magic: the Gathering? Should you spend more money to purchase digital booster packs in hopes that you’ll get the cards you’re chasing? Are you really invested in doing this all over again next year?

The answers are no, no, and no. If you’re itching for a digital card game, Hearthstone is ready and waiting. If you’re interested in Magic: the Gathering, head on over to your local game store and inquire about learning the game.