How much difference would a year make? Magic: The Gathering, is still the same game that I’ve played years before and having played the Magic: 2014: Duel of the Planeswalkers, I expected more of the same, which is definitely the case with the 2015 edition.

New is better…sometimes

It was hard to approach 2015 with a fresh pair of eyes considering that it’s still the same game that I played last year. Right from the get go, the game once again holds you hand through the action.

As far as TCGs/CCGs go, a fair amount of time needs to be dedicated into learning the rules; and Magic is still the best of it’s class. 2015 vastly improves upon 2014 for the onboarding process.

magic 2015 - tutorial cockblock
Here we go again…

The tutorial helps to ease new players by presenting scenarios and offering solutions on the best way forward to execute your turn. The downside of this would be that veterans would have to sit through the entire tutorial before starting the campaign proper. Thankfully, you now have a free reign at building your own deck at the end of it all – hurray!

However, somethings gotta give, in 2015 we are missing the Two-Headed Giant, either co-op vs AI or multiplayer, challenge puzzles and sealed campaigns.

Shouldn’t new versions add and not remove features?

So much grind

While Hearthstone is guilty of this, the folks behind Magic 2015 seem to have perfected the art of pay-to-play. There is only a “limited” pool of cards that you can earn for free in game so building a full suit of four cards to pack into your deck might be impossible because there’s only one to be found. It took me about 6 hours of playtime to be able to settle upon a deck that was able to handily beat all the campaign decks easily.

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If you are looking to build novelty decks in Magic 2015, you’d be hard pressed to find the magic formula as the critical card to tip your deck from mediocre to magnificent is not available. That means no cool goblin or sliver decks for you while the AI has a blast with it.

After completing the game, you would hope that there’s more to look forward to in multiplayer but when you’ve plonked in a good number of hours, you start to see this –

magic 2015-in game ad

Seriously? Yes, you did potentially pay $9USD to see an ad of sorts in game. This is an additional screen that started appearing for me after plugging in a good 20 hours. I’m puzzled why is this even appearing in the first place.

Online matchmaking is where it’s really at for the end game, but when the card pool is limited, potential mirror matches are abound.

magic 2015 - messy mulitplayer

Looks like I wasn’t the only one who was cleaning shop with my deck.

I lost to this dude eventually and then I realized that his decked with stuff with plenty of other cards that I had yet to grind out. Nothing teaches you better than the bitter taste of defeat.

UX? What UX?

In battle, the game UI is perfect, the AI helps highlight potential moves and the keyboard shortcuts are perfect to help players execute their interrupts. But outside of battle is where it goes from good to bad.

The UI is still designed for tablet play. The designers had opted for the same look and feel for the PC version of Magic 2015 (the platform I’ve been playing on). Calling the devs lazy would be the nicest thing I can say about this matter. Imagine having to scroll through a huge library of cards just to read though all the descriptions and when a player would have hundred at his disposal it can get rather taxing.

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Hopefully, next year’s edition would do away with a carousel-esque menu, but seeing that even 2014 had it, this habit will be hard to break.

Redeeming graces

Looking past the missing features and limited card pool, Magic 2015 is the best way to get into the game. Everything is presented nicely for new players to mess around without getting carried away buying booster pack after booster pack.

The upside of the deck building component would be the ability to create a deck based on your playstyle and available card pool. This way, it’d be much faster for new players to get a hang of each colour’s strength and weaknesses.

magic 2015 findind cards

With so many cards to grind it, it’s nice to know at least the developers got this aspect right. Pointing out where a particular card can be found is so darn useful. Saves you plenty of time having not to navigate though all the other menus.

Magic: The Gathering is an awesome game let down by it’s digital counterpart. Torn between raking in the dough and attracting new players into the hobby, the digital title is still in a stage of flux but it’s getting there.

If you are looking to get into the hobby at this stage, Magic 2015 is probably the best way to get your feet wet!

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Gerald currently straddles between his love of video games and board gaming. There's nothing that interests him more than trying out the newest and fanciest gadget in town as well. He dreams of publishing a board game sometime in the future!