Collectible Card Games (Or CCGs if you’re a nerd) are tricky. While there is a game to played and won, a great deal of the satisfaction from participating in such an experience is the satisfaction of getting new cards. The exciting feeling one gets from opening a new pack of cards, to find a long sought after rare card is a rarely matched rush. So when it came time to review Magic 2013 on the iPad, the most compelling part of the experience looked to be missing. Could Magic: The Gathering’s gameplay hold up on it’s own, or would ditching the first C in CCG make the remaining C and G stand for “Crappy Game”.
Magic: The Gathering is a turn based battling game. You draw cards from a library that include spells, creatures, lands, artifacts, and a couple of other types of cards. Land is used to create mana, which is then used to cast spells or summon creatures from your deck. You then use these creatures, spells, and artifacts to damage your opponent. While this isn’t nearly as exciting as you would think, it does make for a compelling game, and in real life creating a quality deck requires the kind of strategy that can will engage the right type of gamers for hours.
So it’s a shame there isn’t very much in the way of deck building or strategy involved in the free version of Magic 2013. Don’t get me wrong. This is a quality game, but should really only be reserved for folks who have never played magic – and want to learn, or for girlfriends who want to understand what the hell their boyfriend is going on about. The game provides you with decks and a couple of opponents to play in the game, and holds your hand the entire time. But, by the time the training wheels come off the proverbial trike, the trial is up and you either need to pay for the game, or upgrade to Magic: The Gathering Online, which is a far more robust and popular game – and features the card collecting and strategy elements that are missing here.
The game is controlled somewhat oddly as well. There’s a lot of tapping and dragging, and that can get annoying. Tap and drag to cast a spell, tap and drag to attack an opponent, tap and drag to play a creature, and so on. I found myself thinking this game would be infinitely more efficient if it was a double-tap sort of experience. Also if you miss something in the tutorial, you’ll find yourself dragging your cards all over the screen hoping to figure out what exactly the computer was asking you to do. This isn’t a deal-breaker by any means, but consistently dragging a card to a target, instead of tapping a card, then the target, can get real annoying, real quick.
However, beyond the caveat that this is a game for beginners, this is a pretty fun experience. Magic 2013 is steeped in atmosphere from cool graphics and sound effects for casting spells and displaying artifacts, to some incredible art on the cards and displayed across the game’s menu’s and loading screens. My issue with this game isn’t that it’s bad, it’s that it’s limited. But then again, I thoroughly enjoyed the refresher – I hadn’t played Magic: The Gathering in years, and after playing this game, I found myself annoying my friend Mary’s boyfriend (who enters like, Tournaments and junk) with Magic: The Gathering related questions.
Ultimately, Magic 2013 re-iginited my interest in a game I hadn’t played, or even thought about, in years. I wouldn’t put it past Wizards of The Coast to make that the entire point of this completely free game.