Friday, June 22, 2012

I've tapped that

Collectible card games were a significant weakness when I was in college, focused mostly on Magic with a very interesting foray into Legend of the Five Rings. I had the standard late night retail job that most college slackers had, with a good chunk of the proceedings reserved for paper crack. I was never that good, partly because I never got over my infatuation with big creatures and partly because the I could not put enough money aside to buy better cards, but it was always a good time. As I got older I had better things to spend my money on and my once large collection has dwindled down to a moldy box of cards somewhere in the spidery part of my basement.

I like to think that my black wienie deck filled with hasran oggreses, black knights, breeding pits, fallen angels, a pestilence or two and the lord of the pit is still there, waiting, but in reality the cards have all fused into a continuous block of cardboard and shame.

Magic Online was interesting, but paying real money for imaginary things was a bit much, ever for me. Duels of the Planeswalkers is the perfect balance. It's definitely Magic, just without searching for that one card to finish your deck. There are still options, but they are limited to the extra cards that can be unlocked. It is perfect for killing an hour or less right before bed.

What it doesn't do is generate constant income for Wizards of the Coast, so they have released a new version every year since the first one. I of course have bought them, though each has been played less than the last. 2013 is not a big jump from 2012, but there are more decks and more cards to unlock for each, which in turn should lead to more variety when playing online. At least I hope so, as long as one of the decks doesn't turn out to be significantly better than all of the others. I am currently working through the campaign (playing on the hardest difficulty, of course) and have an issue with one of the new additions.

Part of what Magic enjoyable is that no matter how well you design your deck luck will always have an impact. The game forces you to play with at least 60 cards (which I think is a bit high, I used to play with 45), not all of which are useful right away. You can get screwed for mana, but your opponent can, too, which keeps everything fair. 2013 has added encounters to the campaign, with the main difference being the cards coming at you are not random, they are the same every time, so the decks design always works. The first encounter was nothing but 1/1 flying creatures, one per turn, every turn. This can't happen because only four of any given card can be in a deck. It is also difficult to deal with, because if I happen to not get a creature out on turn two I will be behind for the duration.

The answer to that encounter was a red deck that could do one damage to all creatures.

The second encounter was noting but prodigal sorcerers (1/1, tap to do one damage to anything). By round six they are coming out two per round. The computer did not know how to actually play the cards, attacking instead of tapping for damage, so they all died. The third was even worse, with a series of green creatures, each more powerful than the last, culminating in an overrun. I am not looking forward to what is next.

These encounters are not fun because they do not follow the rules and therefore don't teach the player anything. Sure, I figured out how to beat an army of 1/1 fliers, but that can never actually happen, so what's the point? I don't want game breaking innovation in Magic, that's what Culdcept is for. Someday I play those again.



One of my favorite cards:

That plus an Icy Manipulator (tap 2 to untap target artifact) = fuck you. Sometimes I would make him fly for extra saltiness.

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