August 20, 2012
DotP2013 continues the series' tradition of replicating the authenticity of the TCG over a fluid and automated system. Rather than picking up a stack of physical cards and going through the hassle of setting things up yourself, DotP2013 does it all for you. This allows both newcomers and veterans of MTG to focus on the strategy part of the game instead of making sure everything is set up right. It also takes one of the most intimidating parts of Magic, deck building, and makes a wide variety of playstyles available right from the start.
The game initially prompts you to choose your level of experience with MTG and hence adjusts the difficulty of the game based on your choice. A handy tutorial is provided to guide players who are completely new to MTG and educate them on the rules & ways of the game. The tutorial is however entirely optional and people who want to get right into the action can do so without any delay.
The Campaign mode in DotP2013 serves as the starting point for the game's single-player content. It consists of six different stages that progress forward in a linear manner. Each stage starts off with a series of Encounters, which are basically duels that are meant to make you practice against a certain strategy. Once you complete those Encounters successfully you can then go on to duel that area's Planeswalker. Planeswalkers are much more difficult than the regular Encounters and play with more complex strategies up their sleeves.
While duels in the game are extremely entertaining for the most part, they can at times go completely haywire. Luck plays an important role in the game and sometimes the opponent ends up with a totally broken hand. Other times you keep drawing horrible cards that just don't allow you to control the game the way you want to. This could prove to be frustrating at times but it's not bad enough to become a truly game breaking issue.
As you make your way through the campaign you will unlock brand new decks to play with. Each deck starts out with 60 cards to choose from but you can unlock up to 30 additional cards as you frequently use that specific deck. This system progressively opens up the game's depth and allows players to slowly build up their strategies, starting from simpler ones to others that are much more complex. DotP2013 has ten decks in total to be unlocked and each can be edited to fit your own play style. There are however restrictions on what you can go about editing. You can't for instance mix cards from other decks to create your own, nor can you mess with the amount of mana cards available in each deck. Those restrictions have clearly been put in to make the game more accessible to new players, but it would have been a major plus if the game enabled you to do away with those cards if you choose to.
It's clear right from the start that the campaign is just the introduction part of the game rather than one lengthy single-player mode. That is why DotP2013 includes three additional single-player modes that offer more challenges and content for you to experience. Revenge mode unlocks right after you finish the main Campaign and serves as a test for players looking for much harder opponents. Planechase offers a unique take on MTG by utilizing Plane cards to shift the effects currently present on the field, and finally Challenge mode consists of ten situations that require a specific solution in order for them to be resolved. All in all the diversity in those four single-player modes is abundant and serves as an excellent improvement over previous iterations of the DotP series.
The Online Multiplayer component of DotP2013 is probably where you will be spending the bulk of your time in. There are three modes to choose from: Free for all, Planechaster, and Two-headed Giant. Match-making is quick and efficient which makes jumping from duel to duel an effortless process. This iteration of DotP also tacks your various stats and includes leaderboards to compare your different accomplishments with your friends' and the rest of the world.
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 is a great entry in the series that serves as both a fantastic starting point to new players as well as highly addictive experience for fans of the series. DotP2013 has its slew of both single-player and multiplayer content providing a variety of different modes to play through. The game does suffer from deck editing restrictions as well as luck playing a bigger role than necessary, but that doesn't stop it from being a great experience that you will spend countless hours enjoying.
Magic: The Gathering Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 was reviewed on the Xbox Live Arcade. You can read more about GamingUnion.net's scoring policy here.