Review: Magic the Gathering 2014


The time has come yet again for another instalment of the ever popular Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswakers. Based off of the physical version of the card game, Duels is one of the best ways to enjoy and discover this immensely dynamic card game.

Magic 2014 is the latest of four titles that have been released in the series, all of which follow the same traditional rules as the physical version of the card game. The very basic outline of the game is that you take the role of a powerful Mage who is able to travel across the planes of existence. In your ‘travels’ you will faces off against other Planeswalkers in a number of card battles to determine who is the strongest player. Players will need to combine skill and luck in attempts to bring their opponents starting health of 20 down to 0. This can be accomplished by casting creature and spell cards that you will gain from your deck. Casting spells and creatures requires land cards as a basic cost, these represent the type of creature of spell that you want to play.  

In this edition of Magic 2014, we have several options for single player including campaign, sealed play, challenges and revenge modes.


In the 3 previous Magic titles, preceding the 2014 edition, the story of the campaign hasn't followed much structure. Instead, you were guided through a series of battles that were more about unlocking decks than developing the story. In Magic 2014, the developers, Stainless Games, tried to change this by introducing a headline character, Chandra Nalaar. She is on a quest for revenge to hunt down Ramaaz, a mighty planeswalker that has previously deceived Chandra. It is up to you to travel to 5 different planes in attempts to find clues that will highlight Ramaaz’s location.

In each one of the planes you will face 3 battles that represent the type of location you find yourself in; for example, when you are in Innistrad (a swamp infested battleground) you will face planeswalkers that use the swamp lands to power their creatures and spells. After playing and winning your 3 battles you will face off against the boss of the Plane. 

The boss fights are noticeably more difficult that the battles, and will put your skills to the test. Once defeating a boss you will unlock a clue that will allow you to progress to the next plane. Before you progress to the next location you will partake in a battle against one of the original Planeswalkers. Once defeating your opponent you will unlock the deck of that Planeswalker.


The campaign battles of Innistrad 

I found the campaign in Magic 2014 a vast improvement from the previous editions, I contribute this to the addition of an actual story. It offered a supplement to the ongoing battles that made the progression slightly less tedious and repetitive than previous installments. I, however, still feel like there can be so much more done to vastly improve the campaign, such as introducing more cinematics or dialog between Planeswalkers. I believe by doing so they would add greater depth to the characters and therefor the story, as players will feel like they are playing a stylized opponent instead of an AI.

I thoroughly enjoyable the campaign and I found the end goal to be challenging. The scaling of difficulty from one location to the next made the goal of gaining more clues even more valuable. Overall the campaign was a nice leap from its predecessors but I still feel that it can become an even better experience with a more dynamic story line.

Sealed Play

This new mode has been one of the most talked additions to the series. The sealed play mode allows you to unlock "booster" that contains various cards. Originally you will start with 6 booster packs that you can use to create your very first online deck. You can use this deck to fight against several AI opponents in attempts to unlock 3 more booster packs.

Even though these cards within the booster packs are selected at random, they seem to draw from a very small pool of cards available. This means that the creation process doesn't have that true customization feel that you would like, as restrictions on the variety of cards you can choose from limits your deck creation possibilities.  


Unlocking booster packs via Sealed Play

When it came to sealed play I was rather disappointed, I thought the obvious system would be that you would receive an initial few booster packs and that I would either purchase or unlock more. Where that was true to a degree, I really hoped for an unbound system where I would be able to unlock a huge variety of cards and use micro transactions to buy more. I found the sealed play very restrictive in terms of the card pool I could select from. Unfortunately the mode turned out to be rather disappointing, after all the excitement that I built up for it. 


Back again is one of my favorite, yet frustrating game modes in Magic. Challenges mode puts you into various mid game situations where you are on the brink of being defeated. In most of the challenges you have only one move to try get out the situation. This mode really tests your patience and knowledge. You will find yourself pulling out your hair in frustration as the 20th attempt at trying to solve the problem. Once you finally manage to figure out the correct way to manipulate the cards to your advantage, you get an overwhelming sense of gratification.

Challenges is one of the most enjoyable modes to those that like to test their thinking skills, but be careful because you might be testing the durability of your keyboard or controller after several failed attempts.


Based off of the campaign, the revenge game mode lets you face up against all the bosses that you defeated on the way to taking on Ramaaz. This mode seemed a bit pointless as you already had the option to play them again during the campaign. That being said, the Revenge mode ups the difficulty once again, so those bosses you faced earlier will now be even stronger. If you’re up for the challenge, with little to no reward either than your own personal satisfaction, then I say go for it. There isn't much to lose or gain, unless you’re an achievement hunter.


The multiplayer for Magic 2014 has seen some minor tweaks to the gameplay and modes available. There is no longer a Planechase mode, which was one of the less popular modes from the 2013 version of Magic. There is, however, three modes available for custom or ranked play. These modes are Free-For-All, Two-Headed Giant and Sealed Play.


1v1 Match up in the Free-For-All mode


In free-for-all you play against 1-3 opponents that are all out to win the game for themselves. It will be up to you to make sure that you are the last one standing in attempts to claim the victory. This game mode is huge fun whether it is a heads up match (1v1) or against multiple opponents (1v1v1 or 1v1v1v1). This will test your skills unlike any AI game, as you can never predict exactly what an opponent is going to do. Free for all can be loads of fun when playing in a party against friends as you can build silent allies in attempts to knock out the opposition. The dynamics of this mode is highly entertaining and is definitely one of my personal favorites.


Two-Headed Giant Multiplayer Match

Two-Headed Giant

Two-Headed giant is a match up 2v2 where it all comes down to team work. You are paired with a team mate where you both share the same heath. It is up to you and your mate to work together to try get the best out of your cards in the attempt of defeating your opposition. In a much more personal contest, the two-headed giant mode offers a great way to implement communication into a card game that traditionally is all about self maintenance.

Sealed Play

The sealed play mode is a 1v1 match, where you will be able to use your cards from the single player mode to take on others online. Where this mode is interesting, is when you see what combination of cards that the opposition has put together. Sometimes you will find yourself facing off against very interesting combinations, but mostly I found myself playing against players that had built the same decks as myself. I believe that there is a huge amount of potential in sealed play, but the current mode just doesn't have it quite perfected yet.


Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalker has stayed true to its core roots with this latest addition to the series. This is due to the fact that it the best way to play Magic, without having to worry about the setup and steep learning curve of the physical card game. Magic 2014 has introduced some great ideas to the franchise, such as the more intriguing campaign and the sealed play game mode. Where I believe both of these new additions are great, they still both require work. The gem, however, of Magic is still in its multiplayer which can keep players entertained for hours. 

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