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Magic 2014: What About the Cards?

Developer Stainless Games and Wizards of the Coast released the newest game in the highly popular Duels of the Planeswalkers franchise last week with Magic 2014 (read our review here). The game series is based on the highly popular Magic: The Gathering collectible card game. Magic 2014 offers the most cost efficient and simplistic way to play the game without the need for purchasing expensive cards, deck sleeves and other items necessary to play and without the need to search your house for counters, paper and pen and other items to keep track of the game's more complex features. Magic 2014 makes numerous enhancements over the first three titles in the series and adds some features fans have been requesting for years including an ability to create and fully customize decks and unlock packs of cards in-game and easier ways to customize the game's pre-constructed decks. Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers is arguably the best way to play Magic: The Gathering and is one that fans should instantly add to their gaming collection today. We recently had the opportunity to check out the game on PC and Xbox Live Arcade and want to introduce you to some of Magic 2014's features and cards.

Most of the new features added to Magic 2014 offer significant improvements for the Duels of the Planeswalkers series, though some of the aesthetic improvements tend to make the game run at slower speeds as with previous downloadable titles in the series. The game allows for physical changes to the cards in the game including combat animations and animated battle sequences that have been seen in other versions of the game. Special foil cards were added in Magic: The Gathering Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 to give the compliment to real life holographic cards seen in the real game that is retained in Magic 2014 as well. Magic 2014 also adds all new card animations for the most powerful cards in the game that takes a more epic look at the game's best rare and mythic cards and art thanks to some carefully placed camera angles. All of this makes for a cool experience in solo matches, but players will likely want to turn off the features for multiplayer sessions to prevent lag and frame rate drops during sessions.

As for the decks, Magic 2014 includes 10 new decks, each representing a different Planeswalker from the Magic: The Gathering universe including Chandra Nalaar, Liliana Vess, Ajani Goldmane and Planeswalkers created specifically for Magic 2014 too. Each deck is represented with one to three different colors and can be classified with a certain type of theme including a Black Zombie deck, White Human deck, and for the first time ever, a Sliver deck. Each deck has its own strengths and weaknesses and 30 unlockable cards to make each better. Each deck is still required to have a minimum of 60 cards, but lands can be taken out or added to suit the player's preferences along with the other cards in the deck, just like a real game of Magic: The Gathering. Deck Keys are back in Magic 2014 to allow players to instantly unlock every card for a deck including holographic foils. The decks are fairly well balanced throughout the game, though there are a couple of decks better suited to go up against others and Eldrazis can cause massive headaches in online sessions with friends or random players.

Fans have been asking for fully customizable decks in the Duels of the Planeswalkers series for years, and it is now available for Magic 2014, sort of. Sealed Play can be accessed in Magic 2014 at any time after loading up the game. Sealed play allows players to unlock seven packs of cards for the game mode to construct a deck with 40-100 cards and face off with decks and Planeswalker characters from the game's main campaign mode. Every other victory in sealed play mode's campaign unlocks an additional pack of cards, but only three packs of cards are unlockable in the game's short campaign, and sealed play decks can't be accessed out of sealed play sessions, even when constructing a deck that meets the 60 card requirement for fully constructed Magic: The Gathering decks. This makes the game mode incredibly fun but short-lived and not exactly what fans have been asking for. Hopefully, future versions of the game will make unlocking additional packs of cards more accessible with unlockable in-game currency or by meeting a certain amount of sealed play victories before each is unlocked.

Magic 2014 supports the Magic: The Gathering industry by offering fans a chance to receive promotional cards from participating hobby shops nationwide as a bonus incentive for downloading the new title. Unlike other releases in the series, fans will receive a special promotional pack of cards rather than a single holographic foil card. The packs are different for PlayStation Network, Xbox LIVE Arcade and Steam, but each includes six cards one of which is a rare holographic. PlayStation Network members likely get the best deal with a pack that includes the holographic Ogre Battledriver, a monster capable of giving other creatures summoned by the player +2/+0 and Haste until the end of the turn when summoned. Xbox LIVE Arcade versions will receive Bonescythe Sliver as a holographic to grant other user-controlled Slivers Double Strike as well as some cool vampire cards. The Steam booster pack also has some cool cards including a holographic foil Scavenging Ooze that seems as though it will never stop growing! Each pack is well worth picking up for free for fans that purchased a copy of Magic 2014, which is a deal in its own priced at $9.99 or 800 Microsoft Points.

Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers is a phenomenal downloadable title and releases at the perfect time for fans to enjoy some great collectible card game action over the Summer. Whether you enjoy battling against AI controlled opponents and the game's new narrative starring Chandra Nalaar, battling online with or against friends or constructing and modifying your own decks to perfection in sealed play, Magic 2014 has something for every Magic: The Gathering fan and offers the first ever look at the upcoming release of Magic 2014: Core Set releasing on July 19, 2013. The game series has received several new refinements that make Magic 2014 the best downloadable release yet. You can learn more about the game by checking out our Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers review or by heading over to the official Magic 2014 - Duels of the Planeswalkers website.

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