Today at noon, Steam releases DUELS OF THE PLANEWALKERS for the PC for $9.99 (which comes bundled with the first expansion). Those of you with an X-Box 360 might have already played this game – but for those of us PC bound folks, this is our first crack at it. The game is a fairly simple port of the MAGIC: THE GATHERING card game. Everything functions identically to the tabletop version, except here there is very little customization to the decks (as that is pretty much covered by M:TG Online already.)
The goal to this game is to play through and defeat a series of opponents – all of whom will be familiar to longtime players as the Planeswalkers of legend – using only a series of decks that you either begin with or win from battles. Each of these decks is solid and strong, drawing upon the very core of each of the color’s strengths. For each match you win against an opponent, you unlock one of the special, more powerful cards available to your deck. You’ll get to know your decks pretty quickly, and will learn the strategies you will need to win against increasingly more powerful Planeswalkers.
The game starts you off with a choice of two decks: Chandra Nalaar’s red deck or Garruck’s Green deck. I’ve been playing through with the green as it is a similar build to one I’ve been playing in tabletop for a few months; it was one I built for my wife, but ended up liking for myself (and my wife really prefers Angel themed White decks anyhow.) While not as tuned as I like my decks to be (I prefer low cost decks with few high cost creatures and lots of ways to either draw cards or play land quickly), it’s forced me to learn to play to the deck’s strengths and weaknesses, but has served me well after a couple hours of play.
The game is fairly fast paced and takes a few rounds to get a hang of the timing issues, but once you’ve got a handle on it, you can play a good, solid game of magic rather quickly. Especially interesting is the benefit for new players. If you’re one of those folks who has always wanted to play M:TG, but never knew anyone who played, didn’t know where to begin or were always afraid to dip your toes in, this is a cheap, easy way to try it out and get a full step by step tutorial. The game teaches you everything, and even gives you pop-ups that tell you what special abilities do, offering you a chance to turn them off once you’ve got the knack of them.
As far as $10 video games go, this is an incredible buy that will occupy magic fans for hours on end as well as provide a great entryway for those who have always wanted to give it a shot. Once you beat this game, you’ll be able to pick up cards anywhere (your local gamestore, Target, Wal-Mart or online) and play with anyone.
DUELS OF THE PLANESWALKERS DECKS!
Okay, so you’ve downloaded the game and beaten the crap out of it, and now you’re ready to take on the guys at the gamestore. What now? Well, how about checking out these decks specifically “inspired by” the game – inspired by being code for pretty much the exact same decks. Especially useful for new players who have either played the X-Box game or pick up the PC version, these are the decks you’ve already played with digitally, manifested into physical form and packaged with a 15 card booster pack. Once you’re familiar with these decks, you’ll know which cards you love and which you’d rather do without – and now you can sub in what you’d like or build slowly by picking up new preconstructed decks, booster packs or the snazzy DECKBUILDER’S TOOLKIT: a $20, 285 card starter kit that will give you a number of new options to play with.
I’ve had a hell of a time collecting suitable red cards to build a strong red deck, so I opted to try out the Chanbdra Nalaar HANDS OF FLAME deck that is one of the starter options for the PC game. The thing is solid. Much like Garruck’s TEETH OF THE PREDATOR deck, it needs a bit of tuning to make it more to my play style, but gave me a very solid set of cards to make a few substitutions with and VIOLA! Now I’m ready to finally throw down with some good old fashioned, hard hitting, direct damage.
The only downside to these decks is that despite the use of the Planeswalkers names on each deck, it doesn’t actually come with a Planeswalker card like the VS series has. This isn’t too big of an issue since the video game doesn’t use them, but I was kind of hoping to pick up a few more Planeswalkers for my own collection.
You can find the contents of each constructed deck here.
MONSTER MANUAL 3!
Once again, it is time for out annul installment of Monster-y goodness. This time around the book’s centerpiece in Llolth, Demon Queen of Spiders. For those of you long time players, this woman needs no introduction. For you neophytes, Llolth is the demonic, evil goddess of the Drow Elves and a mean, nigh unkillable, lvl 35 Solo. She comes equipped with a bevy of nasty abilities that will make epic parties cry and beg for mercy, delivering upon the promise of a truly spectacular end boss.
Other highlights of the book include the return of Elementals – good old fashion fire, water, earth and air elementals! One of the changes to 4E many of you may remember me lamenting was the disappearance of this iconic centerpiece to D&D, replaced by the flashier, and far less classic, weirder renditions of their former selves like the Thunderblast Cyclone, the Firelasher and the Archons. Well, now they’re back in their old forms, complete with multiple sizes and levels to suit any old campaign world you might be heralding from. Also included are an interesting group of new dragons called Catastrophic Dragons, with three new breeds: Earthquake, Volcanic and Blizzard.
Filling out the book is very few new additions and mostly filling in a lot of old favorites, including old greats like the Tanarukk, the Derro, scads of demons and devils, cloakers, Intellect Devourers, Krakens, Umberhulks and new versions of a lot of other, previously existing beasties. They’ve even brought back classic simple creatures like the Ape and Frogs (with nifty, D&D flavor of course.)
Another fine addition to the essential ownership shelf, this book also streets today.
Until next time friends,