Quick Hits: Magic Origins Duels

(Editor’s Note: A�Please report any A�one you see playing only basic mountains in their deck. A�If you see something, say something. A�Together, we can defeat this red menace.)

I have not been a fan of Magic Origins so far. A�Initially, I wanted the set to be good. A�I got back to a point where I enjoyed the game again and I hoped that Origins might keep the momentum going. A�Then, the spoilers started. A�Nothing caught my interest as particularly interesting and my interest waned again.

Mono red became stronger in standard with the set. A� The ridiculous decks proliferated both in the events I watched and also the games I played against people online. A�I just started autoconceding every time I saw a mountain played by the opponent. A�I went from indifferent to actively hating the game and my red opponents.

Red Magic players are evil. Commies are evil. It isn't a coincidence.
Red Magic players are evil. Commies are evil. It isn’t a coincidence.

Thankfully, two things happened that puled me back from the brink of pulling the plug on Magic altogether. A�Chris and I expanded the play group with decidedly mixed results. A�The latest (and by all accounts last) version of the Duels series finally released at the end of last month. A�This has actually led to an unquestionable increase in my Magic habit without any of the previous negative side effects.

I might have already mentioned that I was so excited for the new game and promised return of features taken from the previous version that I downloaded and installed it on the day that it released. A�My favorite part of these games has always been the story. A�Wizards recently announced that Origins represented a new era in storytelling for them. A�If this game is any indication, then they have succeeded. A�The story has always been secondary in Magic, but as I played through, I saw the story come into sharp focus through the writing and card art. A�Five separate characters brought together by similar destinies to create a cohesive tale that will only become bigger with the coming sets.

No snarky comment this time. 4/5 of my favorites. Instead of Nissa, I'd prefer Garruk.
No snarky comment this time. 4/5 of my favorites. Instead of Nissa, I’d prefer Garruk.

I also said in that same article that the inclusion of daily quests did not entice me to log in to the game. A�That has actually turned out to be false. A�I log in daily, build a deck to match the quest, and play a few games. A�The games are actually quick enough that I don’t feel locked into them as I sometimes do when playing a actual game of Magic.

They also borrowed from the Hearthstone model and allow you to buy “packs” (only 6 cards in each pack) with gold earned from quests and victories. A�Opening these packs has exposed me to cards that I thought were interesting before and might make for cool combos, but never actually got to play them. A�An example is the new Jace and Sphinx’s Tutelage or the new Liliana in a sacrifice deck. A�That led me to try to come up with some new and different deck ideas to try.

I only have one complaint about the game, but it is a big one. A�Past versions of the series, but not last years, have included puzzles based on board states similar to the ones that Gathering MagicA�(click the link for an example) does weekly. A�I actually just learned about the Gathering Magic ones a couple of weeks ago and spent theA�whole weekend trying to figure out the Elemental one. A�I did, by the way, and the one for last week, too. A�I will take a look at this week’s in the next day or two.

Took me a while only because I didn't read Stratus Walk very well.  Hey, I'm a math guy, not a reading guy.
Took me a while only because I didn’t read Stratus Walk very well. Hey, I’m a math guy, not a reading guy.

So, it’s a bit of a bummer that they got rid of that feature. A�I would replay the game several times over in an attempt to complete the puzzle. A�At least in the last version, they also had achievements to chase, too. A�All of that kept me plenty busy once I finished the story. A�The potentially good news is that Wizards has said that they will keep the game updated via patches when each new set releases. A�The possibility exists that they could patch the puzzles back in, too. A�Here’s to hoping.

My thoughts:

  • Decent story. A�Well worth playing the game once just for the story.
  • Almost Magic gameplay. A�You get the cards, but it is for a casual/new experience, so some of the more intricate rules are diminished or eliminated altogether.
  • Free to play with a gold/daily quest system very much like Hearthstone. A�I haven’t spent a dime in the game and already have a sizable and eclectic collection.
  • Replayability, if you aren’t interested in the “competitive” games is severely limited.
  • No puzzles again. A�Holding out hope that they patch them in at some point.
  • Can’t import your collection from previous versions.

Overall, it is a fun game, completely free, and as close to actual Magic as such a casual game allows. A�Download it, play through the story, and have fun for a few days. There are far worse ways to spend your time.

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