Thursday, July 5, 2012

The trouble with Magic 2013 (the iPad version)

When something is free, that is a very good price, as they saying goes.

Then again, you also get what you pay for. What to do? So confusing!

Well, I spent some time with the iPad version of the new digital Magic game and it was only OK.

First, it took me awhile to figure out how to activate abilities. I still have issues with doing this and responding to spells/abilities the way I mean to do so. I shouldn't have this much difficulty working that out, after 18 years of playing this game.

Yes, yes, the interface is new but still: I should be able to do what I want to do without that steep of a learning curve.

There is a much bigger problem, however (and this is a pretty big however) because there have been two distinct times when something has gone Very Wrong, including a Planechase game where nobody had a starting hand.

{A longish aside on Planechase: this game is boring. Multiplayer against bots means that obviously poor plays are made and one spends 3/4ths of the time doing nothing. This isn't a problem in a true multiplayer situation because there are people to interact with. Conversations to be had, beers to drink, nibbles, 'oh wait I need to respond to that', 'hey, did you see how that works?' etc, etc. Even online, there is some kind of conversation that can be had. Here, you just sit there and wait.

Doing nothing in a game is pretty much the death of that game and I have no reason to go back to it. The glitched game was a huge indication of how awful it was: every player spent all their time rolling the Planar die, nobody had anything else to play except me and all I had were lands. For 10 turns. If I'd had an opening hand of 7 Mountains, I would have mulliganed.

Worse, Planechase suffers from the same problem that Archenemy did: the introduction of random elements that can just annihilate your strategy and reward a player who does not deserve it. Most of Magic is about reducing the random elements and it feels really unfair when you can't play the person, you have to rail against the gods, too.}

The problem with having glitches in a game like Magic is that once you know the system is broken, you have only two choices: quit, or game the system.

I'm going to quit. Someone else is going to game the system. Neither of these things are good outcomes.

Also: I just realized I had a life philosophy moment.

But the decks themselves are solidly built enough, show off the colors pretty well (Blue, Red and Green) and this really is a good product for people who aren't me: new or newly returning players who want to see what the hype is about. If it transitions more people into playing a game with me at the pub, then overall that's a positive.

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