E3 2012 – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013
Since 2009, the Duels of the Planeswalkers games have brought Magic: the Gathering to gaming systems. The original release was a somewhat limited translation of the card game, with an almost nonexistent deck building feature, but every successive release has worked to bring Duels more in line with the physical tabletop experience. Duels 2013 has at least one new feature that longtime MtG players will appreciate: manual mana tapping. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the release (expected this month!) is that, for the first time, Duels will be available on iPad.
The iPad is a natural fit for Duels, offering a much more natural way to interact with the cards. I’ve played both tabletop Magic and digital Duels for a long time, and even I get occasionally annoyed by the complicated control scheme required to play Magic on a Dual Shock. On iPad, manipulating the cards is as easy as tapping. The iPad version will be a perfect match for the Steam, PSN and XBLA versions, in features and in visuals.
Duels 2013 will be even more integrated with the current MtG scene. Some cards to be included in the upcoming Core card set will make their debut in Duels 2013, giving tabletop players a sneak preview of what will come later this summer when Core 2013 releases to retail stores everywhere. As with previous Duels editions, Duels 2013 will continue the free card offer, giving purchasers of Duels 2013 a coupon to exchange for exclusive cards at their local hobby shop (that link discusses the 2012 offer, but new promo cards are coming for 2013!) Duels 2013 features all new pre-built decks to unlock (of course), more of the fan-favorite puzzle challenges, and the new-to-Duels Planechase multiplayer mode. The UI has also been tinkered with, but it does not seem too drastically changed from previous versions. What’s new is the cards and the decks, not so much the interface.
The “manual mana tapping” feature mentioned above is a very specific ability that only hardcore MtG players will appreciate… but it shows the game’s continuing move towards making Duels as close as possible to the tabletop experience. Being able to manually decide what lands get tapped to pay mana costs is a basic rule of the card game that has been solely missing in Duels. Trust me.
Magic fans will also dig the game’s new big bad: Nicol Bolas, the planeswalking dragon who first appeared waaaaaay back in 1994 as part of the “Legends” expansion set.
Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 is due June 20, so the latest take on card flopping begins this very week. (Release timing may vary depending on platform.)