Magic Duels: Impressions

I’m sure there’s been points where I’ve mentioned my time spent with Magic: The Gathering, but since I’m going to spend this post giving my impressions of a game based on the original CCG, I figure it’s as good a time as any to detail my history with the IP.

Somewhere around fourth or fifth grade I started getting heavy into comic book collecting. This correlated with the collection of comic cards as well, and I spent most if not all of my allowance and other money I would come across on the hobby. At some point, while browsing through cards at a comic book store, I stumbled upon Magic: The Gathering. I bought a few packs, thinking that they were just some new set of collectible cards that I hadn’t heard of. Turns out, not only were these cards collectible, but also part of an elaborate game that I didn’t quite understand. Eventually I found a starter box, as the booster packs didn’t come with instructions. The small booklet packed with the starter box contained all I would need to know to play the game, but my young mind didn’t bother with learning the real rules. Me and a few friends made up our own rules and played with the cards. Ah, youth.

A few years later when I was in high school, I met some guys that were into the game, but already had massive collections. I had stopped collecting comics and cards at that point, but I did still have the small amount of cards I had picked up years prior. I started to talk with these guys and learned the nuances of the game. I started picking up more cards, and started trading. We used to spend our lunch break eating and playing games against each other. I amassed quite a range of cards from multiple sets and life was good for a time. Eventually I would put the game down again, and it wouldn’t be until a year or two after I graduated high school that I’d pick it back up again.

My two best friends at the time were susceptible to new ideas, and though they had both heard of the game before, neither had played it. I explained to them that they would have to put some money into the initial investment, but they could use my cards (I had enough for several decks) to see if they liked the game. This eventually lead to both of them buying some cards, along with one of them convincing their younger siblings to get involved as well. This lead to two headed giant games, or four player free-for-alls, complete with backstabbing and alliance forming. It was all good fun but eventually everyone grew tired of the game, and we moved on. I gave my cards to one of my friends and haven’t touched a physical copy in years. This makes me sad.

On a whim, I bought one of the Duels of the Planeswalker games on my PS3. I believe it was the 2013 version. Either way, it was intriguing enough but I didn’t like the business model, in which you bought the game but then had to work through it to earn cards, buy extra cards through DLC packs, and though you could play against others it didn’t feel like the experience I wanted. I had always heard about Magic Online in the past, but it was the same significant investment to make decks, and I had already spent that kind of money on real world cards. It also sounded buggy and inconsistent.

Finally, building upon the engine that was present for the Planeswalker games, there is a new iteration of the classic card game called Magic Duels: Origins. Taking what I liked about the older games but making it free to play and on a Hearthstone-like model, where you earn in-game cash you can use to buy packs of cards, and being able to build your own custom decks and play a story but also other players feels like the game I’ve been waiting for. I liked Hearthstone well enough, but Magic was always my card game of choice. This is a suitable replacement from what I can see so far.

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The game field is setup exactly like it was in the Duels of the Planeswalker games, with graveyards, draw piles, your health totals, hands and the field of play. Animations take care of combat between cards and opponents, and you can zoom in on any card that you want to check out, opponent’s included.


The game wants to force funnel you into tutorials and the story mode, where you’ll earn coins and cards, and learn the basics of the game. More experienced players might want to skip the tutorials and jump right into deck building, and this is possible, but I decided to play through these opening stories anyway, because it’s been a while since I last played Magic.


You can click on the store, and it will discourage you from skipping the recommended routes, but once inside you’ll get a starter box, that contains a large variety of cards for you to build decks with. However, some cards and coins are earned through playing the story so it’s recommended to do so first. I jumped around just so I could get screens to show you guys.


There are several pages here, but I opened the starter box and it comes with a bunch of cool stuff. I didn’t even look through it all, but I’m sure building decks from these cards will work just fine. The store isn’t too crazy either:

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There are options for buying packs with the in game currency of “coins” and then you can buy coins with real world money. The model is exceptionally fair because rather than getting extra cards and having to disenchant them for dust ala Hearthstone, there is an intelligent pack system that keeps you from getting more cards than you can legally have in your collection. Tobold details this very well, and breaks down a full collection’s monetary price if you so choose to spend some real money on the game. I did spend real money on card packs in Hearthstone, but I think this time around I’m just going to farm for currency and build up my collection that way. I guess we’ll see if I can be competitive like that, and make the decision later.

So overall I think that this game is going to be better than Hearthstone in many ways. We’ll see how they continue down the path, if they add new cards regularly enough and if they try to add other over-priced fluff bullshit. It’s free to play on Steam right now, so if you’re interested go download it!

My daily run in Nuclear Throne today was super difficult. The RNG provided more open areas and a ton of enemies, whereas the first world is usually pretty void of creatures. As a result, you’ll get another short video!

#magicduels #magicthegathering #collectiblecardgame #freetoplay