Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers Preview

Tap the awesome.

Chomping at the bit for more Magic: The Gathering on your HD TV? Never played the game but ever wanted to learn? Wizards of the Coast is listening and will bring Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers to your faces this year. And from what I’ve witnessed, this might be my foray into this seemingly intimidating world. Although this game has plenty for longtime players, especially those interested in the Magic lore, according to Liz Lamb-Ferro, the brand manager, it was also “designed for noobs.”

The story focuses on Garruk Wildspeaker, a planeswalker who was previously cursed with black magic by Liliana Vess, and now stalks the planes, laying waste to his opponents. Soon enough, he gets his eyes set on you, and you’re faced with hunting the hunter. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, ne’er fret. One thing senior game designer, Nik Davidson, was excited to express was that the Magic video games allow for better and more accessible storytelling. On top of the unfolding narrative awaiting players in the single-player mode, there are separate sections to learn more about the cards, the planes, and the planeswalkers you’ll meet.

When playing through the story, you’ll visit the five new planes, Theros, Innistrad, Shandalar, Zendikar, and Ravnica, each of which have a different theme and history. Each plane features four levels and a boss to defeat, and winning nets you additional cards for your card collection. Speaking of which, Wizards of the Coast listened and created a new deck builder mode, allowing players to build decks completely from scratch…for realsies. I watched Lamb-Ferro try this out, first manually adding cards to her deck and then using the customizable auto-complete feature to finish the deck off. The builder also shows how balanced and focused your deck is in case you want to tinker with it further.

For new players, Magic 2015 features a more fleshed-out tutorial mode. It walks newbies like me through core concepts and strategies over a handful of levels, ending with a fight against a cyclops. However, Davidson made it clear that as phenomenal as the feature set may be for the game, it really is a launching point into the main card game. To assist with this, each game will feature a code you can redeem for a coupon to buy your first booster pack for the Magic 2015 cards coming out this year. Xbox owners will receive the Soul of Ravnica foil in their set, and others will find the Soul of Zendikar in theirs.

All told, there is much to be excited for regarding Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers. Its tie-ins to the upcoming series and the ability to really delve into its lore are attractive enough, but Wizards of the Coast is taking the video game relationship further. They asked 14 well-known game designers, such as Notch, to illustrate their own individual cards, and there will be a new Waste Not card, whose design was crowd-sourced among the fans with final artwork by Matt Stewart. Stay alert for a ton more Magic coming your way this year.