[Review] Magic: The Gathering 2013 for iPad

For almost 20 years now fans of the card came Magic: The Gathering have been waiting for a computer game that truly lives up to the experience of having the physical cards in your hand. Since Wizards released the first set of cards in 1993, Magic has hooked people into it’s web with it’s fun and strategic gameplay and brutally assaulted their bank balance and wallet to become what is now known as arguably the most popular, long lasting and well developed cards games ever.

I loved Magic but hated collecting the cards and dealing with the sweaty, smelly adolescents that congregate around gaming stores but with the rise of touchscreen computers we finally have a perfect platform for a digital version of the product that wont leave you wondering what happened to your money. Magic fans everywhere can rejoice as Magic 2013 has finally arrived for iPad and it’s an excellent product but is it everything we’ve been waiting for?

[media-credit id=7 align="aligncenter" width="300"][/media-credit]What to expect

Magic 2013 was released earlier this week as a free app on the iTunes store for everyone to try before the buy so if you’re new to Magic, an experienced pro or simply looking for a nostalgic experience you can have a crack at no out of pocket expense but where the game really picks up is in the full version which boasts single player gameplay, online multiplayer and Magic-themed puzzle games where you are placed into the middle of an active game with the challenge of solving a challenge such as surviving an attack.

There are 13 different decks available to play with, each with their own theme and customisable up to a certain point. The full game will allow you to unlock all of the decks and customisation cards through the single player campaign though there is also an option to unlock each deck instantly for 99c (AUD).

One of the major draw cards for Magic 2013 is that is is currently the only place to play with the cards being released for the 15th edition of the core set coming out in July but the real strength of Magic 2013 will be in-app updates and future releases. While Magic pros will see the small card pool and limited customisation as a major drawback for the game, Wizards has an amazing opportunity here to bring out new decks when future sets are released or, even better, competition packs that allow people to duke it out online with decks that have been dominant in recent tournaments.

[media-credit id=7 align="aligncenter" width="300"][/media-credit]Gameplay

The first thing fans of the game will notice is how well presented the product is with silky smooth gameplay, animations and controls making the game fun and accessible. The single player campaign is a good place to get a feel for the gameplay, learn the nuances of the interface and test out the different decks with the AI doing a great job of simulating an opponent while Online Matchmaking is fast and games run very smoothly once they start. While the game lacks a way to communicate with your opponent, anyone who has played Call of Duty on Xbox Live will recognise this as both a blessing and a curse.

New players to the game will find that Magic 2013 recreates the gameplay experience of playing with cards perfectly although experienced Magic players will need to be careful with the order in which they play cards during their turn as (and forgive the lingo) phases will automatically end if the computer believes you have no relevant moves to make which can cause issues if you want to play an instant such as a draw spell in your second main phase.

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Final Thoughts

8.5 / 10 stars           

Magic 2013 is a product I highly reccomend. While it isn’t the be all and end all Magic experience we were hoping for, in time it certainly could be. The upgrade price of $10.49 may seem a little steep to app store regulars but any Magic player will tell you that the cost is far lower than what they have forked out for years. Check it out!

 Magic 2013 is available for iPad through the iTunes store here. For more iOS reviews from Blueonblue check out Batman Arkham City Lockdown here. Or if Zombies are more your thing, maybe you’ll like ZDay Survival Simulator.