Magic 2013 is being showcased in the Featured tab of the iPad App Store right now. It’s a free download with three decks available in the single player mode, so I decided to give it a shot.
I played a bit of Magic: the Gathering in late middle school and early high school, but it’s been years since I’ve touched the game. I never participated in tournaments, but I still have a few hundred cards in my room. I remember the feeling of going to a comic shop, skipping my fingers through the rows of booster packs, and wondering which rare cards might be lying in wait beneath the plastic. I remember “tapping” cards (turning them sideways), shuffling increasingly dirty decks, and getting irritated with my Korean friend who would print out his own cards so that he didn’t have to buy them (that was cheap).
Suffice it to say that Magic 2013 on the iPad is a lot more convenient than tracking down real decks of cards. You still get to enjoy all of the beautiful artwork, the epic inscriptions, and the fun of summoning spells and creatures to duel other Planeswalkers…but it all happens on a single 10″ surface.
For those who have never played MTG, gameplay boils down to two wizards competing to reduce each other’s life pool of 20 hit points down to zero. You’ll accomplish this by playing and “tapping” land cards for mana, and then using that mana to cast spells and summon creatures. Each of the five elements has different attributes – green specializes in Hulk Smash! style gameplay, white deals with mitigation, and black with death and sacrifice – so there are many, many different ways to play.
I played two quick rounds of the single player game using the red deck, which specializes in offensive damage dealing and the hurling of fire. It’s been years since I’ve played a game of Magic, but the app is extremely newbie-friendly, and offered me pop-ups to tell me exactly why a creature with Trample could be blocked and still do damage to the enemy player. The gameplay is still addicting as ever, and it’s clear that Wizards of the Coast is taking the iPad seriously as a gaming platform. Magic 2013 is simply one of the most beautiful iPad apps I’ve seen in a while, and even though the screens can get a little information-heavy, there are always ways to display the information you need. My iPad 2’s screen isn’t high-res enough to read cards without zooming in, but a quick double-tap solves that by filling the screen with the card details. I’ve tried many of the trading card games on the iPhone and iPad over the past few years, but I think Magic 2013 blows them all out of the water.
I’m tempted to purchase the full title for $10. Doing so would unlock all ten 60-card decks for my use, add extra single player modes and challenges, and allow me to duel other players one-on-one over the Internet. Considering the fact that a physical deck of cards used to cost more than $10, unlocking all ten for $10 is a great deal. I’m still on the fence about the full purchase because I’ve got plenty of other games to play, but considering the quality of my experience so far, I have no qualms about recommending Magic 2013 to anyone looking for some great turn-based gameplay. We’ve been waiting a while for Magic to gather itself on the iPad – but it looks like that wait was well worth it.