Magic The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 Review
By otakuman5000 On 29 Jun, 2011 At 04:49 AM | Categorized As PC Games, PlayStation, Portable/Mobile Gaming, Reviews, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 2 Comments

No Gravatar

Hello and welcome once again my faithful readers to another wonderful edition of Cards n’Flux.  My name is Corlando and I will be your guide through the in and outs of Magic the Gathering.  Today, we will be finishing off Specials Month as we look at the most recent edition of Duels of the Planeswalkers and find out if it is actually worth your money.


Duels of the Planeswalkers is an Xbox Live, PSN, and Steam game that allows you to play Magic the Gathering without heading down to your local game store and having to deal with actual human beings.  The original Duels of the Planeswalkers came out on June 17, 2009 and gave you eight decks to play with, each based around a particular planeswalker or legendary creature.  Each deck started off with sixteen cards to unlock so you could customize your deck.  You unlocked these cards by playing through the campaign, or you could do what I did and just face your first opponent sixteen times.  The original game also had three expansion packs, which gave the old decks new cards as well as gave you all new decks.  In form and function it was a pretty basic game, which did help to bring new players to the fold.

Now, you all might be wondering why I just spent a paragraph talking about the old version of Duels of the Planeswalkers instead of the new version.  Well it is because, in all honesty, the two games are nearly the exact same.  There are a few new features such as the ability to play Archenemy matches with friends, you get ten decks instead of eight, you have three campaigns (including an Archenemy Campaign) ready to run through, and the overall look and feel of the game is more refined.  However, the new version of Duels of the Planeswalkers still leaves me feeling like a Disney princess, I want more.


First we shall talk about the new mode in Duels 2012, Archenemy.  Archenemy, as I laid out in a previous article, is where three players try to kill one Archenemy before the Archenemy’s schemes totally destroy the players’ plans.  When I first heard of Archenemy in Duels 2012, I tell you I was excited.  The idea of slinging schemes or fighting an archenemy really got my mind drumming and my smile up as I thought of all the fun I would have with friends.  Yet, when I got the game I tried to do an Archenemy game with four players, one of us would become the Archenemy, and found that you can only face computers.  Wizards, come on now!  You should have realized that no one wants to just face computers with Archenemy.  They want to glory over their friends as they crush them to death or triumph with them as they finally take own their local tough guy.  People do not want to just be limited to ten planeswalkers they may or may not care about.  Wizards missed an awesome opportunity and I am disappointed about this.  However, if you do not mind just playing against computers then the Archenemy is totally serviceable.

A Magic the Gathering game would be nothing without some solid decks?  Well Duels 2012 brings a pretty solid effort with most of the opening decks.  As I said above you start out with ten decks each designed to correlate with a Planeswalker.  You have an equipment/soldier Gideon deck, an Elf Token Nissa Decks, a Vampire Sorin deck, two burning, fiery Red decks for Koth and Chandra, and a few more.  And the unlockable cards are still active and you can even unlock multiple copies of a card at the same time.  This cuts down on having to fight Garruk again just to unlock another card.  Another great improvement on the decks is you are actually able to customize your deck, except for the number of lands.  If you want to make your deck more creature centered, you can.  Or, if you are going to be facing someone with a lot of creatures, you can bring in some creature hate.  However, there are two parts of this that I feel I have to say something about.  First up is that some of the cards you unlock are complete trash.  For example, in the Garruk Deck, a creature centered bashing deck, you can unlock three Hunter’s Feast, a card that gives target players 6 life.  Question, why does a big Green stompy deck want life gain?  Wizards could have put in something like Sacred Wolf, a 3/1 that cannot be the target by spells and abilities your opponent’s control.  Along this line, there is also the fact you simply do not unlock enough good cards.  The thing that makes playing a deck fun is consistency, being sure you will draw a card you need when you need it, and if you only have one copy of a card in your deck, good luck trying to drawing it.

The other issue I have with the decks in Duels 2012 is specifically directed at a single deck.  I have made it no secret that I am a Tezzeret fan.  I quote him at the end of every article.  However, the Tezzeret deck in Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 is absolute crud.  Tezzeret’s deck is a White, Blue, and Black deck that splashes White for all of four possible cards and only two of them are any good.  This is not all.  The unlockable cards for Tezzeret’s deck are horrible as well.  Here is a list of the cards you unlock that are actually good: Wurmcoil Engine, Mirrorworks, Master of Etherium, and that’s all.  I’m serious.  The rest of Tezzeret’s deck is filled with a few good cards like two Steel Overseers, which tap to put a +1/+1 counter on all artifact creatures you control, and a Darksteel Colossus you never get out because you only have one and you never have enough mana.  I hate what Wizards did to this deck and I can only hope that in future expansions they fix this egregious mistake.


With the actual gameplay itself, I have to say I am happy with what Wizards has done.  The game feels much more refined, it looks a lot better, and the controls (though sometimes annoying) are pretty easy to work.  The only problem I have with the gameplay is that in multiplayer games, there is a timer for each of your turn’s phases.  Now, this is a salvation when you are playing some of the online people because people do have the potential to run off and forget they are playing a game, meaning you would have to wait for them to do something.  However, in Archenemy matches, this lifesaving timer can actually lead to your demise.  On a number of occasions, my friends and I have actually been killed because we ran out of time to do something.  For example, my friends and I were playing against Garruk and by this time in the game Garruk had about eight to ten creatures, all with two or three power.  I stood with a few blockers, a few spells, and just a little life.  My friends were also not in the best of shapes, so when Garruk attacked me I was caught a little off guard.  I quickly went to start preparing to block and before I could finish blocking, the timer ended and I was sitting in the grave asking, “What hit me?”  That was probably just bad playing on my part but with a few other instances of the timer hurting players, I feel that maybe the timer could be extended a little longer to help prevent this in the future.

Now I have harangued Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 a lot throughout this article, but I have done it with love.  The game itself is very good for those who just want to play Magic or for those who want to learn the basics.  If you can forgive some of the issues I have raised throughout this article I feel the game is totally worth its ten-dollar price tag.  Perhaps some Wizards employee will read this article, become enlightened to my problems, and improve the next issue of Duels.  Either that or they will put me on the kill list and one day I will be attacked by Wizards of the Coast’s secret, magic-wielding attack squad.  In an effort to throw the death squad off my trail I have enlisted a few friends to tell me what they thought of the game as a whole.  Some names have been changed for the safety of the speaker.


Kazandu Blademaster:

A good improvement from the first, smoother, with more decks to play.  Archenemy is a bit slow and I hate the fact the land taps for you.


The Man in the Tight Pants:

Overall, much more streamlined and less clunky than the first, much more enjoyable to navigate and play. I do wonder why they dumbed some of the decks down…but this is a lot more fun to play and less frustration.


Manic Vandal:

I like the added content especially the extra decks.  However, I felt the system was still broken due to auto land tapping, the A.I. was lacking, and the avatar awards are crap.

It seems that the article is coming to a close so it is now time for everyone’s favorite sections, the Closing Questions section:


1. What is your opinion of Duels 2012?


2. What is your favorite deck to play in 2012?  Are there any changes or card suggestions you would make for your preferred deck?


3. What is the worst deck of 2012?  What would you do to improve it?


4. What do you hope to see from future expansions of 2012 and future installments in the series?


There you have it folks, the end of an article and the end of a theme month.  I hope you enjoyed the article and come on by next week for another fun romp through Magicland.  And always remember, “Etherium is Limited.  Innovation is not.”  This is Corlando signing out.


About - I am a 44 year old Gamer/Geek/Otaku who has been gaming and watching anime since the late 1970's. I am a passionate otaku who loves all types of games, anime and comics. I have been writing about games since I was a young man. I am an entertainment retail expert and an avid game collector. You can always find me playing or watching something geek related.

Displaying 3 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Magic 2012 is great. They have fixed a lot of the buggy stuff from the old game and the new interface is slick. Archenemy with online co-op was a great addition. Already got destroyed multiple times by an Archenemy, but it was still a fun fight. I only wish I could import my decks from the last game. It’s a shame to waste all those unlocked cards.

  2. roninbearNo Gravatar says:

    Great article (as always) I should comment on yours more :). Also, just wanted to say I was looking at some Magic videos on youtube…I can’t believe how many there are! Keep up the great work Corlando! You’re educating the masses about something other than electronic gaming!

  3. Mr. BeetsNo Gravatar says:

    Being able to do two headed dragon onilne is the best part, now my buddies and me don’t have to go over to each others house to do it. NOt sure about the decks yet. My first love was the true black deck and I miss it. but it is fun to play

%d bloggers like this: