Fans of Magic: The Gathering will be pleased to know that Stainless Games and Wizards of the Coast have teamed up once again to bring their latest offering of their continuing series, Magic The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013, available now on Xbox 360, PS3, Steam, and for the first time iOS. Previous games in the series have allowed players to get a feel for Magic in a set format, with themed decks and this is no exception. The new Magic game brings 10 new decks each with 30 cards to be unlocked.

Duels of the Planeswalkers (DotP) 2013 is quite simply Magic: The Gathering in a limited format, allowing players new to the game to get a grasp on the rules and complexities of the game without having to worry or struggle over trying to build a deck first. It also allows those who may have played the paper version of the game, to get a quick fix of Magic goodness.Having pre-sets allows players to simply dive straight into the game, and with 30 unlockable cards for each deck players will be able to customise thier decks to better suit their style of play. As with the previous DotP games, the single player campaign allows players to unlock the decks, and also unlock cards with each win against the computer. Once the main campaign is beaten, the Revenge campaign will unlock, allowing you to face the same opponents, but with optimised and stronger decks. Returning in campaign are Challenges, set games where the object is to win the game in the turn or two given with whatever cards are on the field and in your hand, and which seem much more devious than the last games puzzles. Newly added “encounters” mix up the campaign as well, covering a whole duel where the AI will play the same cards, every time you play them.

New to DotP 2013 is Planechase; a game mode for up to 4 players to go head to head against each other, but with a little bit random effect to spice things up. Planechase introduces Plane cards. These cards mix gameplay up by adding effects to the field, such as buffing creatures, negating damage, or reversing the direction of play, and help to add a chaotic and random element to the game. However, multiplayer in DotP 2013 is where the game really shines. Take on people from all over the world, or challenge your friends, in a range of game modes, free for all with up to 4 players, 2v2 battles, or Planechase with up to 4 players, and really give your brain a workout, as nothing equals the satisfaction of truly demolishing a human player.

DotP 2013 also incorporates much needed improvements  from the previous games. Players are now able to choose which lands are tapped when playing cards, giving better control over the color of mana that can be tapped. However, this inclusion of this feature is a bit ironic, as 9 out of the 10 decks are only single color. Also new is the inclusion of the end phase as an actual timed step, where before it was an invisible action between players turns, now players are given the opportunity to play cards prior to the beginning of their turn. We look forward to future DLC featuring new cards, and hopefully new decks too, although nothing official has been released yet.

In terms of looks, DotP 2013 shares many similarities with the previous 2012 version of the game. The graphics have been sharpened up some, giving the game a smoother and cleaner look. Sound effects and BGM have also been improved, helping the game to feel fresh to those who may have played previous versions of the game. Many of the cards in the game are new, and are from the forthcoming update to the physical card game that releases in July. The artwork on all the cards is truly beautiful, a feather in the cap to the continuing brilliance of the artists and designers at Wizards of the Coast.

Overall, DotP 2013 is another strong game in Wizard of the Coast’s growing IP, and is a joy to play. Going head to head against friends, though the highs and lows of victory and defeat, this is a game that will keep us at B-Sides hooked for a long time to come!