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Magic: The Gathering – Tactics (MTGT)

Magic: The Gathering – Tactics (MTGT)

Release Date:  2011
Publisher:  Sony Online Entertainment
Developer:  SOE Denver
Genre:  RPG

Sony Online Entertainment (SoE) has teamed up with Winzard of the Coast (WotC) to bring us a new spin on the Magic: The Gathering (MTG) franchise, which created a cult following among collectable card battle gamers. If you love video games of strategy genre and have thrown tons of time sinking into games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre or Dungeon and Dragon Tactics just like me, you surely couldn’t express how excited you were about this game, when SoE and WotC announced that there was a game in development which encompassed two of my favorite things. Magic: The Gathering Tactics (MTGT), by adding a new dimension to the original collectable card games, features duel fights on a physical 3D battlefield where criteria such as terrain is needed considering.

Right from the start, I got to create my planeswalker which will appear on the battlefield and align myself with the color of mana that I will represent. I was under the impression that I would have been given a variety of option to customize the appearance of my avatar, but all I have were Male_01, Male_02 and Female_01, a bit disappointing. As a new player, I was also greeted by a set of tutorials, where I can learn some new in-game glossaries which are only available in the tactical world of Magic. For example, upon starting the tutorial, you will be given a free starter spell book which is, in other words, known as deck in its paper counterpart. A spell book contains 4o creatures and spells; but it has no lands, which yields different mana. Mana generation is instead based on the percentage of colored cards in your spell books as well as the turn count. Let’s say you get 20 white cards and 20 blue cards, then you have a 50% chance that either you get one white mana or blue mana in the first turn. On the second turn, it will generate two mana with the same chances, and so on. The objective of each match is to drop the opposing planeswalker’s health to zero. Your planeswalker can either summon creatures, which can be deployed to any tiles adjacent to the caster; cast enchantment to buff up your creatures, or even cast devastating elemental spell to inflict direct damage. As for a turn-based strategy on the grid system, new stats for all creatures are introduced: movement, attack range, initiative. Initiative is how often your figure is able to act. Initiative Bar appears on the left side of the screen. If you’ve played Final Fantasy , you’ll be right at home with this concept.

MTGT is Free-to-Play model; however, game-play is so incredibly limited that you can hardly get anything at all to play for free. Unless you start investing money into this mess of game there’s no other realistic way to progress. For example, to play in-game event, like a draft, which is similar to the entry of Magic the Gathering Online tournaments, will cost you twenty “Gold” (in-game currency, 10 cent per piece), 2 dollars’ worth., to enter. Gold can also buy you cards off the auction house from other players. Besides, Booster packs are available from the Sony universal online store at the cost of 3.99 dollar per pack and if you want to enter the draft you need to buy 3 boost packs. Well, I have to say I’m a F2P advocate, so I turn to the single player campaign, which spans 6 missions. However, I don’t think the game developer is a good story-teller and theses missions are very short, somewhat inconsistent between each other, plus the poor AI setting, which makes them literally no sense at all. Once I was done with these missions, I was offered to purchase Chapter 2 of the campaign at $5 from SoE universal online store…Sadly, the freeplay parts really ain’t worth it, and spending more money to play the rest of something is not my style.

Overall, the game uses Magic characters and glossaries, borrows the concept of Talent Trees from world of MMOs, and combine with 3D figure turn-based genre. The system looks awesome, but it’s not what a true MTG gamer really wants. And unfortunately, it is also laden with micro-transaction system like other F2P MMOs. So it is a mistake to assume that it is meant to compete or replace the original card games, it’s just another heavily commercialized MMO.

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