Today we have our first review here on the site since our new incarnation. And that review is for Magic: The Gathering 2010 from a newbs perspective.
The lights are darkened and we let ourselves be guided to our candlelit table. We stare at each other longingly. Anticipations rise, our hearts beating and finally breaking the silence I utter the seductive phrase “It’s time for a night of magic”.
Here at the RPG Hub we always had a stigma where we played pen & paper games while card based games were foreign if not totally alien to us. It seemed wrong to play card games and dare I say childish. That was us being ignorant back in the day. But after all these years we still ignored them. Not out of some ignorance, simply our of not being diverse. Finally though I decided I would venture into that unknown land. The land of Magic and who better I try it with then a total non gamer, my wife.
So Mrs S and myself looked at how best to jump into a card game. There was so many various games out there. Call of Cthulhu, World of Warcraft, Spycraft and many others. But what to try first…Since my wife was not big into gaming both card or pen & paper we decided to go with Magic since it was fantasy themed and my wife being an avid fantasy novel reader would most likely relate to that.
With out decision made we searched for products. As of that period Magic 2010 was released. You essentially had a starter set for one of five colors (Red, Blue, White, Black, Green). Each color represented a play stay. White focused on protection, boosting creature abilities, etc. Red was more an all out destroy the other player style deck. We were not sure what style suited us as they all sound cool when you read into them so we bought a starter set for each one. I also took the liberty of buying the Magic 2010 core fat pack. This was essentially a box of boosters in a carry case and a D20 to keep track of health. Rather tacky but for the price but why not.
After two weeks of waiting for our order, it came in. And with glorious pleasure we unwrapped that foil and sorted all our cards by color. By the time we were done unwrapping the starter set with it’s accompanying booster as well as the core fat pack, we had a tournament sized 60 card deck for each color. For the purpose of trial I took the black deck and my wife the blue. She likes to control and she loves blue (as of this writing I am still alive for saying this).
The rules come on a fold out colored glossy paper. The rules basics for how to play are well presented with a glossary of terms. It might be daunting on first looks to see all those charts and being new but it’s ok. We selected our initial 60 cards which is a tournament standard sized deck. For those who have not played you take the role of a mages doing battle against one another. You have creatures, spells, enchantments and lands to select and use on the battle field. You might but wondering about lands? Like what the hell? Well land lets you summon creatures, cast spells, etc. It’s basically the potatoes underlying your meet. Your mage taps into these lands to perform these magical feats so it’s good to have quite a few of them in your deck as some creatures, spells and enchantments take a lot of tapped lands to bring them to the table and use against your opponent.
So the Mrs and myself played 4 games. The first being rather sloppy as we kept referring to the giant fold out to figure out the turns and get down to business but eventually we managed to get to a point where we referred less to it. I ended up taking 3 of the 4 games however we alternated decks to see what the colors were like. The balance is truly amazing. One deck is really not more over powered then the next. They each has their own strong points. Blue can control your monsters and smack you down with what you thought would obliterate your opponent. White can heal you while damaging making your opponent who just lost look at your nice 20 health.
Ah yes, health, how could I forget you. The goal of the game obviously is to defeat your opponent. But to do so you need to eliminate 20 of your opponents health. This is standard as well and why that tacky D20 was put in the game. We just used our noggins but if you don’t trust your friends or very forgetful then using the D20 is actually a good idea. So by using your land resources you draw power to perform spells, enchantments, instants or creatures summoning. When a creature comes into play you can’t immediate use it to attack as it’s still adjusting from the teleportation to your plane of existence however the following round it’s free to do whatever it pleases. Creates at times have sub abilities that can be activated of course by your resources. Each creature has it’s own health and defense. They essentially act as your wall to block any upcoming attacks. However sometimes depending on the creature they are unable to block as it’s not their function. All this is described on the creature cards and allows for some interesting plays during the game.
So after the games were done we looked at each other and came away with the feeling that this was an awesome game. It can be as complex as you want it to be by mixing colored decks which is perfectly legal or it can be as simple as you want it by keeping to just a standard starter. To say the least when we walked into it we had no preconceptions that this would be as fun as we thought.
Art: The art is simply fantastic and helps to draw you into your particular color selection. It feeds off the concepts and you can’t help but wanting to buy more cards to see what the others are like.
Pick up and Play: You can go out and buy two simple $10 CDN starter packs which will kick start you and a friend. He play can be quick or as complex. Flexibility to various play styles is always a plus.
Variety: There are many expansions out there for Magic over the years. If you’re a dabbler and want simple boosters, that’s ok but if you want to get unique cards from a certain event then they have those in boosters or fat packs as well. Everything has a story and that helps enriches the setting your dueling in.
Card Clarity: Now it could be our initial newbness in playing, however we found some cards not very clear at all and not totally explained via the quick start for the game. For further information you can go to the magic site and download a larger FAQ / Manual which is quite huge and intimidating for people figuring things out,
Cheap Foldout: This ties to the issue above. We would have liked to have had a printed guide with all your detailed information for various instances and maybe a demo of play from start to finish. The fold out instructions can easily be lost / torn / dog eaten so something of more substance would have been much preferred. If competitors can do it so can Wizards.
I highly recommend trying this out with a friend. It opens up a different but quite rewarding experience. I know in the case of Mrs S and myself, our geeky fires were stoked and our romance blossomed. Happily ever after.