Stainless released its quasi-sequel to last year’s Duels of the Planeswalkers yesterday, and while I haven’t had enough time to play it quite yet, for all intents and purposes I probably don’t need to in order to review it. It’s the same game with some old content, some new content, and a few new features, including Archenemy mode, online 2HG mode, and limited deck editing capabilities. The AI is supposedly less stupid, and the game supposedly features fewer glitches, as well. In summary, if you were a fan of the first iteration, you’ll probably like 2012’s followup just as much, if not more.
And if you’ve never played Magic, odds are you will never be able to get into the hobby for less money than $10. Hell, I made money off of the first DOTP by selling the limited edition promo card you could get from it for $14 on eBay. And since DOTP 2k12 has a similar offer, you’d be dumb not to buy it for financial reasons alone.
While I’ll hold off on further impressions until I have some time to play the fucking game, I thought this would be the perfect time to trot out some Magic the Gathering strategy for anyone who’s idea of TCG tactics is playing everything in their hands every turn…
Of course, I have approximately zero interest in rehashing what took me hundreds of hours to write, so I’ll instead use this space to plug my ridiculously detailed strategy guides for Duels of the Planeswalkers. While they’re somewhat outdated (since a handful of cards were added after the guides were written), Magic strategy is much more intertwined with game sense than with card-by-card breakdowns, though they have their place.
To that end, I wrote deck overview guides for three of Duels’ basic decks, each focusing on a different type of gameplay.
For blue mages, I composed a Thoughts of Wind deck guide. While Thoughts wasn’t the worst deck in DOTP, it was outshined by many other control entries. It was also exceedingly difficult to play correctly, both because the cards included were sometimes a bit fucking random, but also because mono blue control just isn’t as intuitive as something like the opening green stompy deck. Playing this type of basic permission deck requires a good sense of yomi, as well as the ability to casually laugh off short term life loss for long term card advantage. Have no clue what I’m talking about? Then this guide is for you.
Red mages stuck without the later expansions faced a similar problem: the default Hands of Flame deck was middling at best. It had some of the worst creatures in the game (both in Duels and Magic proper), plus a spattering of poorly thought out inclusions that didn’t autowin matches by any standard. Yet after spending some time analyzing Hands of Flame and perfecting my angle of attack, I went on a 30 game winning streak, riding this train wreck to victory over and over. The secret? Treat the shitty cards like shit and use them to whittle your opponent into submission in a war of attrition. You’ll see what I mean.
Finally, I decided to complete the triumvirate of patriotism and explain the inner machinations of another unpopular mono-colored deck, Wings of Light. Sold as an angel deck (release drool now), it was more of a “here’s a bunch of creatures that can’t win until you get an angel that doesn’t completely blow” deck. Again, this mediocrity presented an interesting challenge, and since I’m not one to turn down challenges, dares, bets, or les femmes de la nuit, I accepted it with open arms. Ultimately, succeeding warranted a much more defensive posture with important mid and late game decision making. Also, fucking angel beatdown.
Overarching strategic consideration
Again, while the specific cards and even the specific decks in these guides are outdated, the mindset, strategies, and discussion points aren’t and never will be until Wizards of the Coast completely break the rules of Magic. I mean, other than that one time. And the time after that. I’ve seen hundreds of players lose, mainly to me, because they chose obvious gains over calculated risks, or made choices that ultimately had nearly zero chance of increasing their odds of winning.
Magic the Gathering is a game of luck, yes, but it’s also a game of planning and execution. Every turn may appear to offer a scant few choices, but the best players are planning out potential moves before they even draw the cards that require them. While they can’t usually influence their odds, they can account for them, prepare for eventualities, and act accordingly. Without a broad strategy that takes all three of these factors into consideration, you simply cannot win. Well, unless you play that cheapass vampire deck.
Seriously, fuck that deck.