Developer: Wizards of the Coast
Price: Free
Version: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Fantasy based card games are very much an acquired taste. Some have been drawn to the genre since grade school, while others join later in life, but one thing remains the same: Magic the Gathering is by far the most popular example of the genre. On the heels of last year’s Magic 2013, it would only make sense for Wizards of the Coast to follow up their smash hit, for a new year. Can Magic 2014 manage to meet the same bar of excellence raised by the original installment, or is this essentially a glorified re-skin?

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Fans of last year’s Magic installment have a very similar experience awaiting them when opening Magic 2014. Most of the game’s core interface has remained fairly unchanged, but it really was never broken to begin with, so there was no need for a fix. Newcomers and veterans alike will find more than enough card based shenanigans to keep them busy for countless rounds.

The campaign plays out in a more strategic sense than would be expected, even for a strategy card game. Each adversary in the campaign has a deck that is played exactly the same way, every single time. This encourages players to assess why they lost a specific match, then go in and reform their deck and/or strategy, in order to come out on top next time. While the computer characters are forced to get cards in the same sequence, players get a random draw each and every time. This helps to keep the combat fresh, despite the similar structure.

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Probably the most troubling thing about the Magic 2014 is the staggering amount of content hidden just out of reach, behind a beastly $9.99 pay wall. This is not to say that it isn’t worth shelling out the coinage, because it absolutely is, especially for diehard addicts. The problem remains that for those that are not traditionally drawn to titles in the genre, it is hard to say if the free taste is enough to entice them to take the full plunge.

Everything worth loving in Magic 2013 is back again in Magic 2014. Those that are looking to get a taste of what is to come in this year’s batch of cards should not hesitate to once again dive into the digital world of card games. Just know that without the additional $9.99 investment, it will be hard to keep the interest alive beyond a few early matches.

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