Upcoming Games

E3: Hands-On with ‘Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013’ for iPad

If you’ve noticed my various ramblings regarding Magic the Gathering either on the actual site or during the podcast, you’d know I’m a huge fan of the game. I’ve looked forward to the previous installments in the Duels of the Planeswalker series, so, it’s not much of a surprise that the 2013 variety was among the things I was most looking forward to checking out at E3.

Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 plays very similar to previous installments, with a whole heap of tweaks and refinements that we’ve already gone over in previous articles. For players familiar with the game, 2013 does things like allowing for specific mana tapping. At the same time, it’s gotten even more newbie friendly in providing you suggestions of what you should play on your turn if you’re totally new to the game.

We got to see the iPad version for the first time yesterday, and while I had my doubts about it originally, Wizards absolutely blew my mind. I’m not sure it would’ve surprised anyone if the iPad game was a watered down port of the console title, with fewer game modes. Maybe it’s my lineage of still remembering the days of the dreaded Gameboy ports of arcade titles, but things getting lost in translation to portables is just something I’m used to.



Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 for the iPad is the full experience. I’d argue it’s the best way I’ve played a Duels of the Planeswalkers game so far. The touch controls work exactly as you’d expect them to. Playing cards from your hand is as simple as dragging them on to the play field, targeting is done by tapping, and a few on-screen buttons control the rest of the things you need to do to advance the game. It feels so much better than playing with a controller.

The retina display of the new iPad is what allows Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 to pull ahead from the rest of the versions in a big way. On the 360 and PS3 the only thing that you can really make out on the cards in your hand and on the play field is the card art. Once you’re familiar with your deck, all you really need to see is the art, but on the retina display all of the card text is clearly visible.

Oh, but wait, it gets better. The best part of playing Magic is multiplayer, and Duels of the Planeswalkers comes with full Game Center support for two player multiplayer. The lack of four player multiplayer seems to be the only thing the iPad port is packing. The good news, though, is you can still play four player games, but you’re limited to AI opponents. Regardless, I wasn’t really expecting multiplayer at all, much less seamless Game Center integration.

Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 will be hitting the App Store on the same day as the PC, Xbox, and PS3 versions of the game on June 20th. Wizards is also sending us some screenshots, but because of the complexity of keeping cards in the new set a secret they need to go through a few filters before we can release them to the wild. We might have screens today, so keep an eye out for that.