Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Magic: The Gathering - Tactics

Freixa alerted me to the announcement of Magic: The Gathering - Tactics, which is an online 3D turn-based strategy game developed by Wizards of the Coast and SOE, to be released in early 2010. Now my heart should be jumping for joy, because I was a big fan of Magic, and I love turn-based strategy games. But unfortunately there are several alarm bells ringing in my head when I read the announcement:

Announcement in late 2009 for a game that is to come out in early 2010? The website and teaser trailer are so extremely void of any useful information about this game that I can't help but wonder how far they are in the development, and what the budget was. Right now this all looks extremely half-baked to me.

Unfortunately the people making it don't inspire much confidence in me either. The previous online version of Magic, called Magic the Gathering Online (MtGO) suffered from countless technical problems and design flaws. Version 3.0 of MtGO was announced and postponed for years, until it finally came out and disappointed.

So, considering that the last good computer game based on Magic the Gathering came out in 1997, I'm somewhat sceptical. I really, really hope this game is going to be good, but I'm not holding my breath.
Man, I LOVED that game. I remember spending a summer playing it. It actually got me to understand and enjoy magic, although I was a poor kid in a poor family and never really got into competitive magic simply because I couldn't afford packs.

I was really frustrated by the few sets included with it though. It got old after a few years.

But man shandalar was fun.
Taking a more positive tack, I believe the late announcement might be more of a "once bitten, twice shy" thing. In the marketing campaign for D&D 4th edition, they were pushing something called the D&D Digital Initiative (a suite of software including a character generator, a character "visualizer", and an online gaming table, plus various utilities as well as the online versions of Dragon and Dungeon magazines) pretty heavily. At launch, the only part of this that was ready were the magazines. The character builder was released sometime around Christmas as I recall, and so far there's no sign of the visualizer or "virtual tabletop."

This has, understandably, caused a lot of backlash against Wizards from disappointed customers. It's definitely possible that wanting to avoid a repeat, they waited until they were sure MtGTactics was in the bag before announcing it.
There was a pretty decent game for the xbox live called Magic the Gathering Duels of the Planeswalker ( that it's very good. It's very limited in the deck building part (you can make decks only tweak existing ones) but apart of that i believe that it's the best one right now.

Thanks a lot for your blog!
Check . In my opinion the best implementation of magic in the recent times. Deck building it's very limited (you can't build new decks only tweak the existing ones) but besides this quite good.

Thanks a lot for you blog!
Yeah the Shandalar version of MTG was really great.

I should really check at some point of there's some way to make it work on the computers of today. I know I tried a bit on WinXP but it was so bugged it was unplayable, unless you just did single duels.
I'm pretty much seconding Caleb there, i loved that game. it was the game that caused the very first argument had with my husband (I'm being totally serious here) and a subsequent purchase of a second computer :P (for the record my favorite deck combo was red and black)

Magic was the one and only tradable card game that I've ever gotten into, thanks to that computer game and I really hope that the newest version won't suck :)
Shandalar was awesome. If they can capture that game's goodness, I'll be happy.

Man, I miss Microprose.
From the trailer:

"....teams up with the innovator in online gaming?"

I LOLed heartily at that.

I've never known SOE to innovate anything in the realm of online gaming, at least as far as PC goes.
"I've never known SOE to innovate anything in the realm of online gaming, at least as far as PC goes."

I realize you're only 24 years old, but there was something called EverQuest that radically changed the world of online gaming, so much that 10 years later people are still copying it.
SOE worked with the Pox Nora people to make the M:TGT.

Interview over at pennyarcade.

It will also be released for PS3.
The announcement that SOE has anything what so ever to do with it ensures I will never touch it.
Hi, Tobold, long time reader here.
Don't you think, that it will copy-cat "Battleforge", and with such a big MtG card game player base, it could possibly succeed??
Battleforge is based on real-time strategy, Magic the Gathering Tactics will be turn-based strategy. I think that will make a big difference.
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