Tobold's Blog
Friday, October 02, 2015
Magic Duels status

I'm still regularly playing Magic Duels on my iPad. Today is the release date for the card version of the Zendikar expansion, but on Magic Duels that expansion is delayed. Well, I'm still one booster away from having every single card of the Origins set, so I don't mind getting the opportunity to stockpile some gold before Zendikar arrives.

On the iPad I never had serious server problems, but as far as I hear most of the technical issues of the game have been fixed by now. On the gameplay side I consider the biggest problem of the game to be the Deck Wizard, a program designed to build one of ten archetype decks from your collection. The Deck Wizard doesn't allow you to put any card you want into that archetype deck, even if the card would totally fit the theme; instead you always need to choose the "least bad" card among a selection of five cards. Now normally my advice would be to simply not use the Deck Wizard, but unfortunately the majority of the more-or-less-daily quests require you to play just such an archetype deck. Even with a full collection the Deck Wizard produces a seriously handicapped deck.

That creates two distinctively different play environments. The Deck Wizard decks notoriously lack creature removal, and so creatures are pretty much the way to go, and even auras end up being good cards. You don't win every game on easy difficulty with a Deck Wizard deck. But if you build a deck with the regular deck builder without any restrictions, and put in a good amount of creature removal, then "easy" becomes really easy, and you still get good win percentages on higher difficulty levels. And of course you can build a lot more different decks than the 10 archetypes.

The upshot of all that is that I play the quests with the archetype decks on easy for quick gold, and then switch to a freely built deck and higher difficulty levels to play for fun. And while I haven't looked into the cards of the Zendikar expansion at all yet, I am absolutely certain that for the free building part more cards means more choice, and that means more fun. For the quest part of the game it will very much depend on how the new expansion will change those quests. Will there be separated Origins and Zendikar quests? Will there be 10 new archetypes based on a mix of both expansions? I don't mind the idea of a simplified version of Magic for beginners with lots of creatures, but if in the end even the veterans need to grind that simplified version for a long time to earn gold, then it isn't much fun.

For what concerns the BfZ update, WotC Chris has already stated that the Archetype Quests will be gone, while they try fixing them. We'll instead get quests requiring to cast X number of Colored spell, Devoid should not count.

Quests will not be separated, the pool from which they are randomly chosen wil just get bigger.

If they'll implement bugged quests again, as it happened with +1 counters and spell damage or the 12 damage with a single creature bugged community quest, we'll be able to know only upon release.

And I'm actually amazed that you are not experiencing DoS on iOS, because there's plenty of people that couldn't connect online for 3-4 weeks already.
When did the auras become bad cards? They just are not meant for early game when tempo loss can be sustantial. And they make up for tempo loss by being unaffected by summoning sickness.
Aura spells require you to use two cards to make one big creature (as opposed to one card for one big creature, or one card for, say, one removal spell).

It takes a lot of 'big' for an automatic one for two to be worth it. Against constructed decks, where removal is both high quality and common (that is, doom blade and co. rather than, say, the crappy bone splinters you're mostly stuck with in Magic Duels), auras open you to losing both tempo AND card advantage, because most removal spells are far, far cheaper than a creature and an aura.
I stopped playing MTGO a few years ago. Is Magic Duels still in beta and/or needing major fixing before its decently playable?

Trying to see what options there are for online MtG as of 2015....

On the iPad Magic Duels is running okay. Not sure about the PC version.
I've been playing the PC version a bit over the past few weeks. I've completed the whole campaign and did a few quests. I can only speak for PvE (playing vs AI), but IMHO it's in excellent shape there. I haven't seen any gameplay bugs at all (and I'm a pretty knowledgable player, started back in 3rd. edition). I've also never had a single crash, freeze, or loss of connectivity. The single bug I remember is that the first time I made a customized deck, it somehow lost it, but detected that it was out of synch and gave me an option to sync up using the cloud version or my local one. I chose wrong, so lost that deck, but not a big deal. That was around 3 weeks ago. It hasn't lost anything since.

TLDR: It's far from broken, and perfectly playable, at least solo.
Personally I don't have any trouble of winning with archetype decks in hardest difficulty. In fact, it is quite easy, so much that is even boring...
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I am playing Infinity Wars now and really am beginning to like it. While I do miss the good old days of MTGO V1.x, Leaping Lizards and Tobold's Wisdom on the WOTC MTGO forums - I dont miss the pains of MTGO V2 and V3.x....

Tobold and others - let me know if you need an invite to Infinity Wars TCG. Very interesting mechanics and game is quite smooth now after some impressive patching compared to IW launch.
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