It has been almost 20 years since Magic: The Gathering first hit card stores, and its fan base (online and offline) continues to grow. The physical card game is printed in more than 70 countries and in 10 different languages, and anyone who has been sucked into the realm of Magic knows what a time--and money--sink this can be. After the success of the first Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers, 2012 is a new game designed once again to welcome new players into the world of Magic as well as reintroduce players who may have stopped along the way. 2012 is also a chance for fans to play with a mix of familiar cards and new cards created exclusively for the game, as well as play with the cards from the new core set that will be released in July.
Similar to the previous Duels of the Planeswalkers, 2012 will offer a campaign mode where you'll fight one AI opponent after another with your deck of cards until you get to the final boss. For those who aren't familiar with the card game, you play the role of a wizard or "planeswalker," using your deck that consists of your pool of magic and spells to bring your opponent's health down to zero. Using the magical land that you draw from your deck, you can cast powerful spells and summon monsters to fight for you. It's generally a game that's played one-vs.-one, but Duels of the Planeswalkers lets you team up and play with up to four online--in different locations, so you don't have to play two vs. two. A new Archenemy multiplayer mode has been added as well, where you can play cooperatively with up to three friends to take on the computer AI. In the single-player game, there are difficulty settings to help you through the basic rules of the game (which have been simplified in recent years), but if you're an MTG veteran, you can jump right in and duel your way to the finish line, unlocking content along the way. More story elements have been added as well, so you'll have snippets of backstory to read during loading screens. While the first game was linear and straightforward, 2012 gives you the option to choose multiple paths to get to the end and includes various nodes that indicate challenges. Challenges were a favorite feature in the first game, so they're included once again if you like testing your Magic prowess. Another feature that fans really wanted was the ability to edit a deck, and while 2012 still keeps some control in terms of which cards you use (so you don't wind up with no mana), once you've completed everything, you will have the ability to customize your own 60-card deck.
The idea is that once you feel like you know what you're doing online, you might want to take your game offline as well. Depending on which platform you play on, you'll receive a redeem code for a foil Titan from your local Magic: The Gathering retailer. Given that Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 comes out a full month before the 2012 core set is released, you'll get a jump start on playing with the new cards. What Wizards of the Coast is hoping for is that players from the Duels of the Planeswalkers and Magic: The Gathering core set will come together and play at their local hobby store in preparation for September 10, when they will host a "Magic Celebration." More details will be released at a later date, but there will be digital rewards for fans.
Like its predecessor, Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 is a great way for people to learn how to play the game on their own, since the game comes with tutorials to show you the different phases and techniques. It's also the only time you can play against computer AI and figure out your own strategies and nuances. Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 will be released on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and PC on June 15.