10 Thoughts On… Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 Expansion

Back in June, the latest Magic: The Gathering downloadable title was released. You can check out my review here, but suffice it to say that it was an enjoyable game that offered plenty of content for not all that much money.

On Tuesday, the expansion for the game came out that includes more decks, more variety, and even some bonus single player content. Is it worth revisiting, or should you just move on to other things?

1. The expansion includes a pretty decent amount of new content. Most importantly, it adds five new decks. These are all multi-colored, which is great. It gave me a chance to really try out that mana selection mechanic that the main game introduced. It works great. All you need to do is click the right stick down to switch between different mana combos. It was much simpler than manually selecting which lands you wanted to tap.

2. The first new deck up is a white/blue combo called “Aura Servants”. This deck is all about using powerful enchantments to turn your existing creatures into powerhouses. For example, Kor Spirit Dancer gets an additional +2/+2 for each aura attached to it, and lets you draw a card for each aura you play in general. With a couple of aura spells, you can turn this 0/2 weakling into a complete monster that will decimate your opponent fairly early on. Invisible Stalker, a 1/1 creature with hexproof, is another good option for all of those enchantment. He can’t be blocked, so any additional power makes him a deadly threat that your opponent can’t deal with except with more generalized removal spells. Of course, there’s a catch. If you don’t draw good auras, you’re screwed. Also, you depend on a very small number of creatures in this deck. If they get killed, you’re in trouble.

3. The next deck up is “Sepulchral Strength”. This green/black combo focuses on putting creatures in the graveyard, one way or the other. It does this primarily to control the board and build up for its killer finisher. Mortivore is a low cost creature that has power and toughness equal to the number of creatures in all graveyards. If you’ve been playing the deck right, there should be plenty of those. Vulturous Zombie gets a +1/+1 counter each time a creature goes in the graveyard, giving your a dangerous threat in the air to compliment your ground game. The issue with this deck is that you’ll need to stall until you get the cards you need to finish your opponent off. If you can’t get that Mortivore out there and keep him alive, all is pretty much lost.

4. “Mindstorms” is a red/blue deck that seeks to combine some of the best features of both colors. You’ll use the blue cards to draw more cards from your deck, while the red cards deal out damage. Thus, you should be able to constantly draw more spells that hurt your opponent. A card that does both of these at once is Prophetic Bolt. This instant spell deals four damage to target creature or player, then lets you look through the top four cards of your deck and keep one. It shows exactly what the deck is about. What I liked about the deck is that it had a lot of flexibility.

5. Up next we have “Grinning Malice”, a black/red deck that is very similar is practice to the green/black one. The idea here is to constantly be putting creatures in the graveyard. However, instead of building up a total for a finisher like Mortivore, this deck instead has a number of spells and/or creatures that have effects whenever a creature goes into the graveyard. Some cards deal direct damage, others get +1/+1 counters, etc. The finisher for this deck is Demigod of Revenge. When you play this 5/4 flier with haste, it summons any other copies of the card from the graveyard with it! Played right, you can get four of these beasts in one turn! This deck shows how temporary sacrifices can earn to big time gains down the road. It’s classic red/black stuff.

6. The final new deck is “Collective Might”. This is a green/white combo that goes the route of pumping out tons of creature tokens. Seriously, there are very few cards that DON’T put out some sort of 1/1 creature token. Those that don’t tend to beef up those weenies in some sort of fashion. Selesnya Guildmage is a card that can do both. For the cost of four, he can put a 1/1 saproling into play. Also for four, he can give all creatures you control +1/+1 until the end of turn. Add in the Parallel Lives card that doubles your token production, and you get a vast, powerful army pretty darn quickly. If the deck has a weakness, it’s that it needs time to develop. That’s plenty of time for your opponent to swoop in and kill you.

7. There are other additions as well. Two new campaigns have been added. Each contains five levels. You’ll need to clear the first campaign to unlock all the new decks, but that shouldn’t take long. Using my fully upgraded fire deck, I burned my way through these in less than twenty minutes. Still, I can see some people getting upset about not being able to use the new stuff right out of the gate. They also added five new puzzle challenges to work through, with is nice. The expansion also comes with five new trophies to earn, which is a plus for achievement hunters.

8. Finally, the expansion also serves a patch that corrects many minor glitches and changes up some cards to get the balance right. The biggest change is found in Serra Ascendant. This is a 1/1 monk that gets +5/+5, flying, and lifelink when you have thirty or more life. In the Two-Headed Giant mode, this meant you could get a 6/6 flier with lifelink on turn one, because you start out with that much life in that mode. It was nuts. Now the cards reads that you must have a life total equal to ten more than your starting total in order to get the bonuses. I know many a people who will be overjoyed to hear this.

9. The expansion is a mere five dollars, which is a pretty good deal in that regard. You’re basically paying a buck per deck, and getting all of the extras for free. On top of that, the new decks work with any promo codes you’ve used. For me, that meant I started off with ten extra cards for each deck. That’s pretty sweet.

10. If you’re someone who’s sunk a lot of time into DotP, then this expansion is a no brainer. More decks, more content, and more balance for five bucks is something that’s hard to pass up.

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