Today, we have a subject matter that’s still Magic (all that matters!) but is a bit different from the MTGO-centric norm that we strive for- it’s in the realm of PC and PS3 gaming. (Whoa.) More specifically, this is all about Magic: The Gathering — Tactics, a soon-to-be released online, turn-based tactics game, featuring the MTG Multiverse, released by Sony Online Entertainment LLC (proprietors of EverQuest). MTGOAcademy has been invited to an exclusive preview for this upcoming title, and we want to know what you, our wonderful readership, would like to know about the game! From press releases and 2010′s E3, Comic Con and GenCon previews, here’s what we know (or don’t know) going into things:
(It is important to note that many of these previews were some months ago- the game might have changed drastically in certain areas.)
Magic: The Gathering — Tactics will have a trial package that is free to play! According to an E3 GamePro preview, additional content, in the form of boosters, single-player campaigns (presumably planeswalker-inspired lore that fits into the Multiverse) and other customizations, will be available for purchase via micro transactions. The additional booster packs will cost roughly 3 dollars- their contents (whether they are randomized or more similar to preconstructed decks) were not specified.
As of the E3 GamePro preview, the launch version of the game is scheduled to include approximately 100 different units (you might know of them as creatures or planeswalkers), 100 spells and 30 maps. As far as names we’ve seen or heard thrown around, many Magic icons (Serra Angel, Shivan Dragon, Ajani Goldmane, Garruk Wildspeaker, Birds of Paradise, Giant Growth) have been uttered.
At first glance, the gameplay looks like a combination of D&D Miniatures and Magic: The Gathering. As stated earlier, it is a turn-based combat game where you command a planeswalker, navigate a 3D battleground with grid system, cast spells, summon creatures and combat an opposing spark-ignited foe.
In the GamePro preview, it was stated that the game will launch with one-on-one matches with plans to expand up to eight player slugfests (but it was not stated if they are teamed or free-for-alls). There are also plans to have a variety of play options, including casual play, draft competitions and other bracketed tournaments (but it was not stated if these are single elimination events, swiss-style pairings or some other system). GamePro’s Patrick Shaw also compared the gameplay (presumably the feel of actual combat) to other tactical titles such as Heroes of Might & Magic and Final Fantasy: Tactics.
Joystiq.com demoed the game at E3 and offered a recap of gameplay. You bring a deck without lands, but your planeswalker automatically generates mana at the beginning of each turn. Creatures that you summon also have turns (presumably ordered by some sort of initiative system). During a turn, a unit can perform a single action: move, attack or use a special ability. In this demo, each deck could only have five different types of creatures and five different types of spells- we are unsure if these will be the final deck construction rules. Planeswalkers also level up (but this might only be for single-player campaigns), transverse through trees of specialized skill sets and unlock the ability to expand the size of the deck they bring into battle.
In the Escapist Comic Con 2010 preview report, it was said that even countermagic will be represented in the game! At the time of the preview, Counterspell could be selected when you choose to cast any spell, but it resolved when your opponent casts their next spell (or at least tries to cast their own spell); if this stays the same, it means that you do not choose what you specifically are going to counter.
The Escapist’s Greg Tito also reported that there will be no random draws- your whole deck is available to you in each battle (you just have to accumulate the mana you need to cast everything)! Typically, decks have five uses of a particular card in them, unless the card has been deemed restriction worthy. (For example, SOE’s Blaine Loder cited Black Lotus as a unique effect spell that would only be able to be used once per battle.) In regard to deck construction, everyone’s favorite term, metagame, has even been thrown around- what would Magic be without a healthy meta?!
MTG — Tactics also features a collectible aspect. According to joystiq.com’s E3 preview report collections are supplemented through (at least) two different ways: trading at auction houses or purchasing packs from Sony’s online store. What a booster purchase is comprised of is unknown to us at the moment- it could be randomly generated (with or without different rarity levels) or each booster could have a set selection of cards. The auction house is where you go to trade with other players in the game- though the full set-up of the in-game economy or barter system is also currently unknown to us.
Another interesting tidbit: the Escapist preview cited that individual cards would be available for purchase at the launch of the game- an effort to jump charge the trading environment before the player base has grown enough to allow players to find any card that their heart desires up for trade.
What Do You Want to Know?
ChrisKool will be flying out Wednesday to the SOE Denver development studio to see what Magic: The Gathering – Tactics is all about, and he wants to know: what you want to know?! Please leave any questions below, and he will try his darnedest to deliver the goods!