Review: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 Expansion 1
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 received its first DLC package on September 13, 2011 and is available for only $5 USD on PSN. For more information about the original title, see our review of Duels 2012. This expansion offers three new playable decks, four more unlockable cards for each of the original decks, a new (or expanded) game mode and a new single-player campaign complete with new puzzle challenges for your entertainment. The new decks are fun without being overpowering, and the small tweaks to the old decks that the influx of fresh cards supplies do not imbalance the game too much (some of the less powerful original decks are now slightly stronger contenders, as it happens). In sum, good news for fans of the series: Your five bucks is well-spent on this title.
The major gameplay difference that players will notice is the revamped Archenemy game mode, which pits three players against one super-powerful player. This “Archenemy” player is buttressed against the multi-front assault by higher hit points and special “scheme” cards that are played at random every turn, which benefit the Archenemy in various ways (by giving her more land, by letting her add or remove creatures, etc.). In the original game, the AI always played the Archenemy. Players have been clamoring to don that crown, and Stainless Games has at last allowed us to do so in this DLC. The new single-player campaign is designed around defeating groups of opponents in Archenemy mode, and the last battle is particularly challenging and hence satisfying to overcome. Every deck now has its own set of special scheme cards as well, which interestingly complicates the debate about the best deck for Archenemy, as one must now take into account not only a deck’s creatures and spells, but also its schemes.
The new decks are a lot of fun. I’ll give you my take on them below, and those interested might check out the complete card lists for all of the decks, including the new unlocks and each deck’s scheme cards.
She’s ba-a-ack (from Duels 2009, which we also reviewed)! Thank goodness she’s been toned down, as she was pretty dramatically overpowered when we first met her a few years ago. She has lots of nasty tricks to make opponents discard cards from their hands, and then she is further injurious in her nasty enchantments that do things like make opponents lose life whenever they’re forced to discard! She’s still a headache to play against, but happily, she’s slower off the mark now, and her creatures are relatively weak. In other words, attenuating the power of the 2009 deck has helped shape a much more well-balanced current manifestation.
If you have the original game and like it, then by all means skip the Grande Mocha-Choco Latte today and pick up this expansion. (Was that a “Lady Marmalade” allusion? A thousand apologies! Let’s pretend that I was citing Patti LaBelle rather than Aguilera, et al.) One downer worth mentioning, though: The player community has a mighty list of bugs in the original game that the devs have acknowledged as problems, but which they have yet to address in their patches or in the new DLC. Frustrating response from the devs to be sure, but these issues have never broken the game for me, and I enjoy playing in despite them. In fact, I would hazard that the casual player is unlikely to notice the issues.
The expansion adds six trophies: four bronze and two silver.
|Great new decks|
Fun Archenemy mode extension
New unlockable cards make weaker core decks stronger
|Still some bugs|
Devs are largely incommunicado, and they never release patch notes
This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 provided by Stainless Games.