80. Magic

Via Giant Fire Breathing Robot

We’ve talked about Magic on the podcast a few times, and I think this latest wrinkle is worth throwing an article up, as well. One thing the World of Warcraft TCG has going for it is a strong co-op multiplayer experience in the form of the Raid decks. Made to simulate the MMO’s experience of getting together to take on a powerful boss, the Raid decks can be a fun way to throw some co-op in to a PvP experience. Not ones to lag behind too long, the folks over at Wizards of the Coast have now crapped out the Archenemy decks for their flagship TCG, Magic. The whole thing feels a little flat though, so why not join me after the break to find out why.

Magic is, at its core, a game for terrible misanthropes. Okay, okay, that’s not true, but Wizards sure designs the game like it is. The game rules as written are geared towards competition and tournaments, and the fun only really comes in when you get friends together for one of the many variants that the community has come up with over the years. And there are definitely some fun-sounding multiplayer Magic variants out there. Rules that encourage players to get creative, instead of cram a deck full of the latest metagame combos and crush people. Awesome though these might be, I’ve always felt there was a cooperative spirit that was missing. Enter the WoW TCG.

The WoW TCG came along and from the start had a multiplayer feel that filled that void, in my mind. But could the grandaddy of TCGs respond? I picked up an Archenemy deck to find out. I chose the Assemble the Doomsday Device Archenemy deck because hey, who doesn’t like a good doomsday device? I greedily tore open the packaging, already thinking about the fiendish plots I’d unleash on the rest of my gaming group. I do love playing the boss in a multiplayer game like this. What do I mean by “like this”? In Archenemy, a handful of players create decks and team up against a player who’s piloting a super-powered deck, and some game-changing “event” cards that have a global effect on the game. Some cards help, some cards hurt. I dug through the event cards and was immediately…underwhelmed.

It’s VERY difficult to really feel like there’s anything thematic going on in the event cards. Sure, the text all ties in, but as far as feeling like there’s any cohesive “story” being told, forget about it. The WoW Raid decks do a much better job of having the event cards feel like events that are taking place during the overarching narrative of the battle. The same goes for the main Archenemy play deck, as well. I was expecting flavorful cards to make me feel like a powerful boss. I got powerful cards, alright, but they’re not flavorful to me. They are the cards of a nameless, faceless, vanilla, fantasy madman. I would’ve been a lot happier with Wizards coming right out and giving the Archenemy player a blatant persona to be playing. But then again, I’m a giant ham no matter what game I’m playing.

Don’t get me wrong, Archenemy may be a total blast to play. I’ll probably never find out. I really can’t work up the enthusiasm to spend the time I’d have to carve out of my schedule to game on this setup. I need more flavor, and there’s too many other games out there that are better at providing it. If I could get past my addiction to buying Magic cards, I might not have ever looked twice at this desk, but such is the nature of addiction…

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