Wizardly: Magic 2015 Reworking Microtransactions

Cards!

Oh, what a rare and wonderful day when Wizards of the Coast admit their pricing is wonky! Well, perhaps they haven’t admitted Magic 2015 – Duels of the Planeswalkers was a bit of a mess in as many words, but they’re changing it all the same. 2015 brought to DotP the long-awaited ability to truly build your own decks from scratch. The problem was, players faced a whole lot of grind to unlock enough cards (or some ghastly microtransactions), only to discover that they couldn’t get some of the best ones without paying. Many high-powered cards are only available through ‘Premium Booster Packs’, which give you ten virtual cards for £1.49. It’s a mite cheeky. And being changed.

An update arriving on November 5th will change Magic 2015 so every card can be unlocked simply by playing, IGN say. You’ll still need to grind, mind, and can still pay for instant unlocks to skip that. Folks who bought Premium Boosters will receive compensation of some sort, depending on how much they spent. Quite what that’ll be is a mystery for now. A grovelling apology might be a nice start.

Wizards of the Coast have also announced an expansion for November 5th, titled Garruk’s Revenge. It’ll add a new campaign starring that surly woodsman with an interesting deck idea. You can’t edit Garruk’s deck, but it’ll change itself, adding more and more Black cards as you progress through the campaign. Adding 51 new cards usable in all modes, it’ll cost $4.99. Here, this chap has played it already, if you want to know more.

I’m glad Wizards are actively changing this rather than sitting back and waiting for next year’s refresh. Perhaps they realised quite how many people are put off by this, and might not return. Folks have already modded 2015’s new cards (and many more) back in DotP 2014. If developers Stainless Games could scrap the hideous UI and start over for that, perhaps Magic 2016 will finally be the game card-slingers have wanted for yonks. That said, I know I’ll probably buy it anyway because I’m terrible garbage desperate for a small dose of virtual Magic each year to stave off cardboard urges.

28 Comments

  1. jrodman says:

    Well seeing how 2012 and 2013 were fairly fun but 2014 was less so, I guess i can give this microtransaction-based 2015 a pass entirely.

    • Banyan says:

      The older DotP games are some of my most played games on Steam (like a 100 hours each) but I was so turned off by the microtransactions I couldn’t buy 2015. Maybe I’ll get it when the complete edition goes on next year’s Summer Sale.

  2. RedViv says:

    Well hand me a shovel and call me Uncle Istvan, they actually went and did it.

  3. Archipelagos says:

    Finally. Reason prevails.

  4. The Internet says:

    These Magic games always felt like they should be free to play in the first place.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I don’t know.. they’re pretty good if you’re looking for a Magic fix and not too expensive, especially if you don’t get any dlc (or when they’re discounted).

      That, and many f2p games in the end cost more and throw up barriers to make the game more grindy. Which is arguably what DotP 2015 had (I wouldn’t know, I’m still on 2013 :0P).

      • Premium User Badge

        BlueTemplar says:

        But how can be sure that with this change, WotC won’t also make the game even MORE grindy, so that you’re still compelled to cash out on virtual boosters, even though you can theoretically get every card by grinding? (The issue with “so-called-Free” to play in a nutshell.)

  5. Malibu Stacey says:

    Smells like a certain bunch of Wizards from a place near the sea are jealous of all the billions and billions of rubies and emeralds a certain snow themed developer is raking in from their card game.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Wizards will end up chasing more modern card games in the end. Its been too long since Magic has seen any real innovation in terms of mechanics. Add to that the way the game is confined to mechanics that work on paper, in the real world, and its far more limited than newer, all-digital games. And digital games do not require travel to play. For these reasons, I see Magic slowly losing market share to digital-only rivals.

      Magic needs some new blood in design and development. The old guard has become obsessed with +1/+1 counters and its about the only thing they still know how to do with cards.

      • Malibu Stacey says:

        Wizards will end up chasing more modern card games in the end.

        By which time it’ll likely be far too late.
        Their digital games feel like they’re made for people who are already Magic players. I got the 2012 version of the game & it was so horribly obtuse I bounced right off it which is pathetic for a game which retails at £15 (I think I got it for around £4 with all the DLC included).
        Meanwhile Hearthstone is far more accessible & has been completely free to play since release & yet still makes large chunks of cash.
        By the time WotC get their shit in one sock there will be plenty of Hearthstone-a-likes much in the same way there are dozens of DotA clones & WoW clones. Developers/Publishers are never shy to jump on the next bandwagon if they think it’ll make them piles of cash.

      • Ben Barrett says:

        Each new Magic fall set has been the highest selling set of all time, every year for the past 6 or 7. The only time they’ve come close to declining was flat growth last year when compared to the previous, which was explainable through a bunch of factors (the previous year had a set with a very popular theme, as it was a return to a previously very popular world; one of the sets this year was a bit of a dud)

        Also the idea that they’ve not innovated in the past however long is mad. There’s been more changes and shake ups to how the game works, year on year since 2009 than ever before. They changed the entire system of rules in 2009, added a very significant new win condition (and changed their entire design philosophy) in 2010, made cards with a second face in 2011, had one of the most keyword-heavy blocks ever in 2012, managed to make the most unpopular and least useful card type at least playable in 2013 and announced a change to their entire release structure (which has massive knock on effects to how the game is played) in 2014.

        Because Duels had an off-year (it’s one of their most successful ideas ever, overall) doesn’t mean Wizards are going down the pan ;)

        Now MTGO… there’s a crap shoot.

        • welverin says:

          I read that, and I wonder what all the things you’re referring to actually are.

      • jrodman says:

        Really? Modern magic seems to have a lot of mechanics that work better on a computer. Playing with paper requires re-shuffling decks way too often for convenience.

      • Premium User Badge

        BlueTemplar says:

        If Blizzard manages to make a good cardboard version of Hearthstone, Magic will fade into obscurity.
        Otherwise, it will still stay relevant, like tabletop RPG’s stayed even after Baldur’s Gate and MMORPG’s…
        You just cannot replace direct interaction and weekends with friends.

      • The Unnamed Council says:

        Magic will be outpaced by Hex: Shards of Fate as early as next year. Based on a very similar resource system they have neat features like Escalation (where additional cards do effects based on the number of times the card has already been played), card memory (if you get a buffed card out of the graveyard, it’s still buffed) and lots of others.

        Blizzard’s Hearthstone by comparison is excellently packaged, but rather simply in nature. When Hex gets their PvE dungeons out (iirc something like 40 are planned) it’s going to blow Magic away in any computerized form.

        • Premium User Badge

          BlueTemplar says:

          It doesn’t matter how good Hex is. It doesn’t have a chance outpacing Magic because it doesn’t have a physical version, and it doesn’t have a chance outpacing Hearthstone because of the accessibility. And it doesn’t have a chance against both of them because of the money/advertising issues (with Hex devs also being sued by WotC) and both of them being already entrenched.

          • The Unnamed Council says:

            Well, it does matter how good it is. Magic will certainly stick around in the paper version, but with all the problems their online client has, Hex will certainly have a chance to outpace that.

            As for Hearthstone, I agree, they have put so much marketing power behind a game with very limited scope and drawn many players into trying it. Hex will probably not get the same numbers (ever?), but I expect quite a few players to “graduate” from Hearthstone to Hex.

            Compared to the other offerings out there right now, Hex certainly is the most promising. That of course is under the premise the the big three “elephants in the room” come out soon: Open Beta, Set 2, and the much-waited-for PvE.

        • Frostbeard says:

          Hex is sued by WotC since they blatantly copied MtG. Doubt we will ever see Hex, not as it is now.

          link to quietspeculation.com

          • The Unnamed Council says:

            Or, if you take the other way, WotC frivolously sued CZE/HexEnt in an attempt to keep a competitor of their backs because they recognize that they make a superior online product.

            And yes, Hex is based on very similar mechanics as Magic, but expands from there. If you discounted the “construction period” aka Alpha and Closed Beta currently there would be no way the lawsuit could stand, the patent has run its course, copyright claims are very fishy and the trade dress claims are plain ridiculous.

            Being sued in America seems to be something like receiving a Knighthood. If you are worth sueing…

            Thanks for the link – if you want to follow the current affairs, there are quite in-depth threads of the legal documents “firing back and forth” on the CZE forums.

            link to forums.cryptozoic.com

      • Frostbeard says:

        DotP is not Magic, its a gimped little version of MtG designed to teach the basic rules and lead the player into the proper game. MTGO (which has its own serious issues) and the paper game is MtG. As for the innovation statement I will let Ben Barrets answer that.

        Heartstone is a better digital game than MTGO, but thats because it was designed to be played digitally. It has none of the PITA to code triggers in opponents round that MtG has. And HS in my opinion has less tactical depth than MtG because you cant react in the opponents turn.

  6. Borodin says:

    “DotP” – Day of the Pentacle?

  7. Premium User Badge

    BlueTemplar says:

    I’m still waiting for Sid Meier to make “Microprose Magic 2”.

    • Banyan says:

      Microprose’s Magic came out in 1997 and Meier had left to form Firaxis the year before, but – yes, that game was awesome and I would totally pay for a sequel.

      • Premium User Badge

        BlueTemplar says:

        Yes, that was the last game Sid Meier had worked on at MicroProse :
        link to en.wikipedia.org

        Development
        The project to make Magic: The Gathering came during turbulent and troubled times at MicroProse, as it had recently lost a large amount of money pursuing unprofitable ventures (such as an arcade game business).[1] A corresponding flight of personnel was happening as well. Sensing trouble with the Magic project, the famous and marquee Sid Meier was assigned to it. This game would be the last that Meier would ever work on with MicroProse, as he went on to found his own studio, Firaxis Games, shortly afterward.

    • RanDomino says:

      Good news! link to slightlymagic.net
      Sadly the RPG end hasn’t been cracked, but several thousand cards have been hacked in. There’s a Challenge Mode where you have various deckbuilding restrictions or the AI has assorted bonuses or both and you have to win 10 in a row to unlock a card, which is your RPG substitute.
      There’s also Forge, hosted on the same forums, which has a far better AI and modern rules, being built from scratch, but its RPG mode is entirely textual and has some rather nonsensical game design decisions and IMO looks rather bland overall.

      • Premium User Badge

        BlueTemplar says:

        I’m aware of it (and the “Shandalar” RPG end *has* been cracked, even if not nearly as widely as the duel portion), and it’s awesome for singleplayer despite some of its shortcomings, but sadly it doesn’t seem like multiplayer is ever going to be fixed for the latest Manalink 3.0 version that has all these features.

  8. Shardz says:

    Regarding Magic Online:

    Upon waiting 59 years for the long awaited V4 client, I was in complete dismay that it was released in its current form. Does anyone really enjoy playing cards with a WHITE background for any length of time at all? There should have been some sort of skin option, or at least some way to set it to black. It is quite obvious that the development team sits under bright florescent lighting while coming up with this UI. It also seems very buggy to me with omissions of several options that make it difficult to utilize. Not that V3 was all that great because we all know how bad that was, but their new client has sent me running for sanity from my 6,200+ online card collection until this gets rectified.