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Have You Played... Magic: The Gathering?

No, MicroProse's old one

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Not Duels of the Planeswalkers, not the cardboard version - I mean MicroProse's MTG game from 1997. Far less literal than DotP, it took Wizards of the Coast's collectible card game into an open world RPG-ish thing. Your wizard roamed around battling monsters and winning cards to build a better deck, grow stronger, and challenge an ultimate evil, which was an interesting adaptation. But, as far as I can recall, this is the only video game I have ever returned for a refund because I didn't like it.

First, the good. Battles were simply Magic: The Gathering duels, of course, but they took place amongst a larger war. As your wizard roamed the world map, growing your deck by plundering dungeons, duffing up bandits, completing quests, earning gold, and whatnot, enemies moved against you. Wizards from the five schools of magic sent out forces to take over cities, winning the game if they captured enough, so you'd need to keep them in check while building up to tackling them head-on. Building a deck in RPG-y ways and roaming around was interesting but... something was sorely lacking.

When the game came out, it only had cards from Magic's early editions and expansions (plus a dozen weird purpose-made extras), putting it a few years behind tabletop Magic. Those years had refined and expanded Magic in (mostly) interesting ways, allowing oodles of fascinating decks. In comparison, the video game had a smattering of amazing cards and a whole load of trash. Coming from the tabletop game, I couldn't stand these rubbish old cards and their dreary art. I returned it to Electronics Boutique.

Adam tells me he dug MicroProse's game, but he had only heard of Magic before loading it. I wonder how different people's experiences were based on depending on when they started (or stopped) playing Magic. So, have you played it?

[Thanks for the screenshot, Tony Van on MobyGames.]

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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