I purchased Magic 2015 yesterday after wading through a bunch of negative reviews on the Steam community hub (most saying they were posted “Just Now”). The gist of them all pretty much ended up being that a lot of people had gripes with the UI, lack of 2 Headed Giant (a play mode), lack of sealed draft (play mode), and microtransactions being “necessary”. At first all of these things worried me, but then I read the Reddit thread today. Now it all has become clear to me.
First off I have to start at the beginning for myself. I started playing Magic in the 7th grade (I am 27 now) and the first thing I learned was that I needed more money. I only played for a year or two but it definitely left an impression on me, specifically that 1) Magic is awesome and 2) Magic is expensive. Now ever since then I have had (much like I had with MMOs) urges to play Magic from time to time. This has lead me to look up ways to play online over many years. Each time I have found something it always resulted in remembering the 2nd thing I learned when I first played Magic, it is expensive. Much like any MMO, if you really want to get into it, you have to invest a lot of your time (though, money in Magic) usually (i.e. EVE online, as the vastness of the world is probably the closest comparison to the vastness of Magic cards/sets/history). There are guides out there that lay out difficult paths to play MTG Online without spending that much money, the problem is you have to win mini tournaments held in the game to win enough prize value to continue to “play for free” essentially. Much like winning X amount of Arena games in Hearthstone allows you to do. The bottom line is that there is no cheap way to play Magic, because that is how they pay their bills and have paid their bills, since the beginning of Magic.
In the Reddit thread I linked earlier I soon came to realize what the problem the most vocal complainers are having. They want to play Magic for free. For $10, the campaign mode of Magic 2015 is well worth the money. I only played Magic 2014 for 24 hours but at a $10 cost, that is less than 50 cents per hour of enjoyment. I even saw someone claiming that it is his job (at least, partially) to write about these games saying that $10 for 20 hours of campaign is not good enough, because multiplayer is the main game mode. He says this because he has over 300 hours in the DotP (Duels of the Plainswalker) games most of which is playing multiplayer. It really irks me how entitled everyone has become online, it seems like people don’t want to pay for shit anymore. They think it is fair to spend $10 and get over a hundred hours of enjoyment from it, that is so fucking rare when it comes to video games that I can hardly form an argument against it because it is so fucking ludicrous. In another thread on Reddit there is an AMA with the lead designer for the game. In there he states that the premium booster packs are designed so that if you buy X amount you will get all of the cards, this amounts to $28. So you spend $10 on the game for 20 hours of campaign enjoyment, if you played the previous year you will probably know if you will enjoy it or not, if you are a first time player, $10 is a relatively cheap test purchase. Then if you want to play multiplayer, you can, without premium cards, for free. According to the lead designer there was extensive testing done on hybrid free card decks versus decks with premium cards and that they believe it to be balanced, so who do we believe, people who have done extensive testing for probably at least a month, or people who bought the game yesterday? Are these arguments starting to sound familiar by the way? Keep that in mind. So you paid $0.50 an hour for 20 hours of fun and now you’re upset that you lose to people online who have different cards than you that aren’t necessarily stronger. If you want to get those cards and feel like you’re on a level playing field, and by doing so you can extend your enjoyment to up to a hundred or more hours, you will need to spend $28, which would come to $0.28 per hour of fun. I don’t know how many other people do this with their games, but that is fucking cheap per hour of fun compared to some games that cost $50 upfront for a test purchase.
A lot of other complaints are based on the UI and some nuances related to it. Every new game you play has adjusting to do, this thing is different than you’re used to, this button doesn’t do this like it does in other games, and those kinds of things should be expected in any new game. In the first thread I linked (at the time of this post) the top comment is a guy complaining that you can’t choose which land is tapped when playing a multicolor deck. Of course buried deep in the comments beneath all of the vitriol you will find a comment that says that if you didn’t skip the tutorial you would have learned that pressing CTRL allows you to do this. It seems like a lot of the complainers mentioning these aspects were expecting something… different. But what?
Hearthstone! Ohhhhh, now it is all starting to make sense. Hearthstone is free and you can make microtransactions to expand your deck (and need to) in order to compete. The game is made by Blizzard so it is well polished and as we have all known since WoW came out, you can’t compete with Blizzard and when you try to, even more flaws are pointed out 500 times more often. So since this game (which you could arguably say, inspired Blizzard’s Hearthstone) came out after Hearthstone, it must be trying to compete with or “kill” Hearthstone, right? Because that is what we all fucking care about nowadays for some dumb fuckin reason, right? Because a company whose main focus is in offline production, sales, and tournaments makes a limited computer (and console) version to throw it’s online fans a bone, they HAVE to be attempting to be the “Hearthstone Killer”, right? This realization makes me want to hate Blizzard even though I know it is just the stupidity of others, but I guess this is what happens when you take computer gaming to a mass market. So thanks to Blizzard and a special thanks to the public education systems across the world, on behalf of rational, level-headed Magic players throughout the world, we salute you.