Back in June, Wizards of the Coast released the 2012 version of their hit video game adaptation of Magic the Gathering, called Duels of the Planeswalkers. The 2012 release learned from and expanded upon the previous Planeswalkers video game in a number of ways, resulting in a slick and fun electronic version of the card game that put the company on the map. Now the first expansion for Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 has hit, and it makes the already addictively fun experience even better with new cards, new decks, and some much requested updates to previous game modes.
Probably the most significant addition in the expansion and definitely the most requested is the change made to the Archenemy game mode. Duels 2012 introduced Archenemy into the mix by allowing three players to team up against one superpowered “Archenemy” player. The Archenemy started the game with twice the life points of each challenger, and there also was a special deck from which the Archenemy would draw one card at the beginning of each turn. That card would grant immense benefits to the Archenemy by doing things like automatically destroying several opposing creatures, allowing the Archenemy to draw additional cards, or seeding additional land cards into the Archenemy’s mana pool. Clearly, the Archenemy was extremely powerful, and taking that player down was a great and fun challenge.
Strangely, Duels 2012 only allowed players to play against the Archenemy but not to take on the Archenemy role themselves. The reason for that became clear when this new expansion was announced, as the big bullet point is that you finally can play as the Archenemy. This addition alone makes the expansion an essential purchase for fans of the original game. Magic is all about casting spells and wielding power, and what could be more fun in that arena than wielding so much power that it would take the concerted efforts of three other players to bring you down? Being able to play as the Archenemy proves to be every bit as fun as it seemed like it would be. You can choose from any of your unlocked card decks, and you also gain the benefits of that special Archenemy power deck. Picking off lesser wizards and laying waste to an entire trio with a few choice abilities and spells is loads of fun and possibly could become your favorite way to play Magic.
With the updated Archenemy mode being such a big feature in the expansion, it should be no surprise that the new single player campaign spotlights it. A new fourth tab appears in the single player track for the expansion, within which are two progression tracks, similar to the ones presented in the original game. The top track is a single player campaign that pits you against three new enemies that have been added for the expansion. Beating them will unlock their decks, which you then can use in any of the previous or new game modes, just like your old decks. There also are additional unlockable cards for each of the three new decks that you can earn by winning matches with them. The second single player track is longer than the first and has you playing as the Archenemy against lots of different sets of three opponents.
As much fun as the revamped Archenemy mode adds to the game, the three new decks add a lot of value as well, both through new card variety and several new strategies they help you employ against all the previous decks. The first new deck is Ajani Goldmane’s Auramancer, a green and white deck that enhances and hinders through Aura enchantments. The second is Liliana Vess’s Grave Whispers, a diabolical black deck that forces opponents to get rid of cards and then punishes them for doing so. The third and final new addition is Cloudburst, a red and blue deck from Ral Zarek that focuses on aggressively putting a lot of creatures into play while decimating your opponent’s ranks through a combination of damage and trickery. In addition to introducing the three new decks, the expansion also gives each of the previous decks several new cards to unlock through one versus one matches.
The first expansion for Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers is available now on the Xbox Live Arcade, the PlayStation Network, and Steam for $4.99 or 400 Microsoft Points. If you’re already a fan of the Duels 2012 game, this add-on is a must buy and makes an already great game even more fun by adding in more cards, more decks, and more ways to stomp your opponents into dust.