Magic: The Gathering Online (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Since its introduction in 1993, Magic: The Gathering has been a staple of geekdom. Collectible cards that aren’t sports-related AND there’s a game involving spells and monsters involved? The only way this could get better is if The Internet was involved! Us nerds sure love us some Internets! Then, in 2002, Wizards of the Coast released Magic: The Gathering Online. Members of a certain subset of parents’-basement-dwelling nerds were never seen again…
Anyway, I digress. I’m here today to review Magic Online. I’ll be rating various categories on a scale of 1(lowest) to 10(highest), with specific explanations for each rating.
User Friendliness: 6
I’m going to be frank here. Installation was borderline nightmarish. Took me an hour to download, which isn’t too bad considering my internet connection at the time was a bit spotty. However, the actual installation took about another hour and a half. After clicking to install, it seemed like nothing was happening. 15 minutes or so later, a screen finally popped up and installation continued. Slowly. Could it have been my system? Possible, I am running it on an older laptop. But, the system requirements are quite low, one of the saving graces in the User Friendliness department. Half a gig of RAM, and a P4 processor is supposed to be good enough, and even MY laptop isn’t THAT old. Also in the User Friendliness category, I’d like to discuss the User Interface. The UI is pretty awful. Finding game rooms other than the New Player room and Just for Fun room might take you a while on your first time through. The UI gets a little better when you actually are in a game. Playing with the more basic cards is rather intuitive, and the game notifies you every time you have priority for instants or abilities. More complex cards take some getting used to. I personally wasted Fireballs in at least 5 games before I figured out how to do it right, and I’ve had other players concede games when they realized they clicked something wrong for a card with multiple abilities.
Variety of Formats: 10
Nearly every format of Magic is included, including a few that are exclusive to Magic Online (mostly for mechanics reasons). Two Headed Giant, Three Headed Giant, all the DCI formats, even Elder Dragon Highlander, or Commander. They also include an interesting Vanguard format called Momir Basic, in which you use the Momir Vig avatar and a deck comprised of 60 basic lands. The Momir avatar allows you to pay X colorless mana and discard a card, and put a token that is a copy of a random creature card with converted mana cost X into play. Kind of a neat, random format.
Value: either 3 or 10, depending on what you want out of the game