View Full Version : Magic the Gathering:Duels of the Planeswalkers [the ultimate turn-based card game]

Dec 5, 2007, 07:08 AM
Not a retro remake or indie game, but a forgotten and WELL-underappreciated game from 1998. I never played it up untill the beginning of this year, nor had I ever played Magic the Gathering with the cards or on PC, but this old game really grabbed me. I can only place this game above other great titles as Etherlords I & II and Astral Masters as the #1 fantasy card game of all time. And pretty damn close to the #1 turn-based strategy game all-time as well. So you better try this out if you have any love for these genres :drool:

Besides online and a couple of duel modes I haven't yet bothered with, it's all about the campaign. Duels of the Planeswalkers is actually an expansion that adds this campaign and a truckload of new cards to Magic the Gathering (1997).

In this campaign, which is completely non-linear, you walk around towns which all offer basic quests such as kill that guy or bring this letter to that town within this time period. These quests are completely optional but serve great to gain new spells, amulets to buy new spells and manalinks, which raise your max life. The ultimate goal is to defeat 5 castles (one for each color of spells: red (chaos), white (life), black (death), green (nature) and blue (mental) ). A long time will pass till you got your deck beefed up enough to take on these castles. There are a few dungeons as well (in which you cannot save) where some truly great cards are to be found. You will need to win several fights in a row though, and there always is a spell active in these dungeons which can cause some major problems.


On to the deck: you start out with two colors of cards, and I would suggest to keep it that way unless you want to build a specific multicolor deck. There is a deck editor in which you can completely build your deck the way you want, from all the cards you own. The strategic possibilities are even more endless than you would originally think, which is one of the great aspects of this game.

So you run around on the map, trying to find/avoid combat, till you bump up to an enemy and then combat usually begins. A brief description for those who never played MTG:
The fight is turn-based. Each turn is divided into a bunch of phases, such as the drawing phase, in which you get a new card from your deck into your hand; 2 casting phases in which you can summon creatures or cast other spells, and the combat phase in which first you lign up the creatures you want to attack with, and then the opponent chooses the creatures he wants to block you with. An unblocked creature can damage the opponent player directly, when his health reaches 0, you win.
You can cast certain categories of spells such as instants and interrupts outside your casting phase (during combat for instance), or even during the opponent's turn. You can manually set the game to auto-pause on certain phases, because some creature abilities or spells are strategically best played at exactly the right time. During these fights you will ofcourse also need the luck to get the right cards at the right time available to you in your hand, but this also means you can win with the crappiest of decks against the strongest enemies, another great aspect of this game. Some truly heroic and memorable fights are awaiting you :)


-The game is addictive as crack. I fist finished it on easy (50h), then I played again on hard with different colors of cards (80h), then again on hardest difficulty (80h), then again (80h), and then again with a multicolor deck and imposing further restricitions on myself like 10health max (100h). As you can see, it's entirely possible to waste a few months on this old game.
-This game is as strategic as it gets, without hastles like resource management.

-graphics are of course outdated, doesn't matter during the fights but the world looks somewhat crappy
-it's pretty buggy and not really windows XP compatible. Though you can get it to run in XP with no more bugs than modern titles at release time.
-after a while you start focussing on AI weaknesses to win instead of your own strength. Though the game might have been impossible without these AI weaknesses.

It is possible you may find a game like this on a site such as the underdogs ;) I really wouldn't know.

To get it to run in XP:
-it may be necessary to install in directory c:\magic (you'll get a c:\magic\magic directory in the end)
-download and install manalink update 1.3.2 (which is for online play). You can later disable the autostart of this program
-set the exe files deck.exe, magic.exe, manalink.exe and shandalar.exe to win2000 compatibility mode
-start up with magic.exe

If you cannot see cards in the deck editor, it means you have another program running that uses rundll (Ati tray tools in my case). Shut down these programs and/or terminate the rundll process in system manager
You better also shut down MSN messenger and limit your alt-tab use to a minimum :p

Pirate Neilsouth
Dec 5, 2007, 07:11 AM
Not my sort of game HOWEVER a great write up , i'm impressed!! Thankyou for sharing it with us and welcome to the subsection :evil:

Dec 5, 2007, 09:02 AM
I absolutely loved this card game. Never got into this game itself much though. Not exactly sure why. I think I was disappointed that I couldnt arrange the decks exactly how I wanted too.

Dec 6, 2007, 04:15 AM
There's only a few limits on deckbuilding:
-min 30 or 50 cards in your deck (forgot which)
-max 500 cards in your library (plenty till late in the game)
-max # of same cards in deck, which you can raise later on in the game
You can also store 3 different decks and change them whenever you want

Just to prove this is not a game only I like and everyone else thinks is crap ;) :
it's ranked #5 strategy game on underdogs with more votes than the top 4 combined (which include dungeon keeper gold and UFO)

I'm not sure if we're allowed to post links to abandonware sites, but noone will have problems finding it I suppose :p

Pirate Neilsouth
Dec 6, 2007, 04:24 AM
I'm not sure if we're allowed to post links to abandonware sites, but noone will have problems finding it I suppose :p

I've never had a problem with abandonware sites myself but its against the rules on the forum so i gotta keep to that ;)

Dec 14, 2007, 11:05 AM
If you happen to install this game and the unofficial patch and stuff still isn't working, try this;
1) Make sure your screen res is no higher than 1024x768
2) You may have to install the fonts that are found in the game directory if the text in the game is missing. The unofficial patch is supposed to fix this problem, but it didn't work for me. I also tried the Microsoft Compatibility Database thingy, that still didn't work.

3) To install fonts do this:

1. Click Start, and then click Run.
2. Type %windir%\fonts, and then click OK.
Then you'll get a screen like this:
http://img143.imageshack.us/img143/1268/screen1mm8.th.gif (http://img143.imageshack.us/my.php?image=screen1mm8.gif)

Then click on "Install New Fonts", and you'll get a screen like this:
http://img136.imageshack.us/img136/7789/screen2wa7.th.gif (http://img136.imageshack.us/my.php?image=screen2wa7.gif)

Then browse to the directory that you installed Magic The Gathering to (It should be C:\Magic\Program where the fonts are located), and wait a few seconds and the fonts should show up. Then click on the "Select All" button and then click "OK" button.

Done, now the text should show up. Worked perfectly for me.