At the games show PAX East in Boston, the names behind two of the most well-known fantasy series -- World of Warcraft and Magic: the Gathering -- announced plans to bring digital trading card games to the iPad this year.
The latest Magic game, Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014, will also support Android tablets for the first time, albeit with limited online multiplayer. It and Blizzard's Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft free-to-play card game will also be available on Windows PCs, while Hearthstone also supports the Mac OS and Magic will also be on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game consoles. Both will be available this summer.
Collect them all
There's no shortage of digital card games already, on the iPad and Android tablets like the Nexus 7. They regularly make lists of highest grossing apps, such as Google Play's, because they tend to combine free-to-play downloads with pay-to-unlock packs of cards. Many are from relatively unknown developers, however. This is the first time an actual World of Warcraft game (not just the Armory utility) has come to the iPad, and only the second time (out of four total) a Duels of the Planeswalkers game will be in the App Store.
"Small in scope, but epic in gameplay"
That's how Rob Pardo, Blizzard's Chief Creative Officer, described Hearthstone in a video produced by the company. As its name suggests, the game is meant to take place inside of the World of Warcraft, played around the hearth of one of its many inns. While it doesn't seem to affect the actual World of Warcraft game any (unlike the way CCP's DUST 514 and EVE Online games integrate), the atmosphere is meant to feel cozy and inviting like WoW's inns themselves, and the game simulates a one on one duel between WoW characters. It will be free to play with buyable (and winnable) random card packs, and will also let players create their own cards similar to WoW's crafting systems. It will not use the same rules as the physical World of Warcraft trading card game.
A new take on an old game
While the physical Magic: the Gathering card game relies heavily on players' ability to collect rare cards and assemble decks, the Duels of the Planeswalkers series gives players a selection of premade decks, and lets them unlock new decks and new cards through winning matches. It has an extensive solo campaign mode, as well as online multiplayer features.
Pay to win?
None of the Duels of the Planeswalkers titles to date have been free to play, although they have had "deck packs" and "foil conversions" available for sale as DLC (downloadable content). These unlock dozens of cards without your having to play the game dozens of times, or convert a deck's cards into shiny "foil" versions.
Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.
- Video Games
- Technology & Electronics
- World of Warcraft