25 years later, Magic: the Gathering is still trying new ideas. And trying for the ‘Most Colons in a Title’ award.
As discussed briefly in my second Blatherings, Magic: The Gathering and I have a little bit of a history. For 25 years, Magic and I have crossed paths and danced a dance. Android: Netrunner is a great alternative, and I would never want to jump back into the game proper, but the ability to pick up a starter deck and start playing after so many years speaks volumes at just how accessible the game is.
Of course, Magic: The Gathering isn’t for everyone. Some don’t like the collectible card game format, some the different rules, others just don’t like the theme. Wizards of the Coast has tried a few different ways of introducing Magic to other players over the years, but this year for the first they have really caught my attention.
Magic: The Gathering: Heroes of Dominaria has been announced for release August 2018. Little is known about the game at the moment, but the couple of facts that have been disclosed have me interested.
The basic game is a Euro-style game for 2 to 4 players. This can honestly mean anything, but the fact Heroes of Dominaria seems to be a straight board game is a refreshing change. There have been a couple of Magic board games over the last couple of years, such as Explorers of Ixalan and Arena of the Planeswalkers. While fair games in their own right, there were a couple of things that may not have helped them break out of their existing fanbase.
For example, Explorers of Ixalan is a multiplayer Magic game with Catan like tiles allowing you to build a land as you combat other players and search for a lost city. I have seen a few games but haven’t played it myself, but I know a lot of my friends just saw ‘Magic Cards’ and didn’t want to give it a go.
Arena of the Planeswalkers was the latest trial, but it’s a rethemed Heroscape at its heart. Again, not a bad thing at all, but Hasbro stopped supporting Heroscape a long time ago. While Heroscape is a well-regarded game, to say it has widespread appeal would be overly generous. It’s choices like these in the effort to expose the world of Magic: The Gathering to a wider audience that seemed to hold these games back a lot outside of the already established Magic player base.
What I am hoping to see from Heroes of Dominaria is something similar to what was done with Lords of Waterdeep for Dungeons and Dragons. I have taught many people Lords of Waterdeep, and a large portion of those players don’t even realise it’s a Dungeons and Dragons game until they look at the box. New players of Lords of Waterdeep do not need to know anything about Dungeons and Dragons at all, but if they know the backstory there is plenty available for them. It is a hidden objective Euro game played with worker placement mechanics and some dedicated card decks, and you can get new players started in about 10 minutes and most of the mechanics down pat with a slow first round. If Wizards of the Coast has allowed WizKids to do something similar, then there is great potential for the Magic game to be picked up by a lot of new players.
The other piece of information known of Heroes of Dominaria is that there will be a Standard and Deluxe version. On the whole, the two will be the same, but the Deluxe version will come with pre-painted miniatures. While I enjoy painting my miniatures, I do appreciate the choice this is providing buyers. Like gaming in general, not everyone likes to paint so the choice is very appreciated.
WizKids has the potential to do what no other Magic board game has been able to do – bring a Magic Board Game to the masses. I will be watching with interest to see what the final product will be like.
For more information, check out the Board Game Geek page here.
Until next time,